In Emilia-Romagna, the region in northern Italy known as the Po River Valley, travelers eager to discover the secrets of the Transalpine country will find Modena, a small city whose charm far exceeds what anyone might expect. Modena evokes names like Luciano Pavarotti, Enzo Ferrari, Massimo Bottura, and emblematic products like Parmigiano Reggiano, Lambrusco, or Modena balsamic vinegar. There is also a large dose of history, monuments, narrow cobblestone streets, upscale shops and majestic churches of great beauty that will surely make the delights of all who come to this corner of Italy.
Modena is a city rich with art, history, and magnificent monuments.
You should take a leisurely stroll through its small but pleasant historic center. Start at the Piazza Grande; an esplanade built in the 12th century in front of the entrance to the Duomo di Modena, the 9th-century cathedral considered one of the finest masterpieces of the European Romanesque style. The majestic Civic Tower is also known as the Ghirlandina and is a symbol of the city. The three places were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1997.
Cobble stone streets give the city an Old World Charm difficult to replicate.
The Ducal Palace deserves a special visit. Now a military academy and a clear example of civil 18th-century architecture, the construction highlights its splendid courtyard and the Roman statues that adorn it.
After an immersion in the history and art of the city, I suggest a visit to the Mercato Albinelli filled with stalls overflowing with excellent Italian charcuterie. It is the best opportunity to taste and buy the delicious Bolognese mortadella, along with a generous piece of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, accompanied by a glass of the local Lambrusco wine. Don’t miss the stalls serving freshly made pasta and, above all, take in the relaxed atmosphere of the place.
Parmigiano Reggiano is one of Modena’s most emblematic products.
After the appetizer in the market, you should dine at one of Modena’s most praised restaurants, Osteria Francescana, where the famous chef Massimo Bottura displays boundless imagination reflected in dishes that become real culinary artworks.
The Teatro Comunale Luciano Pavarotti is a mandatory stop. The building was inaugurated in 1841 and renamed in 2007 in honor of the famous tenor who was born and died in Modena.
The Cathedral of Modena is an excellent example of European Romanesque architecture.
The city and its surroundings are also a unique destination for lovers of luxury vehicles since major Italian brands such as Maserati, Lamborghini, and Ferrari have here their headquarters in the area. Enzo Ferrari—founder of the iconic firm—founded, in 2012, a museum in Modena where you can see some of his most representative creations.
If you enjoy the visual arts, you will feel at home in the Palace Museum, a splendid architectural complex that hosts masterpieces by El Greco, Velázquez, and great universal masters.
Il Duomo di Modena
With all its big names and luxury car manufacturers, Modena is ultimately a bucolic, quiet and charming city, excellent for a most unforgettable getaway.
Photos: www.modenaitalia.ec. ■