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


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)


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.


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)


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)


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.


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)


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


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)


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.


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!


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.


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!


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!


Visiting Hellbrunn Palace

Salzburg Austria

What to see outside of Salzburg, Austria

Okay so you have seen the sights of Salzburg (and if not, please see previous blog post for info on what to see!). Now… it is time to go outside the city and visit:


Hellbrunn – Palace and Trick Fountains

This is a most amusing outing to make, and yes you did read that correctly, “trick fountains.”

The Palace was built as a summer palace by the Archbishop Markus Sittikus, 400 years ago. However, this is not just palace, it is a palace built for the amusement of the archbishop who invited guests and then played tricks on them! During the tour (yes you have to take a tour, but the guides have a great time and you will see why) you will see what looks like an outdoor dining area surrounded by fountains only to find that if you were a guest seated at that table you were bound to get soaked while your host laughed at the head of the table – dry and amused. The trick fountains continue on with caves full of surprises, jumping water, a carnival of water and more. Enjoy the house, see the gardens, and you might want to wear a bathing suit.

The Hellbrunn Palace also includes a visit up the hill to the Volksundemuseum – Folklore Museum. This is a charming gem of a museum with examples of traditional costumes, hats, dresses, shoes, toys, art and more. It is a little museum but oh so fun!


Hellbrunn Palace also houses the “Sound of Music” Pavillion where the song “I am 16 going on 17” was performed. If you walk all the way to the entrance of the gardens, not far from the road you will find the Pavillion.

To read more about the Hellbrunn Palace and the trick fountains, click here.


**For photographs of Salzburg click here and find photos, prints, and canvas prints of Salzburg.


Top 10 Sights in Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg Fortress Austria

What to see in Salzburg, Austria


Top 10 Sights to See in Salzburg

1 – “The Sound of Music” is one reason to visit Salzburg. You can visit locations where they filmed, either creating your own treasure hunt or you can take an official tour. My suggestion… enjoy the city, see the sights, and when you get back home watch the movie again and you will find that you saw all of those places in the film!


2 – Hohensalzburg Fortress

This fortress is the castle that dominates the skyline above the city. The 900 year old fortress started as a sanctuary for archbishops, barracks, and a prison (all at different times of course). The fortress features a museum, small chapel, courtyards, and a Marionette museum (a small cave with a brief history and examples of marionettes which is fun for kids!). The fortress wall facing the city below provides a panoramic view.

How to get to the fortress? You can walk up the hill on a stone path or you can take the cable car. When you find the cable car entrance, the foot path is right next to it and continues up in a zig zag fashion. The cable car is included on the Salzburg Card so take advantage (the ride is literally 54 seconds), plus enjoy the ride! If you do not have the Salzburg card, there are a multitude of options for fortress tickets to include the cable car down only or up only (to see those options click here and scroll down for latest prices and hours). You should probably count on needing 2 to 3 hours to see the fortress (including getting there and back down to the town).


3 – St. Peter’s Monastery and Catacombs

If you have visited catacombs in other cities, these are different in that there are no skeletons. These catacombs date back to the 700’s and are more like caves, carved into the side of the rock. You can walk through the entire complex (just past the cemetery).

4 – Salzburg Cathedral

After the catacombs, you can walk right to Salzburg Cathedral which is on Cathedral Square. The Cathedral was rebuilt three times after three separate fires, you can see the dates on the iron gates: 774, 1628 and 1959.


5 – DomQuartier Salzburg

Right in front of the Salzburg Cathedral, the building complex known as the DomQuartier makes for an interesting visit that takes you through galleries, stately rooms, museums, art collections, terraces, and the Cathedral organ loft. Sounds like a lot? It is! Allow for at least 2 hours, and you can walk through at a good clip while still admiring everything. You are not required to go on a tour, and in fact most rooms have informational signs in multiple languages.

The DomQuartier dates back 400 years. The building complex acted as a residence for the prince-archbishops. You will walk through stately halls, see art galleries and eventually find yourself on an outdoor terrace with panoramic views of the city. From the terrace you re-enter the Cathedral and since you’ll be two stories up in the Organ Gallery you’ll have a stupendous view of the Cathedral. After the Organ Gallery is the Cathedral Museum.

Overall the DomQuartier is an impressive sight to walk through. The brochure for the complex states it so eloquently that I will simply quote that: “On a footprint of 15,000 square meters, 1,300 years of power; art and church history come to life in 2,000 artefacts – embedded within the unique architecture of the former prince-archbishops’ residential city.”


6 – Salzburg Museum

As the name suggests, this is a museum about the history of Salzburg. The fun thing about this museum is that the way it is organized, everyone in your group/family can pick a floor that interests them. For instance, there is a floor devoted to the world wars if you are a history buff, if you are a musician there is an entire section devoted to the history of Salzburg music history. There is a floor for art work from religious art to modern art. I actually ran out of time in this museum as it closes at 5pm, so pick your area of interest wisely or simply get there earlier than I did.

*Side note: You might notice that Salzburg has a plethora of shops with traditional Austrian clothing and even traditional clothing with a bit of a modern update (people do still wear these gorgeous and exquisitely made clothes). Via the courtyard of the Salzburg Museum is a store where you can buy fabric, trims, jackets, and even see the seamstresses working away.


6 – Monchsberglift and Museum of Modern Art

The Monchsberglift is actually a set of elevators that take you up through the rock and out onto a panoramic terrace where you get another amazing view of the city and the fortress. As an added bonus, you can also visit the Museum of Modern Art which is right at the top of the terrace. The Salzburg Card covers both of these!

7 – Mozart’s Birthplace

You can visit the home and museum – historical instruments, artefacts, documents, portraits, and more. Right below the museum is a shop selling food specialties of Salzburg.


8 – Getreidegasse
This is one of the main streets in the historical downtown (easily reached if you are crossing the pedestrian only bridge called Staatsbruke, and one block in from the bridge). The street is lined with charming homes, stores with whimsical signs, and passages with arcades and small courtyards that lead to other streets.


9 – Mirabell Palace and Gardens

The Mirabell Palace was built in 1606 by prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau and only made available to the public in 1854. You really just need to take a stroll through the gardens, getting a view of the fortress in the distance and don’t forget to sing songs from “The Sound of Music” as you stroll.

10 – see the next blog post for more information on this last “must see sight.”


** For photographs of Salzburg click here and find photos, prints, and canvas prints of Salzburg.


For more information visit the official tourist website for Salzburg, Austria by clicking here.



The Salzburg Card

Salzburg Austria

The Salzburg Card

With the Salzburg Card you can enter museums, ride cable cars, visit the fortress and more. Prices vary by season (May through October prices are a few Euros more). Cards can be purchased for 24, 48 or 72 hours use (three price points).


Is the card worth the price?

Yes! The Salzburg card gets you into museums and attractions for free AND includes the use of public transportation. If you visit the main sights in 24 hours which would include the Catacombs, Cathedrals, Palace, Fortress (Castle) via the Cable Car, Modern Art Museum and Cable Car (another one), Salzburg Museum, Domquartier – that would all add up to over 80 Euros! With the 24 hour card, at 24 Euros you can see all of the main sights and use the public transportation to quickly add some more sights to your list!


Where to buy: cards can be purchased at most hotels (just inquire at the front desk), the tourist office, or on-line.

Prices: Vary by season:

24 hour card is 24 Euros (12 for children)
48 hour card is 32 Euros (16 for children)
72 hour card is 37 Euros (18.50 for children)
*Children are 6-15 yrs old

Click here for the most up to date prices on the official website.


** For photographs of Salzburg click here and find photos, prints, and canvas prints of Salzburg.

In the next blog post – read about which top sights to see while in Salzburg.


Travel Memoir – Published



Has Anyone Seen My Elephant? and other tales from a traveler’s diary
By Gerald and Patricia Heggen

A travel memoir book filled with amusing stories, adventures, laughs, and more! Available on Amazon – click here to purchase!


My grandparents traveled the world together for over 40 years. On a very tight budget, they went on one to two trips a year starting in 1971. From Europe, to Asia to South America, they saw everything they could, meet interesting people along the way, and recorded their stories in this book.

Growing up, I have fond memories of gathering in my grandparents living room every other summer to watch the latest slide show of pictures from their recent travels. I sat on the floor and stared in wonder at the photos, listening to my grandparent’s tales and explanations of each photo. My grandparents influenced me more than ever to travel, and I have! Read the book to inspire your travels!


An excerpt from the book:

Chapter: 1994 – India – Story within the chapter:


Land of the Monkey

Former maharajah palace accommodations are now history. The Methodist Mission House here in Bombay is home for tonight. Lodging is spartan as the name of the place suggests. But we have a fellow guest who adds a bit of class. Alan Alda is a guest here. He is working on a film. Bombay is truly the film capital of the world-not our Hollywood. Although the city is not lacking in five star hotels, Alan Alda chose the Mission House. Tomorrow we catch the 7:00 AM train to our mission duty at Miraj.

Our reserved seats are in the air conditioned first class car but we find that car has a “Bad Order” label on the side. This meant the car is being removed from the train. We will be riding in the company of India’s common folk-a good introduction into our life style for the next few months.

This train serves every town and village. So we will be 12 hours en route. Every station stop attracts hundreds of people. Platforms are so dense with humanity, one questions how that many can board the train. Among the crowd are food vendors hawking eats, which have tempting aromas. We have been told this food is prepared in homes under poor hygienic conditions and we must resist eating them. Fruit is plentiful so that will be our fare for the day.

We are pulling into a station and are surprised to find the platform deserted – no passengers, no vendors, no railway employees with the exception of one coming through the cars calling out “monkeys-monkeys.” Suddenly hundreds of migrating monkeys are everywhere. Train cars, which are not air-conditioned, have steel bars over the windows. Now we know why. Since the animals have long arms, we are ordered to not sit close to the window and hang on to any items within their reach. Many have offspring clinging to them. This variety does not appear to be an endangered species.

The frenzy ended as quickly as it began. The throng taking refuge in the station is pouring onto the platform. Normal station activity is taking place. The stationmaster waves the green flag. The train moves on!


To read the entire book, purchase on Amazon by clicking here.