Readers’ Experiences at Imola – 2024 Emilia Romagna GP

Carolyn, Dave & Tim share their experience, tips and advice from Autodromo Imola after attending the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Carolyn from the UK

Having experienced the passion of the tifosi at Monza in 2023, my friend and I were keen to attend another Grand Prix in Italy. 

Autodromo Enzo E Dino Ferrari (better known as Imola) is one of the great historic tracks on the F1 calendar. The event didn’t take place last year due to local flooding, so the anticipation for 2024 was palpable. Imola didn’t disappoint.

This year marked the 30 year anniversary of the tragic death of the great Ayrton Senna, along with Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger, in what was a very dark weekend in F1 history. To mark the occasion, Sebastian Vettel drove the Brazilian driver’s McLaren MP4/8 around the track, waving both the Brazilian and Austrian flags. It was an emotional and powerful tribute.

Vettel images above kindly supplied by Mateo Vlatković

While this was unique to the 2024 Grand Prix, it’s possible to visit the Senna memorial all year round – something I’d highly recommend. The statue itself and the flags pinned to the circuit fence are a fitting tribute to one of the greatest drivers of all time. Head to the Acque Minerale park on the inside of the circuit and follow the signs.

Taking The Train from Bologna to Imola

We stayed in Bologna and took trains to and from Imola each day. Bologna is a relatively small city and we had an easy 20 minute walk to the station. The 8am train was perfect for Friday and Saturday. The walk from Imola train station to the track takes about 20-30 minutes. It’s an easy, flat walk through the center of the pretty town and there’s plenty of places to grab coffee and pastries at regular prices.

We arrived in plenty of time to catch the drivers at the Fan Zone (more of that later) and there was no real queue to get into the track. The return journeys were just as straightforward – busier on Saturday but nothing too stressful.

Sunday was a different story. The queue to enter the circuit was much longer, stretching as far as the eye could see! That being said, we only waited for just over an hour before being admitted to the circuit. Some opportunistic fans tried to jump to the front of the queue, but circuit staff (and some unimpressed racegoers) were quick to deal with this. If you want to catch the earlier support races, I would recommend that you arrive at the circuit earlier than we did on race day..

The train journey back wasn’t very well organized, with thousands of fans waiting outside Imola train station without communication. Some people found an alternative entrance on the other side of the station and managed to avoid the crowd. This was the only real negative of the weekend. Hopefully the organizers will learn from this and implement some changes next year.

Due to the volume of people trying to buy train tickets at the station on the day, I recommend booking yours online in advance (Trenitalia and The Trainline have easy to use apps) so that you can just hop on the next available train.

Learn more about the best ways to get to Autodromo Imola

Staying in Bologna

If you have flown to Bologna, it’s easy to get from the airport to the city. There is a monorail (The Marconi Express) that travels at regular intervals between the airport and the main train station. 

Don’t discount taking a taxi from the airport, as it can even work out cheaper than the monorail if you split the costs. Our taxi driver was delightful! Bologna is an excellent base due to its proximity to the circuit, good train access and size. It’s much easier to enjoy a smaller city after a busy day at the track than in somewhere like Milan, as you can walk pretty much everywhere and it’s easy to find places within walking distance of both the old city (Centro Storico) and train station. I recommend trying a sandwich from Mò Mortadella Lab – you won’t regret it!

Autodromo Imola Experience

Imola surrounds a city park and has a cozy, compact feel to it. It’s very easy to navigate and it’s well signposted. Fliers with a map and timetable are available. Grab one quickly as they do run out and they are a nice keepsake for the weekend.

After experiencing the excitement of the podium at Monza, we opted for seats at Partenza 3 (section D). Our seats were directly opposite the podium, which also gave us excellent views of Parc Ferme. We got to see the drivers being interviewed, getting onto the parade lorries, going through the weighbridge, coming into the pit lane, and the all-important podium celebrations. 

Seats aren’t the most comfortable and there is no cover so be prepared for rain or sun! Prices for this grandstand were cheaper than they have been in previous years and represented good value at approx. €550 EUR.

Learn more about buying tickets for the 2025 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix (May 16-18)

Just like at Monza, fans pour onto the track to catch the podium after the race and it’s a sight to behold, particularly when you don’t have to fight your way through the crowd! We were lucky enough to have a Ferrari driver on the podium and the Tifosi were vocal in their appreciation.

Imola is a short track, which from a spectator’s perspective is a bonus as you get to see the cars more often. Our seats didn’t afford much on track action. If you want overtakes, this is not the grandstand for you. We were happy to follow the action on the screen opposite (which was actually a bit small) in order to see the podium action.

Facilities at the track are good – there are plenty of toilets (although bring wipes and tissues!), water refill points and lots of options for food (most meals were priced at approx. €12 EUR). Beer was the most readily available alcoholic drink but unlike Monza, there were also some stalls selling Aperol Spritz. Behind our grandstand on a path heading towards Acque Minerale, a permanent restaurant had set up a stall selling beer, wine, grappa and soft drinks – queues here were smaller so keep an eye out for it!

The Fan Zone has lots to entertain, including merch stalls, SIM racing and a Ferris Wheel which offers great panoramic views of the circuit at a reasonable price. The biggest draw at the Fan Zone is the driver appearances. If you get there early enough you can bag a spot near the front and if you’re very lucky, you might even get a driver signature. If you want to see the Ferrari drivers, you’ll have to get there very early and be prepared to stand your ground. The Tifosi are out in force and some of the banners they make are brilliant! Try and get close to the platform that juts out in the middle as the drivers walk down there. Team principals also make an appearance – Fred Vasseur signed my hat!

My final tip,and it’s a good one…join the F1Destinations Facebook group for Imola. Group members share a wealth of knowledge, based on previous experience and real-time events. There are tips on pretty much everything and it helped us enormously, both for Monza last year and Imola this year. I’ve already joined the Spanish GP group ready for our 2025 trip!

Forza Ferrari! Forza Imola! Forza F1 Destinations!

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Image of Rivazza 1 grandstand kindly supplied by Emma B

Dave from the UK

Overall, we had a fantastic trip. My expectations were met, and often exceeded!

Travel & Accommodation: We traveled on Thursday into Milan and also visited the Ferrari Museum in Maranello. We took a mixture of trains and buses, and found the Trenitalia App incredibly useful for checking train times and booking tickets. We used the app all week, although we never had our tickets checked.

We stayed in Bologna, roughly 15 minute’s walk from the train station. On Friday and Saturday we took the train around 8am into Imola, and while the trains were busy at that time, we didn’t have any difficulties getting into the track, with no real queues, just short ones at security.

On Sunday we took the 6am train and after seeing many of the posts on the Imola Forum, we’re glad we left so early. F3 began at 8am, and if I were to give one big piece of advice, it would be just to take the hit, get up early and make sure you’re avoiding those race day crowds. We got to spend our morning watching racing, rather than standing and queuing.

We stayed in Imola each evening, for food and drinks, and didn’t travel back to Bologna until around 8-9pm. This avoided most of the bigger queues at the train station in Imola. On Sunday we went to the back of the train station, and managed to get on a train without much of a wait.

Grandstand:  We booked Zone F Row 26 in Rivazza 1 and found it to be really good value for money. It only cost €270 for the weekend for fantastic views, a great atmosphere and a guaranteed seat. The seats are backless, which wasn’t a problem for us, but could be for others. Rivazza 1 has a screen, and offers a unique view of the cars entering the pit late! The stand had toilets located at the top, meaning we didn’t have to leave and re-enter which saved queuing!

There’s so much more to these weekends than Formula 1. I don’t really follow F3 or Porsche but enjoyed the thrill of watching these series too!

Food: On Friday we got food from one of the burger vans, and while it was good, it was expensive (as expected. The following two days we brought our own lunch, wraps and snacks. We didn’t have any issues with security, which allowed us to stay fed and avoid any queuing! There’s some great spots for breakfast on the walk from Imola Station to the Autodromo. We stopped each morning for coffee and pastries!

Security: Overall, not as bad as I thought. I brought my camera and lenses on Friday, and had no issue taking these, and seen far larger camera setups being used by others, with no issues. We brought multiple 500ml bottles of water per rucksack, and on Sunday we brought an entire unopened six-pack of water, with no issues. There was a lot of talk about power banks, but in my experience, security allowed them (mine is 450g) – there was no body search or pat-down either, so you could carry them in your pocket too!

Toilets: Let’s face it, they’re gross, if I was going again I’d bring plenty of wipes.

Water: There are water filling stations around the circuit, but it feels like there wasn’t nearly enough of them. At peak times, there were long queues to fill up bottles. I’d recommend going to the supermarket beforehand, and bringing multiple 500ml bottles to save re-making this trip.

Overall: We had an amazing trip, despite the race itself not being an absolute classic, it was amazing getting onto the circuit at the end of the race for the podium ceremony, and being able to walk as far up as Tosa! The tfiosi brought the atmosphere in Rivazza, and it was a great weekend! 

Tim from the USA

Grandstand Seats: We paid €400 each for three day seats in Acque Minerali (AM) 1, section C. This was a great view, with no fence (see above image). However, the old permanent grandstands have shell seats with no backs, and the “aisles” are non-existent. Our seats were at the far end of row nine, which meant that 16 people had to get up and stand on their seats to let us pass. This was a major inconvenience for us and everyone who had to let us pass. Generalizing from this, I’d have to advise not to buy seats in any of the old permanent grandstands at Imola. If you do, make it the very top row, near the stairway leading up. That allows you to sit or stand as you like, and to lean back on the top fencing. 

Look instead for the temporary grandstands, with seat backs and, I presume, more room to let others pass in the row. Alternative seating? Personally, I discount any seats that view cars only going in a straight line (so, all of the Partenza grandstands). Gresini 1 at Variante Alta looked good, but it’s located on the outside of the track and you can’t easily enjoy the park during breaks. Gresini 4, as with Tosa 1, seem to be relatively further from the track compared to the Acque Minerale grandstands. Villeneuve 3 looks interesting, but it’s a bit removed from the shaded areas of the park. My conclusion then is that if there’s a next time, I’d go for Acque Minerale 4. Similar action to Acque Minerale 1, deeply embedded in the park (although a bit further from concessions), modern seats, and much of it is in the shade in the mid-afternoon.

View seating map and fan videos for all grandstands at Autodromo Imola

Accommodation: I’ll whisper it in your ear, but promise not to tell anyone. Stay in Ravenna, to the east of Imola. The train ride is a bit longer (45-50 mins), but then, no one is taking it as the vast majority of fans stay in Bologna to the west of the circuit. In three months of monitoring the Facebook group for Imola, I saw two people who said they were staying in Ravenna.I got a spacious two bedroom apartment for six with a garden for less than €200 per night. And the central old town is both huge and really lively at night, with the notable exception of Sunday after the race. Which rather makes my point that very few race goers are staying in Ravenna.

Learn more about where to stay for the 2025 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Transportation: Even if you stay in Ravenna, you’ve seen the photos of the chaos at Imola train station on Sunday evening and by extension, the Bologna station on Sunday morning and the Dante circuit entrance, which is the only one that makes any sense for those arriving at Imola station. 

Due to the threat of a train strike on race weekend, we rented a car at Bologna airport on Thursday, hoping to just park it in Ravenna and never use it. But we then decided to try it out on Friday. It only took 42 minutes to drive to the track, but we made the rookie mistake of taking the first parking lot we encountered, thinking it was P12, when in fact it was P23 — perhaps the most distant of all. We walked nearly 40 minutes to the Dante entrance. That afternoon, we exited at the Ravazza bridge, and noted the parking areas nearby. 

On Saturday, we drove to P4 in about 45 minutes from Ravenna, and walked less than 10 minutes to the Ravazza entrance. Our exit that evening was backed up until the proper highway, but we still made it back to Ravenna in less than 60 minutes. 

On Sunday morning, we were also aiming for P4. About 3 km away, at a Y intersection, we encountered “traffic guards” (aka civilians holding a wand). When we told them that we were headed to P4, the guy directed us to the right. After a few km, we came into a massive line of cars. In retrospect, these would have been approaching P4 from the north, rather than southeast. We turned around, and encountered a different guy at the same Y intersection. I remembered that P4 is on Via Bergullo; at the mention of that name, he let us pass. A bit later, there was a checkpoint to see our tickets (as on Saturday). 

The new question was, do you have a reservation? Which is silly, since P4 and all others on Via Bergullo cannot be reserved. Lesson: Smile and nod, just smile and nod. We had a clear run to P4, arriving about 9:50am. Got into the slow man river to the Rivazza entrance, surfed the chaos there — MUCH MUCH less than the apocalyptic horror at Dante on Sunday — and were through in less than 20 minutes. 

After the race, we virtually ran back to the car in P4 and again selected a route on Maps without tolls — meaning, we’d not be directed to one of the nearby, and totally stuffed, Autostrade entrances. Within 20 minutes we were free of bumper to bumper traffic and arrived in Ravenna in about 65 minutes. According to other posts in this group, it took that long to get 4km from the track!

More Advice: Bring LOTS of toilet paper and disinfectant. My heart goes out to anyone who has to sit/squat on/over these disgusting toilets. Also, if you have a partner/family member that (scandalously!) is just not that much into racing but comes along for your sake, find them a nice shaded table at the Acque Minerale food court in the middle of the park. Not only does it offer pasta meals, it also has… wait for it… an actual toilet! But then, even that toilet does not have a toilet seat. Welcome to Imola.

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