Ferrara WAS New York

During my trip a trusted Ferrarese told me about a graffiti artist in her city who spray-painted the phrase:

Ferrara 500 anni fa era New York!

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It means ‘500 years ago Ferrara was New York”. So…. maybe not New York, but…. during the Renaissance Ferrara was a cultural and economic mecca. The 15th-century “Herculean Addition”, begun at the behest of Ercole I d’Este and designed by Biagio Rosseti, made her one of the first modernly planned cities of Europe. Lucrezia Borgia lived here, binding the city to Roman politics and intrigue, and the Este court grew or drew in scholars and artists such as Ludovico Ariosto, Dosso Dossi, Torquato Tasso, Pietro Bembo, Ercole Strozzi, and many others.

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Although now surpassed in tourism my Rome, Venice, and Florence I think Ferrara still offers quite a bit to the traveler looking for an Italian experience. It is situated in a couple hours train ride from Mantua, Verona, Venice, Milan, Bologna, and Florence. Oh, and did I mention the entire city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

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The thing I love most about Ferrara is that it is walkable. More than that, it is also a city of bicycles (citta delle biciclette). I can leave home, from a house right outside the city walls (le mura), ride into the ancient city center (centro) in a matter of minutes, and sit alongside the Este Castle (Castello Estense) while drinking a machiatto or prosecco at a cafe (caffetteria).

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This is my favorite thing about Ferrara. The freedom of movement on a bicycle in a city where it is safe for bikes is lovely. Bikes have the right-of-way in most areas, their own street signals for traffic control, and are the best way to get around the historic areas of the city where cars are not allowed.

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The warm Italian sun, brisk air of October, cobblestones, medieval cathedrals at every turn, zipping by of scooters, and bumbling by of the other bikes, cars, and buses make for a comforting din.

My favorite spots over the past #40daysinItaly are:

Piazza Ariostea (eat lunch at Ludovico here, they have great salads and wine)

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Biking and walking along Le Mura (the walls) of this ancient city which look amazing in panorama from the side but have lovely tree-lined walkways on top, too.

The centro (city center) where Piazza Savonarola is (try Osteria Savonarola for dinner and Al Brindisi for drinks after dinner)

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The amazing Castello Estense in the centro

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Via delle Volte, an old merchanting and storage street way

Palazzo Schifanoia, a palace for the Este family to escape the boredom of noble life in a castle, also home to amazing frescos!

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I only have three days left here in Italy. I miss my husband and my dog very much. So, I’m ready to return home. But, I know that when I leave it won’t be long before I have the stirrings of a different type of homesickness. A homesickness for my Italian family, and my Italian routine, and my Italian life.

City Girl Travels to Italy

I’ll be traveling to the Veneto and Emilia-Romagna for 40 days this fall! I will be blogging and vlogging about it, so if you want insider tips on European travel, click the follow button on the right. Also, follow my Instagram @countryboy_citygirl

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I thought I might use this post to share my travel experience with you, so you know I didn’t fall off a cabbage truck yesterday. I have a lot of experiences and tips to share. Really, what good is all this knowledge if it’s not shared?

Traveling for me began early as it was a vital part of my schooling and job. In both undergrad and graduate school I interned for the USDA and traveled to conferences all over the US and Territories for recruitment and research presentations. Once I started working (in the middle of nowhere) full time after grad school, I traveled monthly for training, meetings, or shopping. I’ve been to almost every state in the Union and to several of our Territories. I have visited both Canada and Mexico for extended periods of time. I’ve also traveled extensively in the Caribbean, Central America, and Europe. I’m a complete Italophile, so since about 2006 I try to get to Italy every other year.

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Traveling monthly for work (for the past 17 years, especially the years I traveled for two weeks of every month) I got really good at carry-on packing and perfected my travel routine. I recommend that anyone looking to travel develop their routine. Mine, for example, consisted of my using preferred airline/ hotel/ car rental agencies rewards programs for ease and perks. Using TSA pre-check was an integral part of my routine because it got me through security super fast. Have your travel outfit planned for both comfort and style in case there is a delay.

Travel Routine

  • Travel Apps: I use the TripCase app to save all reservations and itineraries. You just forward the reservation emails to them and they do all the work. Use your airline app as they notify you immediately if there is a change. Same with car rental and hotel. I also use the Uber app.
  • Earn $$: Pay for your travel and related items with a credit card offering cashback or miles. I’ve used (Capital One) Quicksilver and Venture, and I prefer Quicksilver.
  • First class treatment: Enroll in TSA pre-check to get ahead of the line. If you travel often in the US it’s worth it. Make sure to enroll with your airline as well or you might get snubbed.
  • Choose wisely: Choose a hotel chain and car rental agency with locations EVERYWHERE (I use Hertz and prefer Marriott over Hilton but have rewards cards with both). Another thing to remember when choosing is how important a free breakfast will be. It can really help your budget to choose a hotel like Hilton’s Hampton Inn. They have eggs and bacon 🙂
  • Skip the lines: Booking ahead and using your hotel and car chain apps make it a breeze to check in remotely. With Hertz, I have my car with keys in it waiting for me when I arrive, as they text me the stall number. I just get in and go. With Marriott I check in from my phone and use a Mobile Key to go straight to my room, skipping the check in line entirely. I use UBER as much as possible (some airports don’t allow it) so I don’t have to wait for a taxi in the line at their airport.
  • Dress for success: Proper outfit + crossbody bag + tote bag + carry-on luggage = success. I usually wear flats & sock liners, leggings, and a tunic. I take a huge scarf that doubles as a jacket and blanket. I wear a crossbody bag that fits in my tote so I only have two items when I walk past the ticket counter. I carry-on to avoid delays waiting for my bag. In my tote I carry rosewater spray, sleep mask, empty water bottle, tablet, charger, and snacks (yes you can bring food through security). No matter what happens, I’m ready.

See you in Italy. xo

I’ll be using #CBCGblog and #CityGirlTravels to tag my posts on traveling well in the future. Search for them on Google, Instagram, or Facebook.

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Spying Out Ferrara, Italy

We will be doing need greater work in this area in the fall. Just wanted to document some sights to see and things to do while we are there.

 

 

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Location of Ferrara in Italy

The following was written by the blogger at Gracia’s Travels. See link at bottom of page.

 

Ferrara was another day trip from Bologna.  It’s a larger city and the Old Town sites here are more spread out than in Ravenna.  And as the old saying goes … timing is everything.  Several sites were closed when their signs said they were open, and some sites had limited hours.  So, we walked quite a bit farther and had to do some backtracking.

Castello Estense, built in 1385, is in the center of town.

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DSC02250 C Castello  DSC02195 C

Much of the castle is now used as government offices but the royal suites are open to visitors.  The rooms are empty but the ceilings make up for that.

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The orangery overlooked the moat and a market that was set up in front of a castle entrance.

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A pleasant walk from the castle brought us to Palazzo Schifanoia, built in 1385.  Frescos from 1470 depict the months, seasons and signs of the zodiac.

DSC02207 C Palazzo Schifanoia  DSC02210 C

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Our guide book noted that these frescos are unusually unreligious in tone and the only ones of their type in Italy.  One room had this ornate ceiling.

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We walked down Via Volte through what was once the Jewish ghetto (1627 –1859).

DSC02225 C  DSC02226 C Via delle Volte

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As in other Ghettos, because so many people were packed into a small area, residents added more space by adding rooms that span the narrow lanes.

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DSC02232 C Piazza Cattedrale

We made our way back to the center of town to the Piazza Cathedral…

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and went into the 12th century Duomo.

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The Cathedral faces Palazzo Municipal which is linked to the castle. It was the home of the Este family until they built the castle and moved next door.

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The 15th century Palazzo dei Diamanti was starred in our guide book so we walked north a 1/2 mile to find it closed, although the sign said it should be open.   It houses an art museum which would have been interesting but at least we could see how the building got its name … the façade is covered with spiky diamond shaped stones.

DSC02242 C Palazzo dei Diamanti

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The photos are deceptive.  It’s a very large building.  Notice Will in the doorway.

DSC02248 C Parco Massari

There was a pretty park across the street.

On our walk back to the train station we passed through a part of the old city walls.

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DSC02279 C    There is a lot to see in Ferrara.

We would have run out of time if all the sites had been open.

Next stop, Venice.

 

See this post on their blog at https://graciamc.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/a-day-in-ferrara-italy/

 

 

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Ferrara is in the Emilia Romagna Region