Postcard from Ferrara, Italy: Rambling the ramparts

Ercole d’Este (1431-1505), Duke of Ferrara, had an expansive vision for his fiefdom when he built a new fortress circling its outskirts – a circumference of approximately six miles. Protection certainly was needed to keep enemies out, as the duke had many, including Venice and powerful papal authorities of the Vatican.

But Ferrara did not emerge as a cramped medieval city confined by claustrophobic walls but as a spacious city of the Renaissance.

The remnants of the ramparts today serve as an invitation to stroll, jog and bike on upper and lower pathways, many shaded by an alley of towering trees.

The walls do discourage one invader from entering the city – the automobile. Parking is so limited inside the ramparts that most drivers choose to abandon their cars outside. The result is an entire city of residents who travel mainly afoot and on bikes, a friendly town where neighbors purposefully meet or randomly encounter friends on its welcoming plazas.

If only those founding friars had built the walls surrounding Mission San Antonio de Valero a mile or two out from the chapel, downtown San Antonio might have been forced to go carless.


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