June 2nd was a national holiday – Festa della Repubblica (Festival of the Republic). This holiday celebrates the day in 1946 when Italians voted to abolish the monarchy to become a republic.
I was done packing early for once with lots of time to spare. I decided to have my morning caffè macchiato at the bar inside of Palazzo dei Trecento in the beautiful Piazza dei Signori before heading to the train station. The streets and the bar were empty. The more expensive than usual coffee wasn’t any better than other places I have been but the bar was pretty. I took the photo below of Palazzo dei Trecento on the previous day. The bar was through the wooden doors.
After enjoying my morning coffee, I headed back to my B&B, grabbed my bags (I paid my bill the evening before) and walked to the train station, which was about a 10 minute walk. Along the way, I could see that a ceremony was about to start at the Monument to the Fallen of Piazza Vittoria. If I did not have to catch a specific train, I would have definitely stopped to observe the ceremony. I discovered the elevator by the walkway that goes under the busy street to get to the train station. That was a nice discovery!
Train travel, on a holiday, on a Friday, in the summer – DO NOT DO THIS!!! I was not thinking when I made my plans.
Train travel to Modena involved 3 trains. The first train was the 9:25 regional train from Treviso to Venezia Mestre. It was a train that had both first and second class but the train was so crowded that I was not able to move into one of the cars. I stood with 17 other people (I counted) and all of my bags, and everyone else’s bags, squished in a corner in that space between two train cars for the entire ride. The trickiest part was when the train stopped at a station and some people had to get off the train while others tried to get on the train. Good thing there was only 1 stop before my stop. I was also glad that everyone was in good spirits. It was supposed to be a 20 minute ride but it took a little longer to reach Venezia Mestre because of the time it took for people to board the train at the stop we made before reaching my stop.
I do not have a photo of the people I rode with on my car, but I did take a photo of another train once I was at the Venezia Mestre train station, which shows exactly what it looked like on my train. On my train, I was standing at the back left corner.
The above photo is not the greatest of photos. I took it with my phone and had to lighten it quite a bit. I also took a couple of photos of all the people waiting at a binario for a train to arrive to show the crowd size.
Again, never, never travel on a holiday on a Friday in the summer if you can help it… unless you are taking a Frecciarossa train and have a reservation in the executive class! I am really lucky that I was able to get on that first train! If I was not able to fit on that train, I would have missed my second train and would not longer have my reservation.
The second train I took was the luxurious Frecciarossa, fast train, from Venezia Mestre to Bologna Centrale. I say luxurious because once I realized that my train travel was going to be on a Friday holiday, I decided to reserve a seat in the executive class of this train. I made this reservation a month in advance and was able to get a great fare with an extra discount being offered during the week I made the reservation.
Everyone is required to reserve a seat on a Frecciarossa train. When I boarded my train, although no one was standing, even in business class, every seat was taken and there was luggage in the aisles BUT in my special little executive class car at the head of the train, there was tons of space. We had our very own train person to wait on us (not sure the exact name of his job). He even wore gloves! If I was rich, I would always travel this way!
There was one guy on his phone the entire train ride, speaking half the time in English and half the time in Italian. I’m not sure where he was from. He was not Italian though. He really did not bother me talking on his phone as I was just grateful to have so much space after my last train ride, but he did aggravate a woman sitting in front of me and across from him. At one point she asked him in Italian to please stop talking on his phone so loudly as she was trying to rest. Instead of wrapping up his conversation, he laughed as he told the person on the other end of the phone that a woman on the train was asking him to stop talking on the phone and then continued to talk on the phone the entire train ride. He said this in Italian so she knew just what he was saying. I thought that was rude!
The photo on the left below shows the space I had between my seat and the seat in front of me with all of my luggage (a backpack that looks bigger than it really was, my new little roller carry-on, and my check in bag, which qualifies as a carry-on bag). The second photo on the right is a photo showing more of the executive class. It just happens to also be a photo with the guy talking on his phone.
When we arrived in Bologna, the train person waiting on everyone in my car carried my bags off of the train! That was a nice touch! The Bologna station was very busy but fortunately my 3rd train, another regional train, was not very full, or at least the 1st class car I was in was pretty empty. Perhaps it was because it was lunch time or maybe it was because the train was going in the opposite direction of the seaside in Rimini.
I was pretty excited to return to Modena. This would be my 4th visit, but my first time staying there. The train ride was about 25 minutes. When I arrived, I got in the taxi line and waited my turn. My taxi driver was very nice. We chatted a bit as he drove to my hotel. There was something happening in the centro that caused him to take a detour. He assured me that I would not have to pay extra because of the detour. That was nice!
I thought the reason he could not reach my hotel the usual way was because of something to do with the umbrellas I saw above the street he tried to drive down and then ended up backing up. (photos are of the same street – just 2 different photos)
Instead, the reason he could not drive to my hotel his usual way was because some of the streets were blocked off for a huge food street event.
I arrived at my hotel and was told that I was too early to check in. I left my bags there (except my backpack) and headed to a restaurant that I ate at during a previous trip to Modena, called Da Enzo. It was not too far from my hotel. But before walking to the restaurant, I had to walk through Piazza Grande where you will find the amazing Cathedral and the Torre della Ghirlandina (bell tower).
Here’s another view where you can see more of Piazza Grande. The Cathedral is so big that it is difficult to fit the church and the tower all in one photo along with the Palazzo Comunale (where you will find the town hall and a beautiful clock tower).
Da Enzo seemed pretty full when I arrived. I told the older woman sitting and forming little tortelloni at a table at the entrance (on the second floor/Italian 1st floor) how I have been dreaming about having another meal at her restaurant. She was so happy to hear this and made sure the waiter found me a seat. I ordered my favorite – tortelloni burro e salvia. I really had been dreaming about this meal ever since I decided to return to Modena!
Oh my gosh!! It was melt in your mouth, delicious!!!! I also had some panna cotta with caramel for dessert but didn’t take a photo. Again, yum!!!
I was still in dreamland when I left from that lunch. As I walked down the stairs, the waiter called to me and told me that I left my backpack on the chair. That would have been really bad if I lost my backpack at that moment as I was carrying all my valuables in that bag before unpacking everything at my hotel.
On the way back to my hotel, I checked out a bit of the street food event. It turned out that this was the same food event that took place in Udine! I also found out that the name of this event was called the STREEAT European Food Truck Festival and it seemed that all the same people who were in Udine were now in Modena. They must travel to a new place every weekend. I was not as thrilled though to see them set up on a major street in Modena, blocking many of the stores, instead of how they were set up around the edges of a park in Udine.
When I arrived back at my hotel, I checked in and then went up to my room to unpack. I also decided to take a quick shower after all that train travel and then washed and hung up a few things in my hotel bathroom.
I really did not have any set plans for that afternoon. I decided to spend some time inside the Cathedral. Every time I am inside this church, I discover something new. There is so much to see and it is very peaceful inside. I spent time inside this Cathedral three times this year during my stay in Modena. Instead of posting a bunch of photos of the inside of this church in this post, I posting just one photo (looking from the front to the back of the church). I will do another post just about the Cathedral with more photos of both the inside & outside of the Cathedral.
After leaving the church, I walked over to the entrance of the Torre della Ghirlandina (bell tower) to see if I could find out the hours and days the tower was open to climb since the tourist information center was closed because of the holiday. One of my things I definitely wanted to do while in Modena was to climb that tower. I could have climbed it that afternoon but it was getting later and I was tired from all that train travel. I decided to save it for another day.
Before heading back to my hotel, I walked around a bit, taking a few more photos. Here are two of my favorites…
Back at my hotel, I checked out the internet to figure out where I wanted to eat for dinner. I decided to give Taverna dei Servi a try – (photo below was taken on a different night).
I arrived a little early for dinner. They were still happy to seat me. I asked to be seated inside. It was a beautiful night, but because many people smoke at their tables outside, I usually prefer to eat inside. There were two young waiters working that evening – a young woman and a young man. They were both very nice!
I ordered the tortelloni con scagliedi grana e aceto balsamico – which was a tortelloni with grana cheese and the good balsamic vinegar. It was very rich. Yum, Yum, Yum!!!
One of the things I love about eating in Modena is that most restaurants use the good balsamic vinegar (the expensive 60 to 120 or more euros bottle of balsamic vinegar that is thick and syrupy and oh so good).
For dessert, I ordered a panna cotta with frutti di bosco. This was not a pure panna cotta but it was still very good!
While waiting for my dinner, I asked the young waiter if he knew what the umbrellas signified on the street my taxi drove down. He was not aware that there were umbrellas hanging above any street. I mentioned that perhaps it had something to do with Rihanna and her Umbrella song. He thought that was so funny and then started to sing a few lines of the song and threw in a few dance moves! That cracked me up! When I went to pay, the man, who I believe was the owner, seemed very happy that I chose his restaurant and even shook my hand. I really enjoyed eating at this restaurant. Good food! Nice people!
I was very happy that I would be spending more than just a day in Modena this trip!