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Italy in late May: Modena vs. Parma and Orvieto vs. Perugia?

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May 4th, 2013, 08:36 PM
  #1
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Italy in late May: Modena vs. Parma and Orvieto vs. Perugia?

Hey Fodorites,

I'll be traveling to Italy in late May and early June with my friend. This is our first time in Italy so most of our time will be in Rome, Florence and Venice. However I've set aside two nights for some smaller towns.

The first is between Venice and Florence. We will spend the night of May 24th, a Friday, as well as most of the next day, in either Modena or Parma. Initially I had my heart set on Modena because of the new Museo Enzo Ferrari and because I had heard good things about its food scene what with being between Parma and Bologna (not to mention that balsamic vinegar was invented there!)

But then some have said Parma is more beautiful and interesting. However, it doesn't have the Ferrari museum. I'm not even that big of a car geek, but it is something unique among all the old churches and museums of Italy. But, taken as a whole, is the atmosphere/ambience/food better (esp. based on what's in season) in Parma or Modena?

Same basic question goes for Oriveto and Perugia. We will spend one night in either one on May 29, a Wednesday. Unlike Modena/Parma, I wasn't attracted to either one more than the other initially, so I'm really confused. Both look beautiful, Orvieto perhaps moreso being on a cliff, but Perugia is a bit more lively, apparently? If anyone has stayed in both I would appreciate some insight.

We will not have a car.
grammarjew is offline  
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May 4th, 2013, 08:54 PM
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I've stayed in both and like both very much (Perugia and Orvieto). Agree that Orvieto is lovely but also a bit quieter -- a smaller scale than Perugia. Orvieto -- lovely Duomo, smallish town. Perugia -- larger hub, nice passagiata. Both have good cuisine; both hill "towns." Great views from both. Perugia also has a university population (down the hill) so that adds to the liveliness.
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May 4th, 2013, 09:07 PM
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Perugia isn't very small and doesn't seem on your route really. I much prefer Orvieto over Perugia.
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May 4th, 2013, 09:29 PM
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I'm a Perugia fan...would also appreciate an explanation of your screen name. Thank you.
tower is offline  
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May 4th, 2013, 09:37 PM
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Orvieto would be more of a contrast to Rome/Florence/Venice then Perugia would be.
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May 5th, 2013, 05:49 AM
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I have been to all four. Stayed 4 nights on the edge of Modena in March and visited Parma then.

Am indifferent to cars, so Ferrari was not a draw.

They are 20 miles apart so the cuisine is the same - local specialties do travel and you will find culatello and Parma ham obtainable in Modena, balsamic vinegars obtainable in Parma.

If I were choosing ONE small city to visit in that area, it would be entrancing Mantova, not Modena or Parma.

If I were choosing one large city, it would be Bologna.

But if confined to those 2 choices, I guess I'd take Parma, as the more diversified town with more to see and do.

Perugia has got huge in the 40 years since I briefly lived there. It is full of atmosphere and charm. But little Orvieto is a delight and on balance - given that Perugia is off the main train routes - I think Orvieto would be my choice.
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May 5th, 2013, 08:24 AM
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I like your instinct to see another great aspect of Italian culture. The Ferrari museum is actually located many kilometers south of Modena in the town of Maranello. You will either need to take a taxi or figure out the buses, so be prepared for that.

Much of Modena's reputation for outstanding food comes from the presence of a super-creative Michelin-starred restaurant, but its owner has just opened a bistro-like spot where every dish is only 8 euros, and the town also has a couple of highly regarded old-fashioned trattorie with modest prices. Modena is also prized for its morning food market, one of the best in the region, and the town also cherishes the memory of Luciano Pavarotti, who learned to sing in the local church choir. You can experience quite a spectrum of Italian high achievement there.

Perugia and Orvieto are very different places in feeling, and even have very different food in many ways. (How do you feel about chocolate?) Both are distinctly different from Florence or Rome or Venice for most visitors. Perugia is a unique ziggaraut city, with layers of accomplishment and a distinct youth vibe and tourism is a secondary vibe. Orvieto is a characteristic middle-Italy hilltown, and a favorite with many tourists for its great cathedral and alleys with village-like charm.
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May 5th, 2013, 06:24 PM
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stevewith, thanks for your thoughtful reply. Thanks for the heads up about the Ferrari museum, I will take the location into account.

Yes, one thing that drew my attention to Modena was its three-starred restaurant (which is also now ranked as the third best restaurant in the world!)Do you recommend any other specific restaurants or cuisines local to Modena that we should check out? Thanks also for your morning food market rec--it's right up my alley!
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May 5th, 2013, 06:29 PM
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tower, my screen name is a play on the term "grammar nazi" which as you may or may not know just means someone is overly adamant about good grammar. I thought grammarjew would be a funny twist. I hope it doesn't offend in any way!

Btw, what do you prefer about Perugia to Orvieto?
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