No More Food Puns: Modena Day Trip

Alas, my ability to name my posts after Italian food is stalling, so I’ve decided to name this post with an equally uncreative title. Yesterday my program took a day trip out of Bologna into nearby Modena (about a twenty minute train ride) as part of our intensive Italian course. We just finished studying the Middle Ages in Italy and discussed Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose), which meant watching the movie with Sean Connery, who is weird to see as a monk after watching so many Bond movies. IMG_4946Our main point of the visit was to see the city’s Duomo, a leading and incredibly preserved example of Romanesque architecture. The Duomo is a UNESCO world heritage site and is quite impressive, though don’t go expecting an ornate, Gothic cathedral. Inside, the cathedral is dark, which is meant to invite people to pray. The most impressive art inside is the altar, on a platform raised above where the common people would sit. However, the stone and architecture were manipulated in such a way to also tell a story. Columns are often grouped in threes, to reflect the Holy Trinity. Stone reliefs on the Duomo’s exterior depict scenes from Genesis, of Adam and Eve (with inhuman proportions) in the Garden of Eden. Columns’ capitelli (top pieces) often have monsters, like mermaids, or people being punished chiseled into them (this is also the case at the Complesso di Santo Stefano in Bologna). While I usually say the rule of thumb with churches is to make sure to look up at the ceiling, here it’s still important to look up, but at those columns instead.  IMG_4930 After our visit to the cathedral, we were free to explore the city for the day. Some friends and I stopped at a kebab place for a simple and quick lunch which we brought out to a square, where entertainment included watching kids chase pigeons. We later climbed to the top of the Ghirlandia, the cathedral’s bell tower. Admission is free during the Philosophy Festival which the city is hosting IMG_4955 this weekend. As we ascended, I felt like I should have a candle and be on a secret mission to find a book from the restricted section of a library (I’ve read too much Harry Potter) because you ascend this square room and it makes you feel like you’re still in the Middle Ages. The views from the top are incredible: one thing that never gets old is climbing to the top of buildings and taking in the cityscape or the landscape. There were barely any people up there either, as places like the Giralda in Seville or the Duomo in Florence can be packed with others. Modena doesn’t attract many tourists, although there were some inside the cathedral, so it’s a refreshing and easy city to visit. On another note, tomorrow marks the day one month ago when I left for Europe. It’s weird to think that my time here is basically one quarter over, but it also feels like I left home months ago. There are certain things I probably won’t stop missing, I’ve realized, like all of my favorite coffee shops which serve American coffee/starting my morning out with an iced coffee, buffalo chicken, reliable business hours, etc. But, I’ve definitely learned a lot so far here and have loved exploring Bologna, and I’ll have more posts to come on it soon.

5 thoughts on “No More Food Puns: Modena Day Trip

  1. But balsamic vinegar comes from Modena (though I can’t think of a vinegar based pun off the top of my head, so I understand your predicament)! I also had to watch The Name of the Rose when I was in college, and while I enjoy an older Sean Connery (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is one of my favourite films), that fat monk who ended up dead really creeped me out. So much so that I skipped class so I wouldn’t have to look at him anymore.


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