Ferrara, where the bicycle rules and not the tourist

So that is it. Home tomorrow. I leave you with images of Ferrara. There could be a lot worse places to leave you, and no, this is not where they make very flashy sports cars. This place is like a mini, fabulous Florence without a coach party in sight. In fact there are no cars in the centre to disrupt the seemingly endless flow of the bicycle. Many of the riders are particularly pleasing on the eye.

We hit gold with the hotel, for a start. A little bijou place on a central piazza, opposite the castle. Then the upgrade to a room with a small balcony looking directly onto the ancient walls and the piazza’s empty cobbles.

A couple of factoids: Ferrara is an almost perfectly preserved medieval and Renaissance city with the d’Este castle situated between the two, part castle, part palace. The place was run by the d’Este clan for centuries, initially a load of thugs but who transformed themselves into sophisticated patrons if the arts and town planning. It was taken over by the Papal States in 1597. Niccolo d’Este boasted of having over 800 lovers. Not all at the same time I hope. Exhausting.

The Renaissance part is all grand and splendour and parks and pilazzas and space and dignity. The medieval part is a jumble of narrow streets around old churches and cloisters and grilles and windows and arches.

Sadly, the duomo was damaged in the recent earthquake so the front is scaffolded. But not the side.

So I say goodbye to Italy with Ferrara’s bells ringing in my ears – the tingle tangle of bicycle bells, backed up by the boom box of the church bells. I have so many memories of good places and good food and good people.

Next, I have to travel down to Sicily. Thank you for coming on the journey so far. I look forward to seeing you all soon.

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