Modena is a historic town in the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy. The town is perhaps most famous as the home of some of Italy’s most famous automotive brands such as Ferrari and Maserati but foodies will most likely associate Modena with balsamic vinegar or balsamico. Authentic aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena is the stuff of foodie dreams. Rich and syrupy, this balsamic vinegar bursts with flavour and just a few drops of it is sufficient to lift a simple salad, cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano in particular), fruits, steaks or gelato to stratospheric levels! But for the foodies among us, Modena has a lot more in store than just balsamic vinegar. As I discovered, a Modena food tour is the perfect way to discover its culinary treats and traditions.


The culinary delights of Modena

For the first-time visitor to Modena, I suggest kicking off your stay with a meal that starts with delicious Modena ham, followed by a plate of tortellini. A typical main course includes zampone, made with ground pork meat. Don’t forget to order Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese) covered with a sprinkling of traditional Modena balsamic vinegar. And while you’re at it, order a glass of Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine. This is a great introduction to Modena’s culinary delights! The next thing to do is discover the origins of these wonderful products and this is where a Modena food tour comes in handy.

A sublime marriage of two amazing food products from Modena.

Parmigiano Reggiano

My food tour around Modena started with a visit to 4 Madonne Caseificio dell’Emilia, one of the most prominent producers of Parmigiano Reggiano in the region. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and you can follow each step of the production process – the highlight of which is the massive storage facility! I recommend visiting in the mornings when the cheese-makers are at work. The tour concludes with a fabulous cheese-tasting of course!

Inside the Parmigiano Reggiano production facility.
Parmesan cheese… as far as the eye can see!

Check out my Emilia Romagna road trip guide


My next stop was the lovely Cantina Paltrinieri. This vineyard produces some of the best Lambrusco I’ve ever had! I have to admit, I’m not an expert as the Lambrusco I’ve tasted on occasion (outside Italy) didn’t make any sort of lasting impression on me. That changed after my visit to this cantina. Their Lambrusco di Sorbara, with its gorgeous bouquet, rich flavours and never-ending strings of silky bubbles, was nothing short of superb.

Alberto. the wine-maker, treated us to a fabulous (and insightful) Lambrusco-tasting!

Balsamico di Modena

The tour continued with another highlight, a visit to the nearby Acetaia Paltrinieri where we were given a tour of their traditional balsamico production facility. Traditional balsamico di Modena is very expensive (prices start at EUR 45 for a 100ml bottle) due, amongst others, to the time it takes to produce it – the minimum aging period is 12 years. In the past, families in the region would celebrate the birth of a baby by setting aside a barrel to age, which would then be used as a dowry.

Traditional Balsamico di Modena can be distinguished by the bottle it’s sold in. It isn’t original if it’s not in this unique bottle.

At today’s prices, a barrel of traditional balsamico di Modena would be more than sufficient to cover a child’s education right through university! Strolling around the storage room, with its hundreds of barrels containing this ‘black gold’, is a wondrous experience.

The tour ends with a balsamic vinegar tasting – best done on the skin of your hand. I assure you, once you’ve done this tasting, your perceptions of balsamic vinegar will never be the same again! Acetaia Paltrinieri is also a great place to have lunch – and discover the different ways traditional balsamico di Modena can be used.

Barrels of 'black gold'!
Barrels of ‘black gold’!
Tasting traditional Balsamico di Modena. A divine experience!
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Prosciutto di Modena

The final stop of the tour was a Modena ham (prosciutto di Modena) factory. The unassuming entrance opens into a series of passages and the second you step in, you’ll be overwhelmed by the smell of erm.. ham! The passages lead into various rooms, each a step in the production and curing process. It’s a fascinating tour, though not for the vegetarians amongst us. The ham-tasting at the end was another sure highlight of the tour!

Ham anyone? 🙂

Read more about things to do in Modena.

I recommend touring the countryside around Modena to experience its culinary delights and learn a thing or two about deep-rooted traditions, and the passion and dedication with which these products are produced. For automotive fans, don’t miss visiting the Motor Valley in the outskirts of Modena. These Modena experiences are my recommendations for things every visitor must do in Emilia-Romagna.

Book a full-day Modena food and Ferrari tour from Bologna.


Modena is also a featured destination in the Ultimate Euro Food Trip.

Search for hotels in Modena.

Note: my visit to the Motor Valley was a collaboration between the Emilia-Romagna Tourism Board and iambassador.




12 Responses

  • Looking for a food tour at the last minute 🙂 Anything available in Modena for tomorrow…Saturday Nov 10??


  • Hi Keith. We will be visiting Mantua early October and would like to include a full-day side trip to Modena or Parma to experience exactly what you did in you post – visits to local producers of cheese, ham, vinegar and wine. Do you know of any drivers/tour guides that you would recommend to lead us in a full day exploration? We do not plan to have our own car. Thank you for your assistance!

  • […] Modena is perhaps most famous as the home of some of Italy’s most famous automotive brands such as Ferrari and Maserati – a tour of the Motor Valley is a must! – but foodies will most likely associate Modena with balsamic vinegar or balsamico. This is the perfect opportunity to visit the producers of some of Emilia Romagna’s most famous food products like Parmigiano Reggiano, balsamico and prosciutto di Modena (Modena ham). And it comes as no surprise that Modena is home to Osteria Francescana, a restaurant that consistently ranks as one of the top-3 in the world! If you can’t get in, check out Hosteria Giusti, L’Erba del Re, Ristorante Da Enzo or Osteria da Ermes. Read about my food tour around Modena. […]

  • Glad to see a genuine and authentic article on your visit. It is obvious you loved it! The Emilia RomagnaTourist Board blogville project is really doing a great job of sharing the authentic Emilian food love. Well done!

  • Thanks for a great article on Modena! A good friend of mine lives there and your post just added to the push for me to visit this wonderful town.

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