For our first excursion outside the city walls, we took a 45-minute train ride to Ferrara, a medieval city about halfway between Bologna and Venice. Ferrara is known as the City of the Renaissance and between the 14th and 16th centuries, mostly thanks to the Este family, it was considered culturally on par with Florence and Venice. Admittedly, we chose Ferrara since it offered the cheapest train ticket but the charming, bicycle-filled streets and the moated Estense Castle made for a perfect day trip. A portion of the castle, including the royal suites and the dungeon, are open for viewing and house a small art museum. Just be prepared to diligently visit every single room since there are museum attendants always watching and they won’t let you exit if you take any short-cuts.