Famous for balsamic vinegar, being the birthplace of the late, great opera singer Pavarotti and for those sleek, red sports cars – the Ferrari. Modena is all that and more, although for us, most notably small trattorias serving gastronomic delights.
True foodies will book a table three months in advance at Massimo Bottura’s famous 11-table restaurant, Osteria Franacescana, voted last year onto the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
But, after a couple of hours seeing the sights and wandering about the cobblestoned streets of Modena, we chose instead to dine nearby at a Cappuccino Enoteca Ec Caffef Di Angiolina on Vicolo Forni 45 41121. As we entered, it looked like they were about to close up, but the waiter was happy to set us a table. He actually didn’t ask want we wanted, it was more ‘you will have a plate of pasta’ with a question mark at the end of sentence – but with no room for argument. As we sipped on our glasses of Prosecco our plates of tortellini were served with a flourish – perfecto! Not the heaped bowl of pasta that I was expecting as most Italian restaurants (and Nanna’s) serve at home – but a plate with a small amount of the most delicious tortellini and creamy sauce.
For a day (or two) of sightseeing, depending on what pace you set yourself, I would recommend putting these highlights on your To Do list.
Duomo di Modena – Modena’s Romanesque cathedral begun in 1099 and not completed until the 13th century.
Enzo Ferrari Museum – no visit to Modena would be complete without seeing where Italy and the world’s love affair with Ferrari all began. There is an extensive collection of cars to drool over.
Palazzo Ducale – Baroque palace once the residence of the Este Dukes between 1452 and 1859.
Piazza Grande – declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.
Torre Ghirlandina – rising 88 metres above the piazza below, the tower is slightly off the perpendicular. The upper levels are decorated with bas-reliefs of monsters, knights and ladies.
Palazzo dei Musei – A large palace housing several museums with collections covering local history and culture, fine and decorative arts.
Giardini Pubblici – formerly the gardens of the Este Palace, they are now a public park featuring a botanic garden filled with rare and exotic plants.