The city of Ferrara enjoys an outstandingly favourable position; situated on a major waterway, at a natural crossroad between the Adreitic sea and the Po plain, halfway between Rome and the regions to the north, Ferrara has been called the first modern town in Europe.
The town is linked to Ravenna by means of the SS 16 Adriatica and theSS 309 Romea plus the SS 64 and the A 13 motorway; to RO and PD by means of the motorway A 13 and the SS 16 Adriatica; by means of the SS 482 to MN.
Ferrara is located between Venice, Bologna and Florence and can easly be reached by motorway or train nearest airports Bologna (40 Km.) Venice (110 Km.).
Not far from Ferrara there are places of great interest worth to be explored for their lovely nature and ancient origins: Comacchio and its “Valli”, the Castle of Mesola and the suggestive woods; the enchanting Abbey of Pomposa, the picturesque Po delta, the ancient town of Cento rich in testimonies and birthplace of painter Guercino.
Historical outline Ther is some controversy as to the origins of FE; it was probably founded by the Longobards. During the Middle Age it became the political and administrative centre of an imoprtant area along the main course of the Po di Volano. The city’s strategic position made it the object of continual disputes between tha Empire and the Papacy, but in 1264 the Este Faminy, thanks in part to the assistance from the Venetianz, soon became the city’s most powerful family, took control of the city, and Obizzo II was proclaimed Lord. Thanks to Nicolò II, Alberto, Nicolò III, Leonello and Borso, FE became a lively cultural and artistic centre. Under Ercole I (1471 – 1505) it was further fortified in grandiose style, extended and embellished with the famous “Addizione Erculea” built by the court archited Biagio Rossetti. In 1579, since no legitimate heir had been born, the Este Family lost the duchy; therefore Ferrara passed to the icorporated into the Cisalpine Republic, before being reannexed by the Papal State in 1815. With the plebiscite of 18 March 1860, the city became part of the Kingdom of Italy. In December 1995 FE was entered by Unesco in the World Heritage list “as an outstanding example of a Renaissance city, which has had a profound influence on planning and urban conservation developments up to the present day”.
The Castle if Este The monument identified with the image of the city, was built following a violent popular revolt triggered by the burden of taxation imposed by the Este rulers. The Marchese Niccolò II commissioned the castle from the court architect Bartolino da Novara (an expert in military constructions) in 1385. The castle remained the seat of the family’s power until their departure in 1598, when it become residence of the Cardinal Legates representatives of the Papal Government. Today the castle has a four-sided fortified plan with four high towers and is surrounded by a moat. In the interiors the works of various artists of the Ferrarese School can be admired. The Chapel of religious persuasion expoused by the Duchess , the wife of Ercole II. You can also visit the prison, where the unfortunate lovers Ugo and Parisina were incarcerated before being killed; the Orange Garden; the Sala dell’Aurora, with frescoes representing the fur parts of the day and the Saletta and Sala dei Giochi with senes of games and sports frescoed by the Filippis (16th century).
Schifanoia Palace The emblematic name “Schifanoia” (schivar la noia or away with boredom) goes back to the origins of the building designed for rest and entertainment by the Este Family. The Place is today the home of the Civic Museum of Ancient Art. The first part was built at the wish of Alberto V d’Este in 1385 and was extended until 1493. It was then let from 1582 onwards and used for the most varied and unsuitable purposes – even, in the 18th century as a tobacco factory. Tha main attraction is undoubtedly the “Hall of Months” rich in precious frescoes, considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance; this is a complex of compositions fruit of the members of teh “Officina Ferrarese”, the school of painters of the 1400’s which included amonf others Cosme Tura, Francesco del Cossa, Ercole de Roberti.
The Palace of Diamonds Biagio Rossetti is traditionally credited with the design of the Palace, which was begun in 1493 by order of Sigismondo d’Este, a brother of Duke Ercole I. Its marble shell is so striking and unusual as to make it unique in the architectural context of Ferrara. Situated inthe junction of two main roads of the Addizione, the building symbolizes the prestige and glory of the House of Este. The Palace was designed for a diagonal vision and its focal point is therefore the corner, embellished by the splendid candelabras sculpted by Gabriele Frisoni and the attractive small balcony. Today the Palace houses the Civic Gallery of Modern Art, situated on the ground floor of the building; the National Picture Gallery is on the piano nobile.
City hall It is situated in front of the Cathedral; once the private residende of the Estes, it boasts a façade dated 14th century which was rebuilt in 1924 – 28.
Marfisa d'Este's Villa The Villa was constructed around 1559 by an unknown architect and the interior decorated by Camillo Filippi and his sons Sebastiano (il Bastianino) and Cesare. The villa and the adjoining “Loggia degli aranci” (Orange Gallery) whose vaulted ceiling is decorated as an arbour with vine – shoots and animal are of great interest; originally they formed part of a larger complex of building and gardens in which lived Marfisa d’Este, daughter of Francesco d’Este. The Villa houses a small collection of objets d’art of mainly Venetian origin (furniture, paintings, sculptures).
The Cathedral Dedicated to Saint George it was built in Romanesque – Gothic style in 12th century. The façade is geometric but finely decorated. Particularly interesting is the Lunette containing the figure of S. George, the work of Nicholaus, one of the most representative Romanesque sculptors in Italy. The south - east site is characterized by the long arcade of the loggia “of the Merchants” the construction of which had begun in the 15th century. The interior of the Cathedral is the outcome of work carried out 18th century. Many significant works of art can be admired. The unfinished bell tower was probably designed by L.B. Alberti.
Piazza Oriostea The gravitational pole within the Ercole Addition, is the most significant piece of space in the whole of Addition, encircled with trees and with important landmark building (Palazzo Rondinelli e Strozzi – Bevilacqua); in the middle now stands a statue of Ludovico Ariosto.
Ferrara offers a number of attractions which tourists can enjoy; green open spaces and parks with trees centuries old, theatres, small but friendly cafès and bars, typical restaurant, a famous horse racetrack and a football stadium. Shopping is particularly favorable and convenient in the elegant, attractive boutique and in the colourful shops of the city center. The most important events in Ferrara are “THE PALIO DI SAN GIORGIO” held every year in Piazza Ariostea on the last Sunday of May; the “PREMIO LETTERARIO GIORNALISTICO ESTENSE” in September; VULANDRA, the most important festival of kites in Europe which takes place at the end of April; the BUSKERS’ FESTIVAL, in the last week of August, which collects numerous street – musicians coming from all over the world. But all the year round Ferrara in an important meeting point for expositions, conventions and festival.
Gastronomy Ferrara offers delicious dishes such as “CAPPELLETTI CON LA ZUCCA” (a tasty first course), “LA SALAMA DA SUGO” and “IL PASTICCIO ALLA FERRARESE” (typical main courses), “IL PAMPAPATO” (a unique Christmas cake whose traditional recipe dates back to 15th century) and its bread really incomparable! Ferrara has only one D.O.C. wine the “VINO di BOSCO” produced in a sandy area near COMACCHIO.
Accomodation Ferrara offers a great variety of accommodation facilities: ranging from family run hotel to five stars hotel, from a comfortable youth hostel to a well equipped camping site for all those who love open air life.
Excursions Not far from Ferrara there are places of great interest worth to be explored for their lovely nature and ancient origins: COMACCHIO and its “VALLI”; the CASTLE OF MESOLA and the suggestive woods; the enchanting ABBEY OF POMPOSA; the picturesque PO DELTA; the ancient town of CENTO rich in testimonies and the birthplace of painter Guercino (GIANFRANCO BARBIERI 1591 – 1666).