Modena surprised us from every point of view: a really lively and pleasant city to discover by walking through its center. The various arcades that characterize it, allow the visit even in the coldest seasons. Moreover, here you can taste delicious traditional dishes prepared with skill.

After having led you to the discovery of its food and wine specialties in our previous post, today we want to accompany you to discover the city of Modena and a small village that is absolutely unmissable, a few kilometers away: Castelvetro di Modena.

Modena, the city

Walking through the center of Modena is certainly the best way to discover the beauty of this city. I recommend starting from its heart: Piazza Grande, which has always been a meeting place for the people of Modena. Here you will also find the symbol of the city: the Ghirlandina, the bell tower of the Cathedral.

The slope that characterizes it, combined with the delicacy of its decorations, make it truly unique, moreover it is possible to walk its many steps to observe the city from above. The complex has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1997.

The Cathedral, one of the major monuments of Romanesque art, is worth a visit for the splendid bas-reliefs by Wiligelmo, which characterize the external facades and for its interior, where you can also visit the crypt of San Geminiano.

Moreover, in this square you can see the Town Hall and the Ringadora Stone, used in the past as a stage for oratories and sentences.

Continue on foot towards Piazza XX Settembre, inaugurated in the early 1900s, characterized by an elongated rectangular shape, bordered by pastel-colored buildings and the small beautiful fountain. A few steps away, you will find the historic Albinelli Market. The covered market is overflowing with local specialties and is worth a visit for some shopping or for a snack in one of the small internal places.

Piazza XX Settembre

Start along via Luigi Carlo Farini, until you reach the wonderful ancient Salumeria Giusti, one of the characteristic historical shops of Modena. Recognized as the oldest delicatessen in Europe (founded in 1605), it is worth a visit to appreciate the interior, the stalls full of delicacies or have lunch in the small room in the back (by booking well in advance).

Then continue on the same street, until you reach the beautiful renovated Piazza Roma with fountains and ponds, overlooked by the Palazzo Ducale, historic home of the Ducato degli Este and now the seat of the Military Academy. If you want to take a few more steps, you can immerse yourself in the greenery of the peaceful Parco Giardino Ducale Estense.

After visiting the most important buildings, we then walked around the center without a specific destination, more than once we found ourselves in really characteristic streets and small squares. We also returned to the city in the evening, when the center comes alive with people again. Truly a pleasant city to live at all hours!

Modena by night

Castelvetro di Modena

This small village, not far from Modena, is definitely not to be missed. Surrounded by vineyards, it towers over a small hill and is decorated with several buildings that are worth a visit.

The symbol of the village is certainly Piazza Roma, famous for its original checkerboard square. Despite its ancient charm, the chessboard is a fairly recent work (1950) and enjoys a priceless view of the surrounding hills. Some of the most beautiful buildings in the village overlook this square: Palazzo Rinaldi and the Town Hall, as well as the Clock Tower and the Tower of the Prisons. Among the religious buildings not to be missed, we recommend the Chiesa dei Santi Senesio e Teopompo instead.

Before your trip

  • How to reach them? Modena and Castelvetro di Modena can be easily reached by car and have paid parking spaces just outside the city center

  • How many days? Including visits to local companies, we spent a total of 4 days

  • When to go? Modena can be visited comfortably in all seasons, the center offers several arcades that allow you to walk quietly even if the weather is not great

  • Where to stay? We have chosen a structure that is located a short distance from the center, La Dimora nel Parco. It is a splendid villa that has several rooms, including an attic, with very large and comfortable spaces. We had an entire floor at our disposal, including a refrigerator and everything needed to have a hearty breakfast on our own

  • Where to eat? Restaurants in Modena is nothing short of superb. We could write an article about trattorias and restaurants where to eat. We have decided to collect those that have proved unmissable for us and we will explain why:
    • Franceschetta 58: younger sister of the famous Osteria Francescana di Bottura is a small bistro where you can appreciate Bottura's cuisine at lower prices. We decided to try the "evolving tradition" tasting menu (€ 50, 5 courses) and some à la carte dishes. The refined atmosphere and attentive service have made this journey into taste even more enjoyable, behind which the chef's research is clearly visible
    • Trattoria Aldina: traditional restaurant on the first floor of a building not far from the Albinelli Market. The menu is explained verbally and the dishes are traditional ones. The ravioli in broth and the ravioli di magro are delicious. Be prepared to queue up a bit, but if you leave your phone number, they will call you back as soon as a table becomes available
    • For an aperitif or a quick lunch, we recommend Ristorante Uva d'Oro, it is located in a nice square and has indoor and outdoor seats. Excellent fried dumplings with cold cuts, really delicious