New Year's Eve in Ferrara, for the best fireworks display in Italy
The Burning of the Estense Castle: a truly unique event
The first show dates back to 2000, when Ferrara decided to greet the new millennium with a spectacle that would leave thousands of people in awe. It was inspired by the pyro-musical shows of the Loire castles, but was rooted in the city's history. Indeed, it re-enacts the historic castle fire of 1554, without the damage that the real fire caused!
Lights, music and fireworks commemorate the event, making it extremely exciting, with fountains of fire cascading down from the top of the walkways while tall, glowing flames envelop the castle walls and fiery sprays rise from the moat. The date is New Year's Eve, at the stroke of midnight. All eyes are on the towers, because it all starts there.
On New Year's Eve, celebrate like an Estense
The Este-themed New Year's Eve does not end with the pyro-musical show, but involves other fascinating places in the city such as the Municipal Palace and the Theatre.
Where's best to eat on New Year's Eve in Ferrara? If you book in advance, you can partake in a Renaissance-style banquet in the rooms of the castle, among pages, handmaidens, ladies and gentlemen in period costume.
Even the table reproduces a feast at the court of the Dukes of Este, with dishes inspired by the recipes of Cristoforo di Messisbugo, the Este family cook, and accompanied by Renaissance music. The dinner ends in time to watch the burning of the castle.
A dinner is also organised at the Ridotto Teatro Comunale. It starts at 7 p.m., and ends with a trip out to see the show at the castle and then back to the theatre to dance until morning.
If you prefer to celebrate in the street while enjoying the atmosphere of the city, all the alleys around the castle are bustling with concerts and dances that last until dawn. At Piazza Trento e Trieste, you can buy typical products or go ice-skating. Many clubs in the centre also organise dinner parties and live music.
Children will not be deluded too. Until 15 January, the little ones (but not only) will be able to enjoy their time at the Winter Park, with entertainment, musical shows and fun workshops. Don't miss the chance to take a ride on the panoramic carousel for a bird's-eye view of the city at the most magical time of the year.
What to do in Ferrara during the festivities, so as not to miss all its attractions
Stay a few extra days to enjoy the Renaissance city by walking or cycling. The historic centre is built on a people-friendly scale, and the best way to immerse yourself in its atmosphere is to slow your pace.
Start your walk from the distinctive Palazzo dei Diamanti with its ashlar façade. Don't miss the Palazzo Schifanoia with its magnificent frescoes in the Salone dei Mesi, or the mediaeval Via delle Volte and the alleys of the Ghetto. Let the magnificent façade of the Cathedral make your head spin as you explore all its decorations looking upwards.
If you want to discover an unusual aspect of Ferrara, travel back in time by visiting the Archaeological Museum, which houses finds from the Etruscan city of Spina. If, on the other hand, you want to stay active, simply hire a bicycle and ride the 9 km-long path around the city walls.
Taste Ferrara on New Year's Eve: sweet or savoury, the bounty is unique
The true soul of Ferrara can be discovered (also) by eating, especially by tasting its sweet treats.
Try the torta tenerina (moist chocolate cake), the panpepato (dried fruit and nut cake) and the brazadela (a kind of sweet bread). If you prefer savoury food, you can't miss the salama da sugo, a cured pork sausage, or the pasticcio ferrarese, which encloses macaroni with meat sauce and mushrooms inside a shortcrust pastry shell.
In the heart of Emilia, the city of Ferrara offers true Italian experiences for a New Year's Eve like no other.