Ancient Musical Instruments from Modena to the Apennines

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Are you fond of music and would like to discover its history? Then this itinerary will certainly arouse your curiosity! 

A journey under the banner of past music, from the centre of Modena to Sestola, a lively town of the Modenese Apennines. Modena and the surrounding areas teem with precious examples of ancient musical instruments, crafted from a wide variety of materials with a really fascinating history.

Let's start our tour from the historical centre of Modena, more precisely from Palazzo dei Musei, where two of the most important places relating to ancient musical instruments are located: we are talking about the Estense Gallery and the Civic Museum.

  • Length
    24 hours
  • Interests
    Art & Culture
  • Target
  • First stop - The Estense Gallery, Modena Modena

    This huge gallery is home to such unique specimens as the Estense Harp, commissioned by Duke Alfonso II from a Roman luthier. A lover of all artistic disciplines, it was not unusual for the Duke to develop a passion for curious and bizarre objects.

    As a result, since 1686 the collection has been enriched with beautiful musical instruments, commissioned more for their beauty than for any real instrumental needs. The remaining traces of this heritage are now on display along the gallery's halls and corridors, including some wooden instruments (a violin and a cello), and three instruments inlaid in Carrara marble (a flute, a guitar and a harpsichord). 

  • Second stop - The Civic Museum, Modena Modena

    Among the marvels included in the musical instrument collection of Modena's Civic Museum we cannot but mention: the guitar lyre carved from wood, brass and bronze by Gennaro Fabbricatore, the rectangular spinet dating back to the 16th-17th centuries, the 18th-century wooden harpsichord by Pietro Termanini, the late 18th-century serpentone made of wood, leather and brass and the high-B♭ brass french horn by Antonio Apparuti.

  • Third stop: Museum of Mechanical Musical Instruments, Sestola Sestola

    Let's spend the afternoon exploring the Apennines, more precisely Sestola, about 55 km from Modena (an hour and a half by car), home to the Museum of Mechanical Musical Instruments, now housed inside the ancient fortress. 

    Inaugurated in 1995, the Museum exhibits specimens mostly dating back to the 19th century, including about 120 items from the Eduard Thoenes collection, with organettos, pianolas, cylinder pianos and music boxes, mechanical dolls, roller pianos and gramophones.

Last update 22/10/2023

Information offices

Modena Tourist Information Office
Piazza Grande, 14 - Modena (MO)
+ 39 0592032660 + 39 059 2032659 Opening: all year round
IAT del Cimone
Corso Umberto I, 3 - Sestola (MO)
+ 39 0536 62324 + 39 0536 61621 Opening: all year round

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