Modena, where art, tradition, and history merge | Bellarome

Modena, where art, tradition, and history merge

Modena is an Italian town of 186.307 inhabitants, capital of the homonymous province in Emilia-Romagna.


The first news about Modena date back to the war between the Romans and Boi who lived in the area. The center served as a military garrison even before the official foundation of the city by the Romans. The city, in fact, was ritually founded in 183 BC, as a colony of Roman law, by the triumvirs Marco Emilio Lepido, Tito Ebuzio Parro and Lucio Quinzio Crispino who brought two thousand citizens from Rome. Since the 6th century Modena has been a ducal city of the Lombard Kingdom (Ducati Longobards) on the border with the possessions of the Eastern Roman Empire, that is, the Byzantine Empire. (History of Modena). Like most Lombard municipalities in 1167 Modena joined the Lombard League against Federico Barbarossa.

From 1598 to 1859, it was the capital of the Duchy of Modena and Reggio. In 1757, the Duke Francesco III d’Este founded the Military Academy for the training of officers of the Estense army based in the ducal palace. With the unification of Italy, the Doge’s Palace was the seat of the Military School of the Kingdom of Sardinia, then Kingdom of Italy, which evolved over the decades to become the Military Academy of the Army and the Carabinieri in 1947.

The Cathedral, the Civic Tower and the Piazza Grande of the city have been included since 1997 in the list of Italian UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Founded in the 3rd century BC from the Celtic people, it later became an important agricultural center during the Roman Empire. The regular urban layout of the Roman Mutina is recognizable in the oldest central core at the current Via Emilia. After the barbarian invasions of the fifth and sixth centuries, Modena resumed commercial activities and in the ninth century the first wall circle was built which marked the development of the medieval city, which arose with the emergence of the episcopal authority first and, subsequently, in the twelfth and XIII century, of the Municipality. The Duomo, one of the highest Romanesque expressions in Italy, dates from this period. After a short Mantuan rule, Modena returned, in 1336, to the Estensi family who governed it until 1796.

The Este family brought great transformations and when in 1598 it became the capital of the Duchy of the Este family it was enriched with numerous religious and civil buildings which gave the city a majestic and solemn appearance; the others include the Palazzo Ducale and the Palazzo dei Musei.

In the nineteenth century, the Austro-Este dynasty undertook the modernization of the city which, in 1900, underwent a radical change in the urban layout with the demolition of the city walls.

Modena has an economy with industries related to agriculture (tobacco processing, food, agricultural machinery), or metallurgical and mechanical (foundries, railway construction) and clothing. Home to the most illustrious military academy in Italy, it is known worldwide for its sports car factories (Ferrari, Maserati).

It is also famous for the production of sausages and balsamic vinegar that is produced from the must of the Trebbian grapes of the Modena hills.

Let’s discover this wonderful city together!


Enzo Ferrari Museum

Enzo Ferrari Museum, also known by the acronym MEF, is a museum in Modena dedicated to the life and work of Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the Ferrari car manufacturer.

The Museum was inaugurated on 10 March 2012 by the Enzo Ferrari-Museo home foundation, creator of the project. This foundation was born in 2003 by the will of the municipality, province and chamber of commerce of Modena, Automobile Club of Italy and Ferrari, with the aim of creating a space dedicated to the promotion and recovery of the history of Modena’s motoring.

The renovation project was conceived by the architect Jan Kaplicky, who, due to the sudden disappearance was unable to attend the completion of the works – completed by his assistant Andrea Morgante, who was responsible for the signature of the interior. The implementation of the project cost around € 18,000,000.

Enzo Ferrari Museum contains two distinct and complementary realities: the first is the house in which Enzo Ferrari was born in 1898, the architectural center of gravity of the entire museum area, the second is an exhibition gallery, the now famous yellow aluminum “hood”, that wraps the birthplace like an open hand; a futuristic building to tell the world about the passion that has produced a dream car, a 5000 m2 structure designed by Jan Kaplicky. The architect, born and raised in Prague, during his career worked, among others, for Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers (developing with them the competition project for the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris) and at Foster and Partners. In 1979 he founded the architectural firm Future Systems. Among his best-known projects, we find the Media Center of the Lord’s Cricket Ground in London and the Selfridges Building in Birmingham.

Jan Kaplický suddenly disappeared in Prague in 2009.

His work in Modena is completed by his co-designer and faithful assistant, the architect Andrea Morgante.

The new exhibition gallery houses a flexible layout that represents the history, the actors, the places and the competitions of Modena’s motor sport.

This exhibition container, which also houses a documentation center, a museum teaching space, a conference room, the store and a cafeteria, is configured as an elegant space for exhibiting beautiful cars, but also as an ideal place where organize conferences, presentations and cultural events.


The Cathedral

The metropolitan cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo and San Geminiano is the main place of worship in the city of Modena, the mother church of the archdiocese of Modena-Nonantola.

Modena Cathedral is among the major monuments of Romanesque culture in Europe.

The Cathedral was founded on 9 June 1099 on the initiative of the various city social classes, as an affirmation of the civic, cultural and religious values of the nascent community. Dedicated to S. Maria Assunta, it houses the remains of S. Geminiano, Bishop and patron of Modena who died in 397. The saint’s sepulcher was transferred there in 1106 from a previous cathedral. The consecration took place in 1184.

The architect Lanfranco and the sculptor Wiligelmo created the cathedral in a synthesis between ancient culture and new Lombard art, creating a fundamental model for Romanesque civilization. From the end of 1100 until the fourteenth century, the construction site was continued by the Campionese Masters, Lombard sculptors and architects from Campione.

Masterpiece of the Romanesque style, the cathedral was built on the site of the sepulchre of San Geminiano, patron saint of Modena, where previously, starting from the fifth century, two churches had already been erected. In the crypt of the cathedral are the saint’s relics, preserved in a simple 4th century urn covered with a stone slab and supported by bare columns. The sarcophagus, housed in a crystal case, is opened every year on the occasion of the feast of the saint himself (January 31) and the remains of the saint, dressed in bishop’s clothes with the pastoral alongside, are exposed to the devotion of the faithful.

Next to the cathedral stands the bell tower called la Ghirlandina. In April 1934, Pope Pius XI elevated it to the dignity of a minor basilica.

The Cathedral of Modena, with the Civic Tower and the Piazza Grande of the city, has been included since 1997 in the list of Italian UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Estense Gallery

The Estense Gallery, located in Modena, is the museum that displays the collection of works of art that belonged to the Dukes of Este, as well as a collection of works acquired later, over the past two centuries.

Established in 1854 by Francesco V of Austria-Este and located since 1894 in the current seat of the Palazzo dei Musei, the Estense Gallery includes four halls and sixteen exhibition rooms dedicated to the conspicuous artistic heritage accumulated by the Dukes of Este since the glorious years of the Ferrara lordship.

Oriented towards an aristocratic collection with multiple interests, the Este collections include the rich picture gallery, which contains a valuable number of paintings from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries, including a group dedicated to the Po valley painting, various marble and terracotta sculptures; a large nucleus of applied art objects that formed part of the sumptuous ducal wardrobe, as well as several specific collections such as those of drawings, bronzes, majolica, medals, ivories and musical instruments. Among the most important works are La Pietà di Cima da Conegliano, the Madonna and Child by Correggio, the Portrait of Francesco I d’Este by Velázquez, the Triptych of El Greco, the marble bust of Francesco I d’Este by Bernini and the Crucifix by Guido Reni.

Since 1884, the Gallery has found accommodation in the Palazzo dei Musei, already a large Albergo dei Poveri, designed by the architect Pietro Termanini on behalf of Francesco III and completed in 1771.

From the end of the 1800s to the present day, the collections housed on the top floor of the building have undergone various arrangements dictated by diversified exhibition formulas. From Adolfo Venturi, first authorizing officer of the Gallery, to Serafino Ricci, to Roberto Salvini, to Rodolfo Pallucchini, to the most recent conservatories, only a part of the materials could be exhibited to the public: even today, after the environmental transformation of the seventies, entire nuclei are in fact not visible for reasons of space.

Currently the Gallery, rationally redeveloped and equipped with all the instruments and systems suitable for the best conservation of the works, includes twenty exhibition rooms. It is equipped with didactic and didactic equipment and can count on an illustrated guide-itinerary for the visitor.


Piazza Grande

Piazza Grande is the main square of Modena, located in the historic center of the city.

Born in the twelfth century, the square took the name of Grande in the seventeenth century. Its shape changed numerous times over the centuries, until it reached the current roughly quadrangular one, with the offshoots behind the apses of the Cathedral, in Piazza Torre and on Corso Duomo, to form a single open space around the Cathedral.

The whole scene is dominated by the southern flank of the Cathedral, with the two Doors, the Princes and the Regia, the pulpit and the inscriptions. Behind it stands the beautiful Ghirlandina tower, the symbol of the city. The north-east corner is occupied by the main facade of the Palazzo Comunale, with the large seventeenth-century porch and the Clock tower with the balcony of the Immaculate Conception. To the west, however, the Archbishop’s Palace is characterized by simple brick lines.

The plaques that are affixed to him celebrate Modenese martyrs barbarously killed, right in the square, in 1944. In front of the Cathedral, the south side of the Square was occupied from 1883 to 1967 by the Palace of Justice, with a beautiful porch, columns and statues, which it replaced previous public housing. Today, however, it is replaced by the building designed by Giò Ponti with eleven arches and essential lines. Looking at it, the street on the left is via Albinelli, which leads to Piazza XX Settembre and the characteristic covered market, the one on the right is via Selmi, which leads to the intersection with via dei Servi ° (from here the best view of the complex Cathedral-Hall)

The square is located on the south side of the Duomo, which with the Ghirlandina bell tower forms a monumental ensemble declared a World Heritage Site. On the eastern side of the square stands the Palazzo Comunale, a seventeenth-century building with arcades that united the ancient medieval buildings of the Municipality and Reason.

The Palace, which in the Middle Ages had several towers, one of which called the tower due to an earthquake that had beheaded it, is now porticoed with an L-shaped plan. On the western side of the square there is the rear part of the Archbishopric, while on the southern side there is the modern building of a bank, also porticoed. This palace, designed by the architect Gio Ponti, has replaced an earlier courthouse built in the late 19th century in the style of the Roman ministries. Sold by the Municipality to the local Cassa di Risparmio, the building was demolished and replaced by that of Gio Ponti, who tackled the problem by trying to take up the motifs of the Palazzo Comunale and the Archbishopric in a modern key.

In the north-eastern corner of Piazza Grande, very close to the Town Hall, there is the Preda Ringadora (which in the Modena dialect means “herring stone”), a large marble boulder of rectangular shape over 3 meters long which probably originally , belonged to a Roman building. During the Middle Ages the Prey was used as a stage for oratories, but also as a place to execute death sentences and expose corpses (so that someone could identify them) as well as to be used as a stone of dishonour: according to what emerges from the Municipal Historical Archive, each debtor insolvent on the day of the market after going around the square with a shaved head and a special headdress, preceded by the sound of a trumpet,  had to declare himself then he was forced to “give the ass rengadora prey to his bare ass, which is well greased de turpentine, three times saying three times cedo bonis, cedo bonis, cedo bonis “, that is, by promising to pay off the debt with its assets and this had to happen for three consecutive Saturdays at the request of the creditor who could so well evaluate the possibility of getting his money back referring to the debtor’s assets.

Piazza Grande, with the cathedral and the civic tower of the city, has been included since 1997 in the list of Italian UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Municipal Theater Luciano Pavarotti

The Municipal Theater Luciano Pavarotti is the main opera house in the city of Modena. Designed in 1838 and inaugurated on October 2, 1841, it was built by Francesco Vandelli, architect of the court of Duke Francesco IV of Modena.

This is the main opera house in. The theater is gorgeous – in particular you will admire the ceiling, warm and colorful, with the decorations of Crespolani and Manzini – and also the programming, which moves between opera, ballet and concerts, is always very stimulating and of a high standard.

The original name, Teatro dell’Illustrissima Comunità, later changed to the municipal theater. In 2007 it was named after the Modenese tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Since January 2002, the management of the theater has been entrusted to the Modena Municipal Theater Foundation.

The theater, conceived in 1838, was built on the initiative of the mayor of Modena (the Marquis Ippolito Livizzani) and with the contribution of Duke Francesco IV of Modena. The architect Francesco Vandelli designed it on a city area of ​​over two thousand square meters, obtained by acquiring and demolishing some houses. It was inaugurated three years later, on October 2, 1841, with the name of “Illustrissima Community Theater”. For the inauguration, the melodrama Adelaide di Borgogna at Castello di Canossa was purposely composed by Alessandro Gandini, with a libretto by Carlo Malmusi.

From 1915 to 1923 it was requisitioned by the military authorities. After the Second World War, he held prose, concerts and ballets next to the opera house. In the 70s its management passed to the municipal administration. In 1984, the restoration of the theater began, which was reopened to the public two years later. In 2001 it became a foundation, with the participation of private entities.

On 6 December 2007, the theater was dedicated to Luciano Pavarotti, three months after the death of the Modenese tenor.


The Picture Cards Museum

The Picture Cards Museum is a museum dedicated to the figurine. Inaugurated on December 15, 2006, it is located inside Palazzo Santa Margherita, in Modena.

The Picture Cards Museum was born out of the will and collecting passion of Giuseppe Panini, founder of the Panini Editions and creator of the renewal of the figurine in a modern sense, who wanted to validate his product through a history of small print collecting, since the beginning of his entrepreneurial activity , hundreds of thousands of small prints from all over the world, similar to the figurine by technique or function. The collection expanded so much that in 1986 it became a museum located within the company itself. In 1992, Giuseppe Panini decided, in agreement with the company and the Municipality of Modena, to donate the collection, which has become one of the most important in the world,  to his city, elected world capital of the figurine, and therefore the natural seat of a museum that could document its origins and development up to the most modern production techniques. In the following years, the museum’s activity concentrated on cataloguing the collection, consisting of around 500,000 specimens, on its expansion and dissemination through publications and thematic exhibitions.

In the museum, you will find yourself in front of a truly immense collection that brings together, in addition to the most classic figurines, also antique prints, calendars or printed match boxes. The exhibitors are great albums to browse and everything here has a magical atmosphere, suspended between dream and reality, between past and future. You will make your children happy, if you have any, but also for you it will be a moment of culture and entertainment, at the same time: between soccer players and cartoon character, you will retrace beautiful years and moments of Italian history.

The museum is set up in a large exhibition hall, in which there are six wardrobes, corresponding to six large albums to browse. Inside, the entire history of the figurine is traced, from its beginnings to the most innovative production techniques. Each wardrobe corresponds to a precise path, marked by prints and original objects, for a total of 2,500 pieces, which form part of the museum’s heritage (around 500,000 specimens in all). In addition to the actual figurines, which represent the main part of the collection, in the Museum you can admire other precious collections, which Giuseppe Panini had wanted to represent the whole world of small color printing: English cigarettes cards, cigar ties, boxes of matches, hotel menus and labels, candy wrappers, barber’s calendars, and as many as 80,000 letterpress stamps.