Carpi is a city in Modena Province, in Italy's Po valley 20 km north of the provincial capital Modena.

Understand edit

Carpi is a large city, with a textile industry and population of some 71,000 in 2017, yet its old centre is compact. It was founded in 752 AD, and ruled by the Pio dynasty from 1319 to 1525 then by the Este family. Between them they created the city's medieval and Renaissance centre, ranged around its impressive piazza. Repairs continue after the earthquake of 2012 but most attractions are open to visit.

The dark side of Carpi is Fossoli concentration camp 5 km north. Some 2000 Jews were dispatched to their death at Auschwitz during World War II.

InCarpi, Piazza Martiri 64, +39 059 649255. T-Su 10:00-18:00. The tourist office is in main square.

Get in edit

The nearest airports are in Bologna (BLQ IATA) and in Verona (VRN IATA). They have limited flights and you're probably better flying into Milan or Venice.

Regional trains run every 30 min from Modena to Carpi, taking 15 min, and continue north to Mantua. Change at Modena for trains along the Po valley from Milan, Piacenza, Parma and Reggio Emilia, which continue to Bologna, Rimini and the south.

The 1 railway station is 200 m east of town centre.

SETA Bus 500 runs from Modena every 30 min or so, taking 50 min to Carpi.

The 2 bus station is at Piazzale Allende, which fronts onto Via Baldassarre Peruzzi 500 m west of town centre.

By car follow A22 motorway Modena-Brennero. Reckon an hour from Bologna and 20 mins from Modena.

Get around edit

The historic centre is a traffic-free zone and easily explored on foot.

See edit

  • 1 Piazza dei Martiri is the centrepiece of the city, a fine Rennaissance square flanked by a portico with 52 columns. At 300 m by 150 m it's Italy's third biggest square, with all the city's principal buildings around it.
  • Palazzo dei Pio (Town hall), Piazza dei Martiri. The Pio dynasty's palace in the main piazza is a ramshackle collection of buildings from 11th to 17th century, variously defensive (with a moat), decorative or civic. There are two museums inside: the City Museum and Second World War Prisoners Museum. Enter beneath the clock tower into the courtyard. Ascend the grand stairway to the frescoed piano nobile. The art gallery has Renaissance paintings and ceramics.
  • Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta (Cathedral), Piazza dei Martiri. Built from 1514 but not consecrated until 1791, with a Baroque dome and three Renaissance aisles within. It was damaged by the 2012 earthquake but re-opened in 2017. 15 Aug is the solemn procession marking the Assumption of the Virgin into Heaven.
  • Santa Maria in Castello (Chiesa della Sagra), Piazza dei Martiri. The parish church is the city's oldest, founded in 752 though rebuilt in Romanesque style in 1184; the façade was added in 1514. The best of the 15th century frescoes are in the Chapel of San Martino and the Chapel of Santa Caterina, which also has the sarcophagus of Manfredo I Pio. The impressive bell tower is 49.5 m high.
  • Other churches by the piazza are San Bernardino da Siena and Chiesa dell'Adorazione.
  • 2 Monastery of Santa Chiara, corso Fanti. This was consecrated in 1500, suppressed in 1798 but re-established in 1817. In the adjoining church of 1694 lies the monastery's founder Camilla Pio.    
  • Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio next to the monastery was built in 1670 by the Jesuits.
  • 3 Chiesa di San Nicolò, Piazzale San Nicolò. Fine 16th century church; the convent was active until 2019.  
  • 4 Chiesa di San Francesco d'Assisi, via Trento Trieste 8. Built from 1248 with a friary. It was modified in 1681 when it acquired the facade and its "orientation" was reversed, to face west; the bell tower was added in 1689. The church was badly damaged by the 2012 earthquake.  
  • 5 Chiesa di Santa Croce. Built in 1450 but rebuilt in 1772. The Chapel of Madonna dell'Aiuto at the foot of the left nave is a famous Marian shrine. The bell tower is barricaded off for repairs after the earthquake. See also the nearby necropolis.  
  • 6 Chiesa di Sant'Agata Vergine e Martire. Built in 1578 but gravely damaged by the earthquake, so a new church is under construction, called Holy Trinity.  
  • 7 Fossoli camp was a wartime prison camp. It was built in 1942 for allied POWs captured in North Africa. In 1943 these were transferred to Germany, and the camp was enlarged to become a concentration and transit camp primarily for Italian Jews. Some 2800 of these were dispatched to Auschwitz, as chronicled by Primo Levi in If This Be a Man. It closed in 1944 as the Allies advanced, but had three spells of later use for refugees, up to 1970. The camp is open on Sunday 10.00-13.00 and 15.00-19.00.

Do edit

Castello dei Pio
  • VIE Scena Contemporanea Festival in late Feb is mostly in Modena but with some events in Carpi.
  • Festival of San Bernadino da Siena the town's patron saint is on 20 May.
  • Carpi Summer Fest is in July.
  • Festivalfilosofia is held in Sept between Modena, Sassuolo and Carpi. The next is 17-19 Sept 2021.
  • The Italian Marathon is run in October between Maranello and Carpi. The town marathon is mid-June.

Buy edit

Shopping in the city market (on Thursdays and Saturdays morning) or in the many shops (mostly textile wares). There are many shops around the square that specialize in selling particular goods, many of them clothing, but beware that much of it is pricy, as Carpi is known for its fashion.

Eat edit

  • Local specialties include pasta with fillings such as meat, pumpkin, cheese, herbs, and sauces like cream, butter and herbs, and meat ragù. In cold weather eat polenta with roast sausages, beans with tomato sauce, and mushrooms in sauce. Zuppa Inglese is a dessert of vanilla pudding, chocolate pudding, soft Savoiardi biscuits and a dash of liqueur.
  • Il Carducci, viale Carducci 16. Tu-Su 12:30-14.00, 19:30-22.30. Classy place with typical local fare, can handle GF.
  • Il Barolino, via Giovanni XXIII 110, . Traditional local fare, try the fried gnocchi. Can handle GF.
  • Ristorante Il 25, via San Francesco 20 (by Palazzo Foresti), . Tu-F 12:30-15.00, 19:30-23.00, Sa 12:30-22:00, Su 12:30-14:00. Traditional cuisine with meat and seafood menus. Can handle vegetarian and gluten-free diets.
  • Il Malto, Piazza Garibaldi 43. Tu-Su 18:30-00:00 plus Sa Su 12:30-15:00. Trad fare with fried gnocchi.
  • All'Osteria, Via San Bernardino da Siena, 6, +39 339 803 3450. M -Sa 11:30-14:30, 19:30-22:30, Su 11:30-14.30. Hard to find down a side-street, but worth seeking out.

Drink edit

Obviously Lambrusco! Three main denominations are available: Grasparossa, Sorbara, Salamino di S. Croce.

Sleep edit

  • Hotel Touring, Vialle Darfo Dallai 1 (corner with V Nicolo Biondo near railway station), +39 59 681 1535. Decent central business-type hotel. B&B double €120.
  • Hotel Duomo, Via Cesaro Battisti 25, +39 59 669592. Chic small hotel near main piazza. B&B double €100.
  • 1 Hotel Carpi, Via delle Magliaie 2 / 4, +39 59 645915. Boxy modern place east edge of town, convenient for motorists. B&B double €110.
  • Lots of small B&Bs and Agroturismo places in the nearby countryside.

Connect edit

Carpi has 4G from all Italian carriers. As of May 2021, 5G has not reached this area.

Go next edit

  • Modena the provincial capital is only 15 min away, with an array of fine piazzas, churches and palaces.
  • Bologna is a must-see for its historic centre.

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