Thursday morning, the 11-year old and I got up – not early, but still…we got up – and walked down to the Due Torri – the two towers, not of Tolkein, but of Bologna. And Dante. He mentions one of them, which like another famed Italian tower, has a lean to it, and did so even then:
As when one sees the tower called Garisenda from underneath its leaning side, and then a cloud passes over and it seems to lean the more,thus did Antaeus seem to my fixed gaze as I watched him bend…
Divine Comedy, Inferno, XXXI, 136-140
It’s the other one you can climb (up wooden stairs)- the Asinelli.
If any one of you ever heads that way and wants to climb the tower, know that the tickets are sold inside – in a narrow, unmarked door and up a few winding stairs. We circled a few times trying to find it.
Then it was back to the apartment, clean, pack and catch the train to Ferrara.
It was about a 45 minute train ride – a shorter, more express train would have made it in 25, but we were in no huge hurry.
The train station was about 2.5 km from our apartment, which without luggage would have been walkable, but not something we wanted to do hauling two suitcases and three backpacks. Suitcases with too many guidebooks, two bottles of wine and two bottles of balsamic vinegar in them, as well. So I went into the bus office, showed the fellow behind the glass my Google Map of the apartment location, he told me what bus to take and sold me the tickets. Easy.
We arrived at the apartment, I texted the owner and we waited. And waited. At what I thought was the main door. But again, I should have trusted my instincts and walked AROUND THE CORNER because after my second text, the owner popped into view with a quizzical look on his face and pointed. Oh. Yes…right around the corner was obviously the main door. Okay.
No matter. It is a lovely apartment, in a small converted (old) church – I’m sure it had not been in use for a very long time – there is another, open church literally half a block away. The Bologna apartment was great, but this has more space, which is…helpful.
We settled a bit, and then it was time to wander and find a bit of food. It was a travel day, and so all they had had to eat was M’s piece of potato pizza and J had a pastry at breakfast. People were hungry.
The center is only a half a mile or so away, so we walked down there, took a look at the castle, and then saw that they were setting up for Mass in the piazza in front of the cathedral, and the sign indicated a procession afterwards. We were not up for Mass, but noted the time of the procession, and wandered some more. M had a couple of small sandwiches and J had……yup, McDonald’s. I don’t care. It’s actually interesting eating at American fast food around the world.
Ferrara is lovely. I liked Bologna and am glad we spent time there, but I’m now just as glad I made the decision to split the time in this part of Italy, and spend part of it in this beautiful, smaller city. I have said before – there is something about these mid-sized European cities that is so seductive to me. They are walkable, relaxed, sophisticated without being obnoxious or strained about it – completely comfortable in what they are. After about ten minutes, the older kid agreed. He said, “I like Ferrara better than Bologna.”
We discovered a Tiger store – our favorite from Madrid – like a combination Ikea and Dollar General, sort of. We stopped and I had a spritz and apertif – the tradition in this part of the world is that during the cocktail hour – about 4-7 – bars put out a small buffet of finger foods ,and you order a drink and snack off the buffet. I never managed to hit it in Bologna, but got to it here, indeed.
We wandered back to find the procession. It was, as all Catholic processions are, moving and a strong, loving, evangelizing witness. To see onlookers just stop and stare, either in confusion or startled recognition, to see men in suits cross themselves or drop to their knees – is a reminder of what it means to take Jesus into the city. I took snippets of video along the way and then awkwardly edited them together. So here you go.
Finally, back to the apartment. Dinner at around 9:30 in a Puglian-owned pizza place two doors down. They had pizza and puccia (I guess a kind of sandwich) on the menu. I’ll try the puccia before we go, but I went with pizza last night. It was perfect – twenty Euros for everything, no more than 4-7 Euros for pizzas that in the US would be considered “artisinal” and cost at least twice as much. The olives weren’t pitted though, which was odd.
No time for a lot of pics. Going to go to try to rent bikes…because that’s what one does here…
20 euros, total…
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