Ferrara

8 Apr

The first thing I saw when I exited the train was my mother’s maiden name: Ferrara.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Her ancestors, or at least the ones I know of, were from southern Italy, not here from Emilia-Romagna, so our visit to Ferrara was not a search for ancestral connections. With a bit of research, we knew to purchase a two-day pass that would give us entry to most of the important sites.

Ferrara is very flat, so walking or biking are the preferred modes of transportation. We logged over 16 miles on foot in 48 hours.

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About 30 miles north of Bologna, Ferrara is situated on the Po di Volano, a channel of the Po River, and has a population of about 135,000.

©Blogginginitaly.com

It is a colorful city with wide streets that support modern commerce as well as 14th and 15th century palaces from the House of Este.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

©Blogginginitaly.com

The typical bread, called coppia ferrarese, has been awarded IGP status, but for me, (sorry), it’s more pretty than tasty.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Among the most important sites we saw were:

Palazzo Dei Diamonte, a Renaissance palace which houses the National Painting Gallery of Art. The exterior of the building consists of some 8500 white blocks carved to look like diamonds, hence the name.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Museo Archeologico Nazionale, also known as Palazzo Ludovico il Moro. The museum houses a large collection of archaeological history from the province, and in particular, from Spina, an Etruscan port that flourished between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Museo del Risorgimento e della Resistenza. The museum houses uniforms, weapons, newspaper articles, posters, photos, letters, etc., from the time Italy began its quest for independence (Risorgimento) to the end of WWII.

Cattedrale San Giorgio Martire. The Romanesque Cathedral of Ferrara, consecrated in 1135 and 118 meters in length (387 feet), is #20 among the world’s biggest churches per Sacred Floor. St. Peter’s Basilica in Roma is #1 at 610 feet; the Duomo of Firenze is #3 at 518 feet; and St. Patrick’s in NY is #26 at 360 feet.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

And our favorite site…
Castello Estense. By order of Marquis Nicolo II D’Este, the enormous castello was begun in 1385 as a fortress, complete with stables, armories, workshops, accommodations for military troops, and prisons.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

The entire fortress is surrounded by a wide moat with drawbridges.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

At the end of the 15th century, the fortress slowly began a transformation into an elaborate residence for dukes and duchesses. Some of the greatest artists of the time were commissioned for works inside and out.

Today, the castle is a museum that provides history about the building, the powers that used it, and the city of Ferrara. A visit to one of the three prisons is eerie,

©Blogginginitaly.com

while a stroll though art filled rooms is pretty incredible.

Chapel Ceiling©Blogginginitaly.com

Unfortunately, the 2012 earthquake did considerable damage, so washi paper has been applied to seal numerous cracks in ceiling and wall frescoes. Damage repair is progress.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Interestingly, there are several “pleasure palaces” that were built by the Este Family in Ferrara to “avoid or escape boredom.”  One such place is Palazzo Schifanoia, the name thought to have come from schivar la noia, or literally to escape boredom.

Palazzo Schifanoia, therefore, was a place for the court to relax and enjoy art and music away from but in close proximity to Castello Estense. The walls of the grand room are decorated with allegorical frescoes depicting the months of the year.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Upon reflection, I think my paternal grandmother belonged to a ladies club in Chicago called Schifanoia. I grew up hearing the name but never thought to ask what it meant. So even when I’m not looking for ancestral information, I guess it’s waiting to be uncovered everywhere my Italian travels take me.

And as for escaping boredom from the castello, one merely needed to gaze out a window at the sun-painted reflections dancing on the moat. A great artist indeed!

©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

20 Responses to “Ferrara”

  1. Jean April 8, 2017 at 3:04 PM #

    Pleasure palaces. I love the name whatever they did in there 🙂
    In such a lovely place how could you ever get bored?
    We love your photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. faclarsen@aol.com April 8, 2017 at 3:15 PM #

    Beautiful – a great visit !! oxox

    Florence C. Connelly faclarsen@aol.com

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lyniece Salvatore April 8, 2017 at 3:25 PM #

    Beautiful pictures. I know you didn’t see this, but last night on Hawaii Five-O one of the characters was in Chicago and couldn’t wait to have Ferrara connoli. How cool is that!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Danny Romano April 8, 2017 at 3:36 PM #

    Great article. I remember Grandma Lena talking about the club Schifanoia. I will ask my mother.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly April 8, 2017 at 4:03 PM #

      I’m so glad you remember too. Those ladies were always so busy! Please ask your Mom and let me know.

      Like

  5. Dominic Mosca April 8, 2017 at 7:09 PM #

    Nice photos

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jean April 8, 2017 at 7:47 PM #

    Btw is Ferrari the plural of Ferrara? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. karenincalabria April 9, 2017 at 12:32 AM #

    Very nice armchair visit – I don’t ride them, but love seeing all the bicycles.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cigarafterten April 9, 2017 at 2:14 AM #

    Ferrara is wonderful everyday of the year

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Royce Larsen April 9, 2017 at 3:34 PM #

    Great photography!
    This was completely new
    Information
    The connection with your
    Grandmother’s club is
    Unique and noteworthy
    The opportunity for exercise
    Was another bonus
    Please keep up the good
    Work for the sake of the
    Less fortunate not living
    In Italy

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly April 10, 2017 at 2:48 AM #

      Thanks, Royce, it was our first time and all new to us as well. And learning about Schifanoia was really interesting. Wish I could have talked to Aunt Marion about it!

      Like

  10. Simona Lidia Z. April 10, 2017 at 3:06 AM #

    Ciao Judy. Complimenti per le fotografie molto belle. I love Ferrara and I love attending Palazzo dei Diamanti (always lovely art exhibitions there) 🙂

    Like

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