My favorite place in Modena is the main square (Piazza Grande). It’s very similar to the city itself; there’s nothing spectacular about it, but it crawls under your skin in a way that keeps making you think of it long after you’ve already returned to some other city.
Time seems to have stopped there. The atmosphere is accordingly calm even at noon when all other Italian cities I know suffer from the same rush as the rest of the world[1. The general belief that everything is much slower-paced in Italy is just a myth]. The result of this laid-backness is that in Modena piazza grande is still regarded as the place where people gather to exchange news. The peace conveyed by their postures, manners of speech and attitudes cannot be disturbed even by screaming children playing on the steps of the cathedral.
To me, such local “vignettes”, characteristics that don’t exist in any other realm, represent a connection to forgotten times and places. They’re rare, however you can find them if you know not where, but how to look. Modena remains one of my dearest cities precisely because of these hazy intrigues.