Misano, Italy (CNN) — In the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy’s Adriatic coast, summers are languid, sultry and full of opportunities to dine, drink, dance, swim, relax and rejuvenate. For a few days at the end of July, however, this picturesque corner of one of the most beautiful countries in the world is under invasion.
From around the world, an army dressed in red converges on the towns and villages around the famous Misano motor racing circuit, most riding on roaring, creaking motorbikes. It’s World Ducati Week, and this year some 80,000 enthusiasts have brought the noise.
A Ducati is to motorcycle enthusiasts what a Ferrari is to car enthusiasts. Like its four-wheeled compatriot, the Italian two-wheeled brand has made a name for itself by creating machines that are loud, fast, uncompromising, sometimes eccentric and often painfully elegant. But this gathering of Ducatisti, as Ducati enthusiasts are known, is about much more than just motorcycles; they are there to celebrate, and the whole community is ready to welcome them.
Cappuccino by the water
World Ducati Week on the Italian Adriatic coast welcomes motorcycle fans from here and abroad.
This isn’t your typical “biker” band either. An event of this magnitude in the United States might conjure up images of beards, tattoos, leather jackets and rock music, but it’s a much more Italian affair.
As the sun rose over the Adriatic at this year’s event, its rays cast a glance over luxury yachts near Cattolica and Gabicce Mare, and found the Ducatistis sipping cappuccinos at waterside cafes, before guiding their rumbling machines on a short, sweet cruise to the nearby Marco. Simoncelli racing circuit.
On the track, literally thousands of Ducatis, old and new, slipped into the parking lot and nestled next to each other. One by one their riders dismounted and looked around, smiling broadly in the already scorching Italian sun, row after row after row of Italian motorcycles.
Around 80,000 runners show up for the annual event.
Men and women, young and old, perhaps the most striking thing about this group was how many came here. Ducati claimed that visitors to the 2022 event, the 10th Ducati World Week, traveled from 84 countries, a statistic easy to believe on the ground.
Rebekah, dressed in a bright pink t-shirt and straw hat, had come all the way to Misano from Regensburg, a medieval town on the banks of the Danube in Bavaria, Germany. Her club, which she told CNN is “the biggest group outside of Italy,” had taken two days to make the trip. “It’s the big Ducati family, all over the world,” she smiles.
The parking lots are filled with thousands of Ducatis.
His German compatriots Stefan and Bianca had come from the city of Nuremberg. They had taken three more leisurely days to descend and echoed fellow Bavarian Rebekah: “We came here because it’s fun, the people, the bikes, Italy, it’s very nice,” said Stefan. What was it about Ducati that made them do this? “Emozione! he has answered. “It’s a feeling.” Bianca accepted.
Ed, Patsy and JT had come all the way from the Philippines. “We go to Berlin first, then to Milan, then from Milan, we go around Italy and France,” JT explained.
“We meet like-minded people, different riders from different clubs and share other cultures,” added Patsy. “We drove from France to here!” Ed proudly told CNN, before gesturing to the back of his t-shirt, which displayed the route along the Mediterranean coast and through northern Italy.
One of the attractions of the circuit itself was the presence of some of Ducati’s best racing talent, in particular its MotoGP stars. Pecco Bagnaia, at the time in contention for the manufacturer’s first MotoGP title since 2007, was experiencing its very first World Ducati Week and was surprised to see its magnitude.
Ducati has made a name for itself by creating powerful, fast and elegant machines.
“It’s amazing,” he told CNN. “I’m already amazed to see everyone here.” Among a crowd of fans gathered to see him, he seemed almost embarrassed by the uproar. “A lot of runners are the center of attention,” he said, “but I appreciate it a lot.”
Naturally, much of the activity at the circuit itself was motorcycle-focused, with product demonstrations, workshops and displays of new motorcycles, as well as cars from sister companies Ducati, Audi and Lamborghini. On the track, there were special races, with star riders competing in the Race of Champions, on identical Ducati Panigale superbikes, and the option of riding in the back of a specially adapted Ducati or in the passenger seat of a Lamborghini.
DJ Benny Benassi drives the crowd into a frenzy.
But perhaps the festival’s most eye-catching activity was found elsewhere, on the beach. On Friday, a long red chain of Ducatis, led by Ducati Corse CEO Claudio Domenicali, alongside some of the event’s star riders, meandered its way to Riccione, a renowned party destination and magnet summer on the Italian Eastern Riviera.
There, an elegant beach party was held along the promenade to welcome the massive ranks of the Ducatisti. Renowned DJ Benny Benassi sent the eager crowd into a frenzy as they bounced to his catchy mix of house music.
At the heart of the festival, Claudio Domenicale was a whirlwind of energy as he moved to speak to fans, media and VIPs. He explained his impression of the appeal of World Ducati Week to CNN: “It keeps changing, every time you find something new,” he said, “All people join here, so they have a passion to get together, then they find their hero, the riders, the team boss, myself, and we’re very available to them, so you can get closer to the riders, you can get closer people.”
Everyone on the same level
The festival also includes demonstrations, workshops, races and riding demonstrations.
Sure enough, on Saturday evening Domenicali, dressed as a waiter, along with MotoGP riders and other Ducati officials, served guests at a barbecue on the pit straight of the Marco Simoncelli circuit, with dishes prepared by chef Riccardo Monco, three Michelin stars. Enoteca Pinchiorri restaurant.
“It’s three days where everyone is almost at the same level, and so they love it, they feel it,” smiled Domenicali.