With Serie A debutants Carpi unable to host matches at their modest Stadio Sandro Cabassi, nearby Modena will be receiving the visits of Juventus, Inter and Milan and the rest in 2015-16.
Home of Ferrari cars and Panini sticker cards, as a football city Modena has recently served more as a convenient venue for outsiders. Used by the Italian national team, Juventus and another Serie A underdog, Sassuolo, the Stadio Alberto Braglia is a short walk from Modena train station, 15 minutes by hourly train from Carpi.
The stadium dates back to the origins of Modena Football Club itself, both created in 1912, just when local sportsman Alberto Braglia was winning the last his Olympic golds for gymnastics. The star player back then was inside forward Attilio Fresa, the first Italian to play in English football, transferred from Genoa to Reading for £17 on the eve of World War I. Fresa’s stay brief, he returned to his homeland to play for, then coach, Modena.
The only other player of note at Modena since then has been opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, who ran out for the Giallblu in the 1950s, shortly after inside-forward Valerio Cassani led the club to a best-ever third, then fifth, place in Serie A.
Modena’s last big hurrah came at the turn of the millennium, with a charge up the league pyramid to Serie A and an upset or two once they got there – but relegation was swift. Incoming coach Hernán Crespo has the task of getting Modena back up in 2015-16 – after a more than a decade away.
Modena’s nearest airport is the Guglielmo Marconi at Bologna, 40km (25 miles) away, 6km (3.75 miles) from Bologna itself. A SACA airport bus (€15 single, €25 return, every 2hrs) takes 50min to reach Modena bus station.
Modena is also a rail hub, with regular trains taking 25min from Bologna, 1hr 45min-2hr 15min from Milan.
The city centre is walkable – no more than 10-15min between the rail station/stadium and city centre. For longer journeys, city buses are run by Seta, €1.20 single on board. For a local taxi, call Cotami on +39 059 374 242.
Near the station, the family-run Hotel Europa is an affordable, comfortable and convenient three-star while alongside the former Albergo Milano gained an upgrade in 2014 to become the four-star Best Western Premier Milano Palace.
Lively bars dot Modena city centre, such as the excellent Bodeguita (via Gallucci 17-19), a popular meeting place, with 50s’ music and Hacker-Pschorr beer on draught. Nearby is the main pub in town, Griffin’s on Largo Hannover, where everyone gathers outside on warm evenings.
The Caffè Giusti is a historic spot with plenty of football talk around fine local wines. The Caffè del Collegio (via San Carlo 34) holds a unique place in local football history: it was here, on April 5, 1912, that the Modena club was founded. Photographs, shirts and sundry memorabilia fill the space.
Also central, the Drink Bar (piazzale San Domenico 1) is a real locals’ spot, with old pictures of Modena on the walls and football pennants behind the bar. Nearer the stadium, Al Goblet Birroteca on via Castelmaraldo is another busy terrace bar.
Set close to Modena station, the Stadio Alberto Braglia was created from an old velodrome in 1912, just as the city’s local football club was founded. Restructured and renamed under Mussolini as the Comunale, the stadium gained the name of Olympic champion gymnast Alberto Braglia after the war.
Further restructured in various stages during the 2000s, the Alberto Braglia currently holds just over 21,000.
Home fans, including Carpi’s, gather in the Curva Montagnani, visiting supporters in the Curva Ospiti. Sideline stands comprise two tiers, with prime seats over the halfway line in sectors C-D/L-M.
The stadium is a short walk from Modena train station. Head straight up to the main street of viale Monte Kosica, then turn right – the stadium is straight ahead, 5min away.
For Carpi tickets in 2015-16, see www.carpifc1909.it/stadio-alberto-braglia/biglietti/. Modena tickets are sold at various outlets in town, including via Canaletto 220, corso Canalgrande 76 and piazza Matteotti 49, as well as online at www.listicket.com.
Right by the stadium on viale Monte Kosica, the Bar Stadio is a great pre-match spot – if you’re a Modena fan. Signed yellow shirts cover the ceiling, while Modena memorabilia includes vinyl singles in picture sleeves of supporters’ songs, Panini stickers and murals of retro match action.
Also close, Ai Cappuccini is a friendly, family-run pizzeria ideal for a pre- or post-match feed.
Panini’s iconic football stickers were conceived in Modena, where they are still produced, and where the Museo della Figurina in the Palazzo Santa Margherita (corso Canalgrande 103; open Wed-Fri 10.30am-1pm, 4pm-7.30pm, Sat-Sun 10.30am-7.30pm. Closed July 14-Sept 11; admission free) traces their history. Their story startsin January 1945, when four brothers became proud owners of a newsstand on corso Duomo, by the cathedral. They hit upon the idea of collectable photos of footballers, sold in little envelopes. For the first print run, they were packaged three at a time, with a free football promised for anyone who collected 100 with an official stamp on the back. Then came the idea of an album, adhesive backs, World Cup editions… The museum’s elegantly lit, second-floor hall holds historic cards collected by the Panini family, but the real treasure is the pull-out displays that hold the first ones printed, including the iconic BrunoBolchi original and, the holiest of holies, a complete 1970 World Cup album.