Day 1 - Saturday
Before you start on your way, we suggest a stop at the Tourist Office on Piazza Grande. It’s a chance to gather all the information you’ll need during your stay as well as to buy the combined ticket that includes admission to some of Modena’s main attractions at a special price.
The best place to start is Modena’s UNESCO site: the Romanesque-style Cathedral, the Ghirlandina Tower, and Piazza Grande, a group of structures that were designated a World Heritage Site in 1997. Click here for our suggested excursion to the UNESCO Site.
Before lunch or at some other point during your weekend, take a guided tour of Modena’s Municipal Vinegar Cellar (reservations should be made through the Tourist Office) or of another private vinegar producer in or around Modena. Generations of families have made balsamic vinegar, and the story of its production is deeply entrenched in Modena’s culture.
From Piazza Grande, take a short walk across lively Piazza XX September, and you’ll find yourself at the Albinelli Market. The cheerful ambiance of this historic marketplace, the epicenter of local culinary traditions, is not to be missed.
In the afternoon, you can join one of the several guided tours we offer through our Tourist Office, an excellent opportunity to get to know the city more intimately and especially its architectural gems and the UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Cathedral, the Ghirlandina Tower, and Piazza Grande. We can also suggest theme-based excursions; the tours organized by the Modena Arti Visive Foundation to the Museo della Figurina (a museum dedicated to illustrated and collectible postcards and sports cards, advertisements, matchboxes, calendars and more); a trip to local art exhibits, or the activities of the AGO Project (Modena’s “culture factory”). And there’s so much more!
Once you’ve finished your guided tour, take a walk through the center of Modena until it’s time for supper. On Saturday afternoons, the city comes alive, and the atmosphere is lively and fun. Modena has no shortage of interesting stores and fascinating artisans, and you can sample their wares at an historic shop or an artist’s studio in the historical center.
First stop: The Unesco World Heritage site of Modena
Alongside, the elegant Ghirlandina Tower, the symbol of Modena beloved by its residents, soars toward the sky. Be sure to include a climb to the top of the tower in your plans to experience a spectacular 360° view of the city. Back on the ground, stop at the Museums of the Cathedral, whose entrance is next to the Ghirlandina Tower, for an in-depth look at this stunning complex of buildings and to learn more about the history of the Catholic church in Modena.
Second stop: Discover the famous Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena
In 2003, the City of Modena wanted to pay homage to its most important product, and so, in partnership with the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Consortium, it opened a vinegar cellar that hosts three “batteries” (rows of barrels in which balsamic vinegar is aged): two smaller ones that hold six casks each, called Secchia and Panaro after the area rivers, and one with ten casks, known as the Ghirlandina Tower. The Municipal Vinegar Cellar, located in the attic of the Palazzo Comunale, is also home to three large oak “Grandmother” barrels of 100 or 200 liters, from which the smaller casks are filled, as well as mementos and tools that tell the story of the culture of balsamic vinegar, including tragni, the traditional glazed terracotta pots used to store vinegar.
Third stop: The Albinelli Market
The Albinelli Market is a lively and welcoming place that we’re sure will win you over. When it’s time for lunch, you have nothing but choice: the downtown area’s many restaurants and trattorias offer typical local dishes, which means a chance to taste, among other things, our famous tortellini, zampone and cotechino (dishes made from a mixture of ground pork flavored with herbs and spices and stuffed into the hollowed-out trotter or lower-leg of a hog), or large flakes of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese seasoned with traditional balsamic vinegar, all of it accompanied by a nice glass of Lambrusco, our sparkling and vivacious local red wine. To finish on a high note, treat yourself to a bensone (a traditional pastry made with flour, milk, eggs, butter, and sugar and sometimes filled with jam), zuppa inglese (a trifle made with sponge cake, a red herbal liqueur, and custard), or almond-flavored amaretti cookies.