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Parma vs Modena vs Reggio Emilia vs Mantua

Parma vs Modena vs Reggio Emilia vs Mantua

Old Jan 11th, 2020, 12:49 PM
  #1  
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Parma vs Modena vs Reggio Emilia vs Mantua

I'm planning my European Holiday for Spring and would like some input on which of these four locations I should stay in. A few data points to help you understand what I'm looking for:
  • I've been to Italy many times and have seen the top tourist destinations (Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence). I have also been to Bologna several times, so am looking for another location to stay in.
  • I am traveling alone and will be staying in Italy for 6 nights.
  • I'll be flying into Bologna Airport (from Honolulu) and dealing with a 12-hour jet lag--I use Italy as my "jet lag recovery zone", thus preferring a calm/quiet town or village with access via train; I will not have a car rental.
  • Interests include museums, good food, parks, walking, history, and am happy just walking around and exploring. Not looking for night life, etc.
  • I plan to do day trips to the surrounding towns, so train access is a definite requirement.
Hopefully the above will help you understand my preferences.
Thanks in advance!
K
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Old Jan 11th, 2020, 01:32 PM
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The thing about Bologna is that it's a wonderful centre from which to get trains to lots of other places. So it's quite difficult to find somewhere as convenient. However Padua is a nice sized small city with lots going on there as well excellent train access to places like Verona, Vicenza, Bassano del Grappa, even lake Garda. There are of course smaller places but they do not generally have such good access to trains; even if they do you have to keep going through somewhere like Bologna to get to anywhere else. And Padua is only an hour or so from Bologna on the train.

Pescheria del Garda would be another option because you would be able to get around the lake by boat as well as using the train to get to Verona and Mantua. It's only about 90 mins from Bologna and would make a very restful place to stop. The only snag might be depending on when you are planning your trip, if it's too early in the season some of the boats might not be running.
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Old Jan 11th, 2020, 02:10 PM
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If you want a small-ish town north of Bologna, consider also Ferrara. But as annhig points out, the smaller and quieter the town, the less train and bus options you'd have. You need to research what day trips are possible from each town, and then decide which town's list sounds the most interesting to you.
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Old Jan 11th, 2020, 03:05 PM
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Parma and Modems are both on the main train line between Milano and Bologna, so there are still easy train connections to interesting places close by. Mantova is on a branch train line and so many trips would involve making train connections.

This year traveling alone I spent three nights in Parma and two nights in Mantova. I enjoyed getting to know two cities at a slower pace. A bonus in Parma for me was taking the Tasty Bus tour--their full-day tour to a parmigiano producer, a prosciutto producer, lunch in the countryside, and a balsamic vinegar producer.
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 04:51 AM
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Ellenem,
thanks for the mention of the Tasty Bus tour. My friend and I are planning to do it while in Bologna in April. Did you enjoy it? Are the visits to the producers outside of town or closer in? We are wondering if we will have a little glimpse of Parma during the tour or if we need to plan another day there separate from the tour. Parma is my friends only request while in Bologna.
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 05:14 AM
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Of the ones you mention I liked Mantua the best. I guess you have to be a 'foodie' to love Parma. I was not crazy about it the first time I went so on a subsequent trip I visited it again to 'give it another chance' and still didn't like it as much as any of the other towns mentioned. It just didn't have that 'feel' that the others have.

Ferrara was mentioned and I really like that town. And Padua is a really good idea as well. So would Verona be except it gets more tourists than any of the others so won't be as 'quiet'.

Here's my photos which include all the towns mentioned. https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/f739967755
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Dayle View Post
Ellenem,
thanks for the mention of the Tasty Bus tour. My friend and I are planning to do it while in Bologna in April. Did you enjoy it? Are the visits to the producers outside of town or closer in? We are wondering if we will have a little glimpse of Parma during the tour or if we need to plan another day there separate from the tour. Parma is my friends only request while in Bologna.
Dayle,
I loved everything about the Tasty Bus tour except for the name, which is a bit cutesy. I took it on a weekday in mid-March, which was a new expanded season. Previously it began in April.

The tour took off from the TI in the center of Parma at 9:30a. We immediately drive out of town 20-30 minutes to get to the parmigiano producer in time to see part of the cheese making process. There was no touring of Parma. We drove 15-20 minutes in the countryside to reach each stop, with information about the processes shared along the way. The lunch was not fancy but was delicious. Considering all the cheese and ham I had sampled by then, I did not need a big lunch. We arrived back in Parma about 4:00p, to give you an idea of how much time you might have on your own. At about 90 euros, I thought it an excellent value.

Full disclosure: At the TI that morning, I was dumbfounded to discover I was the only person who had signed up for the tour. My guide was the owner and creator of the Tasty Bus tour. She drove me in her own car. When I commented that I couldn't believe she was taking just one person, she remarked that she thinks it is good advertising. I agreed. We had a nice time talking about how her tours had been developed, how in summer she has a team of guides/drivers, and how in three years it has grown from 300 to 3000 tours.

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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 11:16 AM
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Thanks ellenem. That certainly gives me a good idea of what to expect. We will be going in mid April so hopefully there will be more people. Although a private tour is not bad! Very good to know it doesnt get cancelled for lack of people!
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 03:24 PM
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Wow--an embarassment of riches here. I have actually spent time in all of those places and would likely choose Modena. But they would all be great choices!
Modena has a very walkable center and fabulous food (they all do though) and easy train connections. What tips the scales to me for Modena is the Albinelli Market. If you love food markets choose Modena.
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 02:59 AM
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I can second what you say about the food in Modena, even from my experience of spending less than a day there. On a day trip from Bologna, we found ourselves in a Osteria which offered tortelloni stuffed with "zucca" [squash] which 3 out of four of us ordered. When it arrived the filling turned out to be ricotta but it was tasty enough, and we were in a bit of a hurry so we ate it all up. As the waiter collected out plates, the Italian with us mentioned that the filling had not been as advertised causing great consternation to the waiter who went off to talk to the chef. When he came back, we thought that he said that they would knock the price of a couple of the dishes off the bill [and that's what the Italian understood too, it wasn't just us] but within 5 minutes we had two more plates of tortelloni delivered to the table, this time with the correct filling. And they comped us 4 coffees. Sadly I never got to the market [I was too entranced by the Duomo] but I'll definitely put it on my list next time.
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 02:54 PM
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Thanks everyone for your input. I've narrowed it to Parma, Modena and Reggio Emelia. Please let me know if you have additional input or alternative locations in the region.
Cheers
Kaneohe
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 03:25 PM
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Reggio Emilia is pleasant, but small and lacking in attractions. Both Parma and Modena are good choices. Personally, I'd go with Parma, partly because it has a welcoming elegance, partly because of the Duomo and the Baptistery with its Antelami sculptures, partly because of the rail line up the valley along the Francigena pilgrimage route across the Cisa Pass on the way to Rome. Some side trips from Parma to consider: Torrechiara Castle, the little town of Fontanellato with its room-sized 'pin-hole' camera (camera ottica), Fidenza with a great cathedral.
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Old Jan 17th, 2020, 08:29 AM
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I would eliminate Reggio Emelia and choose between Parma and Modena.

Flip a coin?
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Old Jan 24th, 2020, 09:17 PM
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Thank you mazzaschi and jangita!
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