Since Tuesday evening, Maranello has a seven times Formula 1 champion amongst its citizens: Michael Schumacher has been awarded the honorary citizenship of the commune of Emilia-Romagna. The reason given was that with his extraordinary history at Ferrari, he was an accompaniment to one of the most important parts in the history of the commune of Maranello.
The auditorium "Enzo Ferrari" was not big enough to hold all of the people who wanted to be close to Michael. In front of the theatre there was a video wall where people outside could follow the ceremony. Under the presence of President Luca di Montezemolo, Vice-President Piero Ferrari, CEO Jean Todt and General-Director Amedeo Felisa, an obviously moved Michael Schumacher said that he was touched by receiving the honorary citizenship of Maranello, which five years ago had been awarded to the President.
The official ceremony ended with the giving of the keys to the city by mayor Lucia Bursi and a miniature bell tower engraved with the most important dates of Schumacher's "red" career. As a nod to the tradition started by Maranello's priest Don Elio Belloi and continued by his successor Don Alberto Bernardoni, the bells of the tower rang, as they do after victories of the single-seaters from Maranello. Over the last 11 years the bells rang 72 times for Michael.
Giancarlo Bertacchini, Scuderia Ferrari Club President of Maranello, handed over to Michael a small barrel of Aceto Balsamico, which signifies deep friendship in Emilia, while Giulio Corsari, President of the association of former F1 mechanics gave a leather-bound plaque with the engraving "Grazie Michael", as a perfect ending to the evening.