The cranes, construction crews and scaffolding provide a stark reminder of the massive seismic tremor that hit this wealthy region of northern Italy eight years ago, killing 28 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.
But Emilia-Romagna, famed for its gastronomy and legendary car brands such as Ferrari, Ducati and Lamborghini, is now bracing for a political earthquake that could have far-reaching consequences for Italy and beyond.
The northern region has been in the hands of the Left, without interruption, since the end of the Second World War.
But that hegemony faces a stiff challenge in a key election on Sunday, with polls showing that the ruling Democratic Party is neck-and-neck with The League, the hard-Right party led by Matteo Salvini.
Mr Salvini says that if his party can take such a centre-left stronghold then the legitimacy of the national coalition – an awkward alliance between the Democrats and the Five Star Movement – is at an end and Italy should head straight to fresh elections.
That could result in him toppling Giuseppe Conte as prime minister and winning the top job for himself.
“If we win on the 26th, I’ll go to the prime minister’s office with a letter of eviction for Conte and his government,” Mr Salvini said as he hit the campaign trail across the region.
He was interior minister and deputy prime minister until last summer when he brought down the coalition he was a part of, and is hungry for a return to power.
The town of Mirandola offers an augury of the political revolution that could be about to sweep Emilia-Romagna into the hands of the Right.
Surrounded by pancake-flat arable land, drainage ditches and isolated farmhouses reminiscent of Lincolnshire, it has grown rich on the back of the biomedical industry, hosting multinational companies which employ tens of thousands of locals.
The sector is so successful that this small town of 24,000 people accounts for a staggering 2.5 per cent of Italy’s entire GDP.
The economy is booming, there are plenty of jobs and the streets and piazzas, lined with pastel-coloured townhouses, are spotless.
But despite the buoyant economic situation, in municipal elections last year the people of Mirandola abandoned the centre-Left for the first time since the war, instead electing a mayor from the League.
A lawyer for 38 years, 67-year-old Alberto Greco was a political novice when he was elected seven months ago.
“I’m the first mayor not to come from the Communist Party or the Democratic Party for 74 years,” he told The Telegraph in his office.
“The Democrats made the mistake of orientating themselves to the cities too much. The periphery – the towns and villages in the provinces – felt abandoned.”
In a political landscape that evokes Trump’s America and Brexit Britain, it is small towns in the region that are expected to swing to the Right, while cosmopolitan cities such as Bologna are predicted to remain loyal to the centre-Left.
Maurizio Rossi, 75, is the Left’s worst nightmare as the election looms. He voted for the Democratic Party all his life but says this time he will be choosing the League on the ballot paper.
“The Democrats have grown to be snooty and arrogant,” he said during a stroll through Mirandola’s historic centre.
“They are an elite that are concerned only about the cities. We need a big change and the League have made promises that I believe are achievable,” said Mr Rossi, who worked for a telecom company for 36 years.
Mr Salvini, nicknamed “Il Capitano” by his supporters, has been accused of demonising refugees and migrants, making them scapegoats for Italy’s problems, from crime to high unemployment, and claiming that they “fight, steal, rape and deal drugs”.
He was castigated this week for ringing the door buzzer of a family of Tunisian migrants and, in front of a bank of TV crews, accusing them of being drug dealers.
He was directed to the apartment, in a troubled part of Bologna’s periphery, by a woman who said she had lost her son to an overdose.
The stunt prompted fury from Tunisia’s ambassador to Italy, who called it a “deplorable provocation”, while the deputy speaker of the Tunisian parliament accused Mr Salvini of being “racist”.
The League leader’s strong man image, constant refrain of “Italians first” and admiration for Mussolini has seen him labelled a neo-fascist by his critics.
But many people in Mirandola and elsewhere in the region don’t see it like that.
“Salvini is not a fascist – that’s just what the Left says if you’re not one of them,” said Franco Compagnoni, 72, who was chatting in a bar with friends.
“I very much hope the League wins. Salvini has got the right idea. Why should Italy take all the migrants from Libya and get no help from other European countries?”
Mirandola encapsulates the disillusion felt by small towns in Emilia-Romagna towards politicians who are perceived as remote and aloof.
“The Left betrayed us. They said they were for the people but they have been stealing state money for 70 years,” said Raffaele Trovato, 32, who works in a gelateria.
“Salvini has credibility. When he was in government he demonstrated that what he says, he does.”
Mr Salvini has been campaigning in Emilia Romagna for months, criss-crossing the region and attending endless rallies and meetings.
On Thursday he swept into Modena, a historic city where he addressed a small but enthusiastic crowd in the Piazza Grande, opposite the beautiful 11h century cathedral, one of the finest Romanesque buildings in Italy.
“Matteo, Matteo,” his supporters chanted as he took to the stage, framed by banners which read “Salvini for premier” and “The League – among the people always”.
Wearing jeans and a fleece, he promised a massive crackdown on drug dealers, delinquents and illegal migrants, claiming that “mothers and grannies” were afraid to venture out of their houses after 6pm in parts of Modena because of crime.
“We’ll fight the drug dealers street by street, piazza by piazza,” he said, promising more police and CCTV cameras.
“We’ll be committed to law and order 365 days of the year. For the first time in more than 70 years, Emilia-Romagna is about to send the Left packing. Viva Emilia-Romagna and Viva Italia!”
There were a small number of protesters on the edge of the crowd, holding up cardboard cut-outs of sardines – the symbol of the grass-roots, anti-Salvini movement called The Sardines that emerged in November.
“Salvini is a nationalist, he’s Italy’s Trump,” said Enza Campolongo, 56, a mother of two, who will vote for the Democratic Party on Sunday. “People in this region are altruistic, welcoming. We don’t need him here.”
The incumbent Democratic Party governor of Emilia-Romagna touts the region, famed for its Parma ham, parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar, as an economic success story that does not need tampering with.
“If the whole of Italy looked a bit more like Emilia-Romagna, the country would be decidedly better,” said Stefano Bonaccini, 53, who has high personal approval ratings after five years in power.
Italy’s already fractured political landscape grew even more complex this week after Luigi di Maio resigned as head of the Five Star Movement.
His move is likely to kick start a debate among senior figures as to whether the movement should remain in the unhappy marriage with the Democrats or seek a divorce. The latter could open the way to elections.
“I think it’s going to be really hard to keep the coalition together if the Democratic Party loses in Emilia-Romagna and Five Star’s candidate gets crushed,” said Erik Jones, professor of European Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Bologna.
“I think there will be a great deal of soul-searching in Five Star and they may decide to get out of the government.”
Back in Mirandola, the mayor acknowledges that even if the League wins on Sunday, the national coalition will not fall imminently.
But conquering a region which has long prided itself as being solidly “red” or socialist, would be a huge coup for the party.
“It would be a resounding vote of no confidence in the government. It would be logical to then go to a national vote,” said Mr Greco.
Asked if he thought it likely that Mr Salvini could be prime minister by Christmas, he did not hesitate. “I think it could happen a lot quicker than that – by the summer, even.”