Modena: city of art, land of motors and taste
01 August 2022
History and interesting facts about Modena
Modena's history began with the creation of the city as a Roman colony in 183 BC. But its revival, following centuries of decline with the fall of the Roman Empire and the rule of the Lombards, only really began after the year 1000.
The city's most splendid period was the arrival of the d'Este family, whose history has been profoundly linked to that of Modena for centuries.
With the exception of a brief interlude in which the city, having been taken over by Pope Julius II, was ruled by Francesco Guicciardini, Modena grew under the Este family. From being capital of the Duchy of Modena and Reggio, the city was subject to a long building process that lasted until its annexation to the Kingdom of Italy in 1859.
What to see in Modena: the 4 must-see places
Modena is a city of many sides and offers many opportunities to visit. If you are wondering what to visit in Modena, here are four sights to see, starting with the three architectural works that became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997:
- Modena Cathedral is a masterpiece of Italian Romanesque architecture, a symbol of the life of faith and worship of the city's Christian community. Don't miss the magnificent side doors, two on the south side and one on the north.
- The Torre Civica, known simply as the Ghirlandina, is the bell tower of the Cathedral and the true symbol of Modena. Admire it from the outside and then climb to the top for a unique city view.
- Bordered by the Ghirlandina, the Palazzo Comunale and the Duomo, Piazza Grande has always been the very heart of Modena, the place where the city's political and religious life was managed.
But no visit to Modena would be complete without devoting a few hours to the Galleria Estense. This museum houses the art collection of the Duchi d'Este who governed the city for centuries.
3 tips on what to do in Modena
To savour the true spirit of the city, here are 3 local highlights to make your stay in Modena more memorable.
Starting with l Mercato Albinelli, Modena's historic indoor market and the perfect place to find all the local products and be immersed in the sounds and scents of the city. Visiting it in the evening hours is best, when visitors are greeted with aperitifs and tasting events.
Modena is a city to be savoured, and anyone visiting it for the first time should embark on a food and wine tour that ranges from balsamic vinegar to Modena DOP ham, not forgetting the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that is loved the world over. Do it by yourself or with an organised tour. And be aware that you can't say you have experienced Modena without tasting the delicacies it offers.
Motor city par excellence, Modena is a place where the legend of speed is an integral part of culture and the passion for mechanics has a long tradition. The Enzo Ferrari Museum will take you on a journey to discover the Ferrari Legend between the past and the future.
What to eat in Modena? 5 specialities
Only by sampling the city's culinary specialities will you be able to say that you have experienced it to the full. But what to eat in Modena? There are five delicacies you won't be able to resist.
- Gnocco fritto is an ideal way to start the day. Its simple ingredients are often combined with mixed meats and cheese for a breakfast that will set you up for the day.
- Tigelle, also called crescentine, are often combined with gnocco fritto. Definitely try the ones with mortadella and squacquerone cheese.
- The tortellini in brodo da passeggio, bizarre but true, have become an institution in the city in recent years: they deserve a taste.
- The platters of cold cuts and cheeses are a real treat to be enjoyed: DOP Modena ham, Parmesan cheese and mortadella will always be plentiful.
- Balsamic vinegar of Modena is one of the most popular condiments in the world: what better occasion to discover it through one of the special tastings at the many vinegar cellars spread around the city?
4 Unusual places in Modena
Modena is full of unusual places to discover that reveal its fascinating history: follow us on 4 stops that will let you discover a different Modena.
Visit the Palazzo Comunale, where you will find the Pietra Ringadora, a large red Veronese ammonitic stone used in the year 400 as a stone of shame and which has retained all its charm over the centuries. .
The Church of San Barnaba in Modena is a Baroque treasure that was built from 1660 onwards for the Minim friars of San Francesco di Paola. The vault is embellished with frescoes by Sigismondo Caula and Jacopo Antonio Mannini, and its facade displays statues of Saints Augustine, Francis, Barnabas and Michael in special recesses.
A visit to the Palazzo Ducale must also include a visit to the vinegar cellar of the Military Academy, located in the northern tower. This was the site of the ancient Este vinegar cellarwhich has been restored in recent times. And yes, we know you are probably wondering: there are also tasting sessions on offer.
And finally, the Casa Museo Luciano Pavarotti as well as the home where the maestro lived the last years of his life. Nowadays, it is the home of his private collection of memorabilia, costumes and awards collected during his long career.