Not long after breakfast, the engines started up. I think the Vita Pugna needed an early start today to arrive at our next stop in Adria on time. We collected our bikes and rode to the bridge (as seen in yesterday’s view from the barge) and waited for the Vita Pugna to pass below us before starting our day, which would be about 32 miles of riding.
A very short distance out of Zelo, we caught up to the barge again.
I wanted to take a selfie with people riding behind me, but missed!
The poppies have been all over the sides of the roads, like weeds. The pop of color is so pretty. I had to put the brakes on and stop for this photo,
Our route today was mostly through farm country either along a levee or, later, a bike path. We had our “coffee break” in a town called Ficarolo. The thing that caught all our our attention was the “leaning bell tower”, which we could see as we entered the town.
Weirdly, it didn’t look as off balance in pictures as it did to the naked eye.
Just after leaving this town, we crossed the Po River and Elena showed us this tower.
At one time, there was an identical tower on the opposite bank of the river connected by a large chain. The chain could be raised and lowered for the purpose of controlling river traffic and collecting tolls from boats traveling on the river.
We eventually got onto a bike path that had some hairpin turns.
I grabbed a picture of the group riding behind me -and next to me heading for the hairpin turn I’d just ridden through!
A bit later we got into an area where the cottonwood trees were going crazy -and we could barely see the bike path. Or take a deep breath for fear of having cottonwood padded lungs! It looked like snow.
Our bike ride was scheduled to end in a town called Ferrara. There, we would be meeting a bus that would transfer the group and our bikes to the Vita Pugna, which was moored in Adria -about an hour’s bus ride away.
Getting into Ferrara on bicycle was a bit of a challenge -even though it is known as the bike capital of Italy. They did seem to have some structure in place with bike lanes and crossings, but it was still a bit jarring to be riding in a large, very busy city -dealing with traffic, people AND other bikes. My camera stayed in my pocket for the most part.
After a bit of white-knuckle riding, we arrived in the area of the Castello Estense. Like many other cities of the region, Ferrara was historically controlled by noble families -in this case it was the Este family that was able to consolidate their power the longest. They took over around the year 1200 and their rule lasted until almost 1600.
Next to the castle was a small shady green space with a place to buy snacks and a cold drink. That is where we parked the bikes to have lunch.
After lunch we were free to explore the city, but Mike and I never got much further than the castle because it was quite hot and we’d been more or less baking in the sun while riding the 32 miles. It seemed more pleasant to sit in the shade and relax.
The castle was quite imposing and impressive though. It has water in the moat!
It was built in the late 1300’s to increase the security of the Este family after a violent revolt by the citizens, who were feeling desperate due to being burdened with high taxes on top of having been flooded.
As we entered the courtyard, we saw quite a few dramatic looking sculptures. This was a temporary art installation by two modern day sculptors who have been working on this project for 20 years+. Their inspiration was the beginning of a poem written in the 1500’s about Roland, a warrior from the time of Charlemagne; thus the suits of armor. But they have tried to express more modern themes (like immigration) within the historical setting. (This is the best I can do in giving a short explanation of what seems to be a complicated explanation of what we were seeing!)
At first glance, the sculptures seemed like any other statues we’ve seen along the way. Upon closer inspection, we started noticing a few twists…which caused us to take a slower trip through the courtyard.
In order to meet up with the bus, we had to ride about a mile back through the city. I wasn’t able to take many pictures because all of my attention was on getting where we were going in one piece between the traffic and the cobblestone pavement we were riding on. My eyeballs were rattling around in my head! We did stop at a corner where this building was:
This is the Palazzo di Diamanti. It has 8,500 marble stones carved in the shape of a diamond- which was one of the symbols of the Este family.
Our bus was waiting for us behind the regional bus station.
We were dropped off at this dock on the side of the road, located on the outskirts of Adria. We arrived about an hour before dinner would be served.
The foundations of Adria have been dated back to as early as 530 BC. Originally, it was a port at the point where the Po River flowed into the Adriatic Sea. Fast forward to modern times and due to the natural processes involved with river deltas, Adria is now located about 14 miles inland from the Adriatic. The town is quite historic and I was very disappointed that we didn’t have time to go check it out due to our late arrival at the Vita Pugna.
As has been our routine, we enjoyed a nice dinner and then did a mix of socializing and getting ourselves organized for the next day’s riding. Most evenings I would wait until the dinner dishes were cleared away from the tables in the salon and then sit down with my laptop and spend an hour or so reviewing and organizing my pictures from the day. The wi-fi on the barge was pretty prehistoric, so I wasn’t able to get my photos uploaded for the blog until later in the week.