Visiting Ferrara, Italy – part 3 – frescoes

 

Ferrara Italy

What to see in Ferrara, Italy past Via Mazzini (part 3)

The previous blog post covered the castle and main piazza. Now we move past the piazza, down the main shopping street and on to some key museums.

A quick Insider Tip: You will notice that for museum and even church hours, there is a 3 hour window when things close… those 3 hours are for lunch and rest. Ferrara is full of amazing Italian cuisine and you can’t go wrong when picking a place to eat. Take advantage of those 3 hours and have lunch, dessert, coffee and put your feet up!

Restaurant Suggestion: Ristorante Cusina e Butega

-Located on Corso Porta Reno, #28 – walk past the clock tower at the end of the Piazza della Cattedrale to reach the restaurant

-Local cuisine with great options for kids and adults

-Open until 3pm for lunch

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What to see in Ferrara continued.

After the castle, cathedral and main squares… continue down Via Mazzini to:

 

1-Museo di Casa Romei

This is a charming museum with a lovely courtyard, frescoes, art work and stone work. The building was originally the home of a banker in the 15th century! A quiet, nice museum with an interesting history.

 

Hours and Ticket prices:

-Open 8:30 to 2pm Sunday to Wednesday

-Open 2 to 7:30 Thursday to  Saturday

3 Euros for adults, 1.50 Euros for seniors/kids/groups (prices as of 2016)

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2-Museo Riminaldi – Palazzo Bonacossi

Further down the same road where you will visit the Casa Romei, is the Museum of Ancient Art in the Palazzo Bonacossi. The museum is the collection of Cardinal Riminaldi, collected while he was in Rome in the 18th century and donated to Ferrara – his hometown. Honestly I visited this museum as it was included on the MyFe city card. It is pleasant but not terribly exciting, with stuffy paintings, some 17 and 18th century furnishings and sculptures. If you have time, and you have the MyFe card, pop in and take half an hour to look.

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3-Palazzo Schifanoia

This is a magnificent palace that was built for the Este Family as a place to entertain. The name, Schifanoia, means to “banish boredom.” The main attraction is the frescoes painted by various artists on the 1st floor (upstairs) of the “Cycle of Months.” The room is dark but not crowded so you can get close to the walls and see the astounding details, the expressions, and the colors. The seasons are depicted as pageants with Olympian gods presiding over the pageants while being carried on fanciful floats drawn by animals like giant swans. The frescoes were meant to show the order of mankind and nature under the rule of the Duke. It is most interesting, from the creatures, the zodiac symbols, to the elaborate scenes and the quality of the frescos.

 

Hours and Ticket prices:

-Open 9:30 to 6pm

-Closed Mondays

3 Euros for adults, 2 Euros for seniors/kids/groups (prices as of 2016)

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4-Museo Archeologico Nazionale

This Archeology museum is certainly a gem and a must-see for historical and archeology enthusiasts. The museum is very extensive and you need to allow for a few hours if you plan to study each room. Devoted to the Etruscan city of Spina, the museum exhibits log boats, pottery, bronzes and much more. There is also a lovely garden in the back and the prize room for Renaissance art enthusiasts is the “Treasure Hall.” The last room you will see, separate from the main museum and by the garden, is the Treasure Hall which was probably built as a music room or library. The treasure is the ceiling, a fresco painted by Garofalo. Look up and you will see an amazing feat of perspective for it is as if you are looking up to a balcony where Renaissance faces peer down at you, garlands hang by red ribbons, and a monkey or two play on the railings. It is reminiscent of the Camera degli Sposi by Mantegna in Mantua – which you can read about on another blog post by clicking here.

 

Hours and Ticket prices:

-Open 9:30 to 5pm

-Closed Mondays

5 Euros for adults, 3 Euros for seniors/kids/groups (prices as of 2016)

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Ferrara is full of amazing collections of art and history.

The next post will feature info on the next spectacular sights to see. Don’t miss a blog post, sign up for a weekly travel blog!

For more photos of Ferrara, Italy that are available as prints, click here for Monica Goslin Photography.

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Ferrara Italy – Part 2 – castle and more

Ferrara Italy

What to see in Ferrara, Italy (part 2)

1 – Castle Estense

Start at the city center and visit Ferrara’s castle. The castle sits in the center, surrounded by a moat, and yes there are draw bridges. You will find yourself standing on the city block, staring up at the castle while cars, bikes, and motorcycles whiz by – a castle that has been absorbed into the modern world.

The red bricks, red shutters, and towers stand tall and dominate the main downtown. The castle dates back to the late 14th century and was home to the Este Court. Your visit will take you through stately rooms with painted ceilings, artwork, maps, and the charming Garden of Oranges (a balcony filled with potted orange trees, sitting high above the busy city streets).

 

Hours and Ticket prices:

-Open 9:30 to 5:30pm

-Open until 7pm from June to August with a 2 hour lunch break (1 to 3pm)

-Open every day – March to September!

8 Euros for Adults, 6 Euros for seniors/kids/groups (prices as of 2016)

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2 – Piazza and Cathedral

From the Castle you should walk to the Romanesque Cathedral in the Piazza Trento e Trieste. Along the way, notice the Theater building with a circular courtyard. The Municipal Theater and Ferrara Musica house performances and concerts. From October to May you can buy tickets for the special performances or for the resident orchestra throughout the year.

The Piazza is a long rectangle with the Romanesque Cathedral along one edge. The Cathedral façade was being worked on when I was there, so I had to be content with admiring the side which is decorated with stone columns along the top, all of which vary in pattern and size. The Cathedral dates back to 1135 – that is 800 years old! Always impressive to see the work of those masonry and craftsman still standing! The interior of the Cathedral is dark but when the sunlight shines in you see gold painted angels and the marble floors that look like a giant chess board.

Cathedral Hours: Open 7:30 to Noon and 3:30 to 6:30pm

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3 – Across from the Cathedral (side) is the Cathedral Museum housed in another church. This is a lovely little museum with two parts. Part one is the upstairs floor of the side building where you can see some sculptures and a large collection of illuminated manuscripts. Part two is in the actual church. There you will find tapestries from the 1550’s that depict the stories of Saint George and Maurlius. In addition, there are the 13th century stone panels that depict the months with great detail in the clothes, faces, and tools. And perhaps the most interesting, is the Madonna of the Pomegranate statue, a 15th century stone sculpture.

 

Hours and Ticket prices:

-Open 9:30 to 1pm and 3 to 6pm

-Closed Mondays

6 Euros for adults, 3 Euros for seniors/kids/groups (prices as of 2016)

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4 – From the Piazza continue down Via Mazzini where you will find a pleasant pedestrian walk by shops and red brick buildings. When I was visiting Ferrara I was looking up at colorful umbrellas, an open art installation over Via Mazzini.

Insider Tip: Ferrara is a city of bikes which means watch out! Be mindful of bikes whooshing by as you back up to look at a building, darting around corners as you wait to cross the street, and remember that little “ding” is the warning sound of a bike rider coming up behind you.

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Continue reading the next post for on what to see past Via Mazzini! — Sign up for the blog so you don’t miss a post – usually once a week so your inbox will not be flooded with emails, I promise.

*For more photographs of Ferrara, Italy visit my photography website where photos are available as prints! Click here!

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What to see in Ferrara, Italy – Part 1

 Ferrara Italy

What to see in Ferrara, Italy (part 1)

Looking for a city that is off the main trail, not over run with crowds of tourists, full of hidden sights, has excellent local food and that colorful Italian charm? For every popular and well-known city in Italy, there are a dozen obscure towns to discover and Ferrara, Italy is one of them.

Just over 30 miles North of Bologna, you can visit the tranquil city of Ferrara. The old city center is enclosed by a Renaissance wall and has a fairytale castle in the center of town – moat and all. The city is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which in itself is a testament to the amount of heritage, cultural importance, and wealth of history that there is to appreciate.

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How to get to Ferrara, Italy

By Train from Milan: From Milan you have to go to Bologna (on the high-speed train “Frecciarossa” it takes one hour) – then change and go to Ferrara –just a 30 minute ride).

Side note and TIP: If you take the slow train from Milan to Bologna, the price is cut in half but your travel time doubles – the slow train takes almost 3 hours and you still need to switch to get to Ferrara (it’s still 30 minutes away). So spend a little more, take the high speed train, and spend more time exploring rather than sitting on the sluggish train at half price.

If you are already in Bologna – trains run pretty frequently and Ferrara is just a 30-minute train ride north.

By Car: best advice is to use GPS and follow directions. Road signs can be confusing but with the oh-so-useful round-abouts in Europe, you can keep circling until you figure out which exit to take!

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Even as an off-the-main-trail city, Ferrara has a city card! With options of a 2 day, 3 day or 6 day card you can see 16 sites with the “MyFE – Ferrara Tourist Card.” I highly recommend city cards as they do save you money and actually you end up seeing more museums/sights/churches because you want to get the most out of your money.

See the next blog post that describes what you can see while in Ferrara! — Sign up for the blog so you don’t miss a post – usually once a week so your inbox will not be flooded with emails, I promise.

*For more photographs of Ferrara, Italy visit my photography website where photos are available as prints! Click here!

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Castles to See Near Bolzano, Italy

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More Castles

From Bolzano you can take cars, taxis, or buses to 3 castles (they are also within hiking distance I believe, although I assume it’s a rather long walk!). The tourist office, located right on Walther Square, can help you arrange transportation to any of the three castles.

The three castles that are close to Bolzano are: Castle Maretsch, Runkelstein Castle and Firmian/Sigmundskron Castle.

I visited Runkelstein Castle which I reached by car* (arranged via the tourist office), and then walked up a steep hill (about 20 minutes). The castle sits on a high rock, has a moat and drawbridge and dates back to the 13th century. The castle is mostly known for its frescos, painted in the late 14th century (artists unknown) and was commissioned by the Vintler merchant brothers. You can see the frescos after getting your tickets, you’ll go right upstairs and see scenes of King Arthur, his knights, and more. The long covered balcony between buildings features an interesting fresco of giant figures! And further rooms illustrate the history of the castle and its various owners. The castle was donated to the city of Bozen in 1893, with restorations to the buildings and frescos in the late 1990’s.

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*Note that the castle ticket office can call the car when you are done with your visit, thus giving you time to climb down and be picked up (the drive from town takes about the same amount of time it does for you to climb down!). Rather a nice arrangement!

Entry Fees: 8 euros for adults, 5.50 euros for children and seniors, with specials for families and groups (As of Summer 2016)

Castle hours are: Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm (6pm in the Summer)

For the official Runkelstein Castle website click here: http://www.runkelstein.info/runkelstein_en/the_castle.asp

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Read previous posts about see the Otzi Iceman in Bolzano and other information about what to see when in Tyrol Valley, Italy by clicking here.

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See Otzi the Iceman

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Otzi the Iceman

Italy is my favorite place to visit because every time I go, I discover something new to see. If you are looking for an unusual vacation spot, visit the Tyrol Valley in Italy. The previous blog post mentions some Tyrol Valley castles and the special Gufyland Bird Sanctuary (click to read in case you missed that post). Beyond the castles, the Tyrol valley is the home of Otzi the Iceman.

Bolzano is the city to visit if you want to see Otzi. The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology houses the over five-thousand (!) year old mummy which you can view through a small porthole. The entire museum is dedicated to Otzi’s story – where he was found, how he was found, what he was wearing, what he ate, etc. It is an impressive museum dedicated to one man, and there is even a specialized rescue protocol in case Otzi needs to be evacuated from the high-tech chamber!

The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology is right in the center of town, easy to find and the main attraction of the city.

  • Museum entry fees are 9 euros for Adults, 7 euros for kids 6 and older (under 6 years old is free), and specials for groups and families. (As of Summer 2016)
  • Museum hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm (closed Mondays)
  • For a link to the official museum website where you can also find out more about Otzi, click here: http://www.iceman.it/en/

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The Iceman is certainly the main reason to visit the small city of Bolzano, but the town itself is charming and worth a stroll through the main streets and lunch on the main piazza. Bolzano’s medieval center is fun to walk through. You will see colorful houses, painted decorations on the buildings, a bustling food market and the colorful, tiled roof of the Bolzano Cathedral just off of the Walther Square. Don’t miss a walk down Via dei Portici, a pedestrian shopping street lined with Romanesque-style houses and arcades.

To see more photos of the Tyrol Valley area, castles click here for Monica Goslin Photography where you can also buy prints, canvas photos, and framed photos.

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Castles and Birds of Prey in Italy

South Tyrol Italy

Castles and Birds of Prey in Italy

If your traveling through the lovely Tirolo Valley in Northern Italy and want to visit a castle and see a bird show at the same time… visit the Gufyland Bird Sanctuary in Dorf Tirol near Merano, Italy.

Gufyland, yes that is the name, is a bird sanctuary. Gufo in Italian is owl, hence the name.

The Bird Sanctuary is just that, provides sanctuary to injured birds and also rehabilitation, releasing birds back into the wild. Gufyland has been in operation since 1989 and still has the primary focus of treating injured birds and releasing them if possible and to provide information to the public about birds of prey.

The Gufyland Bird Sanctuary has two shows daily, 11:15am and 15:15pm (15:00 in the winter). The shows create quite a crowd, so arrive early to get a seat. The spectacular setting with the Triolo Valley providing the backdrop, mountains, castles, and small villages, it really is ideal. The shows are given in Italian and German (Austria is just to the North) and even if you don’t speak either language, go anyway! Seeing these amazing birds in flight is not to be missed.

You can also walk through the sanctuary to see all of the birds. Note that seeing the birds requires good walking shoes as the path leads down the side of a steep mountain.

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See more photographs of South Tyrol (Tirolo Valley) in Italy by clicking here for my photography which you can also buy as prints, canvas prints, framed photos and more.

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Hours & Ticket Prices:

Admission to the Sanctuary is 9 Euros for adults and 7 Euros for kids (ages 9-13). Prices are as of Summer/Fall 2015. Closed on Mondays.

Open 9:00 to 17:00.

For more information click here for the official website: http://www.gufyland.com/en/

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How to Get There:

If your visiting Merano, Italy (known as a spa town) this is the closest town to the Tirolo Castle and Bird Sanctuary.

From Merano you can hike up to the castle and bird sanctuary. Since I drove up to the castle, I do not know how the long hike would take. However, once your in the town of Tirolo, you have to park and walk to the castle – takes about 20 to 30 minutes and you pass through apple tree groves and have impressive views of the castle all along the way. Once you reach the castle the bird sanctuary is to the right, you’ll see signs.

Merano, Italy is slightly hard to reach as it is in a valley… but from Milan you would take a train to Verona (an hour and a half train ride) and then take a train to Bolzano (another hour and half) and then a 45 minute train ride to Merano. You can also reach Merano from Munich, Innsbruck, Bressannone, and Salzburg with train transfers along the way.

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Visiting Oropa Sanctuary in Italy

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A visit to the Oropa Sanctuary in Italy

The out of the way, off-the-beaten path places are often the most fun to visit!

If you have a car while in Italy and fancy a road trip to an out-of-the-way place, visit the Sanctuary of Oropa. The Sanctuary, which sits at an altitude of 1180m, is 13 kilometers from the city of Biella (more on Biella below). Over eight hundred thousand pilgrims visit the Sanctuary each year! The “Black Madonna of Oropa” is located in one of the small churches in the Sanctuary, it is considered one of the oldest shrines of Mary in the west, and one of the most famous in the Piemonte region of Italy.

When visiting the Sanctuary of Oropa you will drive up a curvy mountain road and arrive at a large entrance with a rather grand staircase leading up into a main courtyard. If you climb up the mountain you will visit the Sacro Monte de Oropa with nineteen chapels (built between 1620 and 1720) illustrating the life of Mary; these chapels are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The courtyard within the Sanctuary dates from 1600 to 1800 with buildings ranging from churches, libraries, and chapels. In the center of the courtyard is a large stone fountain with immense spoons hanging from the center, ready for thirsty pilgrims. At the far end of the courtyard you will see the Upper Basilica, built between 1885-1960, which has an 80 meter high dome!

*To see more photographs of Oropa Sanctuary click here for Monica Goslin Photography

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City of Biella, Italy

The city of Biella is an interesting mesh of old and new. There is a small medieval village above the city, which you can reach via a funicular, always a fun way to travel! The funicular was built in 1885, and is supported by 18 pillars of which the tallest is 9 meters, and was originally driven by hydraulic power. The medieval town has cobble stone streets, charming houses, old palaces with courtyards, and arcades passage ways. The medieval plaza dates back to 1160 and is surrounded by pretty buildings. Make sure to see the “house of wooden beams” on the main street as it is one of the last examples of medieval architecture.

Within the city of Biella, below the medieval town, the most important monument to see is the Baptistry. The Baptistry, the most significant monument in the city, was built with Roman remains. Over the door you’ll see a Second Century relief, 13th century frescos inside, and a crypt dating from the 18th century for the Bishops of the city.

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Read more about Biella and the Oropa Sanctuary by clicking here

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