Discovering Modena’s UNESCO World Heritage Site
The tour begins in the heart of the city with an exploration of the rare beauty of Modena’s World Heritage Site, established by UNESCO in 1997: the Modena Cathedral, the Ghirlandina Tower, and Piazza Grande.
During your visit, be sure to give yourself time to take in the small details. They may not always be immediate, but they will enrich your experience immeasurably.
In the afternoon, visit a local vinegar cellar and learn all about PDO (protected designation of origin) and PGI (protected geographical indication) balsamic vinegar of Modena.
Your first day is organized around Modena’s history, cultural heritage, and best known culinary specialties.
First stop: The Modena Cathedral
On the columns of the Porta Regia, which faces Piazza Grande, look for floral decorations and, on the carved jambs of the Porta della Pescheria (the Fish Market Gate), stop to admire the monthly calendar that marked the time and seasons during the Middle Ages. In the month of April, notice the elegant gentleman who holds a flower in his hand.
Second stop: The Ghirlandina Tower
Alongside the Cathedral’s apse stands the agile, slender Ghirlandina Tower, the symbol of Modena. The nickname the people of Modena have given their tower comes from the marble balustrades that crown the spire, “as graceful as garlands” (ghirlanda, in Italian).
A climb to the top of the tower is a must, and the view of Modena from its eighty-nine meters of height is unforgettable!
Third stop: Visit to a Vinegar Cellar
Smell the aromas and experience the flavors of Modena’s traditional PDO (protected designation of origin) balsamic vinegar. Through special techniques of decanting and many years of refinement and aging, Modena’s traditional balsamic vinegar matures in the quiet of a vinegar cellar.
Balsamic vinegar is made by cooking must (unfermented grape juice) that is then aged, allowing slow acidification through natural fermentation, and progressively concentrated in casks made from various kinds of wood. No other flavors or substances are added to the vinegar as it ages. Exploring these processes through an in-person visit to a vinegar cellar is a unique experience available only in this part of Italy, and it’s a fundamental stop in this and other area tours and excursions.
Fourth stop: The Unforgettable Flavors of Modena
The evening returns you to Modena’s historical center for a relaxing aperitif in one of the many local bars and restaurants. After that, it’s time for supper and a taste of traditional culinary specialties.