The classic half-day tour of the historic center of Modena begins with a visit to the outside of the Palazzo Ducale. The palace was built on the remains of a medieval fortress by the Este family as soon as Modena became the new capital of the duchy in the early seventeenth century. The majestic Bernini-inspired façade presents a Baroque stylistic unity despite the enlargements that followed until the last century. It is now the headquarters of the Military Academy for Cadet Officers.
We pass through the Jewish ghetto created by Francesco I d'Este in 1638. Here the Modena Jewish community continues to meet in the synagogue, a monumental nineteenth-century building
We arrive in Piazza Grande, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The square is the center of city life and many elements show us the public importance of the place. Here we will visit the Duomo and, next to it, we will see the bell tower of Ghirlandina: those are extraordinary buildings initiated by Wiligelmo and Lanfranco, two of the greatest exponents of the Romanesque in Europe, and finished with Gothic lines at the beginning of the XIV century by the Campionesi Masters. Here there are also the precious relics of San Geminiano, patron saint of the city.
From the square, we will then enter in the Palazzo Comunale with its prestigious frescoes and the famous "Stolen Bucket" during the battle of Zappolino in 1325.
Before lunch, we can take in the picturesque covered market Albinelli, inaugurated in 1931, where it is possible to introduce the products of the area, as the Lambrusco wine, the traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena and the Parmigiano Reggiano.
Visit to the Renaissance church of San Pietro with its Benedictine monastery. It is possible to visit the spezieria and, upon reservation for limited groups, a tasting of traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena in the Acetaia of the monastery.
The baroque church of Sant'Agostino, once the Este pantheon.
The tour ends with a walk to Piazza della Pomposa, one of the most picturesque corners of the city and the adjacent Foro Boario, a very long 19th century cattle market.
As an alternative to the Albinelli market and to the church of San Pietro during the whole day visit it is possible to visit the splendid Estense Gallery with its paintings, sculptures and archaeological collections and the Estense Library where you can admire the extraordinary Bible of Borso d'Este, the most studied Italian miniato code in the world.
If instead you prefer "modern technology" to the art exhibitions of the city, not far from the center you can visit the MEF, Museo Enzo Ferrari, which with its yellow hood shape, contains the history of the founder of Ferrari and it presents some of the most beautiful and winning cars in the house with the prancing horse.