Monday, June 23rd:
Monday morning, Irene drove me to the train station, where I thanked her for a wonderful time and we said our goodbyes.
To reach Ferrara, I needed to take two trains. The first train was a regional, or local train, from the Empoli train station to the Firenze Santa Maria Novella (Firenze S. M. Novella) train station in Florence. These trains generally run every 30 minutes. I took the 8:57 train. When I arrived in Florence, I found out just how lucky I was!! At 9 AM a strike began!! All local trains in the area went on strike.
My second train was an EC/Eurocity train from Florence to Ferrara. Lucky, lucky me!! Because I was taking a Eurocity train, my next train would not be affected. My train arrived and departed on time.
When I arrived in Ferrara and stepped off that very comfortable air conditioned Eurocity train, it was like walking straight into an oven! The heat almost knocked me down! And I am not exaggerating!!
I had a reservation at Locanda Borgonuovo, for the next three nights. This was my second visit to Ferrara (and to Locanda Borgonuovo). My first visit was in 2001 for two nights. I was very excited to be back in Ferrara again.
A wonderful couple runs Locanda Borgonuovo. It is located in the center of town, a three minute walk from the Estense Castle. It is a very inviting place to stay. The wife makes a delicious breakfast every morning, all from scratch. I noticed that they now also serve gluten free breakfasts! She is very helpful with information on things to do/places to eat, while in Ferrara. The husband always calls me “the girl from Honolulu”. I ran into him a couple of times while visiting the historic center of Ferrara and each time we had a lovely chat. Their son also stopped by every once in a while to help out. He gave me some great recommendations for places to eat and updated me on all the concerts that would be playing in or by the castle. The B&B has a lovely garden and offers free bikes for use. I loved my stay there just as much as I did the first time!
Ferrara is known as “the city of bikes”. Unless you have a special permit, cars are not allowed in the historic center. Bikes are the popular mode of transportation. If you are walking, you need to watch out. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of system as far as which side of the road the bikes ride on.
After chatting for a bit with the owners and then unpacking, I headed out for the afternoon. I rode around the wonderful city of Ferrara, taking photos, and stopping in a few stores along the way.
Here are some photos of the historic center of Ferrara…
As I explored more of Ferrara, I found a little computer store. I went inside to inquire about a way to transfer my photos onto a CD. She did not have any information but did recommend a good gelateria. It was called K2 – just like the one in Parma! I was starting to wonder if K2 was a chain. When they scooped the gelato onto the cones in a rose shape, I knew had to be a chain. The gelato was just as good as the place in Parma, although the Ferarra gelateria had more flavors to choose from.
The girl at the computer store also told me where the Blockbuster store was located. There I found the DVD, Roman Holiday. I had been searching for two years for this DVD (which is both in Italian & English).
Later in the afternoon, I rode over to the piazza next to the castle and stumbled upon a band rehearsing for that night’s performance right outside the castle. The band was called Sigur Rós. They are an Icelandic avant-rock band from Reykjavík.
The band had eight members. There was a drummer, four woman playing string instruments, a keyboard player who also played the flute, a guitar player, and a lead singer who also played the guitar, but in a unique way using a bow with the guitar like a string instrument. I think the lead singer was singing in English, but I could not understand what he was singing.
Hardly anyone was there during their rehearsal. It was like a free concert! When I first arrived, I thought that maybe I would just listen to them outside that evening, but after seeing them warm up, I knew I had to buy a ticket to see them play.
For dinner, I enjoyed a delicious pumpkin ravioli served with burro e salvio (butter & sage – my new favorite!!) at Trattoria il Cucco. Here’s a very blurry photo of the parking situation outside the restaurant.
After dinner, I returned to the castle for the Sigur Rós concert! Great concert. Amazing ambience! Being at a concert, sitting under the stars, right next to a castle – a castle with moats!! Very cool!!
A fun concert to end a wonderful first day in Ferrara!
Tuesday, June 24th:
This is where my more descriptive 2003 trip emails end. Between some scribbles on pieces of paper, my photos/date & time stamped, and my memories of this trip, I will do my best to recreate the rest my stay in Ferrara.
Tuesday morning, I enjoyed a wonderful breakfast at my B&B. I always looked forward to breakfast when staying there, especially the little homemade cakes and breads.
In the morning, I visited the Jewish Museum. I believe it was a tour. It was extremely hot on Tuesday. I spent much of the middle of the day back at my B&B. Later in the day, I rode my bike to revisit the Museo del Risorgimento e della Resistenza. This is a fascinating museum (although much of the information is only in Italian). It is located very close to the Palazzo dei Diamante, named for the marble blocks carved to represent diamonds.
Here are some of the photos I took on Tuesday…
Wednesday, June 25th:
Francesco & Irene suggested that I visit San Marino while I was in Ferrara. They helped me figure out my transportation options. It ended up being a lot of travel time. I took a train to Rimini & then a bus from Rimini to San Marino.
I have previously done two blog posts about San Marino, so instead of reposting those photos, I am going to link my 2 posts here…
My post: “protection” ~ photohunt, from April 2009, includes photos and a bit of information about the famous three towers in San Marino.
My post: San Marino. from April 2011, includes more photos of my visit to two of the towers (the 3rd is not open to the public).
Below are more photos I took during my visit to San Marino. These photos include a few of the Palazzo Pubblico, the Chamber of the Grand and General Council, and the changing of the guards.
During the train ride home, I the train stopped at one point in the middle of a field for a very long time. It was really hot and people became more and more upset as time passed. We never knew did find out what the problem was but everyone was very happy once the train started up again.
Once back in Ferrara, I took few more photos, had pizza for dinner, and then attended a free concert by the Bluesman, which was not too far from my B&B.
I really enjoyed my stay in Ferrara. Friendly people. Great food. Walkable and/or great place to bike. Interesting architecture. A castle with moats! So much to see and do.
Next up – 1 night in Mantova