Are you looking for places and activities to do with the whole family between Bologna and Modena?
Here is a 2-day itinerary to experience the area in a child-friendly way.
Bologna: city center
Starting from Piazza Nettuno and Piazza Maggiore, the heart of Bologna, don’t miss the whispering corners under the vault of the Palazzo del Podestà: by standing in one of the corners of the vaults, facing the column, you can hear the words of the speaker on the diagonally opposite side; it is said that this stratagem was invented in the Middle Ages to allow parish priests to confess people suffering from leprosy.
The itinerary continues in the Quadrilatero, among ancient shops and alleys with unusual names, to reach Piazza Santo Stefano, where the Seven Churches Complex is located, a unique and fascinating combination of sacred buildings from different periods.
Then we go to the small window in via Piella (near number 16), which offers an unexpected view of the Canale delle Moline, a reminder that Bologna’s subsoil is crisscrossed by a dense network of canals, used in the Middle Ages in particular for silk spinning.
Depending on the age, interests and “resistance” of the children, you can then choose between:
– take a reading break in the Sala Borsa Library (if it’s Friday afternoon, you can also join the guided tour of the archaeological excavations);
– visit the Geological and Palaeontological Museum, where you can admire the skeleton of the Pliocene proboscidean mastodon and the imposing model of the Jurassic dinosaur Diplodocus, twenty-six metres long and four metres high;
– visit the city on a small train that goes up to the Basilica of San Luca on the Guardia hill;
– climb one of the towers that can be visited in Bologna, such as the Asinelli Tower or the Clock Tower, to admire the city from above.
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San Giovanni in Persiceto: the “Little Square of Deceptions”
In the province (after a tasty detour to the Gelato Museum in Anzola), the itinerary continues to San Giovanni in Persiceto, one of the oldest towns in the area, whose historical center is characterized by a well-preserved concentric layout that earned it the name of Borgo Rotondo (Round Village). The real destination of the visit, however, is Piazzetta degli Inganni (the Little Square of Deceptions), which houses the trompe l’oeil murals of Gino Pellegrini, a Hollywood set designer who lived in the town and worked on films such as Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.
For the more active families, there is also the opportunity to cycle along the nearby Ciclovia del Sole, while stargazers should not miss a visit to the Planetarium on Friday evenings, which boasts a dome over 9 meters in diameter.
Modena: the city center
The second day is dedicated to the city of Modena, with its enchanting historical centre, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997: Piazza Grande with the Cathedral and the Ghirlandina Tower have been recognized as “a masterpiece of the creative genius of man”.
Here you can discover with your children the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, carved on the Porta della Pescheria (note the mysterious fact that the sculptures predate, albeit slightly, the book by Goffredo di Monmouth), and climb the Ghirlandina Tower (by reservation), from where you can enjoy a wonderful 360° view of the city.
We also recommend a visit to the Municipal Acetaia (by reservation with a guided tour), located in the attic of Palazzo Comunale, where you can see some of the batteries used to produce Modena’s black gold. If you have more time and would like to learn more about the subject, we recommend a visit to one of the vinegar factories in the area, where it is possible to follow the entire production process of this famous DOP product, from the vine to the bottle designed by Giugiaro.
Alternatively, you can visit the Museo della Figurina, a collection by Giuseppe Panini (founder of the company of the same name that produces the famous stickers!) and then take a break in the Ducal Estense Garden, just a few steps away.
A gastronomic break not to be missed, a few steps from Piazza Grande, is the Albinelli Historical Market, where it is possible to taste or buy local products from the 65 stalls, each dedicated to a type of food, from cheeses to fresh pasta.
Maranello: the Ferrari Museum
The itinerary ends at one of the temples of MotorValley, the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, a place that (together with the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena) allows you to discover the history of Ferrari and the cars that have consecrated the myth of the Prancing Horse in a fascinating and exciting way.
A journey through the most famous Formula 1 cars, the Sport Prototypes and Gran Turismo models, and the exciting Hall of Victories, which celebrates the Scuderia’s most recent successes with an overview of the single-seater world championships from 1999 to 2008.
Older children can also experience the thrill of driving a Ferrari Formula 1 single-seater on one of the world’s most famous circuits of their choice, thanks to the simulators available (info & bookings).
Social Media Manager for @inEmiliaRomagna and full-time mom.
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