Ferrara di nuovo.
Ferrara once again. So after a gelato hang over we had our second excursion planned for the day. A guided tour of the infamous Castello Estense. Our tour guide was a lovely lady whose name was Emanuela Mari, a local of Ferrara and in my opinion the most knowledgeable person I have ever met. She was born and raised in the city, and has the mind of an owl. Her tour of the castle was nothing less than spectacular. The Castello Estense had seen quite some things in its time. We learned about the history of banquets. These giant feasts that would attract nobility and all others to dine in the castle for hours and engorge. It was the medieval times so being poisoned was quite a common thing, so to make sure nothing was being poisoned their was a man and his job was to taste everything single thing before it was served to ensure the nobility would not be poisoned. It was one of many precautions that were set in place to ensure these banquets had no hidden agenda to gain political power by killing your enemy. Eventually though someone would end up being poisoned.
The tour took us to the kitchens where they churned out mass quantities of food from these massive fire pits and giant iron cauldrons and ovens which could fit a full grown man. Made our kitchens now a days seem like a joke. Next to the kitchens following a set of stairs were the dungeons and jails that held the prisoners of the family. A little ironic to have the kitchen next to where you kept your prisoners, I feel as if making them smell the food was another way of punishing them. Some of these dungeons were rather surreal. I am 6'3 and had to bend and bow my head to be able to stand. They were small, damp, dark, and void of freedom to say the least.
We made our way to the more uplifting parts of the castle after our stay in the dungeons. The Este family had oranges imported to their Castle garden because they could not grow oranges in the climate of the province. They most definitely did not take the word no for an answer. We went to the terrace of the Castle where they still have orange trees thriving. I wanted to pick one and eat it to feel like an Este but the signs prohibited one from doing so. I opted not to just incase they felt the need to lock me into one of the dungeons we had been giving a tour of. We reached the rooms where the Este family spent most of their time, almost like a living room of sorts except most living rooms don't have timeless and priceless frescos lining the roofs of each room. Castello Estense was a strong and reliable Castle with its unique charm to it, most of the rooms now are used as offices but walking through its halls and dungeons still felt like a walk back in time.