Modena in a day
If you have little time available to visit the city of Modena, spend that time in the city centre, where the Cathedral, the Ghirlandina and Piazza Grande create a truly unique architectural whole which was declared a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site in 1997. The city cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo and San Geminiano is Modena's primary place of worship and is among the greatest Romanesque monuments in Europe. Beside it stands the Ghirlandina, the tower that symbolises the city: it was built to be the bell-tower for the Cathedral, and then fulfilled various religious, civic, and defensive roles. Piazza Grande has been the city's true beating heart since ancient times, when, used as a market, it was the quintessential meeting place.
A stroll beneath the arcades of Via Emilia Centro, Modena's “main street”, is a good opportunity to go shopping and marvel at the many old piazzas opening up on its sides, such as Piazza Matteotti, Piazza Mazzini, and the smaller Piazza Torre. Alongside Via Emilia, the old Caffè Molinari marks the start of Via Farini, from which you can take in views of the Ducal Palace, the historic residence of the Este Dukes for over two centuries and now home to the Military Academy. The Ducal Palace overlooks Piazza Roma, a square measuring 92 m2 that has recently been refurbished with fountains and marble benches, making it quite a charming spot.