From Piazza Grande to Palazzo Ducale, passing by the quaint Albinelli Covered Market: here’s what to see in Modena in a day.
It is a city of great artistic and cultural riches, home of Ferrari, bel canto, and even… balsamic vinegar. Which of Modena’s beautiful sites can you see in one day? If you’re passing through and have only 24 hours to visit the city, we suggest some attractions you must see: follow us on this tour, it’s short but intense!
A one-day trip to Modena: start from the UNESCO heritage treasures
The first stop is a must: you can’t say you’ve seen the real Modena without stopping to admire its splendid Piazza Grande, which, together with the Duomo and the Ghirlandina that encircle it, was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. A quadrangular and harmonious square, this is the true heart of the city, where all the most important historical events took place: from the burial of the patron saint St. Geminianus to the birth of the municipality, from the fighting of the revolutionary era to the setting up of the city market.
The Cathedral, which dominates the square, is one of the highest examples of Italian Romanesque art: designed by Lanfranco and sculpted by Wiligelmo, it was built in the 11th century. Standing next to it is the Civic Tower or Ghirlandina, the city’s undisputed icon and, at least according to the people of Modena, the most beautiful bell tower in the world. Built by Arrigo da Campione, it had the dual function of a religious tower and a lookout and defense garrison. Stop to admire it and, if you get the urge, climb to the top for the magnificent view of the city from above!
Places to visit in Modena: the Albinelli Historical Market
The Albinelli Market is one of the most characteristic and evocative places in the city. This covered market, which was opened in 1931, is home to hundreds of lively and colorful stalls displaying all the excellent local food and wine (which you can buy and perhaps also savor cooked to perfection in Modena’s best typical restaurants). Of particular interest is the cover in imposing iron vaults and the fountain of the “little girl with a basket of fruit”, located right in the center.
Modena, what to visit in one day Sites you cannot miss
Piazza Roma, the third stop on our tour, is a large rectangular space that, during the time of the Este duchy, was a favorite place for the reception of kings and popes who came to visit the city or for performances and official celebrations. You can admire the monument to Ciro Menotti, the Fonte d’Abisso, but above all, the grand Ducal Palace, a jewel rich in art and history.
Considered the first Baroque palazzo in Italy, it was built starting in 1634 on the site of the former Este Castle and is now home to the Military Academy and its Museum. It was designed by Bartolomeo Avanzini, also said to be under the supervision of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Among the most beautiful rooms is the study of Duke Francis III, known as the “Golden Drawing Room” for its walls covered in pure gold.
What else to see in Modena: the Palazzo dei Musei
You can’t visit Modena without stopping to visit at least one museum! In the city, you are spoiled for choice: the Palazzo dei Musei, a complex built inside the 18th-century ducal arsenal, houses the Este Lapidary Museum, the Luigi Poletti Art Library, the Giuseppe Graziosi plaster cast collection, the Municipal Historical Archives, the Este Library and, above all, the famous Este Gallery, with valuable collections of masterpieces of Emilian painting.
To Modena with Italo
In addition to the city center sites, also worth visiting are some of the surrounding locations, such as the Ferrari Museum and Pavarotti’s house (perhaps by organizing day trips from Modena itself). You’ll be pleased to discover that, with Italo, you arrive in the city comfortably and quickly thanks to the combination of high-speed train and Italobus; take advantage of it and set off on your fascinating day tour of art and culture.
But you must promise us that next time you will stay in Modena for at least one weekend, to revisit the treasures we have described in a more leisurely manner and discover many other beauties of this city!