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Ferrara

  • Description
  • What to See
  • What to Do
  • What to Taste

Extending to the Po River Delta, the Province of Ferrara offers sceneries of rare charm. Lagoon settlements and valleys, pinewoods and seaside resorts along the coast, and cities rich in art allow for itineraries of great interest.
This is the Province of Ferrara, located in the north 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.

Th countryside is rather flat, surrounded by expansive plains and an abundance of canals.
The geographic position of the Province's rivers and canals make it an important crossroads between the Adriatic Sea, northern Italy and Europe.

Its history, highly-defined by the d’Este dynasty in its period of greatest splendor, bequeathed to Ferrara a strong political and administrative cohesion. Today its natural heritage, particularly the Po Delta and the Delizie - the elaborate residences of the House of Este - as well as its historic center, with its Medieval and Renaissance urban system, make Ferrara a UNESCO World Heritage Site

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 center of Piazza della Repubblica, one may to walk in the direction of the Castello Estense 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 Este Family.

The palace overlooks piazza hosting the Cathedral of San Giorgio 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 Archaeological 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 River 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 cycle-touristic path with a bike lane now considered the longest in Italy. 

One may start from Mesola, with the Gran Bosco (Large Forest) di Mesola and its rich wildlife, passing through Goro and Gorino up to the Po Delta discovering enchanting strip of lands in the lagoon.
The birdwatching 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 largest moist areas of the northern Italy, and it can be covered on foot, by bicycle or with the aid of guided tours.

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.
Ferrara Sotto le Stelle ("Ferrara Under the Stars"), la più importante manifestazione di musica pop della città e una delle più importanti in Italia.

The Palio di 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, the floats that parade through the town are considered true 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 Birdwatching 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 piecappellacci with pumpkinrisotto with bald-coot and with eel.
Among the second courses, stewed escargot alla ferraresedried 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 da sugo is a particular kind of salami for cooking made of pork meet and red wine, among other ingredients.

As a dessert, try the panpepatomandorlini del ponte, cookies made of almonds and the topolino di 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 FortanaBosco Eliceo Merlot and Sauvignon