On Saturday morning, I was pretty sad to leave Parma, even though we had a full day ahead of us before we reached Bologna. I feel like Parma is really a place you could live. It is a manageable sized city, and I think it would be easy there to get to know people. I also found out later that there is an international school in Modena, which is right outside Parma. I'd be all set!
It turns out that outside of Parma, it is rather rural. In Germany, on the outskirts of a city, the suburbs tend to still be rather full. Yes, we have farmers who live in our town, but there is little room for anyone to have much land here. You have to go much farther outside the city to see the kind of land that people have outside Parma.
I had made reservations at a traditional acetaia, or vinegar producer, in Modena where balsamic vinegar originates. Since we were a bit early to go to acetaia, we decided to check out the center of Modena.
Modena is a very old city, and at one time, because of its location on the Via Aemilia, it was an extremely important city.
The city center is positively charming. We parked as close as possible to the center, and were immediately overshadowed by the Palazzo Ducale. The once palace now is home to the Modena Military Academy. Unfortunately, I couldn't caputre the size of the building in the picture, but it is really HUGE!
It was in this parking lot that we had our first real view that things have changed in Italy. Joern and I have been talking about the change in northern Italy we fist noticed last year when we visited Venice. We noticed the extreme number of new large German cars. On our many trips to Italy years ago, I always felt that we stuck out a bit. Joern always had his BMW 5 series, and somehow, it was larger than most cars, and well, German. Last year, we were like the lower end of the crowd. In the Parma area, which is very rich, we were like the little guy on the block. In Modena, we parked in front of a brand new Aston Martin, the third I had seen in 2 days. We saw more BMW X6s than I have ever seen in Germany. Not to base everything on cars, but it seems like the Euro has really brought a change to northern Italy, which they deserve because they are hard workers, and saw lots of their money go away in the past. It can be difficult in Germany to see the effect of the Euro, namely because the most it has done here is to raise prices.
We walked into the center of Modena to discover another charming, wonderful town. We wound our way through the cobbled streets to the Piazza Grande, which is bordered by the town hall and the cathedral.
I wish I could have accurately caputured the lean of the church. I have read in guidebooks about the leaning bell tower, which was covered for restoration, but the church has a crazy slant too! But, it is quite old, from the year 1000 and really quite beautiful from the outside.
Due to time constraints, and our pending appointment with the vinegar producer, we could not really go into the museums or cathedral, but have put it on our "to do when we return" list.
As we explored, there was an open doorway, these usually lead to courtyards. I took a peak inside:
I'm pretty sure it depicts a scene from a literary work, but not sure which one, this was a private courtyard and not public. Of course, it could also serve as a warning to those who enter the courtyard.
The synagogue was extremely beautiful on the outside. It was so large, and the marble columns were incredible.
We were happy with our "taste" of Modena. Of course there is much more there to see, but we had an appointment to keep, so it was time to go.