Magnificent Motors: The Enzo Ferrari Home Museum in Modena, Italy

 

Seen from above, Modena’s futuristic Enzo Ferrari Home Museum is said to bring to mind the hood of a sleek, buttercup-yellow roadster.

At ground level, the sparkling-glass gallery is a state-of-the-art showroom – one that contrasts with its Old World, red-brick neighbor, the building in which Ferrari was born in 1898.

Admittedly, despite having maneuvered a Bavarian driving machine on Germany’s famed Autobahn for a decade, I am not by nature, an automobile aficionado. When Shawn and I embarked on our Southeast Asian, North American and Southeastern European adventures in 2011, we sold our cars, and have embraced slower-paced bus and train travel ever since. Nevertheless, we appreciate good design – and since Modena is as well known for its automotive makers, as its mouth-watering cuisine, and classic architecture, we found that the Ferrari Home Museum foray gave us a more complete picture of life in the Northern Italian city.

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A Perfect Pair: Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese & Traditional Balsamic Vinegar in Modena, Italy

Modena cheese maker Carlo has been producing Parmigiano-Reggiano for more than 50 years. Still, the farmer-turned-cheesemaker does not tire of the prized Italian cheese.

“I always have Parmigiano-Reggiano in my mouth. (When not at work) I constantly keep eating it,” he joked, as we toured the Hombre Organic Cheese Farm in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, just outside of Modena. The opportunity to learn about another Modena prized delicacy, traditional balsamic vinegar, would be next our next stop.

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Mouth-Watering Modena: A Cooking Class in Italy

“Secrets, especially with cooking, are best shared so that the cuisine lives on.”

– Bo Songvisava

Having just thrown back a rich shot of espresso, we slipped into black ‘Chef for a Day’ aprons. Our cooking class in Modena, Italy had officially begun.

In strolled our instructor, Chef Massimiliano ‘Max’ Telloli of the Osteria Stallo del Pomodoro restaurant. He wore a kelly-green chef’s hat and a warm smile. Chef Max also exuded an enthusiastic willingness to share Emilia-Romagnan cuisine with us.

Earlier, we’d read that Chef Max is a Modena native, longtime gluten-free consultant, award-winning chef, and cookbook author. Now that we’d met him in person, we couldn’t help but notice that Chef Max bore a striking resemblance to the American actor, Gary Sinise. :)

Quickly, we discovered that one secret behind Chef Max’s celebrated cuisine is his use of quality, rich ingredients.

“Each week, we use about 5 kg. (11 pounds) of butter, and 200 eggs at the restaurant,” he mentioned, as he set aside the ingredients for our first dish, a Soufflé di Parmigiano.

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Savoring the Moments in Modena, Italy

 

 “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese

As we strolled the cobbled streets of Modena, Italy, surrounded by the graceful city’s earth-toned buildings, we couldn’t help but feel that we were back in an exotic part of the world that doesn’t often see visitors. The portico-packed, elegant lanes were decidedly Italian in architectural character, but locals seemed to approach us at every turn, asking us to take their photograph, curious about our story and what brought us to Modena. The latter certainly wasn’t a phenomenon that either one of us had ever encountered in Italian tourist meccas such as Florence, Rome, or Venice, but here in Modena, we visitors seemed a bit like a rarity, and that made interactions come even more effortlessly.

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Love in the Air: A Wedding in Modena, Italy

 

Where there is love there is life.” – Mahatma Gandhi 

Shortly before the centuries-old bell tower tolled five o’clock, a crowd of uninvited and surprise guests huddled together on Modena’s Piazza Grande to celebrate a marriage. A crisp-white Fiat dressed in balloons stood guard on the cobbled Italian town square, ready to whisk the new couple away.

Step-by-step, in elegant unison, the two sauntered down the staircase of Modena’s town hall, the Palazzo Comunaleand the crowd sang Can’t Help Falling in Love. Perhaps in English, perhaps in Italian. Pieces of confetti danced in the air above the pair, blissful grins on their faces.

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Edible Art: The Fresh Market of Modena, Italy

In some ways, the Mercato Albinelli in Modena, Italy is less like a covered market and more like a gallery showcasing fine art. One artist exhibits his prize, plump strawberries; another her handmade golden tortelloni; while another puts the finishing touches on links of sausage.

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” ― George Bernard Shaw

During our shopping missions at this fresh market in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region so renowned for its Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, traditional balsamic vinegar, and Ferraris and Maserati motors, everyone seemed to be plain cheery. Bakers dished out free samples of thick, braided breadsticks to hungry children. Merchants’ wide, genuine smiles squished their faces in such a fashion that their eyes were nearly concealed. And a wooly, brown and white dog even took time to smell the flowers.

The atmosphere was undeniably happy. An outgoing baker named Enzo welcomed Shawn with a complimentary, lightly-sweetened Tortelli Forno. As I snapped a picture of an overflowing basket of luscious sun-dried tomatoes, another friendly gentleman stopped by. Initially worried that he thought I was trying to covertly capture him in the frame, the man pointed to himself playfully, insisting that I do include him. He was proud to tell us that he was in his nineties.

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Photo du Jour: Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese on the Move – Modena, Italy

A Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese-maker transports approximately 230 kilos (500 pounds) of the prized cheese at the Hombre Farm outside of Modena, Italy. An organic wheel of this magnificent cheese sells for approximately 700 Euros ($975 USD), and is typically aged for 24 months. Hombre is able to produce about twelve of these wheels a day.

We were fortunate to have toured parts of the Hombre Farm yesterday, savoring several pieces of authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano, and mingling with the pampered Friesian cows that produce the milk that goes into making it.

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