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Emilia- Romagna area cities. Ferrara, Vicenza, Modena & Parma

We are traveling in late May early June from Venice Airport to Tuscany & Cinque Terre by auto. We are trying to stop at a few cities on the way that we haven't been to before. (Have been to Venice, Padua, Verona , & Bologna last fall). Looking for input to rank Ferrara, Vicenza, Modena & Parma as to most interesting from general travel perspective. Suggestions and information greatly appreciated!!

Posted by
405 posts

Having been to all four, I'd say in order from best to least interesting (though certainly still worth visiting):

Parma is fantastic, lots to see and a lovely town to walk around. Vicenza has a really beautiful city center but can be seen in a few hours. Ferrara has some nice sights, but not at the level of Parma. Modena is very cute and charming, but overall a small town with not many big sights. Others will fight me on the order for sure, but everyone has their own preferences.

Posted by
65 posts

We were in Emelia Romagna for 15 days last month. Stayed in both Parma and Ferrara and did a day trip to Modena.
Not sure how many days you have available. We really enjoyed Ferrara. It was at the end of our trip, so was nice to relax in a relatively smaller city with plenty of interesting sites. Stayed at Hotel Annunziata in Ferrara, which was our favorite hotel of the trip. Also enjoyed Parma and if you want to do food tours (Parmesan cheese, prosciutto and balsamic vinegar), Parma is a good starting point. We had only a day trip to Modena, but if you are interested in cars, there are two Ferrari museums, one in town and one a bit outside town, and then there are the balsamic vinegar tastings! Also many historical sites in Modena and a great food market. I would say its a tie between Parma and Ferrara for us. Hard to go wrong. If I had to choose I would say Ferrara but it depends on what you are most interested in. All of these cities have wonderful restaurants. I wanna go back!

Posted by
7400 posts

I haven’t been to Modena. This is how I would rank the others where I have stayed 1-3 nights:

  1. Parma - their Parma Cathedral has my favorite church interior in Italy (out of 30 cities). Some beautiful areas of the city to explore and nice museums and theatre.
  2. Ferrara - I like the city center, and there’s an interesting castle in the center of town to tour. Also, the museum of the Spina artifacts is worth enjoying.
  3. Vicenza - the Palladio architecture. Smaller than the other two and less interesting in our opinion.

Foodwise, I would rank them in that order, also.

Posted by
2213 posts

I also haven't been to Modena. I rank the other three as Ferrara, Parma, Vicenza. I have noticed, in my travels, that I always end up preferring the towns in which I've stayed overnight to those I've only visited by day trip. We stayed in Ferrara and day tripped to the others.

Posted by
99 posts

While I live about 20 km from Modena I prefer the other towns. Was in Ferrara again last week and have spent at least 3 nites in all 3 at some point. All of them have things that make them special. I really liked Vicenza and Ferrara. I’d say Ferrara is probably my favorite of the 3. If you’re in Vicenza you’re about 1/2 hour from Padova which as another town to visit.

Posted by
17 posts

My biased opinion after studying abroad in Ferrara is to rank that city first! I loved living there for a semester. It's not a huge tourist city from what I remember. (At least 10+ years ago, it was relatively undiscovered by Americans, but the German tour groups seemed to visit often.) The Duomo is beautiful, there are plenty of great restaurants, a castle in the middle of town, an historic medieval area of the city to wander, as well as a planned Renaissance city expansion with wide boulevards and a grid plan, all within mostly in-tact city walls. Ferrara is considered one of the first cities to use urban planning when it was expanded and that's one of the reasons it's a UNESCO site. If you go, be sure to try cappellacci di zucca - it's a pasta filled with pumpkin. I prefer it in ragu, but it's good in a sage butter sauce too. There may not be a lot of tourist sites in Ferrara, but I think it's a lovely place to explore. Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini is a fictional book (later film) set in Ferrara, but the city had a very large Jewish population pre-WWII. There is a newer museum in Ferrara dedicated to Italian Judaism (not so new, but I haven't been back for 10+ years!). You can also walk the city walls similar to Lucca, although they are not quite as complete. Ferrara is the city of bikes, so you could also bike the city walls or around town if you'd like.

While I was living in Ferrara, I also visited Parma. There are more sites to visit there (and eat parmigiano-reggiano in Parma!), but it wasn't as special to me as places like Ferrara, Bologna, Verona, Ravenna, etc. Just my opinion! Maybe I would think differently if visiting now.

I haven't been to Vicenza or Modena yet, but hopefully one day!