Modena is a modern, bubbly city, full of wonders of the most authentic Italian tradition. Discover with us how to visit this city like a local!  

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Modena is a beautiful and ancient city, located near one of the most famous Roman roads, the Via Emilia.

Its Historic City Center is a real gem, characterized by the soaring architecture, typical of Italian Gothic. Streets and alleys invite tourists to discover every corner and admire every glimpse.

Here is what to do and where to go to explore like a true local

What to do in Modena like a local

What to do in Modena like a local

Modena holds some of the treasures of history and popular culture dearest to Italians: in fact, it is the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari and Pavarotti.

Modena's gastronomic specialties are famous all over the world: who has not heard of its famous tortellini and balsamic vinegar of Modena?

Below you can find a tips for discovering the most authentic Modena, with all the places and flavors that make the hearts of Italians flutter.   

10. Taking a tour in the Motor Valley

What to do in Modena like a local. Take a tour in the Motor Valley

The Motor Valley is not only a place where luxury and racing cars are built, but also a place where legends are born.

At the beginning of the last century, in these lands Alfieri, Ettore and Ernesto gave birth to the myth of Maserati.

In 1929 the Scuderia Ferrari with its unmistakable little horse was born in Viale Trento Trieste. Today the Motor Valley is home to many museums, factories and private collections of vintage cars and motorcycles, a true paradise for motor lovers.

In addition to the famous names already mentioned you can visit the Modena racetrack and the Lamborghini and Ducati factory-museums. 

Planning a tour around the Motor Valley? We've got an article with the best hotels and B&Bs to stay: check it out. 

Get your tickets for Museo Enzo Ferrari Modena

9. Tasting all kinds of tortellini from Modena (or Bologna?)

What to do in Modena like a local. Taste all kinds of tortellini

Modena is famous in the cookbooks of all Italians for its stuffed pasta, especially during the Christmas season. Like many Italian cities that are geographically contiguous, there are ancient feuds between Modena and Bologna that in modern times are often reflected in culinary disputes.

Where was tortellino born, in Modena or Bologna? According to history, this delicacy's birthplace is Castelfranco Emilia, a town once in the province of Modena and now of Bologna.

Today the difference between Bolognese and Modenese tortellini is very subtle: the former, when cooked, have the meat filling still raw while the filling of the Modenese tortellino is browned even before cooking.

This Modenese tradition is related to the fact that, since the tortellino is prepared at Christmas but must last until the Epiphany, browning the filling first keeps the meat better.

Another bone of contention between the Bolognese and Modenese is the finger with which the tortellino dough is closed: for Bologna it is the little finger, for Modena the index finger. The only thing they all have in common is the broth, which must absolutely be capon.

If you want to visit Modena as local, you cannot fail to go in search of the perfect tortellino, possibly on different occasions, both for lunch and dinner!  

8. Discovering Historic city center and quality of life

What to do in Modena like a local. Discover Historic city center and quality of life

Modena is a beautiful city and have a very lived-in historic city centre. If you want to visit the city like a local, stroll through the streets of the center, watch the children playing and older men chatting outside the bars, sit on the benches of Corso Como and admire the beautiful cathedral.

We also recommend going up the Ghirlandaia tower to admire the city's urban grid from above: a truly unique experience! In recent years, Modena has consistently ranked among the top cities with the best quality of life in Italy

This of course also has a positive feedback for the world of tourism: the services are better, life is not too expensive, and the municipality pays attention to the care of streets and parks.   

7. Visiting the Municipal Vinegar Factory and Private Vinegar Factories

What to do in Modena like a local. Visit the Municipal Vinegar Factory and Private Vinegar Factories

The city of Modena is world famous for its unique balsamic vinegar. With its dark color and balsamic aroma, it has become a must-have on the tables of Italians, a product of the highest standard and unparalleled taste.

The tradition of vinegar production is very old and even dates back to the beginning of the last millennium although it will become "balsamic" only in 1747 at the Estense court in Modena.

To discover the secrets of this wonderful product, start with the Acetaia Comunale (Municipal Vinegar Factory) located in the attic of the Palazzo Comunale. You will find all the secrets of the production of balsamic vinegar of Modena, the tools for its production and storage.

In the countryside around Modena you can also visit the vinegar cellars of historic producers that offer guided tours and tastings, some even have actual museums.  

6. Retracing the steps of Pavarotti, the people's tenor

What to do in Modena like a local. Retrace the steps of Pavarotti, the people's tenor

Modena was the birthplace of one of the most beautiful voices of this century, tenor Luciano Pavarotti. In Modena you can retrace his story by visiting the birthplace of the great tenor where as a child he became passionate about the art of singing, following in his father's footsteps.

The house is located just outside the city walls on Via Stradello Nova: today it has become a museum. If you love opera, don't miss one of the performances that the theatre puts on, or treat yourself to a simple guided tour inside the structure.

On Largo Goldoni Street, a short walk from the theater, you will find the massive bronze statue erected in honor of the great tenor.

To complete your personal Pavarotti Tour, don't miss the Novi Ark Archaeological Park where the famous Pavarotti & Fiends shows took place from 1992 to 2003. If you want to pay homage to the famous tenor's grave you will find it at the Monumental Cemetery in Modena.  

Get your tickets for Casa Museo Luciano Pavarotti

5. Shopping at Albinelli Market

What to do in Modena like a local. Shopping at Albinelli Market

What could be more local and authentic than a real local market, where city dwellers meet to chat and buy 0 km foods? The Albinelli Market, in the heart of Modena, is one of the most beautiful covered markets in Italy.

The structure was built in the early 1900s and some parts have remained basically unchanged until today: you will have the sensation of taking a real trip back in time!

When the Albinelli Market was built, it was a truly avant-garde solution: fish was displayed on easy-to-clean marble stalls, all the stalls had running water, and the viability was great!

Today you can stroll among the stalls and savor with all your senses the scents, flavours and wonders of 100% made in Italy products. Every Friday and Saturday evening, you can also taste irresistible local dishes prepared directly on site.

4. Reliving the 1990s in Italy through Panini World

Regarding collectable figurines, all Italians born before 2000 have only one brand in mind: Panini. This brand is part of Italian culture and was born right here in the city of Modena! You cannot miss this museum if you want a total immersion in the Italy of the 1990s with its football legends!

In 1997, the Panini brothers donated their collection of 500,000 stickers to the municipality of Modena, so the municipality decided to create a real museum to pay tribute to them.

Today, inside the Museo Della Figurina (Figurine Museum), you can admire 2,500 of these specimens, but that's not all: you will also find earlier figurines dating back to the 1800s. Inside you will also find photo collections, art and graphic design collections.  

3. Driving a Ferrari

What to do in Modena like a local. Driving a Ferrari

If you've been dreaming of tearing through the Modena countryside in a blazing red Ferrari but always thought it was a privilege reserved for few, think again! 

You can try the thrill of cruising in a magnificent sports car and have an unforgettable driving experience in Maranello. Several car rental companies offer this type of service, allowing clients to take laps on the track or hit the open road.

Maranello, a name that resonates with every motor enthusiast, is a key hub in the renowned Motor Valley of Emilia Romagna. This area is the birthplace of the world's most celebrated automotive and motorcycle companies.

What's a must-see if you're a motor enthusiast? Highlights include the Ferrari Museum, the Fiorano track, and the Stabilimento Ferrari, the only brand factory in the world. It's where all the 'rosse' out there are designed, assembled, and tested.

Book test drive on a Ferrari GTC4Lusso

2. Aperitivo in piazza

Piazza della Pomposa and the nearby via Taglio and via Gallucci welcome a diverse crowd of mostly young people. The atmosphere is always friendly and informal. They are packed with bars, pubs, and restaurants, frequented from aperitivo until late evening, especially from Thursday to Saturday.

You won't have any trouble finding a nice spot for your dinner or a cosy place to enjoy a cocktail. Piazza Roma and Piazza XX Settembre are always bustling and perfectly suited for this purpose. However, if you're in the mood for something more formal and tranquil, head to Piazza Grande and its restaurants.

Other cool areas locals love for evening outings are Parco Novi Sad and San Francesco, two neighbourhoods rich in hangout spots, including some traditional locales. 

Those who feel like dancing into the early hours can light up the night at the discos and nightclubs scattered around Modena. Some of the most popular are sited in Piazza Cittadella, Viale IV Novembre, and Via Crispo Gaio Sallusti.

1. Discovering a mysterious local legend

An excursion on the outskirts of Modena provides the pretext for uncovering mysterious and fascinating local legends.

The location is sited between the towns of Pavullo nel Frignano, Polinago, and Lama Mocogno, in a place accessible through various marked trails and routes.

A true marvel of nature lies in the vegetation covering the Modenese Apennines. It's a surprising monolith, 3 meters tall and over 30 meters long, jutting out in the undergrowth as if it were a genuine bridge built by humans.

This ancient rocky structure is called the Hercules Bridge (Ponte d'Ercole), but its other appellation piques visitors' curiosity and imagination: Ponte del Diavolo (Devil's Bridge). It's said that Lucifer himself placed the rock in its current position. 

According to popular legend, a farmer offered his soul for a shortcut to cross a stream effortlessly. The devil agreed, but distracted by a witches' Sabbath, he left the bridge practically in the middle of nowhere.

The monolith features a series of fairly large indentations where one can stick their head inside. However, according to another legend, doing so would be a challenge to the demon, who would rush to decapitate the daring individuals. So, are you up for the challenge?

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