Modena is located in the heart of the Emilia Romagna Region and extends longitudinally into the Po Plain, bordered by the Secchia and Panaro rivers, and the northern Apennines. It is an ideal communications node between Southern and Northern Italy and between Italy and the rest of Europe. It is 40 Km from Bologna, 130 from Florence, 170 from Milan and 200 from Venice.
Modena is the ideal city: its admirable architectural treasures are a Unesco World Heritage Site, its hospitality focuses on cuisine and cultural life, all with a fascinating and characteristic blend of innovation and tradition. Visitors are pampered at table by the flavours of traditional balsamic vinegar accompanying local specialities and can stroll in the narrow city centre streets or Piazza Grande. They will be enthralled by the mystical beauty of the Cathedral or fascinated by the modern products of Modena's inventiveness such as Ferrari, Maserati, Pagani and Stanguellini motor vehicles.
Closed to the public following the earthquake of May 29th 2012, the Estense Gallery will open again on May 29th 2015.
Modena is pleasurable in every season and offers tourists extraordinary beauties, all concentrated in its graceful historic centre, that narrate the splendour of a city that for a long time was the capital of a duchy under the Este lords, who resided here from 1598. UNESCO has acknowledged the universal value of the city's monumental treasures by declaring the Cathedral, Piazza Grande and the Ghirlandina Tower Unesco world heritage.
Piazza Grande is the heart of life in Modena and the place where the most significant and most-loved monuments are located. The Cathedral is the work of great architect Lanfranco and master sculptor Wiligelmo. It is one of the finest masterpieces of European Romanesque. Piazza Grande is also home to the Palazzo Comunale. Its construction took place over several different stages starting from the Middle Ages and is currently home to the Town Hall. Not far from the Ghirlandina Tower, there is the 1600s Ducal Palace the work of Bartolomeo Avanzini and today home to the prestigious Military Academy.
Via Emilia, the important Roman road that crosses the city, leads to Piazza Sant'Agostino dominated by the Church of Sant'Agostino itself, the interior of which has an admirable and splendid "Lament for Christ Crucified" by Begarelli, a 1500s sculptor from Modena. There is also Palazzo dei Musei, home to numerous cultural institutes and art collections, such as the Civic Museum of Art, the Archeological Ethnological Museum and the Estense Gallery an important collection that bears witness to the interest of the Este lords in all kinds of art, as well as the Estense Library, with precious XIV-XVI century codex with miniature illustrations.
Enriching the city landscape is the spectacular MEF-Enzo Ferrari Museum opened in March 2012. This recently restored structure commemorates Enzo Ferrari in the house where he was born, with an exhibition which tells about the most important events of his extraordinary life, with the support of modern multimedia. There is also an art gallery, which is currently hosting temporary exhibitions about Ferrari's career and cars, and the main stars and competitions of this Modena brand of race cars.
No one can claim to know Modena without having tasted its famous typical product - the traditional Modena balsamic vinegar - an exquisite condiment made from cooked grape must that is aged for many years in wooden barrels. An occasion that cannot be missed for discovering some of the secrets behind how it is made is to visit one of the many farms that open their vinegar cellars on appointment.
An ideal menu in Modena must start with cured meats, first among them Modena Ham. A place of honour among first courses goes to tortellini. Main courses especially include zampone, made with ground pork meat cured in the skin of a pig's trotter. Nor should one miss traditional Modena Balsamic Vinegar served on Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese). And lunch can be accompanied by a good glass of Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine. As for fruit try the delicious cherries from Vignola.
Every year in September, the Philosophy Festival animates the city for three days with lessons and conferences by leading contemporary philosophers and thinkers, who entertain audiences in the squares, theatres and churches of the city centre; exhibitions and installations, readings and performances, shows and films, concerts, games and great lunches.
Maranello, 16 Km from Modena, hosts the Ferrari Museum, linked to the famous Ferrari factory founded in 1947. The museum offers an exhibition of Gt, F1 and sport-race Ferrari cars, sport trophies, pictures, videos and other souvenirs of the history of Ferrari.
It is also well worth visiting Carpi,18 Km from Modena, a pearl of the Renaissance and ancient home to the Pio lords. It retains a significant artistic heritage with testimony of the Middle Ages and an attractive Romanesque church known as “La Sagra”. The Deportation Museum is of major historic interest.