Modena Things to Do

  • The start of our tour.
    The start of our tour.
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    The aging of the grapes
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    Some are 100 years old!
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Best Rated Things to Do in Modena

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    Piazza Grande

    by sue_stone Written Nov 13, 2006

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    What would an Italian town be without a stunning main piazza? Well, never fear, Modena has a lovely one called Piazza Grande. Located just south of Via Emilia (the main drag), the piazza is home to the town's large Cathedral. Adjoining the Cathedral is the Museo Lapidario del Duomo, which houses art works originally displayed in the Cathedral.

    Also in the square is the Palazzo Comunale (City Hall). The Palazzo is housed in an impressive building, parts of which date back to the 11th century. It is home to the late-15th century Torre dell'Orologio, a watchtower with a large clock on its face.

    The square is home to a few large cafes which are perfect places for some people watching. Make sure you stop by in the evening if you get the chance as the buildings look lovely all lit up. Oh, and the piazza is UNESCO World Heritage listed.

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    Duomo

    by sue_stone Written Nov 13, 2006

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    Located on Piazza Grande is Modena's majestic Duomo (Cathedral). This 12th century cathedral is recognised as one of the finest Romanesque cathedrals in Italy, and was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

    Inside the cathedral there is a lovely 13th century rose window, and some other beautiful stained-glass windows, including a depiction of The Last Supper which was completed in the late 15th century. There is also an impressive vaulted ceiling.

    Sitting next to the cathedral is its 88 metre high leaning bell-tower, La Torre Ghirlandia. The tower is half Gothic/half Romanesque, and was build between the 12th to 14th centuries.

    Adjoining the cathedral is the Museo Lapidario del Duomo, which houses art works originally displayed in the cathedral.

    Free admission to the cathedral and Museum. There is a small charge to visit La Torre Ghirlandia.

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    Palazzo dei Musei

    by sue_stone Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Palazzo dei Musei

    The Palazzo dei Musei is a large complex which is home to Modena's main galleries and museums. The most important attraction here is the Galleria Estense, located on the top floor of the building. Here you can see the impressive art collection of the Este family, which consists of paintings and sculptures dating back to the early Renaissance.

    Located on the ground floor is the Biblioteca Estense, where you can see one of the country's most valuable collections of manuscripts, letters and books, including the most decorated Bible in existence, the Bibbio Borso.

    Also contained in the Palazzo dei Musei is the Museo Civico Archeologico which has a range of Bronze Age exhibits, and the Museo Lapidario Estense with its displays of medieval stonework.

    There are different admission fees for each museum/gallery.

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    Palazzo Ducale

    by sue_stone Written Nov 13, 2006

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    The Palazzo Ducale is a vast 15th century palace which was built for the Este family. The Este family used to rule the nearby town of Ferrara before moving all their wealth to Modena. The palace was the family's court and was very extravagant in its day.

    This grand building takes up one whole side of Piazza Roma. Check out the candelabras that sit on the balcony edge, and the small clock tower.

    These days the Palazzo is home to Modena's Military Academy. It closed to the public, except for a couple of special days throughout the year.

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    Chiesa di San Giorgio

    by sue_stone Written Nov 13, 2006

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    The Chiese di San Giorgio dates back to the mid-17th century, based on a Greek plan. It is also known as Santuario della Beata Vergine Ausiliatrice del Popolo modenese (Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Helper of the Modenese People).

    The church is located close to the Palazzo Ducale. Its interesting façade is decorated with small statues and columns. Inside it is fairly sombre, with a nice stained glass window above the altar and a central dome.

    After you visit the church I can highly recommend having a drink at the café/bar next door (see nightlife tip for more details!).

    Admission to the church is free.

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    Piazza Matteotti & Piazza Mazzini

    by sue_stone Written Nov 13, 2006

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    I do love a good piazza, and make sure I check out as many as I can when I visit a new town. Conveniently located just off Via Emilia are a couple of nice little piazzas to visit, apart from Piazza Grande of course.

    Piazza Matteotti is a large leafy piazza, that at first glance looks like a nice place to relax and check out your map. I have read though that there are problems with drug use in the piazza and the sale of counterfeit good....perhaps a place to visit during the day, not evening.

    Just along from Piazza Matteotti is Piazza Mazzini, which is across the road from La Torre Ghirlandia. This piazza also has a relaxed feel, with some shady benches to relax on for a while. There are some impressive buildings to photograph including a Synagogue. The piazza is sometimes used as a venue for markets.

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    Chiesa di San Domenico

    by sue_stone Updated Dec 23, 2006

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    Chiesa di San Domenico
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    The Chiesa di San Domenico is an interesting church in Modena, located close to the Palazzo Ducale, on Piazza San Domenico. The church was built between 1708 and 1735 by Giuseppe Antonio Torri.

    This 18th century church has a stunning orange and yellow coloured façade. Inside it is also interesting, with marble columns and a lovely white domed roof.

    Free admission.

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    Tempio Monumentale

    by croisbeauty Updated Nov 2, 2004

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    Tempio Monumentale (Monumental Temple), consecrated to San Michele, was built in 1923 as memorial for the local soldiers who fell in battle during World War First. The building, which dominates Piazzale N. Brubi, was designed by the architect Domenico Barocco in Romanesque-Gothic reminiscent style.
    The temple is situated right behind the public garden.

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    Chiesa di San Giorgio

    by croisbeauty Updated Nov 2, 2004

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    Chiesa di San Giorgio

    Chiesa di San Giorgio (St. George's Church) was built between 1647 and 1655 under the direction of Gaspare Vigarani, on the ruins of the previous 12th century temple. The front facade of the building is in Baroque style with statues in both niches on the balustrade and at the top.
    The interior of the church has a Greek cross plan and the central dome.

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    Chiesa del Voto

    by croisbeauty Written Nov 2, 2004

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    Chiesa del Voto

    Chiesa del Voto (Church of the Vow), a single nave church situated in Aemilian Way, was built in 1634 to Galaverna's plan. The church was built as a token of gratitude to God for the end of the plague, thus releasing the people of Modena from their vow.

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    Palazzo delle Belle Arti

    by croisbeauty Updated Nov 2, 2004

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    Palazzo delle Belle Arti

    Palace of the Fine Arts is adjacent to the St. Dominic Church. It was designed by the architect Giuseppe Soli in 1786. In the central arch of the porticoe stands beautiful statue "Saturn devouving his offspring", which was taken from the Villa d'Este in Tivoli.

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    Giardino Ducale Estense

    by croisbeauty Updated Nov 2, 2004

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    Giardino Ducale Estense (Public Gardens) was built with the aim of creating a private park for the Ducal Palace. The design of the park was comissioned by Francesco I d'Este to G. Rainaldi in 1632.
    The Baroque residence, designed between 1617 and 1656 by G. Vigarani, was the Duke's residence for leisure purposes.

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    Chiesa di San Pietro

    by croisbeauty Written Nov 2, 2004

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    Chiesa di San Pietro

    Chiesa di San Pietro (St. Peter's Church) already existed in the 10th century, adjoined to a convent of Black Friars. According to the legend, it was first built on a site of 1st c. Roman Temple of Jupiter.
    The present look of the church dates from 1476 and was designed by Pietro Barabani in the Renaissance style.
    All eight chapels, in external aisles, are adorned by important works of art accomplished by different authors. Worth of note is organ in the church, dating to 1524, and built by B. Franceschetti.

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    Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista

    by croisbeauty Written Nov 2, 2004

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    Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista

    Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist), which is situated on Piazza Matteotti, was built in 1730. It was previously called Oratorio della buona morte (the oratory of good death), being the place where inmates spent their last few hours before being executed.

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    La Pietra Ringadora

    by croisbeauty Written Nov 2, 2004

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    La Pietra Ringadora

    La Pietra Ringadora (Harangue Stone) is a huge granite stone, presumably once part of the Roman Theatre, used to pillory or flog those who had committed offence against property.
    Political leaders used to rule the community from the balcony of the Town Hall tower, or alternatively from the Pietra Ringadora.

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