Subject: Holiday in Ferrara
Hi all

first of all, happy Easter, Passover or any other holiday you celebrate. I came back yesterday from a long weekend in Ferrara and I guess I could try to put out a little travelogue for any of you interested.

Ferrara is a very old town, about halfway between Venice and Bologna in Northern Italy. It lies on the flatlands of eastern Pianura Padana, just south of the large mouth of the Po river, the longest in Italy, which meets the Adriatic Sea spreading across swamps, canals and sand isles. The town has a large historical center, surrounded by walls; houses and mansions are made of red bricks mainly, as well as some paved streets, among whose the white and pink marbles of the cathedral look like a precious stone. The center of the town is the bulky castle, with high brick towers and a real moat filled with water, where you can see both colorful renaissance frescoes in the upper floors and scary dungeons almost under the water level. Another famous building is the Palazzo dei Diamanti, decorated with finely cut white stones, now home of very important temporary art exhibitions (I saw there an exhibition about English landscapes from Canaletto to Constable). If you like noble palaces decorated with astounding frescoes you can't miss the Palazzina di Marfisa and Palazzo Schifanoia, all built by the powerful family of Estensi who ruled the town. The hotel we stayed, Ripagrande Hotel , is a 4-star inside a renaissance building with a large inner courtyard. The hall is finely restored with old marble columns, wooden ceiling and oak furniture, as well as the breakfast room and restaurant. My room (4 people) was set on three different levels inside a large room with the highest ceiling, with period furniture and decorations, but needed some little refurbishing (wouldn't give it more than 3 stars). The breakfast buffet was good but with limited choice. I found the price interesting, lire 320,000 per night for all of us, including breakfast and transit &parking permit inside the centre. We had a memorable lunch at the Ristorante Centrale - via Boccaleone 8, near there, with a full plate of homemade tortelli followed by a typical tasy sausage, salama da sugo, with mashed potatoes and a wide choice of homemade desserts (burp). After spending some time in the centre, we went for a day trip to one of the river mouth, at Ca' Mello, just out of the town of Porto Tolle, where we followed the signs to an agriturismo. We had no luck for lunch, because of Easter reservations, but we rented bikes and followed the paths across a wildlife sanctuary full of waterfowls and other birds, till we reached the sea on a sunny and windy day. We spent another day in Bologna and I know many of you like that town because of its old charming streets and gourmet restaurants. It was cold but sunny in the morning, then it started snowing in the middle of the day for a short time and ending with a breathtaking sunset enjoyed from the outdoor cafe at Piazza Maggiore.