Rate the Castle

Old Mar 24th, 2021, 12:26 PM
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Rate the Castle

There are quite a few castles in Northern Italy. Can you rate your preferences among this list?

Castello di Sirmione--Sirmione Castle in Lake Garda
Este Castle in Ferrera
Sforzesco Castle in Milan
Ducale Palace-Venice
Ducale Palace-Mantua
Castel Vecchio--Verona

What did you like best about them? Any dislikes? Which did you feel were really worth the visit for either aesthetic reasons or because of the content they held inside? Which would you consider a "do not miss" in anyone's itinerary. Thanks.
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Old Mar 24th, 2021, 02:47 PM
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Ferrara external, wow. Internal, meh
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Old Mar 24th, 2021, 03:52 PM
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Castel Vecchio, Verona.
Brilliant upgrade by Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa, and a great collection.
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Old Mar 24th, 2021, 06:34 PM
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I think most Italian castles are much more interesting on the outside.

The castle in Ferrara wasn't always a defensive fortress and has a very interesting history. We enjoyed viewing the many rooms and displays, and I'm a little surprised bilboburgler was unimpressed. The fact that I liked Ferrara a lot probably colored my impressions.

https://www.castelloestense.it/en

In your other thread, I think you inquired about the Music Museum and Library in Bologna. If music is a particular interest, there is a music museum in the Sforza Castle in Milan. There are another half dozen or so museums housed in the castle complex. As a "fortress," I didn't find it very interesting.

The Sirmione Castle has a great view. I don't remember anything else, but it's been 20+ years and many castles since we were last on that part of Lake Garda.

A ducal palace, although it may have defensive elements, is really a dazzling, sumptuous... well... palace! I can't compare them to fortresses, nor could I say see 'this palazzo' instead of 'that castle.' I enjoy seeing the palazzi but don't usually notice much difference between them other than the level of preservation and the tastes of their original/historic residents. In high season, touring the Doge's Palace in Venice can feel like you're on an amusement park ride. Enter as early in the morning as possible.
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Old Mar 25th, 2021, 05:07 AM
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A number of people mentioned that the Este castle in Ferrara is more impressive from the outside and a bit stark on the inside. On our first trip to Italy we did get to see the Villa d'Este in Tivoli with its beautiful fountains--the house itself I found to be meh. But the grounds and the fountains were certainly worth the visit.

For this trip still debating whether or not to trek over to Ferrara to visit the Este Castle, the Diamonte Palace with its art museum and there is a medieval street called Via delle Volte among other sites in Ferrara versus just staying in Bologna. On a side note, has anyone toured either or both university museums in Bologna (Palazzo Poggi) or Padua (Palazzo Bo)? Should I start a separate thread on this topic?

Jean--thanks for the tips about the Venice Music Project in my other thread and the music museum at Sforza castle. I have added those things to my list. I still am having a hard time cutting the list down lol.

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Old Mar 25th, 2021, 05:46 AM
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It might be worth mentioning that most historical sites are closed on Monday, thinking back to that thread I don't think this issue was covered.
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Old Mar 25th, 2021, 07:11 AM
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"For this trip still debating whether or not to trek over to Ferrara to visit the Este Castle, the Diamonte Palace with its art museum and there is a medieval street called Via delle Volte among other sites in Ferrara versus just staying in Bologna."

You can drive yourself crazy trying to decide what to see in places you've never visited... but I think how you use your time is something only you can figure out. I like to be flexible and have a backup plan. If you're blown away by Bologna, stay there. There is a very long list of interesting things to see. If there's rain, go (or stay) where you think the weather might be better. IMO, there is no 'wrong' answer to this dilemma...

When we were in Bologna many years ago, wandering in the "modern" university area, we ended up going to both Palazzo Poggi and the Anatomical Wax Museum. As I recall, the wax museum focused on the human body, and Poggi was more of a general anatomy museum. The palazzo was an interesting building, but the wax figures and models were fascinating.
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Old Mar 25th, 2021, 10:50 AM
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Peter_S_Aus--I read a little bit about Carlo Scarpa, a very now famous 20th century architect for the area. He is most known for his redesign of existing buildings rather than for original creations but he modernized them. I understand he also renovated Fondazione Querini Stampala museum garden which we look forward to visiting. The garden design as described reminds me of some Frank Lloyd Wright creations namely Fallingwater.

Bilboburgler--Thanks for the reminder about opening days/times. Yes we will have to check so we don't plan to go somewhere that is closed that day.

Jean--I love to do lots of research prior to going. For me, it is part of the whole experience--the learning and trying to decipher what I think we would most likely be interested in seeing. You are absolutely right that this is not a bad dilemma to be in at all! And yes we need to allow ourselves to be flexible too by having a backup plan due to weather or other reasons. One example I mentioned was that time in London when hurricanes aren't supposed to occur there but remnants of Hurricane Bertha certainly did that year and we had to change our original itinerary a little. On our first trip to London my DS got food poisoning and our planned trip to Oxford had to be scrapped. It ended up giving us reason to return to the UK for another trip to visit Oxford and some other areas a few years later. On that same first trip we had planned to tour the Portrait gallery but my DS saw a sign for a free art class--we ended up doing that and not seeing the portraits inside the museum. He and my DH had fun in the drawing class. They all made fun of my non-existent sketching skills. It was a fun spontaneous thing to do. Sometimes those are the best but I am still obsessed with the research part.
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Old Mar 25th, 2021, 11:58 AM
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Just don't let the research part become based too much on other peoples' experiences or opinions. Everyone sees a place through their own eyes and expectations.

I don't know about others, but I sometimes hesitate to comment on places I haven't been to in the last 5 years or so. (I try to make a point of referencing how much time has passed.) Things change, and some places were much more pleasant to visit years and years ago before global tourism spoiled everything. Then again, new discoveries, recent restorations, better museum organization, etc., can make a previously dismissed place an interesting destination now.
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Old Mar 25th, 2021, 01:07 PM
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Jean-Agreed that "everyone sees a place through their own eyes and expectations". And I will add their own experiences encountered while there. We were looking forward to Florence with all its beautiful architecture and art. However, on one of the days when we were by the square that houses the Uffizi it was "unload as many cruise ship passengers as possible day" and "how many people can fit in a square day". Needless to say that clouded our judgement and view. We couldn't wait to get out of there and find someplace uncrowded. I think we ended up having a long lunch at a place we wandered by that had the best pesto we had ever eaten. We ended up going back to the same square on a non cruise ship day and had a much more pleasant experience. Absolutely time does change things sometimes for the better and sometimes not.

I think it still helps though if ten people are asked and 8 or 9 highly recommend the same place then that is a good indication to guide your expectations for the most part....maybe.
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Old Mar 25th, 2021, 02:01 PM
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Castelvecchio was one of the highlights of my trip to Northern Italy 2017, https://www.fodors.com/community/eur...verona-1657983. Photos at post 54.
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Old Mar 25th, 2021, 02:57 PM
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european novice, here's another vote for the Palazzo Poggi in Bologna - though it's not really that much of a castle, the collections are quite fascinating. Also the roman excavations in the basement of the central library are very interesting though the whole building is very impressive having been many things including a stock market and a boxing studio.

In a different class however is the Palazzo Ducale in Venice. So much of its history is tied up with the history of Venice itself and it's hard not to be impressed by the huge Council Chambers [reputedly the largest room in Europe] with the great painting of "il Paradiso" by Tinteretto. More info here:

https://palazzoducale.visitmuve.it/e...s/first-floor/
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Old Mar 26th, 2021, 03:56 PM
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Bon-Voyage--Thanks so much for your trip report and gorgeous photos. I enjoyed reading about the crenallations and whose allegiance they refer by reference to their shape. Interesting information.

Annhig--The Tinteretto in Palazzo Ducale is "reputed to be the largest painting ever done upon canvas" as also mentioned in the article. I remember being very impressed at the Louvre with the Wedding Feast at Cana. At the time Mona Lisa was located in the same room and everyone swarmed around her. Meanwhile on the opposite side of the room was this huge painting with vibrant colors by Veronese and there was just a few of us staring at that one intently while others walked right passed!
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Old Mar 30th, 2021, 12:42 PM
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<<Annhig--The Tinteretto in Palazzo Ducale is "reputed to be the largest painting ever done upon canvas"as also mentioned in the article. I remember being very impressed at the Louvre with the Wedding Feast at Cana. At the time Mona Lisa was located in the same room and everyone swarmed around her. Meanwhile on the opposite side of the room was this huge painting with vibrant colors by Veronese and there was just a few of us staring at that one intently while others walked right passed!>>

Europeannovice - I just finished reading a novel based on the premise that during WW2 the french had a copy made of the Mona Lisa that was so good no-one could tell the difference and due to switches and other plot twists, no-one quite knows whether the one in the Louvre is the real or the copy. The last scene is the detective who has brought all this to light standing in the very room in the Louvre that you described. Coincidence or what?
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Old Mar 30th, 2021, 01:33 PM
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Australia’s favourite castle. Much loved.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_...stralian_film)
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Old Mar 30th, 2021, 03:23 PM
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Peter--I'll have to watch it lol!

Annhig--Definitely a coincidence. Both paintings were in the same room when we visited but since they have been renovating the Louvre I am not sure if Mona Lisa and the Feast of Cana are together again. Here is a picture although I could not get the whole frame. You can tell the size in reference to the few folks standing near it.


The Wedding Feast of Cana by Veronese
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Old Apr 1st, 2021, 11:02 AM
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Yes, europeannovice, it is indeed massive.

One of my other favourites is his Feast at the House of Levi which is in the Accademia in Venice and is one I always make a beeline for when I'm there. It is also pretty big!
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Old Apr 1st, 2021, 03:56 PM
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Castello di Sirmione--Sirmione Castle in Lake Garda - Loved it, both inside and out, great setting, small but interesting interior and wonderful view out the windows. This was my favorite of those you are asking about.

Este Castle in Ferrera - Beautiful outside, really impressive in the city center. Walked through the courtyard but didn't go inside

Sforzesco Castle in Milan - Liked the exterior and the courtyards

Ducale Palace-Venice - Gorgeous building, interior is a palace, not really a castle. The prisons were interesting

Ducale Palace-Mantua - - also amazingly impressive from the outside, be sure to walk across the bridge to get views of it reflecting in the lake. The interior was pretty interesting. When I was there parts of it were closed due to an earthquake a year or so before didn't get to see the entire thing.

Castel Vecchio--Verona - I love Verona but this was my least favorite castle

I trust you have seen photos of all of them but in case you haven't I have photos of them here: https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/f739967755
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Old Apr 1st, 2021, 04:50 PM
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Annhig--I will put that painting on my list to see when we visit the Accademia. Thanks.

Isabel--Thanks for sharing your phenomenal photos! They are absolutely gorgeous. Yes seeing the photos makes you want to visit. So hard to choose which to see with limited time. Thanks for your opinions on each of the castles. Did you see any of the museums within the Sforzesco complex? Did you spend the day at Sirmione? Or just a few hours? Did you combine it with any other town/village along the lake?
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Old Apr 4th, 2021, 04:08 AM
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I didn't visit the museums in the Sforzesco complex. While it was originally a 'castle' the interior, as you know, is now 'museums' and not castle like, as far as I could determine. I like to visit castles that are either renovated to their 'castle like' appearance or minimally renovated. Those whose interiors are now simply modern museums are of less interest to me.

I visited Sirmione as a day trip from Verona. The castle itself only took an hour or so but the whole village is interesting (though very crowded mid day, even though I went as a day trip I left Verona very early so I got to Sirmione before it got too crowded). I did visit Lake Garda on another trip when I spent several days, based in Malcesine which has it's own castle. Smaller than Sirmione but also very interesting. Riva, just up the lake from Malcesine also has a castle.
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