Things to Do in Modena
Things to Do in Modena

Modena Things To Do Travel Guide

The city of Modena is home to a treasure trove of historic, artistic, and cultural activities. In addition to traditional sightseeing of ancient churches and town squares, travelers can also find entertainment such as local festivals, live music, bustling shopping markets, and more. A visit to Modena would not be complete without indulging in some of the area’s famous local cuisine, so travelers can also experience food tours, dinner at local restaurants, and cocktails in neighborhood bars. Throughout Modena are a variety of unique, fun, and memorable activities to enjoy.


Modena holds a wide array of exciting and interesting events throughout the year.

In January, there are two festivals dedicated to important saints – one for Saint Anthony the Great and another for Patron Saint Gimignano. The latter is larger, with the entire town transformed into a massive market where locals and travelers can shop for local delicacies and handmade products. According to legend, San Gimignano, who was the Bishop of Modena, saved the city from an attack by Attila the Hun by hiding Modena under a layer of fog. During the celebrations, a relic of San Gimignano is on display in the Modena Cathedral to be venerated by the faithful.

May brings the Terra di Motori, which is a massive car event that focuses on all kinds of motor vehicles from vintage to modern. Along with exhibitions, car races are held for those that enjoy a thrill.

In July, the streets and squares of Modena are filled with music as the International Festival of Marching Bands unfolds. Marching bands from all over the world converge on Modena with accompanying color guards to compete against each other.

Every September, the city holds a concert honoring its most famous and well-respected musician – famed operatic singer Luciano Pavarotti. The Piazza Grande hosts the event, which features arias to honor the tenor.

Also in September is the Festival Filosofia, or Philosophy Festival. The event consists of courses, workshops, concerts, films, competitions, and exhibitions all centered on a chosen philosophical theme that changes each year.

Perhaps one of the most interesting annual events for locals and visitors alike though is Cioccolatovero. Held each year in February, the unique festival is dedicated to chocolate in all of its forms. Featuring workshops that highlight the steps of chocolate production as well as chocolate tastings, this event is beloved by children and adults of all ages.


To take in the wonder of nature in Modena, travelers can visit the Modena Botanical Garden. Not far from the historic city center, this public garden is bursting with stunning plants, flowers, and walking paths.
Another way to enjoy nature is to visit the Parco Fluviale Fiume Secchia – a nature preserve near Modena that includes natural woodland, lakes, lush vegetation, and more. It is ideal for walking, hiking, and biking.

Throughout Modena are a variety of unique town squares filled with the history, charm, character, and local life of the city. Perfect for people-watching and immersing in local culture, squares like Piazza Roma and Piazza Grande (the main city square) are true icons of life in Modena.

Located in Piazza Grande are a couple of Modena’s most popular and historic sites – the Cathedral and Torre Ghirlandina (bell tower). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Cathedral is the center of the town’s historic city center. Featuring unique architecture, stunning decor, stained glass windows, statues, and religious imagery, the Cathedral is a must-see in Modena. Next to the Cathedral is the bell tower. Among the largest structures in Modena at nearly 295 feet high, its Gothic architecture complements the Cathedral. Travelers can climb to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of the entire city.


For travelers who wish to spend time indoors, Modena has a variety of indoor sightseeing opportunities and museums.
Constructed in 1634, the Ducal Palace is a spectacular site to explore and tour. The formal residence of the d’Este dukes currently serves as the location of the Military Academy and houses the Military Museum. Visitors can take a guided tour of the palace to marvel at its stunning architecture, historic portraits, library, and elegant halls.
As for museums, travelers can enjoy everything from historic and educational exhibitions to unique and one-of-a-kind collections.

Located inside Modena’s cathedral are the Cathedral Museums, which depict the history of the cathedral. The two collections – the Epigraphic Museum and Cathedral Museum – include sculptures, works of art, ancient pieces from Roman and Medieval times, historic documents, and much more.

Fans of automobiles will enjoy the Enzo Ferrari Museum. Born in Modena, the creator of the famed Ferrari automobile is honored in this unique museum which includes a segment that occupies a portion of his home. Inside the museum are collections of sports cars and Ferrari memorabilia as well as exhibitions detailing Enzo Ferrari’s personal life and work.

For history buffs, a must-see is the historical museum located at the Palazzo dei Musei. Inside travelers will find collections of art, artifacts, and displays which depict the history of Modena. Also worth visiting is the Estense University Library, which gathers together a wide range of historical manuscripts and printed works that was started by the House of Este.

The Archeological and Ethnographic Museum traces the history of Modena and the surrounding area from the Paleolithic to the Middle Ages. A wide array of fascinating ancient artifacts is on display here alongside unique findings from other geographical areas including South America, Africa, and Asia.

Modena is also home to a wide variety of churches to explore. Inside each, travelers can marvel at the unique architecture and gaze upon historic works of art.

In addition to the Modena Cathedral, one must-see is the Church of San Domenico, which is revered for its elliptical shape and paintings by Francesco Meuti, Giambettino Cignaroli, and Antonio Begarelli.

Another church, the Church of Sant’Agostino, was chosen to serve as a Pantheon for the House of Este. Originally a Gothic structure, the church was subsequently redecorated with stucco and paintings to fit its new purpose.
Other historic religious structures certainly worth a visit include the Church of Santa Maria della Pomposa, the Church of San Pietro Apostolo, and the San Gimignano Monastery.


Although there are traditional shopping malls to explore in Modena, the best way to truly experience the history and culture of the city is to visit Mercato Albinelli – a historical food market that has been in existence since 1931. Located on Via Luigi Albinelli, it welcomes around 30,000 people weekly and features an abundance of local food including fruit, vegetables, meat, pastries, spices, seasonings, and rare local products such as truffles and balsamic vinegar.

Another local market to visit is held on the fourth Saturday and Sunday of each month. Called L’Antico in Piazza Grande, it is a wonderful antique market featuring furniture, books, and more. This antique market is considered to be the largest of its kind in the Emilia-Romagna region.


Families with children will enjoy a visit to the unique Museum of Picture Cards. It features a collection of figurines and collectible items from Giuseppe Panini, founder of the Panini Group, the largest collectable company in Italy. The displays include cards of all kinds – cigarette cards, photo cards, coupons, labels, paper, envelopes, trading cards, and more.

To take a step back in time with your little ones, consider a visit to the Novi Ark Archeological Park. Featuring a necropolis, tombs and funerary monuments, historic buildings, and a vast array of ancient artifacts dating back to the Roman period, a trip to the archeological park is an excellent way to learn more about history first-hand.


As Modena was the home of world-renowned opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, taking in an opera in his hometown is a once in a lifetime experience. The Teatro Comunale Modena is an opera house that features incredible opera shows from some of the most famous singers in the world. For true fans of Pavarotti, visiting his former house on Stradello Nava is a must-do.

One simply cannot visit Modena without enjoying some of the local cuisine that the city is famous for. That includes tasting one of a kind balsamic vinegar that is known worldwide. As Modena’s most famous product, it is proudly featured on the local menus. During a visit to a producer of this amazing vinegar, travelers can enjoy tastings and learn about how this unique and rare balsamic vinegar is made.

Automotive enthusiasts will find Modena to be an incredible destination to visit. Much of the most unique activities in Modena are related to cars and motorsports due to the fact that car manufacturing is embedded into the history of the city. Italian automobile manufacturers Ferrari, Pagani, and Maserati are all located in the Modena area, and Ferrari was founded by Modenese Enzo Ferrari, making Modena the most famous automotive city in Italy, along with Turin. Travelers can enjoy visiting the famous car factories and exploring the fabulous Pagani Motor Museum as well as the Ferrari Museum in nearby Maranello.

The three things Modena is most famous for – art, cars, and food – delight all the senses and perfectly encapsulate the unique culture of this remarkable city. While exploring Modena, visitors will find a variety of activities to enjoy that focus on all three, allowing travelers of all interests to experience the very best of the Emilia-Romagna region.