Interesting Geological Wonder Close to Modena and Maranello
Modena has finally come out as one of the Italian cities to visit. Its pastel shade city centre, its excellent food, and its reputation as a motor valley makes this city a number one destination not only for the foodie travellers but for anyone heading to Italy. The number of tourists arriving in Modena is always on the rise. This is that kind of destination well worthy of at least 2 days of your time.
That being said, I’m taking you today to something unusual to do in Modena off the beaten path.
Since I’ve had the opportunity to live in Modena for the past few years, I’ve been discovering things that might not be normally suggested to tourists because Italy really has too much to offer! Many interesting wonders are left out of the recommendations, but still deserve a visit, especially if one happens to be nearby. This is how I discovered these so-called “Salse di Nirano” in Fiorano Modenese, a beautiful town very close to Modena and Maranello.
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The Salse di Nirano is a kind of cold mud volcano of international relevance, gurgling and spitting out upwards to the surface the gaseous hydrocarbon deposits, principally methane, which leak out through cones carrying the salty grey waters together with the gaseous deposits. The dissolved mud brought to the surface deposits around forming a small hill. The entire area of Nirano Salse Nature reserve then dries out and becomes cracked due to the mud which tends to expand everywhere.
Nowadays, many pathways have been built around the park so that this wonder is kept well protected and is available for everyone. In fact, it remains an ideal place for a nice walk or to do some jogging and cycling if you are athletic. Information boards, in both English and Italian are located along the walkways and give a great explanation of the phenomenon. There are publications in braille as well.
One of the pathways, the wooden one which starts at the main entrance and ends at the roundabout, is accessible for wheelchair access. Let me say though that these pathways, in my opinion, have not been placed in the best location because they don’t allow the visitors to go close enough to observe the gurgling which is even more curious, especially for kids and children.
Car parking is available at the entrance of the “Riserva Naturale regionale delle Salse Di Nirano” (Salse di Nirano Regional Nature Reserve) and with just a few minutes’ walk from there, you will reach the volcanos area. But if you don’t want to walk, you can reach the main entrance by car. This is actually one of the reasons why you want to make a quick visit while in Modena or Maranello, especially if travelling with children.
The Salse di Nirano is one of the best things you can do with children in Modena.
There are no guardians or watchmen but sometimes you can find a man called the “Fagiolo” (Bean) by the locals who takes care of the Natural Park on his own free will.
One more reason why it’s worth popping in is that the admission to the park is totally free for self-visitors. If you are looking for guided tours offered by eco-guards volunteers, then you must pay a small amount and book it at least 2 weeks in advance.
For your information there is also a nice restaurant at the foot of the volcanoes: “Da Guido” which I have tried several times, which serves good typical Modenese food. They offer various set menus for different reasonable prices ranging from €18.00 to €22.00, drinks not included. If not the Da Guido Restaurant, there are several other restaurants in Fiorano Modenese town which I highly recommend you try because eating off the path in Modena or anywhere else in the world is always a good idea since it means genuine typical food.
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As it is not so far from Maranello or Modena, I highly recommend that you visit it during your trip to the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, during your traditional balsamic vinegar tour or your food tour in Modena, because it is very rare to see such an unusual phenomenon and landscape. It is one of my favourites in Modena! Remember that you could easily get your shoes dirty because the mud is flowing everywhere, which makes the ground humid in some places. Since the wooden pathway ends at a certain point, you have to walk forward directly on the field. Avoid during the rainy days.