Not taking advantage of the inexpensive mass transit that Italy has to offer to see the country would be my biggest regret. As a result, I began my first endeavor as the day tripper with a Tuesday off from class to embark on a brief 30 minute train ride north to Ferrara. A city known for its beautiful duomo (as it seems they all are). Construction began on it in the 12th century, while Ferrara is also home to the oldest osteria in the world, and the Castello Estense resting in the center of the city protected by its moat.
I began my trip wandering the city 'mapless' because that is my preferred method. I find that following a map causes me to miss so many unique and interesting things because I'm always looking for something rather than finding what is plainly there to see, like Osteria al Brindisi which I found instantly without any aid. Before that I found my way to the Castello Estense. Not knowing anything about this castle previously, I was surprised to find a moat protecting it within the city walls. I was also surprised that I couldn't talk my way into a student discount off the 10 Euro admission. The underground dungeons were worth the admission fee alone. Observing the state of the dungeons even now with the medieval toilet and the walls covered in prisoners' writing, I couldn't fathom the conditions that the prisoners lived in. The museum was filled with the history of Ferrara as a city state and the roles of the nobility responsible for the creation of both the castle, and the city. I even had the privilege to translate between a woman and museum worker to help her find an elevator, and I always enjoy feeling like I'm not as much of a foreigner. Eventually I made my way up through the castle to the tower where I could look out over the city and beyond its walls. It was another beautiful view over the clay roofs and people filled streets below, but my imagination could picture what this same view might have been 800 years ago from that same tower.
The facade of the cathedral next door, my next stop, was begun in 1135. It's pretty hard to imagine the construction of a building with such intricacies taking place in the 12th century. My writing ability, architectural understanding and memory may fail in providing a description of another beautiful Italian religious relic so I will leave it to the pictures this time.
Tomorrow I am on way way to Verona and Trento to continue the day tripping. Who knows where on the weekend, but I'm hoping maybe I will get another passport stamp in San Marino. Then the following weekend I will be on a solo trip to wander Brugge, Brussels, maybe Antwerp, and a Belgian brewery or two. I am on a mission to experience as much of this continent as I can and I will do it with companions or solo. So who's coming with me?