Best things to do in Modena Italy in 48 hours

Last Updated on July 26, 2023 by Christine Kaaloa

As the home of Ferrari, Maserati and Pagani -you literally hear the low purr of these engines in the streets!- and birth home of tenor Pavarotti, Modena was a pleasant surprise. And the “food experiences” you can have here will redefine your appreciation of Italian food !

Best things to Do in Modena in 48 Hours

As the birthplace of Ferrari, Maserati and Pagani -you literally hear the low purr of these engines in the streets! My hotel was where the historical center meets the outside roads. Like Ravenna, Modena is another cute city I could spend days in. The historical area is easy to travel on foot.

1. Modena Cathedral or Duomo di Modena

Modena Cathedral or Duomo di Modena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re wondering why your eyes are not lining up with you photo as you take it’s picture, it is because the cathedral leans.

Note: Delving into the history of Emilia-Romagna destinations, the region was built on marshland, some buildings lean. Not to worry though, the medieval architecture in the city has been around for hundreds of years.

modena cathedral leans
modena cathedral leans


2. Ducal Palace of Modena

For over 500 years, the  Este Dukes of Modena (or Ducal Palace of Modena) belonged to the most prominent families of Modena. Today it is a military academy. But you wouldn’t guess it from looking at its palace exterior with fountains shooting up from the grounds of its spacious piazza entrance. By day, families come as children jump around to escape shooting fountain waters. By night, the palace is lit up with an impressively romantic glow.

3. Mercato di Abinelli

Since the early 1900’s the Mercato Albinelli was a farmer’s market that sold produce and regional meats. Today it keeps Modena’s traditional tastes alive.  You’ll find farm-fresh and slow food products like parma ham, Parmigiano Reggiano, and more as you peruse down aisles of a warehouse-like market. The market isn’t very large so you might only spend 30 minutes there before continuing your excursion around town. Stop by for a quick lunch, is a small cafe and bar in the middle of the market with a fresh menu sourced from the local variety. You might even take a market tour and lunch at a Cesarina’s home. Location: Via Luigi Albinelli 13, 41121, Modena Italy

Tip: Take a private home cooking class in Modena

4. Teatro Communale di Modena (Luciano Pavorotti Opera House)

If you’re a fan of Italian opera, Modena is the birth home of the world-famous tenor, Luciano Pavorotti. Visit the Teatro Communale di Modena (aka Luciano Pavorotti Opera House) for a guided tour of the opera house, where Pavorotti performed at. If you’re lucky, you’ll see opera rehearsals going on. Performances are ongoing

5. Casa Pavorotti

Casa Pavarotti is the Luciano Pavorotti Home Museum, where you can visit the home where Pavorotti lived and worked in. It houses unseen memorabilia, costumes, and awards he gathered through his illustrious career. Location: Stradello Nava 6, 41126 Getting there: 15-minute ride from the historic area of town. Bus tours will also take you there. Check the information center at Piazza Grande.  Admission: 10 Euro


6. Umberto Panini Maserati Museum

If you’re a fan of Maserati, visit Umberto Panini  Motor Museum. The collection is a private family collection which sits in a large barn. In it houses the largest collection of Maseratis and other historical brands, like a Lamborghini tractor or old war bikes. Some of the collection will surprise you. It is said the town of Modena convinced Panini to buy the Maserati collection in order to keep it in Modena and so he did. The Motor Museum is on Hombre Farm, makers of authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The admission is free. However, it’s located a bit aways from the center of Modena.


7. Ferrari Museum in Modena & Maranello

Fan of Formula One or the Ford and Ferrari film? The Ferrari museums can be visited both, in the city center of Modena and Maranello, its headquarters.

The Museo Ferrari in Maranello is the headquarters of Ferrari. It offers a museum, shuttle factory tour, driving simulation and track experience at Autodromo di Modena. If you’re a Ferrari fan, this is the IT spot. Get your Museo Ferrari Maranello ticket here.

I didn’t have time to visit Maranello, so I visited Casa Enzo Ferrari Museo in Modena. The museum showcases Ferrari’s most unique, expensive and impressive models, and engines. The museum plays a recurring film on the life of Ferrari. It is highly recommended to make reservations for a guided tour. The information imparted by your Ferrari guide really opens your understanding of why Ferraris are supercars and the type of man Ferrari was. Nab your ticket to Ferrari Museum in Modena.

Interesting note: All Ferraris can be used for the race track. For more about Ferrari and my Motor Valley experience, visit here.

Getting there: There is a paid Shuttle bus connecting both locations and Modena Railway Station (gate no. 4). You can pay on the bus.

Tip: Do a private full day Ferrari Tour from Modena or Bologna
ferrari museum modena
ferrari museum modena
ferrari museum modena 2
ferrari museum modena 2

8. Autodromo di Modena

How does doing two laps on a top international race circuit in Emilia-Romagna sound to you?   Autodromo di Modena is one of the top four international circuits of Emilia-Romagna and you can drive the circuit. You will need to bring an international drivers permit if you want to be behind the wheel.

The other alternative is to be driven by one of their race drivers. I did the latter and put a Ferrari 458 Challenge to the speed test on the racetrack, with a professional race driver of 20 years. My video clocked the racetrack in under 3 minutes, and the track has a lot of curves to show off the precision and skill of the driver and car.

I won’t lie, the cost of this experience is not cheap, but worthwhile if you are a fan of supercars and races.  If you’re a Formula One fan, this is an easy bucket list for your Italy trip. ⁣Note: The Ferrari Museum also partners with Autodromo di Modena to offer drives as well.

Getting to Autodromo di Modena: Take the train to Modena Railway Station or Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana Station (see their website for more directions). You can take an Uber from there.

Must Try Foods of Modena

Modena was an eye-opening city for me as a gastronomical journey.

Whether the foods here have their origins in Modena, you’ll find slow foods are a stamp of the Emilia-Romagna region. Slow foods are aged through time and traditional processes- ie. balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Parma ham. Visiting the makers of these foods is part of the Emilia Romagna experience.

Tip: Do a gastronomical food tour of Parma from Modena or Bologna to taste all the foods of the region.

Read about the Top Must Try Foods in Emilia Romagna

9. Aceitaia Pedroni

Aceto Balsamico ( Traditional balsamic vinegar)

Modena is the birth home of Aceto balsamico or traditional balsamic vinegar, a dark, thick vinegar made of Trebbiano grape must.  The Balsamic vinegar experience in Modena (and the Emilia Romagna region) is not the table salad type of vinegar that westerners assume. In Modena, the balsamic experience is elevated to the level and cost of fine wine. It can even be paired with ice cream and boy, does it taste good!

While you can find many restaurants serving foods paired with balsamic vinegar, for a real Aceto balsamico pairing experience, visit Aceitaia Pedroni (read about my experience here). Located on the edge of Modena, Aceitaia Pedroni is a family-owned vinegar cellar and tavern, specializing in traditional balsamic vinegar, since 1862. They give you a tour of how they make their Traditional Aceto Balsamico DOP.  Visit their Osteria di Rubbiara to experience food tastings, by sampling highly matured balsamic vinegar against different food pairings.

Tip: Do a Aceto Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Experience tour in Modena


emilia romagna tortellini with balsamic vinegar pairing
emilia romagna: In Modena, Pedroni has aceto vinegar tastings, allowing you to sample aged vinegar with various types of foods. Above:  tortellini with balsamic vinegar pairing
dessert with balsamic vinegar
modena panna cotta dessert with balsamic vinegar

10. Hombre Farm

Hombre Farm is famous for two things: they make authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and are the home of  Umberto Panini  Motor Museum, housing the largest collection of Maserati.  The farm has over 500 cows and a factory for making cheese. It is impressive to visit their room where over 8,000 certified cheeses sit in a maturation process. The Italians are quite proud of the cheese’s flavor’s distinction and consider parmesan cheese a fake. The taste of Parmigiano-Reggiano is distinct with a condensed richness and grainy saltiness. ⁣⁣

Tip:If you can’t get out to Hombre Farm,  take a Parmigiano Reggian factory tour instead.

Parmesiano Reggiano

Parmesiano Reggiano

Parmesiano Reggiano
Parmesiano Reggiano cheese


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𝐒𝐚𝐲 𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐞𝐬𝐞!⁣⁣ (& new video just dropped) ⁣⁣ One must never confuse parmigiano reggiano cheese with anything like parmesan Nooo. The Italians are quite proud of the distinction and consider all others as fake. But the flavor says it all and you’ll notice the richness of it’s age and process. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ My @motorvalleyofficial tour of Hombre farms taught me that Parmigiano Reggiano is cultivated from the soil of two regions, which ffect the flavor. Additionally, the cheese has to pass certification before sales. From cars to food, after you’ve experienced the #emiliaromagna way of high quality, hand crafted tradition and pride, you’ll see your own world much differently.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ #presstrip #motorvalley #foodvalley @inemiliaromagna #inemiliaromagna #stsravenna #cheese #gourmet #gourmetfood #italian #eateritaly #italianfood⁣⁣ #italy_vacations #italy_foods #travelforfood #travelfoodie #foodporn #eataly #reggioemiliaapproach #stsravenna

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Watch Best things to do in Modena in 48 hours (Modena travel guide video)

Disclosure: My stay was hosted by the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board in partnership with Social Travel Summit conference in Ravenna. All opinions are my own.

Is Emilia Romagna safe for solo travelers?

As a female solo traveler and content creator (with a day pack full of film gear), the Emilia Romagna region and its cities felt safe and surprisingly laid back.  I would even recommend it to first-time solo travelers. Honestly, visiting Italy, my only worry was encountering gypsy pickpockets. But as a lesser-known region, Emilia Romagna has significantly fewer tourist crowds compared to bigger cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice.  The most touristy it got was in Bologna, where my biggest competition was amongst Italian tourists. Thus, there is little attraction for pickpockets to do business there.  That does not mean that crime cannot happen and one should always use travel street smarts. On trains going to other cities, I would still be watchful of my belongings.

I highly recommend buying travel insurance for added peace of mind for your Italy trip.

How to Get to Modena

Located a 1.5 hour drive from Ravenna and an hour from Bologna

If you’re not renting a car or taking a tour, Italy’s train and bus stystem are great! I loved taking the trains for their convenience, ease and price. i booked through OMIO transportation booking app (it’s so convenient, you can book on the bus to the train station or at the train station waiting for your train!). I booked a lot of train travel with it, from Bologna, Florence to Venice such as Treviso and Verona! Check out their routes and timetables. 

Tip: Also, if you’re there for a day trip while in-transit to another city, check out Radical Storage. It’s cheaper than storing your bags at the train holding service. It allows you to keep your bags at local places near the train station,  like restaurants (that’s where I stored my bags) .

Need a SIM card to help your navigation?

Airalo lets you order an Italy eSim from its mobile app and installs it right there!




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