The Mole Diaries: Modena
Modena by davidtsousa
Sarah Swainbank studies French and Italian at Exeter University is about to set off on her year abroad in Italy. Here, she gives us an account of her top tips for Modena, Italy...Modena is one of the lesser-known Italian cities, made famous by the likes of Ferrari, Pavarotti, and balsamic vinegar…Whilst these claims to fame may not incite as much enthusiasm as the glamour and beauty of Milan and Florence, don’t be put off. I hadn’t heard of Modena before I came and it turned out to be the perfect place to spend my time, for my year abroad in Italy.
Luckily Modena is a student town, so there are plenty of rooms going with young Italian people, and it’s possible to find an apartment in the centre for under 300 euros per month. When I arrived I checked myself into a hostel (the town’s only one I believe and an approved national youth hostel) which was perfectly decent and logged onto easystanza.it which is the easiest way to find a room. Also head to Informa Giovani in the main square and check out their board with adverts and numbers to call. This is also the place to find out about what’s going on around town.
Modena is small and most things you need are in the historical centre. Some people get bikes, and the town is well connected by buses, but essentially everything can be reached on foot. The best thing about Modena is its location - 20 minutes from Bologna, which houses the most connected train station in Italy. Trains are not too expensive and I managed to visit a different Italian city practically every weekend. To get to Modena, fly to Bologna or Parma for cheap deals.
Modena has an active Erasmus community, not just involving international students but also local Italians. Join the Facebook group before you go. There are several clubs and lots of nice bars in the city, but of course, aperitivo is the most popular pastime (if you don’t know what this is, you’ll learn as soon as you reach Italy and you’ll never look back!). Café Concerto on the Piazza Grande is the place to go. Clubs become open-air in the Summer and one even has a swimming pool. A night out in Bologna or Rimini is worth the trip, if you want to look further afield.
A gelato from Slurp. Dinner at the Ferrari restaurant. Sunbathing in Park Amendola. Free live music around the city. A night out at Baluardo. A trip to the surrounding mountains (in Summer or Winter). Drinks in Piazza Pomposa. The open air cinema. The Notte Rosa on the Riviera and Notte Bianca.
All in all Modena is a great place for a year (or semester) abroad. If you are a big city-lover it’s probably not for you, but the advantage is that you can get to know the whole of Modena and make it your own, and you really get the authentic Italian experience. Since it’s not overrun by tourists, the locals aren’t always trying to speak English to you so it’s ideal for your language, and the travel opportunities are endless.
I am spending 6 months in Modena from March to September. I study French and Italian at Exeter Uni, and am doing a 6 month internship with Giorgio Armani Corporation as part of my course. Email me with any questions!