Fri, September 28th, 2012 - By

Spotlight on Modena, Italy

Modena is an ancient city in the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy.  It’s nicknamed “the capital of engines”, due to the fact that Italy’s best known sports cars (Lamborghini, Maserati, Ferrari and De Tomaso) are manufactured here. The Ferrari 360 Modena proudly carries the town’s name.

Ferrari Challenge FC10

But there’s a lot more than sports car manufacturing in Modena. The city has a most historic collection of well preserved buildings, museums, imposing churches and a rich heritage and lively cultural scene. An ancient seat of learning, the 1175-established University occupies the Baroque Ducal Palace buildings, which also house Italy’s own “West Point”-style Military Academy.

Accademia Militare

Getting around the city is straightforward on the SETA urban network, which includes the trolleybuses. There are direct rail links to Bologna, Milan and Verona.

La Pomposa #1

The Orto Botanico dell’Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia is a lovely botanical garden, perfect  for a quiet stroll. The Teatro Comunale Modena, named after the town’s most famous son Luciano Pavarotti, is the town’s main opera house.

Sacred space

If you like Italian food, try some of the Modena-style preserved meat dishes, e.g. Zampone or Cotechino. Some are served with a dressing made with the town’s famous balsamic vinegar. Tortellini and tortelloni pasta also originated here and the dessert Torta Nera (black tart), made with almonds, coffee and cocoa, is sumptuous.


The 12th century Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The nearby Gothic campanile (also called Torre della Ghirlandina) is a 14th century building. Modena’s other famous churches  (St. Augustine, St. Francis, 17th century San Vincenzo, Greek plan St. George, Santa Maria della Pomposa, San Giovanni Decollato) and the 19th century Synagogue by the Palazzo Comunale convey the town’s rich religious heritage.


The Town Hall in Piazza Grande has a magnificent 15th century Clock Tower. The Palace complex houses Modena’s main museums (Este Headstones, Risorgimento, Medieval and Modern Art,  Archaeological and Ethnological), as well as the important Estense Library with its historical volumes and manuscripts.

Photo credits: TMWolf, Bruno, Roberto Ferrari, Monika, Josh Petersen

Karen Bryan

As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save

Posted : Friday, September 28th, 2012 at 10:00
Category : Spotlight
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