Where to eat, stay and shop in Modena

This ancient town in Italy's Po Valley brims with age-old customs and exciting new ideas, Kendall Hill discovers.

The historic centre of Modena

Alamy (Modena); Anthony Lannertonne (Franceschetta58); Supplied (Vittorio Veneto 25 and La Vacchetta Grassa)


Vittorio Veneto 25

This century-old three-storey villa bordering the old city has a classic Modenese façade – balcony, shuttered windows – and textured, modern interiors thanks to a 2015 renovation. Wi-fi and espresso machines are standard; the two suites offer more relaxation space. City sights are a stroll or short drive away, and parking is free.

Viale Vittorio Veneto, 25,

Bedroom at Vittorio Veneto 25



Modern Italian gastronomy’s holy grail is Modena’s three Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana, Massimo Bottura‘s avant-garde paean to the food of Emilia-Romagna and the 2016 World’s Best Restaurant. Don’t despair if you miss a prized seat at one of Francescana’s 12 tables; its “little cousin” osteria Franceschetta58 offers an alternative taste of Bottura magic. Local produce shines in plates such as tortellini in Parmigiano-Reggiano fondue and Bottura’s signature Emilia burger with balsamic mayo and salsa verde.

Via Vignolese, 58,

The dining room at Franceschetta58

Da Panino

Francescana’s DNA now pervades the city. In a laneway just steps from the mothership, Beppe Palmieri – Francescana’s maître d’ and sommelier – runs this sandwich shop and deli specialising in cured meats and cheeses, gourmet produce, great wines and pasta. Eat in, then take away.

Rua Freda, 21,

L’Erba del Re

The white-clothed tables, sharp-suited staff and hushed, gallery-like space set the fine-dining tone at this Michelin-starred restaurant by chef Luca Marchini. Menu standouts include an appetiser of cuttlefish burger in a squid-ink bun and a silky carpaccio of Sicilian shrimps. The weighty wine list is heavily biased towards (often great) Italian and French producers.

Via Castel Maraldo, 45,


End the evening with a nightcap at this laneway enoteca, a former breakfast bar transformed into a convivial, 400-label cellar bar that’s a favourite spot for knock-off drinks among Osteria Francescana staff.

Vicolo Coccapani, 5, +39 059 839 6497


La Vacchetta Grassa

La Vacchetta Grassa (“the fat cowhide”) crafts supple leathergoods – a medieval Modena tradition – from belts and bags to tiny tortellini keyrings. Snakeskin, crocodile and stingray leathers are also available. Visit the atmospheric workshop upstairs and admire its 500-year-old painted ceiling.

Corso Canalchiaro, 42/44,

Inside La Vacchetta Grassa

Acetaia Giusti

For pure-produce euphoria, go to Mercato Albinelli, Modena’s covered market. To delve deeper into local gastronomic traditions, visit Acetaia Giusti, the birthplace of balsamic vinegar, circa 1605. Some barrels haven’t been empty since the 18th century; the vintages of the oldest vinegars can be traced back to the 1600s. Hour-long tours conclude with tastings.

Strada delle Quattro Ville, 155,


Qatar Airways flies daily from select Australian cities to Milan via Doha, Qatar. From there, Trenitalia highspeed trains connect to Modena in two hours.

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