We went to Modena for a few nights: Rome-Bologna on the Italo train, then a local train Bologna-Modena. It was lovely! Amazing being able to leave Lazio as well. Modena was very clean and tidy, and the historical centre is a glowing assembly of buildings painted terracotta, siena, orange, yellow: just beautiful. We’d been to Bologna before, but Modena is much smaller. Famous for aceto balsamico di Modena (balsamic vinegar), it also has a Ferrari museum and Casa Museo Luciano Pavarotti. We stayed outside with masks on, and just enjoyed exploring the food and wine.
We had encountered pesto di Modena before: basically, it is pork lard beaten with pancetta, garlic and rosemary. Best enjoyed on toasted tigelle (little bread ovals) with some chilled Lambrusco. We also had gnocco fritto – not fried gnocchi, but pillows of fried or baked dough (again, with lard) served with mortadella, salami and other cold cuts. Or with jam for breakfast. The tigelle are also nice with Nutella for dessert.
We also sighed over tortellini at the market, bought balsamic vinegar and and had some wonderful meals, like at Francheschetta 58 (more affordable than Osteria Francescana, though that looks wonderful). Definitely a region to explore more: maybe Parma or Ferrara next time, after the summer?