Heart and cradle of the city, medieval Main Square is definitely the most favourite spot all across the town by Modena citizens, here still gathering to hear the latest news. Don’t be alarmed if they will start talking to you: that’s just how eager they are to be sharing the beauty of their town with you!
Flanking the square all throughout its width is the majestic Romanesque Cathedral, still looking imposing and superb after one thousand years. All white marble-built, the building is still extraordinary faithful to the original 11th century project by medieval architects. It’s no chance it was called a ‘marble Bible’, being adorned by hundreds of precious marble carvings, including monsters, gryphons, mermaids and gargoyles, scenes from Holy Scriptures and Aesop’s Fables. This is Middle Ages just at their best. I will be sharing with you all the Duomo secrets, as well as revealing the reason why Arthur and Round Table Knights make an appearance on one of its gates. Together, we will definitely be solving some of its most intriguing and cryptic medieval symbols!
Peaceful and serene from the top of its 86 meters height, Ghirlandina bell tower looks down on the lively square underneath. Just close to it, having been serving as seat of Modena city council for eight hundred years. City Hall offers a number of richly decorated rooms and hosts one the most unusual memorabilia and war trophies of all Europe: a wooden bucket having been stolen from rival, defeated Bologna people during the so-called ‘War of Wooden Bucket’ in 14th century, certainly marking Modena people sense of humour.
Next stop is Albinelli Food Market, whose stunning Art Deco building hosts food stalls and delicatessen shops with a lavish collection of local foodstuffs, from cheese to hand made pasta, from sausages to wine and vegetables which will literally be leaving you just begging for more!
St. Peter Monastery is seat of the Benedictine monks community of the town, here located for more then one thousand years. In the abbey, they still run their own herbalist shop, where they have been preparing remedies, herbal extracts and infusions ever since Middle Ages. Strolling below Portico del Collegio we will be reaching the area of the ancient Jewish ghetto, where the Temple still is located nowadays.
As unusual as it may sound nowadays, Modena was capital of its own state, before Italy was unified. And indeed, Este Dukes built a majestic and imposing Ducal Palace for themselves, intended to be competing with French, Austrian and British courts. I will be revealing you all about the gossip, etiquette and extravaganza of the Baroque court and the reason why the castle and its mesmerizing works of art, seemingly out of a Cinderella movie, are now inaccessible to the public, being kept secretive.
One of the most beloved spots across town is Comunale Theatre, where a special monument has been dedicated to one of the most illustrious citizens of Modena, worldwide-beloved tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Make sure to be taking a selfie with the Maestro, as a memory of his beloved hometown!
At the Palace of the Museums you will be exploring part of the prestigious private art collection of the Dukes themselves, formerly being kept secretive and inaccessible inside the Palace: starting with memories of the ancient Roman past of the town (sarcophagi, tombstones and prestigious burial monuments) I will be leading you to the discovery of the amazing Estense Library, formerly library collection of the Dukes themselves, now hosting an unprecedented collection of precious books, manuscripts, geographical maps and stunning illuminated manuscripts such as 15th century hand-decorated Bible of Marquis Borso d’Este, one of the masterpieces of Italian Renaissance.
A different option for your tour of the city is Enzo Ferrari Museum, hosted in the house/paternal workshop he was born into at the end of the 19th century, coming with a collection of personal memorabilia and some of the most prestigious cars of his own glorious career. Are you ready to experience the myth of the Prancing Horse racing team and being seduced by Ferraris cars?!