Spotlight on: Modena

Spotlight on: Modena

Despite being located so close to Bologna, it’s grown to be very different from its larger noisy neighbour. Scintillating music events, fine art and pedigree motoring history – here’s why you should visit Modena on your next Italian holiday. 


Modena is a city many will have heard of, but we’ll come to why later. Its history stems back to Roman times – around 180BC. It was a flourishing town under the Romans but its fate changed with the fall of the Roman empire. A dark period ensued, with several hundred years of decay and dropping population. The 11th century was the turning point and it grew with nearby Bologna into a prosperous market town that it is today. 


A highlight of the events calendar is the International Festival of Military Bands in July. Orchestras from all over the world descend on the medieval square to display their incredible music. 

In early September there’s a concert hosted to honour Luciano Pavarotti, in the wonderful Piazza Grande. This is where the acoustics of the wall lined Italian come into their own – imagine the rapturous voice of Pavarotti in the square! 

Arts and attractions 

No visit to Modena would be complete without paying homage to the local hero – Enzo Ferrari. Head over to Maranello where you can visit the Ferrari Museum and tour the car maker’s illustrious history. You can even get behind the wheel of a Ferrari and drive it around the local roads. A must! 

Another really interesting stop on a Modena tour is Villa San Donnino. Learn about and witness the production of balsamic vinegar. It’s a small operation run by a local family and gives a fascinating insight into local agriculture and tradition. 

Built in a Romanesque style, the Cathedral of Modena is a beautiful building and undoubtedly a highlight of this city. It was built in 1319 and is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Next to the Cathedral is Torre Ghirlandina, an 86 metre tall tower which you can climb for fantastic views over the city. It’s the tallest building in Modena so the views are amazing! 

How to get to Modena 

The easiest way to get to Modena from the UK is a flight to Bologna. You can fly directly from Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and Manchester. From there, it’s just a 30 minute drive north.

If you’re visiting Modena as part of a wider tour of the area you’ll be pleased to know it’s right next to one of the main motorways running up and down Italy.