Ferrara, Renaissance art city
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ferrara is one of the few Italian cities with no Roman origins.
The Renaissance urban design of Ferrara was exported throughout Italy and Europe along walls and fortresses whilst the Este family court attracted many artists, philosophers and poets, leading to the development and practical application of ‘new humanism’ in Italy.
After it was incorporated into the Papal States, Ferrara lost its aura to only began to grow again after its incorporation into the Italian Republic.
It is now a charming city known for its high number of bikes, although I have not seen many during my stay.
Tip: buy the MyFe Card. It is really worth it.
Castello Estense/di San Michele
In 1385, a revolt convinced Niccolò II d’Este to erect a fortress in order to protect himself and his family.
The Castello di San Michele was then built.
During the Renaissance, when the protection was no longer needed, the fortress was transformed into the magnificent residence of the court you can see now.
The four imposing towers are the symbols of the magnificence of the Este Family.
From the Torre dei Leoni you can admire the panorama of Ferrara.
Several parts of the castle can be visited:
Garden and Loggia of the Oranges
Don Giulio’s Prison
Prisons of Ugo and Parisina
Chamber of Dawn
Halls of Games
Coats of Arms Room
You will need at least an hour to see it all.
Over the centuries, some of the frescoes have been badly damaged by earthquakes, hence the "plasters".
In the prison, you can still see the graffitis made by the prisonners.
Piazza Municipale was once the court of honor of the Palazzo Ducale.
The City hall can be visited, providing there is no events in preparation. The stairs are an attraction in itself. The beautiful staircase of honor merges medieval Gothic and Renaissance elements. Lucrezia Borgia had an apartment in one of the wings.
This beautiful Renaissance Palazzo is home to the Museum of Ancient Art and the Riminaldi Museum.
Casaa Romei is a must see. It houses a museum of painting and sculpture, with works of art that come from places that have now disappeared in Ferrara. It also has some fantastic frescoes on its balcony.
The very interesting National Archaeological Museum is housed within the Palazzo Costabili.
Some of the rooms were frescoed with 16th-century ceilings frescoes by Garofalo.
Behind the palace, there is a beautiful neo-Renaissance garden.
Palazzina Marfisa d'Este
This is a great example of a 16th-century high-class residence
Corso Ercole d'Este
This beautiful cobbled street leads to Palazzo Diamanti, the walls and the monumental cemetary. It is borded with beautiful buildings. Under the rain and in the fog, it really has a special atmosphere.
The Corso is is one of the two main streets of the Erculean Addition (Renaissance part of Ferrara).
Palazzo dei Diamanti
Its name derives from over 8000 pink and white marble ashlars in the form of diamonds that cover the façades. The work of art done is really spectacular.
Some rooms on the noble floor (main floor with principal reception and bedrooms of the house) conserve remarkable 16th century ceilings.
The palace is now home to the Pinacoteca Nazionale and the Modern Art Gallery.
Built in the 15th century, the Charterhouse became a monumental cemetery at the beginning of the 1800s. It is well worth a visit for it conserves some beautiful sculptures a d monuments.
The church is closed for restoration.
City walls and gates
The ancient walls of Ferrara surround the historical center for almost nine kilometers, constituting one of the most imposing defensive systems of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
At the end of Corso Ercole I d'Este, there is the remaining Porta degli Angeli. It looks like a little fortress and is open to public during events.
There are other gates all around the city.
Duomo & Museo di Duomo
Tip: Check the schedules ahead. Churches are usually closed from 12h30 to 16h.
The cathedral is closed from March to September 2019 for maintenance works.
The façade has a lower part in Romanesque style and an upper part in Gothic style.
The side facing Piazza Trento and Trieste is decorated by two loggias with carved columns. The Loggia dei Merciai has been occupied by shops since the Middle Ages.
The bell tower is in Renaissance style.
The interior was redone several times through the ages.
The Museum of the Cathedral is located in the former Church of San Romano. It shows some beautiful works of art, including unique tapestries and the famous Madonna of the Pomegranate, masterpiece of the 15th century Italian sculpture, by Jacopo della Quercia.
The church was badly hit by 2012 earthquake. One small part is open to the public. On the left when entering, you will see a small shutter. Behind it, there is a great view of the work in progress. It is really impressive because they have to redone it all.
Santa Maria di Vado
Great church with beautiful frescoes. One of the few that are not partly or totally closed due to 2012 earthquake.
Basilica di San Giorgio
It is one of the oldest sacred sites in the city. A bit outside the town centre, it is well worth the visit. The walk from the city centre is really nice.
Monastero Sant'Antonio in Polesine
Founded in the 13th century by Beata Beatrice d'Este, it houses chapels with frescoes ranging from the Giotto and Byzantine schools to the Renaissance.
Ferrara has a beautiful medieval old town.
Its Jewish community is among the oldest in Italy and the ghetto in which it was segregated from 1627 to the Unification of Italy. Via Mazzini was its main street and the old buildings kept their original structure.
Via delle Volte is one of the symbols of Ferrara. When this part of the city was built, the Po river was closer than it is now. Vaults were built so merchants could go from their homes and shops to the warehouses and vice versa.
At night, Via delle Volte was also known as the street of the brothels.
Now you will find restaurants and bars.
Piazza Trento Trieste is where were concentrated all the centers of power: the cathedral, the Bishop's house, the Archiepiscopal Palace, the Palazzo della Ragione, the loggia of the Notaries, which stood roughly where the current clock tower stands, the first nucleus of the Palazzo Ducale, now Palazzo Municipale, the Loggia dei Merciai , at the bottom of which stands the bell tower with classical lines, and the former church of San Romano, current site of the Cathedral Museum.
It is also where the main Christmas market is set.
The atmosphere is really great and you can find many Italian products, especially from Sicily.
The fiocco is good. Very good! 😍🤤😇