Modena Day Trip

A day in Modena, Italy 

The barrels where balsamic vinegar is aged.

The barrels where balsamic vinegar is aged.

From an early age, my Italian-American family had an obsession with balsamic vinegar. We dipped bread in it, mixed it with oil and drizzled it on italian subs.. When I moved to San Francisco as an adult, my favorite treat was strawberry balsamic ice cream from Birite Creamery. I am a huge fan of this dark vinegar that originates from a tiny town in Italy called Modena

This summer, my husband and I spent three weeks exploring Italy during our honeymoon. We decided to skip the large, crowded cities and opted for an adventure that exposed us to true Italian culture...and food. Lots of food. After significant research, we decided that Bologna was a must-see destination because of the incredible culinary experiences it offered. Once we started planning our Bologna visit, I realized that Modena was only about a 25 minute train ride from the city! My balsamic vinegar dreams were about to come true. The decision was an easy one - we were going to take a day trip to Modena. 

This post is a quick read where we share our best tips for the perfect Modena Day Trip. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out or leave us a comment below. 


A sunny day in Modena.

A sunny day in Modena.

Here’s an overview of our three week itinerary for Italy:

Day 1-3: The Dolomites: Three Days in the Italian Alps
Day 4-5: Two Days in Bologna, Italy
Day 6: A Day Trip to Modena (this post!)
Day 7-14: Tuscany (blog posts coming soon)
Day 14-21: The Amalfi Coast (blog posts coming soon)

Walking to the train station in Bologna.

Walking to the train station in Bologna.

Getting to Modena 

Getting to Modena from Bologna is a breeze. You don’t even need to book tickets in advance. Trains leave from the Bologna Centrale train station every 30 minutes and the ride only takes 20. If you want to be safe and book a ticket in advance, I recommend using the Trenitalia website

Colorful houses in Modena.

Colorful houses in Modena.

What to Do in Modena

+Balsamic Vinegar Experience

You only have one day in Modena, so make the most of it. Sure, there is a Ferrari Museum for you car lovers out there, but I had a main focus for this visit - Balsamic Vinegar Tasting. 

In advance of the trip, I found the perfect Airbnb Experience hosted by a local balsamic vinegar maker. His name is Guido, and it is his family’s tradition to start a new batch of balsamic vinegar every time a baby is born. We tasted a few different batches of vinegar, all in different stages of aging. The oldest batch was Guido’s that his father started for him when he was born in 1968. 

This experience is only about $40 a person and you can arrange for Guido to pick you up from the train station for an additional cost. We opted for one in the morning and went to lunch from there, but there are also options in the late afternoon. 

This is an example of the labels on all of the balsamic barrels.

This is an example of the labels on all of the balsamic barrels.

+Eat Lunch at Hosteria Giusti 

Our lunch at Hosteria Giusti was definitely one of the top three meals we ate in Italy, and we spent three entire weeks there! I found this restaurant after trying to get a reservation at Osteria Francescana, named the best restaurant in the world in 2018. Spoiler alert, it’s impossible. I decided not to get discouraged and did some research on other restaurant options. After coming across this article of where Aziz Ansari ate in the second season of his Netflix show, Master of None, I found Hosteria Giusti. 

Hosteria Giusti started as a family-owned butcher shop that added a small dining room in the back to share their recipes cooked by the grandmother of the family. The dining room has a total of four tables and two lunch seatings per day. That’s right, a total of FOUR TABLES. Talk about exclusive. I booked about 3 months in advance and emailed them directly to make a reservation. When you arrive at the front, you’ll be shuffled behind the deli counter to the restaurant. Our waiter was one of the chef’s grandsons and we felt like family throughout the entire experience.

Here’s what to order: 

  • Fried dumplings with salami

  • Tagliatelle with pork cheek

  • Thin Tagliatelle in asparagus sauce

  • Fried Cotechino Sausage

  • Deer Cheek

The deer cheek from Hosteria Giusti.

The deer cheek from Hosteria Giusti.

+Explore the City

Take a stroll through Modena. The entire city is extremely walkable. Below is a list of some of the top sights and here’s a free walking tour of Modena if you’d prefer to go with a tour guide. 

+Try to make a dinner reservation at Osteria Francescana

We weren’t able to get one, but I highly recommend trying! You can make a reservation exactly three months in advance at 10AM (Italy time zone). That’s 1AM for us in Los Angeles. We stayed up and entered the queue but weren’t able to get one. Good luck to you!

+Train back to Bologna

You can train back to Bologna the same way you came.

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