This historic marketplace, where world-renowned chefs and locals alike do their daily shopping, is a must-visit to sample the city’s local delicacies
When you’re visiting a culinary destination like Modena, it can be difficult to squeeze time into your itinerary to taste all of its specialties. Rather than bouncing from restaurant to restaurant, we love spending a couple of hours at a market where every local food is on display. Not only do you get to feel like a local as you stroll alongside nonnas and restaurant staff doing their daily shopping, you can admire the breadth of the city’s delicious products in one visit—and sample as much as you like! In Modena, the must-visit is Albinelli Market in the city’s historic center.
Dating back to the early 1930s, the covered Mercato Albinelli pays homage to Francesco Albinelli, a prominent local entrepreneur who was pivotal in its creation. Over the years, the market has gracefully evolved, seamlessly adapting to the changing times while preserving its traditional charm. Though not massive in square feet, it is jam-packed with everything you could hope to taste in this northern Italian town. The scene is abuzz with locals and visitors alike, and you’ll often spot Michelin-starred Chef Massimo Bottura shopping there for fresh produce to serve at his revered Osteria Francescana.
Among the rows of nearly 65 local purveyors, you’ll find everything from handmade pasta and warm baked goods to just-caught seafood and cured meats and cheeses by the pound. There are also fresh flowers, spices, wine, and much more. It’s the perfect spot to taste local delicacies including balsamic vinegar, zampone (a traditional cured sausage), and Parmigiano Reggiano. Gather ingredients to carry out or sit down to enjoy a meal of tortellini in brodo or sourdough pizza from one of the restaurants by the Via Luigi Albinelli entrance.
There’s lots of history and beauty to digest amid all the food glory: The gorgeous pink countertops were designed of Veronese marble to chill and insulate the just-caught seafood, a purpose they still serve to this day. At the center of the art nouveau-style building is a fountain topped with a figure of a woman known as “The Fruit Bearer” by 19th-century sculptor Giuseppe Graziosi. The water here is free and potable, and was an important source of clean water to wash one’s produce back when running water in homes was a luxury.
If you’re not staying in Modena, it’s worth a day trip from Bologna (only 15-20 minutes by train) just to have lunch here! Just be sure to check the hours before visiting; opening times vary by day, and the vendors are closed on Sundays, though restaurants remain open.
At the Albinelli Market, these are the stalls you can’t miss:
Balsamico e Cucina Monari Federzoni Gastronomia: Traditional balsamic vinegar is a must-taste in Modena, its spiritual home. Sample the elixir plus traditional Modenese dishes here.
Bar Schiavoni: You might recognize this panini shop from season 2 of Netflilx’s Master of None. Their creative, gourmet panini are best paired with refreshing wines.
Bevande Govoni: This quaint outpost is the perfect spot to sample lambrusco, the region’s favorite sparkling red wine.
Cibo: A mix between a cafe, pastry shop, and cafeteria, Cibo is a great hotspot for all things sweet and savory. Order just-baked biscuits and slices of cake, plus fried dumplings and focaccia.
Salumeria e Pasta Fresca Barozzini: Cured meats like prosciutto, culatello, and mortadella should definitely be on your Modena shopping list. Stop by for these plus handmade artisan pasta paired with craft beer and wines.