Viva Italia! Day 1: Ferrara

Living in Europe is an incredible privilege. We are having a great time picking and choosing our next destination to travel. For several nights, Jeff and I would sit over dinner and say words like, “France,” “Germany,” or “Spain.”

Well, the decision was easy when I found out one of my best friends was on tour in Italy for her new album. Rome is one of Jeff’s bucket list destinations, so the planning began! We would first go to Ferrara, where Aisha Burns was playing, and then we would hop on the train to Rome for the Easter weekend.

We were smart and got the flights and hotel squared away early on. However, we did make a misstep in getting the train tickets from Ferrara to Rome, but I’ll cover that later. Just know that if you are planning to go to the religious mecca for the catholic religion on one of their biggest holidays, you need to plan ahead.

We flew into the Bologna airport and hopped on a train to Ferrara. The train station was horribly confusing because, imagine this, everything was in Italian. But we navigated enough to get tickets and were on our way. We were a bit on edge because, unlike London, you have to take an extra step with the train ticket using the honor system. There are tiny validation machines around the train platforms that stamp your ticket once it’s used, and this has to be done prior to boarding. Luckily, we didn’t get checked, but poor Jeff was sweating bullets. I was armed with my, “Sorry, we’re Americans” line.

photo 1We stayed in a little B&B on the high street less than ten minutes walk to the train station called Alloggio Cavour. It was perfect. Five flights up, there is a series of rooms not unlike a hotel. Exactly what we needed for a short nap. Like I mentioned earlier, we didn’t plan everything to an absolute T like the train from Ferrara to Rome. The only tickets we could get were for a train leaving at 4:20a.

We dropped our bags and headed out into the small town. There wasn’t much to see as this was quintessential suburban living known for the most bicycles per capita, but it was not without its gorgeous structures. On the corner of the high street and the town square was a huge castle, Castello Estense with a moat! Unfortunately, it was closed, so seeing the inside was impossible. We walked a little further and saw a large Gothic catholic church in the middle of the square, and it certainly seemed to be the place to be seen and heard. Hordes of people hung around the steps drinking, smoking, and laughing until the small hours of the morning. photo 3

Before we made it to the club where Aisha was playing, we stopped for dinner. We had been traveling all morning with only a salad from the Munich airport to keep us moving. We went for the first restaurant that seemed to have some gluten free choices and a menu in English.

We ordered some very traditional Italian fare: chicken with potatoes and rabbit with vegetables. It was definitely good advice from an Italian co-worker of Jeff’s to just order the house wine. You’re in Italy–you can’t go wrong with cheap house wine. But we did definitely get scammed on the bread.

Waiters know when you’re not familiar with certain customs. Since our cognition was low and we come from friendly Texas, we ate up the bread the staff brought us since it was a “gift.”

What we didn’t find out until much later was we got charged for this said “gift.” We should have declined it and said no, thank you. We even tipped the waiter on top of his coup! Then upon checkout, the cashier almost kept an extra €5.00! Thankfully, our full bellies helped our brain function.

photo 4We walked toward Zuni and found our American friends. It was also the first time we both had ever been “on a list” or “with the band.” How exciting. We talked over wine and had a great time catching up with my oldest friend. I love that I get to say I knew her when. The show went on and it was wonderful. I’m such a fan of her music and play it all the time at home.

The space was a very nice bar and restaurant, so the atmosphere was relaxed and we enjoyed every minute. The next thing we knew, it was past midnight, and our fatigue was definitely turning into a pumpkin. Up again at 3a to catch the 4:20a train was not going to be easy, but off we were to the next leg of our adventure.

I gave my friend a hug and started our plans to see her and her boyfriend, Jake Woodruff play in Germany in the fall. The town of Ferrara was very quaint. Once we got to the high street, there wasn’t a soul on the sidewalks or streets, but we still didn’t feel terribly unsafe. If you’re looking for a small town experience in Italy, I would recommend it for a stay.

Keep reading to find out what we did next in Rome and check out Aisha’s music!


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