Ferrara - Cathedral
A land extending up to the Po Delta, this is a territory where nature offers scenarios of rare charm. Lagoon settlements and valleys, pine woods and seaside resorts along the coast, towns with artistic treasures, form in this province itineraries of great interest.
This is the area surrounding Ferrara, located in the northern of Italy; it spreads out from the river Panaro to the Adriatic Sea, bordered by the Po to the north and the Reno to the south.
This countryside lacks hills and mountains, but is surrounded by huge wonderful plains rich in canals awaiting to be discovered, revealing a marvellous union of earth and water.
The richness of the rivers and canals, and their geographical position, made this country an important interchange junction between the Adriatic Sea and the whole of Northern Italy and Europe.
History, which ties it to the d’Este dynasty, in the period of greatest splendour allowed Ferrara to have a strong political and administrative cohesion. Today its natural heritage with the Po Delta and the “Delizie”, the ancient residences of the Estensi, as well as its historical centre, with its medieval and Renaissance urban system, make Ferrara one of the UNESCO-protected locations included in the list of the World Heritage.
The city of Ferrara is a refined journey in the elegance of its architecture and of its works of art, a great expression of the medieval and renaissance period.From the centre of Piazza della Repubblica, one may to walk in the direction of the Estense Castle built in 1385, surrounded by the water of the moats, a clear symbol of the power of this family who left permanent signs everywhere in the city. The City Hall, connected to the castle through a covered path, is dated back to about 1200 and has been the ducal residence of the Estensi.The palace overlooks on the Cathedral Square built from the twelfth century with an outstanding façade begun in Romanesque style whose upper part has been later built in a Gothic style; the result is a superb synthesis of styles. In the Cathedral Museum it is possible to admire finds and sculptures mostly coming from the Cathedral, such as the ancient panels of the Organo, and the thirteenth century panels from the Porta dei Mesi of the Cathedral together with tapestries and paintings which complete the museum itinerary. Beside, we can visit the Loggia dei Mercanti, with all the ancient workshops which have been here since the Middle Ages. Several are the palaces which enrich the urban street, such as for example Palazzo Schifanoia, wanted by Alberto V d’Este in 1385 and later enlarged, which now holds the Museum of Ancient Art, in which you can admire collections of different kinds. Palazzo Costabili, which legend ascribes to Ludovico il Moro, is now the centre of the National Archeological Museum. It exhibits, among other things, finds from the Etruscan city of Spina. Its façade rusticated with white and pink marble, Palazzo dei Diamanti, commissioned by Sigismondo d’Este, holds the National Art Gallery.Even the surrounding countryside has different places of great interest. Francolino is one of the first centres you come across, with the wonderful Delizia of the Estensi. It is a landing place for those who sail the river Po. It is important to remember the Delizia of Belriguardo in Voghiera, the first residence build beyond the city walls, called the Versailles of the Estensi. Moving from the beautiful town of Codigoro, it is impossible not to visit the Abbey of Pomposa, one of the most influential monastic complex of all Europe between the 11th and 12th century, the most important spirituality centre of the world during the Middle Ages. Today it is possible to visit the Church of Santa Maria, the Bell Tower, the Aula Capitolare and the Dormitory, now home to the Museo Pomposiano; the Refectory and the Palazzo della Ragione.After that you may want to visit Valleys of Comacchio, among the most famous Lagoon complexes existing in Italy and Europe. They extend in the province of Ferrara and partially into the province of Ravenna, between Comacchio and the river Reno, and they reach the sea through the Magnavacca, Logonovo, Bellocchio and Gobbino canals.
The most characteristic place of the city is the architectural complex of Trepponti, dating back to 1634, composed of 5 stairs and 5 arches, from the top of which there is a wonderful sight on the Valleys of Comacchio. The beauty of the landscape suggests a trip inland, for a walk along the Argine Agosta, in order to admire one of the most particular landscapes in Italy: water expanses and meadows as far as the eye can see, all shrouded in solitary silence. A boat tour can complete the visit in the seductive landscape of the Valleys. Comacchio is furthermore remembered as the most important centre of eel farming of Italy.
Continuing, you will meet the Gran Bosco della Mesola, a natural reserve which can be only partially visited, on foot or by bicycle. It offers wonderful sights with interdependent sylvan and marsh environments in perfect equilibrium. Crossed the wood, we meet the town of Mesola, an ancient Estensi feud and their summer residence. Of its past remain the ruins of a 16th century castle.
From Comacchio you may go to Spina, a Greek-Etruscan city developed in the 7th and 6th centuries BC, and exchange point at the Po Delta. Not so far from the city there is a necropolis with more than 4000 tombs, whose finds are exhibited in the Archeological Museum of Ferrara. Changing landscape again, you cannot miss to visit Argenta, a medieval town located along the Reno left bank, now an active agricultural and commercial centre.On the Ferrara Mountains, you can visit the Stellata village with the Fortress of Stellata and the town of Cento, separated by Pieve di Cento through the river Reno. This town is called in this way perhaps because of the one hundred fishermen's cabins or more probably after of an ancient land repartition. The Jewish district, created in the 14th century, when a Jewish community arrived in Cento, is typical of this place. They promoted a flourishing commercial activity in hemp. You musn't miss a visit to the Fortress, wanted by the Bologna bishops, in the second half of the 14th century, with its splendid internal rooms.
The Po Delta Park captures one's attention for its huge landscape drawn by a so changing water, and the presence of woods, pine-woods, forests and moist areas and a great number of wildlife species.
It is possible to visit the park using the Destra Po tourist cycle path with a bike lane now considered the longest in Italy. One may start from Mesola, with the Great Wood of Mesola and its rich wildlife, passing through Goro and Gorino up to the Po Delta discovering enchanting strip of lands in the lagoon.
The Bird-watching in these areas, together with Pomposa and Volano, is an unforgettable sight.
Once crossed the Valleys of Comacchio and Argenta, the Campotto Oasis spreads out. This is one of the hugest moist areas of the northern Italy, and it can be covered on foot, by bicycle or with the aid of guided tours.
Among the green of the Delta Park and the Valleys of Comacchio it is possible to join nature and personal care in the Thermae Oasis thermal centre, a place, with its suggestive magic, in which to relax.
Several are the events to enjoy in Ferrara and its province. Right in the city, the Ferrara Buskers Festival, is an international festival of street musicians, which combines the charm of the city to the intention of enhancing the role of street musicians.
The Palio of San Giorgio, a competition between city districts is considered the most ancient Palio of Italy, having been made official in 1297.
In Cento, during the famous historical Carnival carnival floats parade, considered real works of art. A characteristic of this carnival is, among the other, the “gettito” that is the throwing from the floats of objects and gadgets to the public, a real joy for adults and children.
Finally, in Comacchio is organized the International Po Delta Bird-watching Fair, an important European event for nature tourism lovers.
Ferrara's cuisine is strictly connected to its history. Very near to the court of the Estense, where cooking was considered an art form rich dishes were and dishes, using local products as well as others.
Among the typical first courses you must try the macaroni pie, cappellacci with pumpkin, risotto with bald-coot and with eel.
Among the second courses, stewed escargot alla ferrarese, dried salt-cured cod soused with apple vinegar, eel cooked in many different ways but above all, soused eels raised in the Comacchio valleys.
The “salama” for sauce is a particular kind of salami for cooking made of pork meet and red wine, among other ingredients.
As a dessert, try the panpepato, mandorlini del ponte, cookies made of almonds and the topolino of Comacchio, which we can usually taste during All Soul’s Day, and the tenerina cake.
Another speciality you cannot miss to taste is the bread typical of Ferrara better known as the couple, to be tasted together with the renowned salami of Ferrara.
Among the wines one must remember the Fortana, Bosco Eliceo Merlot and Sauvignon.
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