Visit Date: April 30, 2019, at approximately 10:00 a.m.
The city of Modena, in the Emilia Romagna region, is located northwest of Bologna. It is about an hour away by motorway. Modena flourished under the Este family, who were forced to leave Ferrara. It has become a very beautiful city where the artistry of the Este family can be seen here and there.
The parking situation was not a problem at all as Modena is a famous tourist destination. We used the central parking lot on the north side of the old town, outside the old town. This is a great place to park and a must if you are visiting by car as it is large and has good access to the old town.
The inside of the parking lot was spacious.
The area where the parking lot is located is a large park, and there is a soccer stadium on the north side of the park. I don’t know much about soccer, but I wonder if there are professional league matches held there.
Estense Museum and City Museum
From the parking lot to the old town. We went to the museum first. It’s not a big museum, but it’s famous for the quality of the collection of the Este family from generation to generation.
I had a hard time understanding how and where to buy tickets.
The building has three floors and the Estense Museum is on the top floor.
There were a few exhibits related to ancient civilizations, and a variety of high quality works from the pre-Renaissance religious to the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The collection of sculptures and ceramics was also very beautiful.
The most eye-catching work is « Bust of Francesco I of the House of Este » by Bernini at the back of the entrance. Even a layman who doesn’t know much about sculpture can understand the great Bernini’s work.
By the way, this Francesco I did not seem to have any political talent at all, but he seemed to have a preeminent artistic sense.
The instrument-related works were also wonderful.
Now, the lower floor of this building was the Modena City Museum. We could visit here, too. The main exhibits were lace, textile and other industrial products, musical instruments, and scientific instruments. I wonder if the reason why there is an exhibition of scientific instruments has something to do with the fact that Modena was a center of learning in the Middle Ages.
The next stop after viewing the Estense Museum is the Plaza Grande. A few minutes walk from the museum along the street that runs through the center of the city will bring you to the square. Here you will find the Cathedral of Modena (Duomo), a masterpiece of Romanesque style and a World Heritage Site.
Adjacent to the Duomo, this impressive tower, the Tower of Ghirlandina, is also a World Heritage Site. We were not allowed to climb this tower.
First, the facade. From here to the inside.
Very beautiful. I was impressed by its unique atmosphere which I had never seen before. I have visited such cathedrals several times, and I think that Romanesque cathedrals have more freedom and individuality than Gothic ones.
Now, the patron saint of Modena is San Gimignano, yes, the saint who is also the name of the Tuscan city we visited two days ago. The tomb of this San Gimignano is in the Cathedral of Modena. It is located in the space under the Holy Candlestick. Some tourists were praying for him.
After visiting the museum and the cathedral, I realized that it was past noon. No wonder I was hungry. I wandered around the Plaza Grande to have a meal in the city, and I found a Marcato in another square next to the Plaza Grande. I decided to take a peek here.
It’s good to be able to buy prepared food like a food court and eat it right away at a table in the marcato. Well, to be honest, it’s not very clean. The delicatessen was very good.
By the way, we recommend that you buy your drinks first. This is because it is difficult to shop when you have a prepared food.
After the meal, I thought of something to take home as a souvenir, and I found balsamic vinegar. I heard that Modena is famous for balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar was sold not only in Marcato but also all over the city. We bought a 15 years old balsamic vinegar in Marcato.
As it matures, the sweetness increases in a good way. In fact, I have used this balsamic vinegar from time to time since I returned to Japan, and I was surprised by its elegant aroma and moderate sweetness.
Attractions in the suburbs
In addition, there is a museum of Enzo Ferrari’s birthplace in the suburbs, and I was interested in it, but I gave it up in order to give priority to sightseeing in Ferrara, another capital of the Este family. In fact, Modena is a famous city in the automobile industry, and the suburbs are also the base of famous automobile manufacturers such as Ferrari and Maserati.
Modena looks cozy, the food looks good, and it’s definitely a city I’ll revisit at some point. It will also be a potential place to stay then.