GHIRLANDINA, CITY SENTINEL
Inhabitants of Modena are convinced of this for a reason: Ghirlandina is the most beautiful bell tower of the World.
Its history is as old as the Duomo. Undisputed symbol of the city, 86.12 meters high, it dominantes the roofs from almost one thousand years ago. Transparent stones are covering it making it majestic and bright, its proportions are harmonious and elegant.
After some, the name comes from the wreaths characterizing it, so to say both balustrades of the octogonal part, others say it is from Giralda in Seville, the tower some of the spanish Jews who settled on the town in the XVI th century would have found a similarity with.
Two parts are distinguished clearly and harmoniously. The first six floors have a square plan and are contemporary to the Cathedral: the first five were finished in 1,184, the sixth with triforas at the inferior was built in 1,261.
Till then, the bell tower remained truncated, even for important stability problems: in fact, the subsistence of the foundation soil soon provoked the inclination towards the Cathedral that we can appreciate nowadays. Then, citizens sensitive to New Gothic style, called Arrigo da Campione to complete it, who decided to lift an octogonal daring spire with two balconies decorated with pinnacles (removed later on), slightly inclined towards the opposite direction of the Cathedral, to correct the slope. Work ended in 1,319.
A new sinking forced the construction of the two arches joining it to the church, probably in 1,338. Nevertheless, the bell tower was only really completed as we see it today in 1,588: during an official ceremony the cross was raised, with a golden sphere where an urn ( engraved with SPQM initials, Senatus Populus Que Mutinensis) contáis some relics from the patron Geminiano.
The tower was not only used for religious functions, but also for civil and defensive purposes as well. Watching the relieves decorating it, we can see some themes making reference to the other functions of the Ghirlandina: Medusa petrifies its enemies, Triton tames sea monsters, Lion high relieves inspire awe, an eagle swoops from the second floor, a crow warns of danger, two warriors save a damsel, another one kills a child, King David plays a harp.
The interior is extremely cute. After a small stair, we acced a nude atrium, used as important documents archive (prior to the Vía Lanfranco´s gate construction, it had access only from one of the church´s arches to descend to the room) and to the Sala della Secchia Rapita, painted with frescoes from the XIV th century with stars and curtains. The trophies of war seized to the Bologbnse at the Zappolino battle in 1,325 are only a copy, as the original are at the Camerino dei Confirmati in the City Hall.
After a few more steps are climbed, a giddy stair can be seen spiraling up by the perimeter walls, heading towards the top through special arches. About two hundred steps further up we reach the Sala dei Torressani, once inhabited by the guards of the tower who raised the alarm in case of danger. There is the municipal coat of arms crowned by the eagle of the Este family: between the three mullion windows there is a pair of beautiful capitals: one, named the Judges, maybe from the memory of the malicious intruder who entered the tower in 1,224. It warns about the judge´s goodness (who is now honest) sentencing the corrupt offender and punishing him); the other one, of David, presents the King surrounded by dancers.
From one of the windows of the Northern side, November 29th 1,938, the publisher Angelo Fortunato Formiggini jumped into the void to protest against racial laws. A plate in the City Hall reminds it. But from the windows we can also enjoy the best view of the city, in particular the Big Square, the Church of the Vow and the Ducal Palace.
The bells are at the top (the biggest of which weighs more than two tons), marking the time in the
city everyday, and also the wooden spiral staircase from the XVII th century, heading to the balaustrades of the spire, till the top of the tower.
From balsamic vinegar to Lambrusco,from cotechino to Parmigiano Reggiano, from tortellini to tigelle, Modena is not afraid of the judgment of visitors with the most demanding palate. It is not by chance the province of Modena counts the most rich selection of appellation of origin.
The real treasure chest from gastronomic excellences, including also among other delicacies, is a delicious elixir with a strong identity and a long historic trajectory appreciated over time, also for its beneficial properties. This is Nocino, a liquor obtained by the infusion of walnut shells. Both, the success in the province as the presence of walnut trees in the área, have made it the liquor of Modena par excellence, so much that it deserves the Geographical indication (IG).
The popular beliefs relacioned with its elaboración and the bonding with the original recipe transmitted in the families of the Modena area have also contributed to renown this drink even more, nowadays representing much more than a digestive.
The abundante of walnuts in the territories between Secchia and Panaro surely favored the expansion of Nocino in the Modena área. And it is precisely here, where we have to place the origin of this liquor without a doubt. The families of the área, taking advantage of the wealth of raw material available, developed the use to transform the fruits of walnut trees in a liquor giving up unmistakable flavor and intense aroma. Nevertheless, the nuts were always collected, still being immature, when the shell had not yet hardened. The best period for the harvest, called by botanicals``Balsamic time", was identified by popular tradición with the night between June 23 th and 24 th, the death date of Saint John the Baptist, when nuts, still green, release a more intense perfume, have a turgid lymphatic tissue and cells rich in essential oils, activ ingredients and nutrients. The ideal conditions to infuse them. But this was not the only reason that brought the families of the Modena area to collect these nuts for Nocino during Saint John´s night.
The reason had its roots in the legend linked to the miraculous properties of dew formed the night between June 23 th and 24 th. Following the popular beliefs, this dew was a panacea for all illnesses, believed especially effective in treating digestive system diseases and gastrointestinal disorders for which Nocino was in fact considered an excellent remedy.
It is said that it was the most experienced woman who did the recollection barefoot climbing the tree. Without hurting the skin, she choosed and collected by hand the best fruits which were after being exposed in the miraculous dew till the morning, when infusion took place. Then, the preparation ended, at All Hallows eve, another anniversary enveloped in magic and legend. It is not by chance that the walnut tree has always given off a certain aura of mystery. In fact, in the popular tradition, it was often associated with witches and enchantments.
Nowadays, the harvest season for nuts destined for the production of Nocino takes place in a longer period of time, but substantially coincides with the time suggested by tradition as in fact this is the period when walnuts are at an adequate maturation level for the elaboration of an excellent liquor.
In particular, the fruit starts to be recollected from June the 1 st till July 15 th.
For every liter of 95° alcohol, 1,000 to 1,200 gramos of nuts are infused (about 30 or 35, although its number is even following tradition). The shells are cut in four parts and placed in a glass container with sugar (about 1,000 to 1,200 grams), and they are left to rest for one or two days in the sun before the alcohol is added together with cinnamon and carnation (in very small quantities for not taking away the flavor of the nuts).
The infusion must be exposed in the sun, being opened and removed from time to time, and only after a minimum of sixty days, it can be filtered and bottled or be left ro be refined in wooden casks.
To select the best walnuts, it is enough to pinch them with a pin or cut them with a knife. If the shell has no water, the part that becomes grain is gelatinous and the wood has not been formed yet, giving the fruit the adequate level of maturity. The result of this long process of elaboración is a liquor with a clear aspect, dark brown color less or more accentuated, with an intense aroma with a touch of nut and pleasant and persistent aromatic taste from unripe walnuts. Exquisite!
Address: Mercato Storico Albinelli. Vía Luigi Albinelli, 13.
THE METALLIC SOUL OF MODENA
Prestigious city of art protected by UNESCO, as well as famous as the World motor capital, Modena outlights goldsmith art and metal processing, a traditional activity emphasizing the combination of love for beauty and crafts, seeing real masters fighting to create unique objects of great quality and excellent workmanship. The economic past of Modena is bound to Arts and Crafts Corporación, an institution where each art enjoyed its own statute, combining rules able to ensure the right exercise of each one safeguarding the interests of all members and good quality of products.
It was in 1,444 when the Goldsmiths Corporación was born, founded by Lionelle d´Este, lord of Ferrara, willing to crush goldsmith and metal crafts, activity that has survived through time, generation after generation, arriving till today. If there was an original tendency to manufacture religious objects, such as chalices and rosaries, today the demand is concentrated in the producción of gold jewelry articles with the addition of precious stones.
There are many areas of the territory involved and active, not only in the jewelry production but in processing materials such as copper and metal, in small villages such as Formigine and San Felice sul Panaro.
The profession of the craftsman goldsmith is mostly familiar where passion for their craft is transmitted from fathers to sons, small enterprises and workshops producing hand-made jewelry, without using any technological machinery but simple tools seeing the expert hands of the craftsmen using ancestral techniques such as hitting the forge and stamping.
Everything starts with a design, a kind of draft acting as an inspiring muse, and starting with the idea of the jewel it is in mind to be created, it continúes with the choice of the materials: through steps as folding, cut, welding and setting of precious stones or gold carvings and rhodium plating, dream objects are obtained.
Nevertheless, the activity is not only linked to processing precious materials as gold and silver, but also iron and copper, used to obtain design objets able to furnish interior environments as mirrors, tables, beds, but also exteriors as railings and gates.
The Artistic Craft Market is interesting, managed by the Laboratory Association, meeting many craftsmen the first saturday of the month during Christmas season, in Piazza Mazzini, as many open air workshops take place between the market stalls.
Walking by the center streets of the city of Modena is a real trip on time taking us to discover those surviving places in spite of modernity, as the goldsmith workshop of Roberto and Eufemia Barbanti, located in Via Santa Eufemia 45, that for two generations from 1,969 has continued their love and pasión for jewelry. Starting with the customer´s wish, classic but also original objects are worked out, taking advantage of all the beauty of precious and semiprecious stones such as amethyst, topaz, aguamarina, everything always with the same skill, taste and design.
Address: Oreficeria Barbanti, Vía Santa Eufemia, 45.
RIDDLE OF A WOMAN
Bonissima is one of the symbols of Modena traditions, but also one of the most mysterious. Nobody knows certainly the year of its realization as well as nobody knows for sure which was its real story and function.
It is said that this face would portray a noble woman that during Lombard rule in the High Middle Ages, would have helped the People of Modena donating food in a moment of difficulty. Following the legend, to thank her, People of Modena erected a statue in her memory and from that moment, Bonissima was remembered as the "Good Woman".
Nevertheless, an element among others has always drawn the atención of the studious of the history and traditions of Modena: the strange object she holds in her left hand. In fact, following numerous stories, the solution to the thousand questions concerning it as well as its multiple mysteries, will find an answer in this detail.
The object in question has a round shape, so much that for chroniclers Bertoni and Vicini, it would be a knob or a ball. This image would refer to the idea of weights and measures, In Medieval Modena it was necessary to agree the measures before performing any sale. Part of these measures are drawn in the external apse of the Duomo and are always found in Piazza Grande.
Nevertheless, following Bertolani, this would not be an apple but a pomegranate, or the symbolic fruit taken as an emblem by Countess Matilde di Canosa. Would this theory be real, it would mean the statue is not 1,500 years old, but one thousand, as the Countess lived during the period of the construction of the Cathedral of Modena, dating back to 1,099. Matilde di Canosa financed the construction of the Cathedral of Modena and people of this city could have thanked her for dedicating her the statue.
Finally, there is a third theory placing the construction of Bonissima in a very precise moment of history, specifically April 30 th 1,268. Following this theory, Bonissima was made by the people of Modena to celebrate the anniversary of the transfer of San Geminiano´s body.
Originally it was not hanging in the corner of the wall, but it was in the ground holded by a big stone underneath which there were four low and stumpy columns. This round symbol would not be other than the stylized representation of the parchments, or better, the written rules that first the poderstà and after the Duques of Este dictated to rule the city. In fact, following some stories, it was tradition to place under the statue of Bonissima the last rules governing the public and private life of the People of Modena.
Address: Piazza Grande, corner Vía Castellaro.
THE HARANGUE STONE
For those visiting Modena, and particularly Piazza Grande, as well as Ghiraldina, Duomo and the City Hall, it is impossible not to become aware of a great stone at the porticos corner. This is the Piedra Ringadora, where everybody sat at least once when being a child, but not many know really the original function of this huge rock, and so, false chronicles about its history were born.
At the brick´s base, as well as a reminder of the 2,013´ restoration, there is also information of the original date during the X th-XIII th centuries.
More than three meters long, it is known by everyone as Ringadora, due to the harengues that traders and speakers pronounced on top of it. This is what old men or masters from the city tell the children, but after this single block of stone, many bloody and mysterious stories hide.
As we learn from the Municipal Historic Archive, it was probably used during the Middle Ages, and it was known as the stone of dishonor.
Unlike what is told in the school, during that time it was better not to finish in it, as it was the debtors place. Nothing was more negligible during the Middle Age than debtors, who were forced to wander in Piazza Grande with shaved heads and a visible headdress, after they were forced to climb up the stone to submit to public insults.
This medieval use, nevertheless, doesn´t explain the origin of the stone, which seems to have been always conceived as an integral part of the community of Modena. The length of the stone let us imagine that a man laying down with extended hands and arms could also fit there. In the Middle Age, this posición was adopted byt hose who had been sentenced to death by torture. Nevertheless, would the stone be older and of prechrisrian origin, it could mean something more, for example this position was normal for the víctims of certain rites that took place in the forest, implying sacrifice, sometimes even human.
Address: Piazza Grande, 16
We cannot leave Modena without having tasted the traditional balsamic vinegar, an exquisite seasoning obtained from boiled grape-juice very long time aged in oak barrels.
The origin of this noble and exclusive seasoning is found in the old Roman´s tradition, the first ones started to cook grape-juice for its preservation.
A text from 1,556 contains a precious classification of the different kinds of vinegar and the different possibilities of use, among which a variety is mentioned seeming to correspond to what we call balsamic nowadays.
Its development is due to the transfer of the Este family from Ferrara to Modena in 1,598 and the
Duques will make it with special atención and interest. Numerous writings confirm in fact that vinegar was used both to be produced in the Ducal Court both for internal use as well as to be exhibited and offered to important personalities.
With the unification of the Kingdom of Italy, thanks to the market´s awakening, the product became more and more popular even outside of the regional bordes, so much in the business as in the cultural and scientific areas. In fact, the treaty of arboriculture La Pomona Italiana of Count Giorgio Gallesto of the XIX th century increased the interest on this product. The erudite, impressed and intrigued by the vinegar factory of his friend, Count Salimbeni del Nonantola, studied the different grape and wine varieties of the Modena area, researching also the different techniques of production. In his notes, he classifies vinegars in two categories: those obtained only from boiled grape-juice and those obtained from fermented grape-juice, giving the first an excellent clasificación and defining the other as an excellent mash. In this distinction we can see the divisory line that later on will define the Traditional Balsamic Modena Vinegar IGP for the second. Protected Geographical Indication Aceto Balsamico di Modena refers to the seasoning elaborated from grape-juice and wine vinegar, aged in wooden containers.
Dark and intense color, its aspect is clean and bright, with balance and sweet taste. The smell is slightly acetic and delicate, persistent with woody notes.
IGP stamp obtention is closely related to knowledge, traditions and abilities of those populations having created an exclusive and different product. This product has entered the social and economic fabric of the production area, becoming a source of income for different operators and also an integral part of the local culinary tradition. IGP recognition represented a real milestone, as it was obtained after 13 years from the date the application was presented.
It is an extremely versatile product combining well with every kind of dish.
Its fragrant aftertaste and its aromatic acidity make it pair well, both with boiled or raw vegetables, but also with every kind of meat and fish of the most different kinds. Also it is particularly adequate as a seasoning for cheese and…ice cream. Yes, you heard well, ice creams. Do you dare? Vanilla cream and vinegar, strange and perfect lovers. You will not repent.
Address: Mercato Storico Albinelli, Vía Luigi Albinelli, 13
Declared World Heritage by UNESCO, the Cathedral of Modena certainly doesn´t need to be presented.
Romanesque masterpiece, it is richly decorated with bas-reliefs and architectural frizes, but there are some that, as well as admiration, awake some curiosity.
Together with Bíblical scenes and religious allegories, there are strange figures of characters that seem to go out from an Indian storybook: a man with long hair in yoga posición, an hermaphrodite, a maiden with two tails, a girl with an oriental inspired hairstyle. What are these peculiar figures doing, very strange for European medieval iconography, nothing less than in the front of the Cathedral?
There are eight metopes, finely carved elements, typical from Greek and Roman architecture, that in the Cathedral of Modena were thought to be as buttresses on the roof. The structural needs have been forced to substitute them by copies, but the original metopes are visible and well preserved at the Lapidary Duomo Museum. There is the work of an anonymous sculptor called Master of Metopes, who most probably was asistent of Wiligelmo, the artist that more than anyone else decorated the Cathedral of Modena. But it is unknown with certainty why references were so much exotic. Probably the Master of Metopes could have been in contact with oriental art, with Middle East and Indian subcontinent representations. Something not very evident in the year one thousand. Perhaps they wanted to represent the peoples on earth to whom the Christian message had not yet arrived.
The fact is that among the eight metopes there is a man with long hair, beard and mustache, sitting in an acrobatic position similar to yoga figures. Even his closed eyes suggest he was practicing discipline, not very extended at that moment in Europe as it is today.
A very particular figure is the Maiden with two tails, interpreted maybe as a luxury symbol. Also there is an image that seems to be taken from a nightmare: a being with bird´s head, human foot and bull´s hoof devouring a fish, while behind him is the face of a woman with closed eyes. The strange composition continues with an hermafrodite, boldly showing his sexual atributes. Then, there are three feminine figures: one with a long robe and oriental hairstyle, a woman in a sleeping pose with a winged being at her back and a young woman holding a being with a long neck in her hands. Finally, two feminine figures squat position confronting each other in a mirror image but face upside down.
Address: Corso Duomo
RAMPANT HORSE RIDE
Enzo Ferrari Museum is located in Modena, at the house of the famous race driver and businessman, founder of the prestigious car brand with his name. The set includes a complex with the birthplace house and a second structure beside it. The project was promoted by the Natal House Fundación Enzo Ferrari, counting with the City Hall, Province, Modena Chamber of Commerce, Automobile Club of Italy and Ferrari Spa participation.
The Foundation was created in 2,003 with the objective to improve, promote and protect the image, the history and the work of Enzo Ferrari. The institution also proposes, across investigación and recovery of information and testimonial materials, to reconstruct the history of motoring and to preserve the documentary heritage recovered in a documentation center built inside the complex of the museum.
The Documentation Ferrari Center is physically located inside the exposition structure and hosts a space dedicated to archives, informatic work stations for inquiries and a classroom dedicated to teaching and seminars. The Foundation, as part of the interregional project "Land of Engines", received co-financing from the Emilia Romana Región to acquire historic material of great value in digital copyright.
The Museum dedicated to Enzo Ferrari is not only a Museum but an attractive and exciting show where unique ingredients are mixed. In the futurist pavilion with more that 2,500 square meters, as well as admiring the exposed cars, there is a show showing, across a captivating film, the magical history of Enzo Ferrari´s 90 years of life.
From the child who discovers races at the beginning of the XX th century, to the pilot, from the Scuderia animator to the builder and his triumphs.
This inmersión in emotion is flanked by the Ferrari Engines Museum in the workshop of Enzo´s father, now perfectly restored. A story inside history enfatasing Ferrari´s singularity.
The main pavilion presents an extraordinary architecture created by the English study "Future Systems" and it is combined with Enzo Ferrari´s former house where he was born in 1,898.
In the futurist pavilion, together with the many cars exhibited , there is a show repeating at regular intervals, as if we would be inside a time machine, one of the most beautiful Ferraris of all time.
A real jump into the world of the rampant horse, across images of a great evocative power and a thrilling soundtrack.
At the interior of the ancient workshop of Enzo Ferrari´s father, a permanent exhibition dedicated to Ferrari´s engines, always considered the heart of the car, was recently installed.
In the main pavilion there is also a Ferrari Shop, a restaurant and a cafetería offering gastronomic specialities cooked with typical local products. An unforgettable trip!
Address: Vía Paolo Ferrari, 85
HOW MUCH HISTORY IN PIAZZA GRANDE
Piazza del Duomo, born in the XII th century, took the name of Great since the second half of the XVII th century. It has always been a center of the polítical life of the city: from Porta Regia del Duomo and from its pulpit dating from 1,500, from the City Hall railing, and even before from the Ringidora stone, rules of civic and religious life were formulated.
Beautifully framed by Ghirlandina tower, from the airy porch of the City Hall, administrative headquarters, but also court and criminal headquarters in the past, and from Duomo, it represents a space citizens felt so much their own that in the statutes it was often forbidden to go there to eat, drink or dance. The square was mainly the exclusive place for the market. There were the citizenship who established the place and the schedule for exchange and the lay out of the benches in the square, mobile and temporal structures that saturdays and other days had to aline in long parallel lines. Bonissima, nowadays placed at the corner of the City Hall, could have been relationed with this economic connotation.
The square, the market, and shops under the Palazzo Comunale portico were much more than a place for trade. It was a meeting place, a place to chat about city´s events, to exchange opinions and also used for polítical, religious and folkloric events.
Also justice was administered, mainly the market day on Saturday. The terrible show of justice was show in the square using gallows and torture instruments. Unknown corpses were deposited in the Ringadora Stone for their identification, collected under the arcades, from the channels or lowered from the rope hanging in the Palace. The square was in fact , the place where power communicated and self celebrated , showing also the terrible face of the gloomy spectacle of justice rituals.
This space was also the scene of solemn religious processions, advancing later through the main streets of the city. The City Council itself organized, with a great participación of the people, penitential processions, sacred representations and numerous feasts in honor of the Saint Patron San Geminiano. Often, in these occasions, sacred and profane alternated and sometimes even overlapped.
Mask feasts and horse trips liven up the square during the carnival or other happy events and intervene at fairs. At these periods tournaments were organized, ladies and gentlemen carts paraded, and allegorical floats, beside the stalls selling every kind of merchandises, acrobat boxes were installed, and charlatanes propounded miracle remedies.
Finally, the square burned with great bonfires to celebrate the happy events involving the city, such as the birth of princes or the election of an illustrious citizen to be a cardinal.
Religious and polítical powers often collided for the square´s possession, as it is demonstrated by the facts of restoration costs of Ghiraldina during the XVI th and XVII th centuries or the numerous confrontations between the sacred character of the cult places and the materiality of the economy of the city, that almost invaded the Cathedral with its stalls and shops.
With the construction of the Ducal Palace, Piazza Grande partially lost its connotation of privileged space for feasts and shows celebrating the Ducal power, while People continued to gather here, for example to play biribisso, horses or lottery. The fierce execution rituals continued in the square during all the XVIII th century.
In the Napoleonic age, with the abandonment of the city by Hercules III, the Piazza returned to being a reference point for citizens.
For the city, XX th century started with the Cathedral´s restoration, that is isolated both from the Archbishop´s Palace and the Rectory: these are the first signs of the new in the old square. Later on, year after year, the events taking place in the square had the same colors as the World War II regime.
The gradual economic welfare of the city starting in the decade of the 50´ had among its most evident signs the new provided use for the Piazza, that of a parking. Later on the protagonist of the news, nacional ones included, was the Justice Palace, demolished in 1,863 to give space for the new Savings Bank headquarters, built after a project by Giò Ponti.
Culture took protagonism in the second half of the XX th century. From the contemporary art facilities of the 70´ and the expositions at the low level of the City Hall, till the edicions of "Theater in Piazza" as well as photographic projections from Giuseppe Panini and Beppe Zagaglia; from the intercultural events of the 90´ till the first editions of the International Festival of Military Bands and the Este afternoons: from Coro Rossini performances in the 50´ till the concerts started in the 70´.
Finally, from 2,001 the purely cultural image of Piazza Grande goes back mainly to the Philosophy Festival: annually master classes managed by the main philosophers, with debates, readings and talks on contemporary man and his world take place in the Piazza.
Address: Piazza Grande
Wellcome to Europamundo Vacations, your in the international site of:
Bienvenido a Europamundo Vacaciones, está usted en el sitio internacional de: