As I told you in the previous post, after have spent the first day of our travel in Bologna, we moved to Modena.
Left the car right outside the center of the city, we entered in the historical center passing under the “Foro Boario”. This is a building long plus of 250 meters, was commissioned by Francesco IV to the architect Francesco Vandelli in 1883 to allow to the cattle dealers to have a suitable space for theirs trades. Preceded by the archeological park Novi Ark (before parade ground, now this spot is a place for walks and events), significant is the central body of the building with the three arches, the top clock and the reliefs.
Done few steps towards the center, we arrived in “Piazza della Pomposa”, a small square that still has the same aspect of XVIII century. The name derived from the church dedicated to Saint Mary of the pompous, outhouse of the more famous Abbey pompous of Comacchio. At the number 89 of the square there is “Casa Tassoni”, a classical example of Renaissance home of Modena.
With a deviation, we arrived in “Via Emilia”, that coasts two churches: the Church of St. John Baptist (built in 1723, it has a façade made in cotto that ends with a triangular pediment) and the Church of the Vow (so named for the vow made by the citizens of Modena to the Madonna della Ghiara to stop the terrible plague of 1630. The works, started in 1634, were completed in 1640. The church, over to have a nice façade, is interesting mostly for its dome, designed by Cristoforo Galaverna).
In front of the Church of the Vow, you’ll see a street, called “Corso Duomo”, that will bring you at the Cathedral of Modena. This church, whose completed name is Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption and San Geminiano, is the main place of worship of the city. It is a wonderful work of Romanesque style, designed by the architect Lanfranco and built on the site of the Holy Sepulcher of San Geminiano, Patron of Modena. The exterior of the church is characterized by numerous loggias closed in tidy arches. Relevant on the façade are the main portal and the big rose window, added in XIII century togheter to the two lateral portals.
I appreciated also the interior, composed by three naves, each one ends with an apse. Another beautiful feature of the Cathedral is its sculptural set, that characterizes both the exterior and the interior. You can spend all the day to see these wonderful works, all with a story to tell. In the crypt of the church, there are the relics of San Giminiano kept in an urn closed in a crystal case, that is open when the city celebrates the Patron (January 31). Inside the church there are also other notable things, like the organs, the statues, the frescoes, etc.. All of this makes the Cathedral of Modena an unique work, also because is a rare case of well preserved Romanesque style, both outside and inside. In fact, even if they are beautiful, the Cathedral of Parma, Cremona or Ferrara, have suffered changes, unlike the Cathedral of Modena that is as it was built.
Beside to the church, there is the “Ghirlandina”, the bell tower 86 meters high and visible by everyone in the historical center. From the apse of the church, you can appreciate the beautiful set created by the tower and the apse, with also the arches that conduct into the cathedral. This place is so great that in 1997, UNESCO has added the Cathedral, with the Ghirlandina and the “Piazza Grande” in the list of the World Heritage Site.
In fact, behind the beautiful Cathedral, develops the square, named Piazza Grande, that has many interesting spots. First of all there is the “Palazzo Comunale” that still today is seat of the municipality of Modena. This construction, is the result of the renovation made in XVII century of various administrative buildings. To feature the Palazzo Comunale are the long portico with arches and the Tower of the Clock, built in XV century, that has marble columns of different ages and the Statue of Immaculate of Giuseppe Mazza. Interesting are also the interior rooms, but I unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to visit them.
To the bottom of the Palazzo Comunale, then there is the “Preda Ringadora”, a symbol of the medieval life of the city. This is a big marble rectangular boulder, located close to the portico of the building and used in the Middle Ages as stage for the speaker but also like place where to do death sentences or to expose dead bodies.
Another suggestive thing is the statue “La Bonissima”. At the beginnings was located in the square until 1268, after, was moved in the corner between Piazza Grande and “Via Castellaro”. This statue hasn’t clear origins. Someone says it represents the “Bona”, a lovely noblewoman of Modena, particularly generous with the poor. Other people say instead that the statue is the symbol of the good estimate in trades (in Italian “Buona Stima”, so the statue could take its name from this expression), since at the feet of the statue there were engraved the ancient measures used in Modena.
Coming out from Piazza Grande, we stopped in “Piazza della Torre”, a small square where you can enjoy the view of the Ghirlandina. At the bottom of the bell tower, there is the statue of the poet Alessandro Tassoni, made by Cavazza in 1860. Behind the statue, on the wall of the Ghirlandina, is located the memorial of the partisans.
The square ends on Via Emilia (the same street from which we came), and walking toward east, you arrive in “Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini”, where there is sculpture bust of Mazzini and the Israelite temple, built between 1869 and 1873.
Once crossed the square, take one of the street that goes to north and you’ll be in “Piazza Roma”. Here there is the “Palazzo Ducale”, one of the most important princely buildings of XVII century. Originally house of the Este Family’s Court, after the Unification of Italy, the palace became the seat the prestigious Military Academy of Modena. The façade of the building is very decorated and it’s exalted by the play of colors of the marbles. Through the portal you can enter in the courtyard and at the frescoed and suggestive hall of honor.
In front of Palazzo Ducale there is the monument to Ciro Menotti, erected in 1879, to remember the patriot that organized a liberal revolt in Modena in 1831.
Before to leave Modena, we visited other two things: the Church of St.Dominic (a church born as church of the Este Family’s court, it has an elliptical shape and a dome supported by columns) and the Church of St.Joseph (better known as Temple of the Fallen, this monument was built as memorial to the fallen of the first World War in 1929. It’s a beautiful example of Romanesque Revival style, and it’s visible from many points of the city thanks to its five high domes. Unfortunately, due to the earthquake, the church is closed from 2012).
Got back the car, we left Modena and we came back to Florence. Both Bologna and Modena are two beautiful city, maybe Modena is more particular (mostly for its wonderful Cathedral) and to walk in the streets of this little city brings you back in time.
Good light to everyone