Exploring Padua, Bologna and Ferrara

On Tuesday we enjoyed a guided walk in the medieval city of Padua. Italy’s second-oldest university was founded here in 1222, and many notable scholars joined the faculty in search of academic freedom, including Galileo and Copernicus. Two of Italy’s most famous writers, Dante and Petrarch, were also among its students. Immediately outside the Palazzo del Bo, the university’s first home, we found Cafe Pedrocchi. Its local coffee speciality is an espresso topped with a layer of mint cream and some chocolate shavings. An unusual combination, but actually quite nice. The cafe was full of Furlongs clients at one point!

Back on board River Countess, we enjoyed the Captain's Welcome Reception - it's been so busy, we haven't had time to meet up for an official welcome until now.

Wednesday morning found us tied up near the small village of Polesella. We have a choice of excursions today. A full day trip to Bologna, or a half day in Ferrara. Those on the half day tour enjoyed Ferrara, a town that became a mecca for the arts and artists, particularly musicians and composers. The Castle Estense is the focus point, a huge fortress built by the powerful Este family. This morning's weather was rain in Ferrara, so the cafes were quite a popular hiding place! We're back on board by lunchtime, and this afternoon the weather was dry and sunny.

Those guests travelling to Bologna were lucky. It rained heavily as we drove along the motoway, but on arrival in Bologna it was dry, and it remainded dry for the rest of the tour. Bologna is famous for its buildings, its university, and its food. After a guided tour, we enjoyed some free time, and then met up at the two brick built, (and significantly leaning!) towers. From here we walked to our lunch restaurant, a jazz cafe specialising in pasta. No jazz this lunchtime, but we enjoyed an entertaining presentation how to make fresh pasta, and then sat down to an excellent lunch, featuring pasta of course, complimented by wine, and concluding with an excellent fresh fruit salad. 

During our free time, we explored the wonderful food shops - bakeries, fishmongers, pasta, parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar. Many purchases were made. Richard took the opportunity of buying a wedding anniversary present one day early. Not overly romantic, but very "local" ....... some 24 month matured Parmigiano Reggiano parmesan cheese, and some 60 month matured Parmiginao Reggiano parmesan cheese. If you're reading this before the 22nd September, please don't tell Dawn!