Ferrari Chairman John Elkann travelled to Amatrice, the remote hill town some 140 kilometres north east of Rome, to demonstrate the marque's continuing commitment to a community that has been praised for its courage in adversity. The special day contained two highlights: the gifting of a V8 turbo engine and the unveiling of a new name plaque for the local 'Istituto Onnicomprensivo’ school, in honour of the late Sergio Marchionne.
"According to Enzo Ferrari the engine is the heart of every car and we are happy to leave one for you”, Elkann told excited pupils, teachers, and parents, as he unveiled a pristine example of what he described as “the most beautiful and most successful engine ever." He told listening dignitaries and parents: "We want it to stay here to remind you all that you are important for Ferrari as well as to remind you of what you are capable of in the future.”
At a question and answer session, Marco, a fifth-year junior school pupil, touched on the theme of what the future holds, a constant concern for a community that still today carries the physical scars of the 2016 disaster. In response, Elkann named Sergio Marchionne as an example to follow. At fourteen years old, the former Ferrari CEO left Italy for Canada, studied hard, learned a new language and obtained two University degrees. "If you have the same kind of drive then you can face the future with plenty of optimism,” said Elkann. “You have no need to be afraid”, he assured his young audience.
Back in August 2016, just days after the deadly earthquake struck central Italy, Ferrari opted to donate the 500th individual specimen of the LaFerrari model. It was auctioned at the Finali Mondiali in Daytona, fetching 6.5 million euros, a then-record price for a 21st century car. Working closely with local institutions and authorities, the funds were destined for investment in school reconstruction.
As the grand plan came to fruition in Amatrice, headmaster Giovanni Luca Barbonetti, who first mooted the idea of naming the school after Sergio Marchionne, enthused: “It’s a beautiful school, along the lines of the great campuses of Northern Europe, something unknown in Italy.” Today it is attended by some 230 pupils, from Infants right up to High School, with a school canteen and a gymnasium. "It’s important not to just leave a useful and permanent project in this area”, added Elkann, who has taken a close personal interest in this major educational initiative. “But also to show trust and support for the young people of Amatrice.”
There are already plans to provide pupils with a series of training experiences at Maranello, so that they can have an opportunity to better know the company, its production processes and organisation.
Amongst the public attending the school re-naming was one special guest: Francesco Di Paolo, a Ferrari employee born in Amatrice. He was accompanied by his mother, herself a former teacher at the school that was destroyed, thus entwining a personal human story with the ties now established between Maranello and the hill town in the region of Lazio.
Elkann signed a Scuderia Ferrari flag that was being waved by pupils, before he headed in to the school canteen to enjoy a plate of Spaghetti. Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, of course. Faith, hard work, deeds: the values that had always been a hallmark of Marchionne’s own life, live on.