San Carlo is a rare example of a Baroque-era institution that still serves something like its original purpose. The impressive complex just off Piazza Grande, finished in 1626, is the work of several architects, including Bartolomeo Avanzini and Gaspare Vigarani. Its lovely, gently curving Portico del Collegio, illuminated at night, is one of Modena's most treasured public spaces. With 32 expensive stone columns, it took over a century to complete.
Most of the complex is filled by the Collegio San Carlo, modern heir to the 1626 Collegio dei Nobili di San Carlo. Today it is a research institute and private university concentrating on social studies. It's centrepiece is the grandiose Sala dei Cardinali, with a dizzying quadratura ceiling.
San Carlo's Baroque church, begun in 1664, is now used as an auditorium by the foundation that runs the Collegio. It's a must if you are a fan of Marcantonio Franceschini, who painted its chief work of art: a large scene of the plague of 1576 in Milan on what was the high altar.
Via San Carlo
Hours Collegio open by appointment only.
+39 059 421204
Images by: Wikimedia