Modena and the land of Ferrari
This itinerary winds around the hills between Bologna and Modena, in a gentle landscape dotted with castles, old convents and vineyards. This land is also the undisputed heart of the creativity and passion of Italian engines. Four simple names are sufficient for understanding this phenomenon: Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and De Tomaso.
The itinerary can be done in two or more days, it is worth spending the night to explore these historical cities at a relaxing pace. You can choose from a selection of hotels in Modena for a stay characterized by relaxation and charm. For those who prefer a different type of accommodation, there is a vast selection of cozy bed-and-breakfasts in Modena or one of the numerous country guesthouses in Modena, scattered amidst the Lambrusco vineyards.
In a picturesque position on a hill dominating the plains, sits the age-old castle and abbey reigned over by Matilde di Canossa. While only the tower remains of the castle, the really interesting sight is the S. Assunta Abbey, from the 12th century, which became very important in the 14th century. The old crypt dating back to before 1000 and the two cloisters are worth seeing.
A small city known for its beautiful fortress and cultivation of famous cherries. The fortress is square with towers attached, which existed in the 9th century. Once past the drawbridge and moat you enter a hall decorated with 15th century frescoes. The visit continues to the upper floors, with fascinating medieval spaces, and basements. Hours: Winter: 10.00-12.00 / 14.30-18.00. Summer: 10.00-12.00 / 15.30-19.00
Maranello is headquarters of the most prestigious car manufacturer in the world: Ferrari. Each year thousands of enthusiasts from all over the world converge on this corner of Emilia to visit the Galleria Ferrari. Located right near the manufacturer, the Gallery is an extraordinary 2500 square meter museum organized in four areas: Formula One, special exhibits, technological innovation and photo exhibits. All of the race cars which have made Ferrari's history on circuits all over the world are exhibited here. There are also two simulators of real Formula 1 available to try the thrill of driving a single-seater in a World Championship race. Open: every day, from 9:30am to 6:00pm
In Fiorano, near the Ferrari test circuit, is the beautiful Castello di Spezzano. The manor dates back to the 11th century, and is formed in a square around a central courtyard. The interiors can be visited and are decorated with military scenes and the pretty Museo della Ceramica. This area is one of the most important ceramic producing zones in Italy. Open: from April 9th to October 30th, Saturday and Sunday 3:00pm-7:00pm.
One of Emilia's historical city, mainly famous for its Piazza Grande, its vital center and on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
The Duomo and Palazzo Comunale are located on the square. The Duomo (cathedral), built starting in the 12th century 1099, is considered one of the best European Romanesque masterpieces. It is striking due to its architectural appearance as well as the decorations on the facade, work of the sculptor Wiligelmo and the Maestri Campionesi. The sculptures of the Stories of Genesis on the facade and main portal are of note. The gates that open along the sides are considered excellent expressions of Romanesque sculpture. The majestic interior contains sculptures created by the Maestri Campionesi between the 12th and 13th centuries and the wooden stalls of the choir. A terra cotta group created by Guido Mazzoni around 1480 stands out in the crypt. A short distance from the Duomo stands the 87 meter Torre della Ghirlandina.
The Palazzo Comunale sits on the other two sides of the square. The interior can be visited, with marvelous halls frescoed in different epochs, like Sala degli Arazzi, Sala del Fuoco and Sala del Vecchio Consiglio.
A short distance away in Piazza Sant' Agostino, is the Palazzo dei Musei, which contains the "most beautiful illuminated book in the world": the Bible which belonged to Borso d'Este. Do not miss the Galleria Estense inside the building, which was the private art gallery of this noble Modena family. It is one of the most important Italian collections with works by Bernini, Velasquez, Correggio and El Greco.
Palazzo Ducale, is currently the seat of the Military Academy, built starting in 1634 for Duke Francesco I with the help of the best artists of the time, including Bernini, Borromini and Pietro da Cortona. The construction incorporated the preexisting structure of the older 14th century castle.
This small town is located a short distance from Modena. It is worth going there to see the spectacular Piazza dei Martiri, the third largest square in Italy. Palazzo dei Pio, the Cathedral, theater, Palazzo Comunale and Mercato del Grano are located on the square. Palazzo dei Pio, composed of different buildings dating from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, stands on the eastern side of the square. The Pio family transformed the first fortress into a flamboyant Renaissance dwelling. The interior of the building can be visited in Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Hours: 10-12.30/15.30-19.00
Photos courtesy of: APT Servizi, Regione Emilia Romagna, Comune di Bologna.
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