Two cities not far from each other, not very big and therefore easy to visit in one day: in the post, all the advice on the most important attractions and on where to park for free to get around them comfortably on foot.
Each Italian city is permeated with history and art. If you want to spend a day discovering a beautiful Italian city, you are spoiled for choice, but at least once in your life I recommend you take a trip to Mantova and Modena. I have always been fascinated by these two cities that my history and literature professors have often mentioned to me, so I finally took the opportunity to visit them. Among other things, they lend themselves very well to one day trip. If you can reach them in a short time from home you could spend a nice day out of town, while if you come from further away you can think of inserting them in a itinerario longer. I'll explain immediately why.
Mantua and Modena: walking in the center
These towns are quite close to each other: it takes about an hour by car. They are also not too big and main points of interest they are located in the historic center or very close to it. So you can leave your car and walk in peace to enjoy these beautiful towns.
These are the itineraries that I propose to you, together with some advice on the parking areas. Of course, a visit to the wonders of these cities cannot be exhaustive with just a day's time, but it can be a good starting point to discover their soul and come back to visit them again.
Mantua, what to see
1. Castle of San Giorgio
This imposing medieval structure with a moat typical of fairytale castles, stands near the bridge of the same name, at the point where the Lower Lake meets the Middle Lake.
2. Piazza Castello
Not far away is this arcaded square which gives access to a path that leads straight to the very orderly Piazza Lega Lombarda. It is a large city park enclosed by buildings on three sides, with benches and walking paths, with well-kept trees and bushes.
3. Piazza Sordello
Continue on Via Rubens to Via Tazzoli and then turn right. A little further on you will find Piazza Sordello, where the Palazzo del Capitano, the Palazzo Vescovile and the Church of San Pietro are located. The latter is really a great example of the Mannerist style.
4. Piazza delle Erbe
Cross the Voltone di San Pietro in Piazza Sordello and walk for just over 100 meters to arrive in Piazza delle Erbe. This square is dominated by the Palazzo del Podestà with its clock tower and the Rotonda di San Lorenzo.
5. Basilica of Sant'Andrea
You have probably already noticed the dome from further away, but the facade of this great basilica is on Piazza Mantegna, right at the end of Piazza delle Erbe.
6. Loggia of Giulio Romano
If you want to photograph a particular glimpse of Mantua, go to the Loggia di Giulio Romano first along Via Roma, then turn left onto via Corridoni and then right onto Via Pescheria. On the sides of the road there is a splendid loggia with windows overlooking the Rio, which rejoins a little further on with the Mincio.
7. Palazzo Te
It is a bit far from the historic center but it is ideal to end the visit in style. It is a large building surrounded by splendid gardens that houses the Civic Museum of Mantua and is internationally renowned for the beauty and importance of the works of art housed inside.
Free parking in Mantua
Il free parking perhaps more convenient to reach the center is the Canoe camp, on the Strada Cipata. It is located on the other side of the San Giorgio Bridge, and is very large. To reach the Castle, just take the cycle path next to the driveway over the bridge.
Another free parking is that of Anconetta square, very close to Porto Catena and quite large. You can also choose free parking near Palazzo Te, right at the beginning of Viale Te, but in this case the number of spaces is less than in the other two car parks mentioned above.
Modena, what to see
1. Piazza Roma
The itinerary in Modena starts from the large Piazza Roma, in the northernmost area of the historic center. The majestic Military Academy overlooks here and, in the same building, there is also the Astronomical and Geophysical Museum.
2. Piazza della Torre
Walk towards the actual center of the historic area taking via Mazzini and skirting Piazza Mazzini, then turn right onto Via Emilia. Take a few more steps to find yourself in Piazza dell Torre, right at the foot of the great bell tower of the Duomo.
3. Via Lanfranco
To get in front of the facade of the Duomo use Via Lanfranco and you will not regret it. The stretch of this road immediately behind the bell tower is connected to the cathedral by arches and makes the place truly impressive.
4. Corso Duomo
Once in Corso Duomo you can see the Romanesque facade of this church, but before continuing under the arch, take a look behind you. You will be surprised to find the Chiesa del Vow with its large white dome as a lookout at the entrance to the main street.
5. Piazza Grande
Cross the large arch and turn left to arrive in Piazza Grande, on which is the side and rear part of the Duomo, from which you can have a further glimpse of the bell tower and the clock tower with its arcaded palace.
6. Albinelli market
Taking Via Albinelli you will arrive at the historic market of Modena, where you can buy some delicacies and admire the liberty style structure of this ancient covered market.
7. Piazza San Francesco d'Assisi
From Via Albinelli turn right onto Via dei Servi until you meet the wide Corso Canalchiaro. Continuing along this long road characterized by arcades on both sides, you will arrive in Piazza San Francesco, with the Gothic style church of the same name.
Free parking in Modena
I free parking in Modena they are not many and not particularly close to the center. One of the alternatives is to leave the car in Tiananmen Square. The parking lot is quite large and from there in approx 15 minutes walk you arrive at the Duomo. Equally spacious is the free parking area of theFormer Amcm, on Viale Sigonio. From here to the Duomo it will always take a quarter of an hour on foot. But pay attention to the blue stripes in the same square: this is the paid parking of the Teatro delle Passioni.