We were excited. As we looked forward to Italy, and hopped onto a flight from Delhi via Chennai to Dubai. And finally, we were on a flight to Bologna via the Bologna Marconi Airport, and onward to Modena. Modena is a province in Italy well-known for its balsamic vinegar. The strong flavour lingers on your tastebuds, much after you have tasted it. But, there’s more to the quaint old city than its impressive culinary offerings. The view of the city has a vintage essence with a modern touch that endears itself to any traveller. People are dressed in non-fussy, comfortable and airy clothes. One can see people of all ages cycling in and around the city. Modenese weather is predominantly pleasant in the months between July and September.
The staple meal here is low in salt and spice, yet it has a mild yet distinct flavour. You can carry Indian pickled items if you cannot do without the regular spice. In case you wish to give your tastebuds a change, then indulge in the many faceted Italian cuisine.
Modenese cuisine offers a range of mixed meat, pasta, parmesan cheese to tantalise the tastebuds of the discerning foodie. Clearly, the dishes have a distinct European taste. One can try out tinytigelle (flattened pita bread) with turkey fillet, Pasta with tecaa sauce, a preparation of mushy baby tomatoes in olive oil and salt. Coconut flavoured ice cream and Jamaican dark chocolate ice cream are delectable here. Options for vegetarians are mostly potatoes, greens and beans. Each restaurant has a unique menu, so you will find yourself trying out new dishes at every new place.
Italy being the land of Pizza, offers some of the best Margherita pizzas that can be a treat to cheese lovers. Put this on your bucket list right away!
We stayed at a place in Emilia Centro which is close to the Piazza Grande, the old town square where there is a confluence of culture and hustle. It exudes a 17th century vibe, that’s so beautiful, it almost feels surreal. The church is a must-visit, and the spot is a far cry from a city’s daily bustle.
There are tiny markets surrounding the area, which are moderately crowded but the peace and quiet aren’t disrupted... And it looks spectacular late into the evening. During the day, one can take a long walk around the city to get a glimpse of culture. Shopping too can be a fun experience, if you spot shops and supermarkets offering reasonable prices. You could buy a souvenir for 1 Euro. From the best red wine at an affordable price, to delicious and healthy dark chocolates and a slew of different varieties of olive oil, dry pasta and olives, you can literally go crazy at the local markets here.
The Cathedral Church in Modena has an aura of serenity. Via Tagilio is also another beautiful spot with walking areas, open cafés and restaurants.
While the inhabitants speak predominantly Italian, you might find English written in a few places, and probably the hotel staff might also know a bit of English. It would be handy if you could learn a few conversational sentences before you decide to travel.
Overall, our trip to Modena was a fun filled experience. This is a place where an itinerant traveller can truly embrace this warm and easy going vibe of the destination. The people are warm, non-intrusive and expressive. Carry a bottle of water as the long walks can be tiring after a while. Eating at restaurants and taking a cab can cost you a bit, so wear those walking shoes, and traipse from one quaint corner to another. You could choose to take the local transport such as a train or bus to get the feel of the place as well.
The stay at Modena is an experience that will remain with you. Do embrace the experience, and enjoy!
— The writer is based out of Pondicherry, and has authored a book titled, Something between you, me and us.