The Magic of Modena
Our nephew Avery surprised us in the first few days of our trip when he barely pulled out his camera and said that he really had no desire to. “It’s about the experience,” was a statement I had not expected to hear. At 18 years young, and on only his first visit overseas, he declined a quick visit to Pisa to take the legendary selfie, and was less in awe of the big tourist sights than I expected him to be.
If I could have anticipated his desires more closely, I might have planned the trip a little differently and a little more into the unknown. But our original plan to hit up the Emilia Romagna region was for our own selfish purposes: we wanted to return for the amazing food we had discovered on our last visit, and Pete wanted to get behind the wheel of a Ferrari. We kinda felt like we were dragging Avery away from the tourist route all first-time travelers should see and just hoped he wouldn’t mind.
He didn’t, and instead he raved, and not just for the thrill-ride in a Ferrari. The exquisite food won him over as the best we had. With 25 yo balsamic vinegar drizzled over parmesan, prosciutto that melted in our mouths, and the most luxurious pasta we’ve ever eaten, Ave actually slowed down his frantic eating pace to savour each bite. (For an 18 yo male with an insatiable appetite, this is the biggest compliment he could give.)
And then there was also the divine Emilia Cremeria gelato shop that we frequented twice daily (seriously the best we had in all of Italy, and we tested a LOT), and an unexpected festival right outside our hotel door that enraptured us one evening. One event had an artist using an old-fashioned projector – as he rapidly painted with both hands to the rhythm of music on a thin plastic sheet, the screen lit up with his colorful sketches and the plaza echoed with the rise and fall of his voice. We longed for the ability to understand the story, but were nonetheless enthralled with the dramatic flair in which it was told.
Overall though, we revered the calm. We did not miss shuffling among hundreds and hearing English more often than not. Here, we felt like we were cherishing a real slice of Italy.
We don’t often get to play tour guide to family and friends, but when we do, I have been pleasantly surprised to find their experiences most enriched by those that I cherish as well. Like my Mom choosing Burhaniye over Istanbul, and now Avery lauding Modena over most of Italy. Their reactions have mirrored mine, and I don’t know if it is a familial traveler gene within, or if this is indicative of humankind as a whole. I don’t want to start the beaten debate of traveler-versus-tourist, but I think that deep down everyone would enjoy a trip off the well-treaded path, they just need to give themselves the chance to do so.
And with Italy being one of the most frequented countries in the world – Modena is the perfect place to start.
Heading to Emilia Romagna? Then be sure to check out this helpful Modena travel guide.
And because the Ferrari is what predominantly drew us there in the first place, the experience needs to be shared:
where we stayed and how to do it
Many thanks to the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board for hosting us during our stay. As always, all opinions are our own.