If you are looking for a great city where to learn Italian during autumn or winter 2020, one of our top picks is Modena, in the region of Emilia Romagna. Its Italian language school reopened in July 2020, following Italy’s lockdown. It offers spacious classrooms and quality accommodation, and has prepared to welcome students who want to enjoy the enriching experience of studying in Italy in total safety. In addition to our hand-picked Italian school, which is a fundamental aspect of your study abroad trip, Modena is a fantastic option for many other reasons. Let’s find out why!
Modern, but calm and historic
Modena is a historical city where modernity and tradition meet and complement each other. It is one of the most important cities in the Emilia-Romagna region, specializing in railway material, footwear, and automobiles. Despite everything, it remains a quiet city whose centre has several charming squares surrounded by arcades. Modena has had a University since 1175: it is the fifth oldest in the world!
Art, Culture and History
Modena’s Cathedral (Duomo) is one of the most important Romanesque-style places in Europe. It was built in marble by the architect Lanfranco and the sculptor Wiligelmo in the 12th century. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, along with its annex bell tower (Torre Civica or Ghirlandina), and Piazza Grande.
The Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) started to be built in 1194 and was completed in the 18th century. Among its top features are a 17th-century portico, a courtyard with three levels of galleries and rooms decorated with various frescoes, canvases, and reliefs.
The Ducal Palace, initiated by Francesco I d’Este in 1634, is now home to the Accademia Militare di Modena and the Military Museum.
The Museum Palace, which was built as a hostel for the poor in the late 18th century, today houses the main museums of Modena. One of these is the Estense Gallery, where your visit starts with the impressive marble bust of Francis I d’Este by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and continues with works by Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese, Guido Reni, Correggio – among others.
If you love theatre, dance and music, don’t miss the Teatro Comunale Luciano Pavarotti, Modena’s main opera house. Opened in 1841, it still preserves its beauty and original appeal. Throughout the years it has hosted the performances of the greatest artists!
The flavours of Emilia Romagna
One of the most famous Italian products at international level is the aceto balsamico di Modena, or the excellent balsamic vinegar produced in this town. In addition, Emilia Romagna is the region of many other amazing food products, such as Parmigiano Reggiano, ham, Vignola cherry, the typical Modena pear, and the bubbly Lambrusco wine.
Among the typical dishes for you to taste in Modena are the tortellini (stuffed pasta), zampone and cotechino (pork sausages), and the tigelle (breads cooked in a wood-fired oven… which can be filled with various exquisite options).
You can discover the rich local gastronomy in numerous taverns in the historic centre, and for gourmands we point out the “Osteria Francescana” restaurant by Chef Massimo Bottura, rated with three stars by the Michelin Guide.
Producers of balsamic vinegar and of other local specialties meet every day in the historic Albinelli market.
Land of motors
Modena’s motor racing museums are certainly worth a visit, even if you are not into cars and motorcycles.
The Enzo Ferrari House-Museum, which exhibits the different stages of the life of the pilot and founder of the famous brand, is located in Modena, while the Ferrari Museum is located in Maranello, about 20 kilometers away. Modena is also home to the Umberto Panini Historic Cars and Motorcycles Collection, with an important set of Maserati cars.
Modena also hosts important events, such as Terra di Motori (an open-air museum with the participation of Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati and Pagani) and the Italian Motor Show. The Mille Miglia (evocation of the legendary speed race that was held in Italy between 1927 and 1957) also passes through Modena. The events are generally held in May and September, although dates may vary in 2020 and 2021, so make sure to check the official websites for updates.