San Cesario Sul Panaro is located between Modena and Bologna: the discovery there of the remains of Neolithic huts and necropolises is evidence of the presence of humans as early as the 5th or 6th millennium BCE. In 1112, Matilde di Canossa ordered that the court and the forest of Vilzacara be removed from the control of the monks of Nonantola Abbey and given to the local church, which was dedicated to the martyr St. Caesarius. As a result, following the year 1000, the name Vilzacara gradually disappeared and was replaced by San Cesario. San Cesario became a “castle” (that is, a fortified town) in 1190. In 1446, Duke Leonello d’Este made San Cesario a county. No more than a few traces remain of the original town (its fort, castle, and village), but they include the town’s "Clock Tower" (the Torre dell’Orologio). The Basilica, restored to its Romanesque appearance, is notable for its artistry, and for a beautiful terracotta grouping by the artist Antonio Begarelli of Modena, in its interior. The elegantly frescoed halls and grand stairway (including a terracotta balustrade) of the 18th-century Boschetti Villa are also worth seeing.
San Cesario sul Panaro preserves intriguing glimpses of the medieval village, dominated for centuries by the Boschetti family, that it once was. San Cesario sul Panaro is a must for supercar enthusiasts who will want to visit the Pagani Automobile Factory and Museum. The Sant’Anna Lakes, a popular natural reserve, are located near the banks of the Panaro River.
The Basilica of St. Caesarius (San Cesario)
The Basilica of St. Caesarius is one of the oldest and most prestigious Romanesque churches in Emilia-Romagna. Built in the 10th century on the remains of a preexisting place of worship, whose materials were re-used in the construction of the Basilica, it was dedicated to the martyr and saint, Caesarius. The Basilica preserves an important reliquary of the saint and also houses a beautiful terracotta grouping by artist Antonio Begarelli of Modena. The bell tower was built in 1544.
The Horacio Pagani Factory and Museum
Anyone who loves fast cars won’t want to miss a visit to the Pagani Factory and Museum. The Pagani firm, Pagani Automobili, was founded in 1998 in San Cesario sul Panaro by the Italian-Argentinian businessman and engineer, Horacio Pagani. The company’s philosophy is based on Renaissance concepts found in the work of the great Leonardo da Vinci, according to whom the disciplines of Art and Science can "walk hand in hand" together.
On the basis of this inspiring principle, Pagani Automobili united engineering and taste, functionality and an appreciation for aesthetics, craftsmanship and technological expertise. Tours of the Pagani Factory and Museum require reservations, and can be booked on the Pagani Automobili website.
The 18th-century Boschetti Villa, with its elegantly frescoed halls and grand stairway (including a terracotta balustrade) was originally the feudal palace of the Boschetti Counts. Built in the 15th century, it was converted into a villa in the 16th century. The Palace is adorned with a beautiful loggia at the rear, and friezes, frescoed ceiling vaults, and a large fireplace can be seen inside. Villa Boschetti belongs to the town and houses the San Cesario sul Panaro public library.
In San Cesario sul Panaro visitors will find all the products representative of the Modena area, including Modena’s traditional PDO (protected designation of origin) balsamic vinegar, its PGI (protected geographical indication) balsamic vinegar, its PDO Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, varieties of sparkling red lambrusco wine, and zampone and cotechino (dishes made from a mixture of ground pork flavored with herbs and spices and stuffed into the hollowed-out trotter or lower-leg of a hog), Modena prosciutto, and traditional dishes such as fresh egg pasta.
The Sant’Anna Lake District
A natural area on the banks of the Panaro River, the Sant’Anna area is an oasis of biodiversity for many species of animals. It is found within the Panaro River retention basin.
Villa Sorra Park
A few minutes away, in Gaggio, visitors will find the delightful Villa Sorra and park. Villa Sorra is one of the most important historic villas in the Modena area, and the park contains what is considered the most representative example of a 19th-century “romantic” garden. Many believe it to be the most important informal garden in Emilia Romagna.