You’ve certainly heard people talking about Master of None, the popular American Netflix streaming series, because Master of None is one of those shows that people watch and rewatch, especially the scenes set in Modena early in the second season!
Yes, that really happened. Aziz Ansari, the series’ creator and star, came to Modena to take a break from his normal life and to learn everything he could about the art of making fresh pasta.
But let’s back up a moment.
Master of None is the story of thirty-something Dev Shah. His life in New York includes an on-again, off-again girlfriend, a very traditional Indian family, racial prejudice, friends, and career goals, all of which the series explores with light-heartedness and gentle irony.
In the second season, Dev finds himself in the midst of an existential crisis, and he suddenly decides it’s time to learn the art of pasta making. And where does he go for his apprenticeship? To Modena, obviously.
In Modena with Master of None
Here’s Dev’s Master of None itinerary in Modena!
The Historic Albinelli Market
No one can skip a stop to the Albinelli, and sooner or later, every food lover makes a pilgrimage here!
Lying at the heart of Modena’s gastronomic traditions, the Albinelli Market dates back to the early 1900s, and for more than a century has been a constant touchstone for both Modena’s residents and visitors. People come to shop for their daily meals, choosing the local products for which the Modena area is justly famous: tortellini, balsamic vinegar, Lambrusco wine, and much more. In recent years, the market has transformed itself into a popular place for friends and family to meet for cheerful lunches and convivial happy hours.
If the Albinelli Market is the center of Modena for food lovers, Piazza Grande is the city's actual heart. It’s Modena’s main piazza and, together with the Modena Cathedral, and the Ghirlandina Tower, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The Palazzo Comunale stands at one end of Piazza Grande, and the statue of La Bonissima, a female figure installed above the street, and the Pietra Ringadora (the “Haranguing Stone”) can also be found here.
Piazzetta San Giacomo
Nearby, along a side street that leads off Corso Canalchiaro, is beautiful Piazzetta San Giacomo. This hidden corner of Modena is striking for Giuseppe Graziosi’s Fountain of the Nymph.
Ducal Palace (Palazzo Ducale)
The residence of the Dukes of Modena until 1859, the Ducal Palace is today the site of Modena’s Military Academy. This magnificent Baroque-style palazzo, financed by Duke Francesco I of Este and designed by Bartolomeo Avanzini, is one of Europe’s most impressive palaces for size and splendor. The Ducal Palace is open to the public but only by guided tour. For reservations or more information, give us a call.
Piazza San Francesco
Just at the entrance to Modena’s historic city center, facing Corso Canalchiaro, is Piazza San Francesco, the site of the church of the same name. The Fountain of San Francesco, also designed by Graziosi (1938), stands here as well. In 1785, Antonio Begarelli’s imposing sculptural group, The Deposition from the Cross, was placed in one of the chapels, a sight well worth the visit.
Piazza XX Settembre
Piazza XX Settembre lies behind the Albinelli Market. Along one of the piazza’s two long sides stands Palazzo Tagliazucchi, a brick structure that dates to the 16th century. Today it houses a bank. From here, at Piazza XX Settembre number 29, an alleyway leads to the Albinelli through the famous “Galleria del Pane.”
The filming of Master of None certainly took advantage of Modena’s most famous historical sites, but scenes in the series also feature many other places known to locals, including the Cappuccino da Angiolina Bar (Vicolo Forni), the first café where Dev goes for coffee; the Boutique del Tortellino (via Scarpa), where Dev learns to make fresh pasta; the Menomoka (Corso Canalchiaro), where he goes to meet friends; the Hosteria Giusti (via Farini), where he has lunch; the Archer (via Cesare Battisti), where he stops for a drink; and the Enoteca Compagnia del Taglio (via Fonte d’Abisso), where he and his friends celebrate his birthday.
Last but not least is the Osteria Francescana (via Stella), Massimo Bottura’s world-famous restaurant, renowned for its three Michelin stars. In one episode, Dev has supper there with his friend, Arnold.
One last bit of trivia: In the series, Dev travels around the center of Modena on his bike, and a number of the city’s famous vistas appear, including views from Corso Canalchiaro and via Canalino.
For Modena’s residents, seeing the city as the background for movies and TV series both Italian and international is always a little bit strange. But for visitors who don’t know Modena well, it’s an excellent way to pique your curiosity and find inspiration for your own visit.
But if you still haven’t seen Master of None, don’t waste any time getting up to speed. As you watch, keep an eye out for the sites and locales we’ve mentioned. We’re sure you’ll find it a lot of fun.
And if you’re thinking of organizing your own trip to Modena, please be in touch. We’ll be delighted to help.