San Felice sul Panaro is located on the right bank of the Panaro River in the low river valley. The town was once a fiefdom of Matilde di Canossa and was the site of ongoing disputes because it was a military outpost on the border between Modena and Ferrara.
San Felice sul Panaro’s old town was seriously damaged in the May 2012 earthquake, including the Rocca Estense fortress and most of the town’s historical buildings and churches.
The area’s mild climate, along with many local events, makes Spring and Autumn the best time for a visit.
The Rocca Estense is San Felice’s most important monument, a splendid example of square-plan medieval Emilia-style architecture. Only the exterior is currently open to visitors as a result of damage from the May 2012 earthquake.
The Modena-Finale Emilia Bikeway passes through San Felice sul Panaro. Like many communities in the northern part of Modena Province, Modena-Finale is connected by a network of bike paths to such important cities in Emilia-Romagna as Modena and Ferrara.
Church of the Birth of the Virgin (Chiesa della Natività della Vergine) in Rivara
The façade of the church, which dates to the first decades of the 1600s, recalls elements of classical architecture. Its area is divided by four half-pilasters that rise from a plinth at their base and are connected by a cornice below the tympanum. The tympanum contains a fresco of the Blessed Virgin Mary ascending into heaven, surrounded by angels, painted in 1958 by Giovanni Botti of Domodossola, during restoration of the façade. Detached from the church’s right flank stands a square-based bell tower some twenty-six meters (about eighty-five feet) in height. It reopened in 2019 after damage from the 2012 earthquake was repaired.
The La Pica Botanical Gardens
The 21,000m2 La Pica Botanical Garden is located in San Biagio in Padule, a town in the northern part of Modena Province, not far from San Felice sul Panaro. The Garden is home to more than 1,000 different species of plant life from every continent and from every climate zone, and its eighty-one planting areas are arranged along a series of walking paths that form a spiral some three kilometers long.