Modena is located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy in the Po Valley. It is among the most wealthy and advanced areas in Italy, likely due to its central location on the main trade routes that connect the Mediterranean Sea to Northern Europe. Its population of nearly 190,000 and a thriving economy makes it one of Emilia-Romagna's largest and most prosperous cities.
Modena’s economy is heavily rooted in publishing, craftsmanship, automobiles, and cuisine. The Panini Group, a globally known publishing and distribution company, is headquartered there. In addition, there are over 300 ceramics factories in the city and the surrounding area.
The city is also characterized by its incredible sports car scene. As the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari and the location of headquarters for such heralded sports car brands as Ferrari, Pagani, Maserati, De Tomaso, and, at one time, Lamborghini, the city is an excellent place for fans of automobiles.
Modena is known worldwide for being a gastronomic heavyweight, featuring some of the world’s best DOC and IGP quality products. From one of a kind balsamic vinegar to handmade tortellini and tortelloni, to the regional Lambrusco wines and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, travelers will delight in exploring Modena via its quintessential cuisine.
Modena also features the University of Modena. Founded in 1175, it is one of the oldest universities in the country and is known for its strengths in economics, medicine and law.
Evidence of settlers in Modena goes back as far as third century BC. Throughout Roman, Medieval, and into modern times, Modena has been a fixture of economic and cultural importance. For several centuries, Modena was a powerful duchy under the rule of the influential d’Este family. With such a vast history, the city is filled with culture in the form of art, architecture, theater, and more.
Some key sites include the Baroque Ducal Palace, the city’s Cathedral with the Torre della Ghirlandina, and Piazza Grande.
GEOGRAPHY & CLIMATE
Located in the Po Valley, Modena is flanked on either side by the Secchia and Panaro rivers. About six miles to the south of the city sit the Apennine Mountains. The area is divided into four circoscrizioni, or districts – the Centro Storico (Historical Center), Crocetta (Eastern Modena), Buon Pastore (Southern Modena), and San Faustino (Western Modena).
Modena’s climate is described as humid subtropical, which results in summers that are warm and winters that are often wet and cold with the possibility of snowfall. The average high temperature in the summer months is 85°F, while the average low temperature during the winter months is 30°F.
WHEN IN MODENA
Explore the city’s Duomo, or Cathedral. With unique architecture that evokes the Romanesque style, it is one of the area’s most amazing buildings and one of the country’s most important medieval churches. Dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the Cathedral is also known for its bell tower, Torre della Ghirlandina, which measures over 280 feet and has become a symbol of the city. Travelers to Modena enjoy climbing to the top of the tower for some of the best photo opportunities in the city.
Visit the Enzo Ferrari Museum. Located near Modena’s train station, this museum celebrates the sports car inventor Enzo Ferrari. Inside, travelers will find an abundance of Ferrari memorabilia as well as a showroom of unbelievable Ferrari automobiles, which are rotated. For an extra special experience, head outside of Modena to the nearby town of Maranello, which is home to the Ferrari Museum. This is the most complete museum dedicated to the famed sports car brand, with hundreds of models on display as well as trophies, photographs, and other historic objects. It is also possible to take a virtual Ferrari test drive at the museum or take the real deal for a spin at the Autodromo of Modena race track.
Enjoy the city’s classic cuisine. Modena is known for its culinary offerings. The food and wine products it exports are some of the world’s best, and the local restaurants and bars throughout the city are renowned for their excellent recipes, which utilize local ingredients and traditional recipes. For a truly unique culinary experience in Modena, visit one of the historic balsamic vinegar of Modena producers and enjoy tastings of the delicious, PGI designated vinegar.
For dessert, visit one of the city’s best gelato spots which are known for all-natural, farm-to-table style gelato with unique flavors including ancient fruits as well as classics such as pistachio and almond plus seasonal specialties.
Explore the Palazzo dei Musei. This stunning palace is home to some of Modena’s most amazing museums, including the one of a kind Galleria Estense. Throughout the museums, visitors will find some of the region’s best collections ranging from Roman times to modern day. Among the esteemed works exhibited here are Bust of Francesco I d’Este by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Modena Triptych by El Greco, and Pietà by Bartolomeo Bonascia.
Visit the home of operatic legend Luciano Pavarotti. His villa in Modena is available for travelers to explore. While it is furnished as it was when he lived there, there are additional galleries throughout the villa containing memorabilia from his life such as photos, clothing, awards, and paintings.
Take in the sightseeing in Piazza Grande – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to the city’s stunning cathedral and soaring Ghirlandina bell tower, this twelfth century architecture is a must-see when in Modena.
Like much of the Emilia-Romagna region, Modena is best characterized by its delicious local cuisine and the legendary automobile manufacturers founded and headquartered here. These aspects, together with the city’s rich history, breathtaking architecture, and wealth of art, result in one of the most alluring travel destinations in Northern Italy.
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