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10 things to do and see in Ferrara

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10 things to do and see in Ferrara

Ferrara is defined the “city of bicycles”, because of the spirit of this beautiful city. The atmosphere is relaxed, there are few cars in the old town centre, people have good vibrations.
The family D’Este reigned in this city in the past and, to defend themselves, they built the famous Castello d’Este. Today it is the symbol of this city and the main attraction.
You can admire also Palazzo Schifanoia, the frescoes of the Salone dei Mesi and Palazzo dei Diamanti, a unique building that now houses extraordinary art exhibitions. So many ways to enjoy during a weekend or a few days in this city. On this page you will find our 10 things to do and see in Ferrara.

If you are looking for a hotel in Ferrara, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 60 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Castello Estense in Ferrara

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The first stone of the fortress was laid on 29 September 1385 by the Marquis Nicolò II d’Este.

Castello Estense in Ferrara
Castello Estense in Ferrara

It was built to defend the family D’Este by internal revolts. Over the centuries the Estense Castle has played different roles: it was home of the army with stables, warehouses, workshops . Then it became noble residence. Because of internal revolts, the Este family always lived at the top of the building, leaving the lower floors to a defensive function of the castle. A visit to the Castle allows you to discover the apartments, the kitchens, the prisons, the garden, the chapel and many other things. A real journey in the daily life of one of the most powerful families in Europe.

Where: old town centre
How to get there: by bus line C4 or by feet from the old town centre
When – Hours: 1st September – 31st May from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm. Ticket office close at 4.45 pm. Never on Monday, 25th December
Tickets: € 6, Visited guide € 10

The Cathedral in Ferrara

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The cathedral dedicated to St. George is the most important religious place of Ferrara.

The Cathedral in Ferrara
The Cathedral in Ferrara

It is located in Piazza delle Erbe (now Trento and Trieste square) in front of the town hall and not far from the Castello Estense. You will be astonished by the white marble façade with the beautiful porch. Let’s start from the bottom: the porch is supported by two columns depicting an old and a young man seated on two lions.
At the centre of the portal it is depicted St. George slaying the dragon and below there are scenes from the life of Christ. The top of the portal is a unique example in Italy: it is formed by three loggias with the theme of the Last Judgement. The souls are judged by St. John the Baptist, who send them to Heaven, or Hell. In the tympanum, the figure of Christ inside an almond. Inside the Cathedral there are three-naves. Do not miss a visit to the Cathedral Museum, housed in the former Church of San Romano. There are the majestic Madonna of the Pomegranate by Jacopo della Quercia (1403-1406) and the elegant fifteenth-century works by Filippo Solari, Andrea da Carona and Bernardo Rossellino, and the monumental organ doors depicting St. George and the dragon and the Annunciation by Cosmè Tura.

Where: Old town centre
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: Monday – Saturday 7.30 am- 12 pm / 3 – 6.30 pm . Sunday 7.30 am- 12.30 pm / 3.30 – 7.30 pm
Tickets: free entrance

Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara

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Palazzo dei Diamanti is called in this way because of the 8500 blocks of white and pink marble façade.

Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara
Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara

A magnificent composition, designed in 1493 by Biagio Rossetti to create unusual perspectives and light effects.
The Palace was the central work of the “Herculean Addition”, that is the expansion of the city wanted by Ercole d’Este. It has a beautiful Renaissance courtyard with cloister and a well. The palace hosts important temporary exhibitions organized by the Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries in Ferrara. The first floor of the building houses the National Gallery of Ferrara, with a collection of works of exceptional value. There are works by Cosme Tura (Martyrdom and the Judgment of San Maurelio), Andrea Mantegna (Christ with the Animula of the Virgin), Ercole de Roberti and Dosso Dossi. The Palace often hosts international exhibitions.

Where: Corso Ercole d’Este
How to get there: bus line 3C or by from the old town centre and along Constitution Avenue or Via Cavour and Corso Ercole I d’Este
When – Hours: Every day from 9 am to 2 pm. Never May the 1st; 25th December; 1st January
Tickets: € 2 including the art gallery. Temporary Exhibitions require a separate ticket

Via delle Volte in Ferrara

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Dear photography enthusiasts, lovers of the rarefied atmosphere, romantic people, lonely and silence seekers, you have found your place on heart: it is in Via delle Volte, a cobble road of 2 km crossing Ferrara.

Via delle Volte in Ferrara
Via delle Volte in Ferrara

Once, before the Po river was diverted, this beautiful medieval street had a commercial function. Here there were the homes of merchants who traded with the rest of Italy across the river. Vaults and arches used to quickly get to the warehouses on the river without walking through the street. Today they are closed and Via delle Volte is not very crowded. But for centuries was also “a shady place” with prostitutes, thieves and even some murderers. And after the sunset the atmosphere returns the same as always, full of whispers and shadows…

Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara

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The name of this palace was chosen by Alberto V d’Este who built in 1835 it as a place of leisure where to avoid boredom.

Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara
Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara

But was the Duke Borso d’Este to give to the building a touch that makes it popular today.

He decided to celebrate his power with a ducal hall decorated with exceptional frescoes. So it was born the Salone dei Mesi, the largest Renaissance cycle of frescoes celebrating the good duke’s government. The hall is 24 meters long, 11 wide and 7.5 high. Obviously the main character is the Duke who is crowned, governs, triumphs, and gives a coin to the poor. Because of the Emilia earthquake of 2012, now can be visited only the Salone dei Mesi and Sala degli Stucchi.

Where: Via Scandiana 23
How to get there: 20 minutes far from Castello Estense
When – Hours: 9.30 am – 6 pm. Never: 1st and 6th January, 1st November, 25th -26th December
Tickets: € 3

Piazza delle Erbe and the Town Hall in Ferrara

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Piazza delle Erbe (Trento and Trieste Square from 21 January 1919) is the city stroll.

Piazza delle Erbe and the Town Hall in Ferrara
Piazza delle Erbe and the Town Hall in Ferrara

Since two centuries, a place dedicated to the fruit and vegetable market . In this square there are all power symbols: there is the Cathedral of St. George (see point 2), the Palazzo della Ragione, the Loggia dei Merciai, the unfinished bell tower attributed to Leon Battista Albert. In Piazza delle Erbe begins the “listone “, a wide pavement 120 meters long and place of walking, of stalls and Christmas markets. In front of the cathedral there is the Town Hall Square with the huge staircase leading to the first residence of the d’Este family.

Sant'Antonio in Polesine Cloister in Ferrara

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If you want to have a great emotion, you should visit in the morning or at 3 pm o’clock Sant’Antonio in Polesine.

Sant'Antonio in Polesine Cloister in Ferrara
Sant’Antonio in Polesine Cloister in Ferrara

So you can hear the nuns singing the Mass in Gregorian , with the chorus that branch out in the silence of the monastery.
You can ask to visit the cloister: a nun will guide you to the discover it with the chapel and the remains of Beatrice d’Este (founder), then a large room with benches and a large altarpiece by Nicolò Roselli (the flagellation). there is also the church reserved to the nuns with three chapels, all decorated with precious frescoes by Giotto school. Very rare, if not unique, the image of Jesus that rises alone on the Cross, to prove its extreme will to sacrifice himself for the salvation of all men.

Where: Bus: n° 2 from the train station and Corso Porta Reno-Piazza Travaglio, XX September Ghisiglieri stop (about 150 meters).
How to get there: by feet 25 minutes far from Castello Estense
When – Hours: Monday – Friday : 9.30 – 11.30 am / 3.30 – 5 pm. Saturday: 9.30 – 11.30 am / 3.15 – 16.30 pm
Tickets: free offering

Corso Ercole d’Este in Ferrara

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According to UNESCO, Corso Ercole d’Este is one of the most beautiful streets in the world.

Corso Ercole d’Este in Ferrara
Corso Ercole d’Este in Ferrara

Until 1492 Ferrara was a city with a medieval structure, made of small streets, closed by the perimeter of the Po and the Canale della Giovecca.
In 1492 Ercole d’Este decided to expand it with an extraordinary architectural work entrusted to the architect Biagio Rossetti. The heart of the expansion was Corso Ercole d’Este. Completely closed to traffic and almost with no shops, it still has the renaissance structure with buildings and beautiful façades, doors and decorated windows. The most important point is the so-called “Quadrivio degli Angeli” (Crossroads of the Angels) where you can find Palazzo dei Diamanti (see point 3), Palazzo Turchi di Bagno and Palazzo Prosperi-Sacrati. The course ends in a lovely green area close to the ancient city walls.

Things to eat in Ferrara

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We are in the Emilia region and Ferrara cuisine has a traditional culture. You will taste fresh pasta, cappellacci with zucca, cappelletti and passatelli soup, lasagna, but if you want a typically Ferrara first course, ask a macaroni pie, topped with seasoned meat sauce , mushrooms or truffles.

Things to eat in Ferrara
Things to eat in Ferrara

The Emilian influence can be tasted in the second dishes too , the salama da sugo, a sausage of pork, liver, pork tongue seasoned with spices and red wine. The eel is never missing from the local menu. Among the desserts, a local classic is “panpepato” typical of Christmas but are to also try the brazadèla flavored with lemon. Not much selection of local wines, except the Red Forest Eliceo and the classic Emilia

Where to sleep in Ferrara

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Ferrara is a tourism and business city and welcome people with hotels and B&Bs .Just outside the city walls, in the countryside, agritourism allow you to relax from city tours with the nature around

Where to sleep in Ferrara
Where to sleep in Ferrara

If you choose to stay in the old town centre , you can move by car or by bike, which can be rented at each corner. Hotel with 3 star costs from 50 EUR per night, per room, breakfast included.
If you are looking for a hotel in Ferrara, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 60 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com