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Saturday, 01 May 2021

Slow Traveling in Emilia Romagna, Italy - Page 3

Written by Russ & Emily Firlik
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Its a 30 minute drive from Reggio to Modena (pop. 185,00). Em wanted to visit the futuristic design gallery of the Museo Ferrari, which was dedicated to Enzo Ferrari and the sports car marque. The museum featured cars, trophies, photos of the successes of Ferrari racing history. Our three hour visit explored the art and design of about 50 classic Ferraris. Although Modena has provided the world some of the greatest exports, for example, Pavarotti, Ferrari, Lambrusco and balsamic vinegar, there is much to discover and admire on the way into the city. During our slow traveling, we stopped a few times at the Gavioli Antica Cantina to taste the crimson, bubbly and frothy Lambrusco wine that originated in the area. In the older part of the Cantina was the Gavioli Wine Museum, which provided a comprehensive overview of the local winemakers, and the long history of wine making in this part of the region.


We were fortunate to be able to spend time learning about the secrets of balsamic vinegar at the Acetaia del Cristo, which has produced the brown syrup for over four generations. The city of Modena is another very special city in the region. We spent many enjoyable days and nights there as there was so much to explore. The enormous and proportioned Piazza Grande, the main square of Modena, welcomes everyone as it is overlooked by important historic Municipality buildings. Just behind the Piazza Grande was the Bell Tower Ghirlandina, which belongs to the Cathedral of Modena.


The year 1099 was an important date not only for Modena as it was the day construction began on the Duomo of Modena, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo and San Gimignano and the main place of worship in the city.


This masterpiece, we learned, is considered to be a magnificent example of Romanesque architecture, which was astonishing to observe for its extraordinary beauty and originality. In the early 11th century, this type of architecture was a daring project by the admired artist and builder, Giovanni Lanfranco, which had a profound influence on subsequent Romanesque art. There were many other monuments and museums we visited: Galleria Estense, Museo Civico d’Arte, Orto Botanico dell’Università di Modena, Museo Lapidario Estense, with works by Tintoretto and Correggio, and the Museo di Zoologia, Museo Della Figurina. We spent considerable time enjoying the University of Modena, at Via Universita, 4, which dates back to 1175, making it one of the oldest universities in Italy and the world.


From Reggio, we continued to the historic and architecturally stunning tourist city of Parma (pop 194,500), northwest of Reggio Emilia. The drive in the countryside of Emilia-Romagna was astonishingly varied: The Apennines, river Po, castles, Romanesque churches, small tidy villages, World Cultural Heritage sites, vineyards, olive trees and the Adriatic coast; what could we ask for that was not in this region?


Parma had its renowned Duomo, the Theater/Opera House where Pavoriti first performed, and where almost all internationally known performing artists perform at some point in their careers. A delightfully easy walking city, no cars, just people and bikes. Their bike paths wind all through the city, similar to Amsterdam. Any reliable guidebook would entice tourists to read about and visit the beautiful city of Parma. The 12th century Cathedral of Parma - Duomo - for 900 years a place of art, history and devotion and an absolute masterpiece in architectural features. A special highlight, of many, was the ceiling frescoes painted by Antonio da Correggio, the foremost painter of the Parma School, and a masterpiece of Renaissance fresco work.

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These three regions of Romagna - Parma, with its exporting gold mine of Parma ham/cheeses, Reggio Emilia, its cheese, and Modena, its balsamic vinegar, are very wealthy cities in the north of Italy. Their tax base allows for clean streets and sidewalks, and trash pick-ups daily. It seems that the further north in Italy the more affluent. We traveled back to Parma several times as slow travelers, we did not rush through the marvelous city, as we wanted to discover and explore the trove of treasures Parma had to offer.

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Last modified on Saturday, 01 May 2021

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