When viewed from above, the centre of Modena looks like a red patch of roof tiles, interrupted by a network of streets. Inside the perimeter of the buildings you can spot green areas and secluded spaces used as courtyards, a common feature of noble residences. The most majestic is the palazzo ducale, erected for the House of Este where all the city’s canals merged, whose magnificent main courtyard can be seen from the adjoining square. The city’s other noble residences and old palaces have hidden gardens that the tourist can glimpse from their entrance halls, revealing statues, fountains and places that take us back to bygone times and bear witness to that old taste for the spectacular where illusionistic painting techniques were used to create trompe l’oeil perspectives.
In some streets of the city, you can see portions of medieval buildings with porticoes, as well as historical buildings once home to famous figures such as Ciro Menotti and other residences that were once used as convents and by religious organisations.
In the lower plains of Modena, framed by the Secchia and Panaro rivers, along the banks and set in splendid parks, are many summer residences belonging to illustrious Modena families. They are country villas, some simple, others impressive in their design, with the façade and main entrance facing the river to highlight the importance of the waterway as a communication route. Some of these homes are private, while others are used for cultural and social events.
Outside of the city, visitors can admire spectacular residences with evocative gardens.
The area around Modena is home to small fortresses, tower houses and stately homes on the plains as well as in the mountains. Many of these historical residences are today used as premises for prestigious restaurants, holiday farmhouses and hotels of great charm and allure. They offer guests a chance to travel back through history and experience life as it was in olden times.
The ancient passion for theatre in Modena is seen in its many venues for concerts and productions, ranging from traditional theatre to experimental performances, concerts, poetry readings, conferences and exhibitions, introducing the public of all ages to the art of recital and entertaining audiences with a fine selection of different proposals. The city’s famous historical theatres, the Luciano Pavarotti Municipal Theatre and the Storchi Theatre, are flanked by other modern, more minimalist venues. No town in the province is without its own theatre or some kind of venue for staging productions or events to entertain visitors.
In summer, in the city or other towns, the piazzas and sometimes the courtyards of historical residences are transformed into open-air theatres where drama companies and different cultural bodies and organisations, in partnership with local institutions, stage events and shows devoted to plays, concerts, readings or other forms of entertainment to make the tourist’s stay truly memorable.