Ferrara in 24 hours ... in other words what you cannot miss in one day in the Este city
Let's start by telling you that Ferrara is the city of bikes! All Ferrara’s citizens use the bike, someone for work, someone to go to the supermarket and someone to visit the city.
For those who have little time for sightseeing, the bike is definitely the most recommended vehicle, moreover on the Website Ferrara by Bike you can download bike paths maps of the city, along with the most important cycling routes. Cycling will allow you to live the Este city according to times and manners of the local population, mingling with routes and Ferrara’s citizens habits.
So, after equipping ourselves with bikes and having listened briefly to some itineraries suggested by the audio-guide [free download here], we are ready to start our day at the discovery of Ferrara’s beauties
The Este CastleEste Castle, which dominates the city centre surrounded by a moat filled with water.
Built in 1385 as stronghold for the political and military control of the city, the Este Castle was built according to the project of Bartolino da Novara, who had already designed the castles of Pavia and Mantua. Continuous renovations, at least until the 16th century, gave the castle the shape that we still admire today.
The Este Castle can be visited in all its parts, but we recommend you to linger especially on the majestic old kitchens, which can give you a "taste" of the court life of that time. The dungeons are also worth a visit: in some cells, it is still possible to identify the writings left by prisoners engraved on the bricks of the walls.
St. George's Cathedral
Ferrara’s Cathedral was built in the 12th century and rises up in the centre of the city, opposite the Town Hall. Ferrara’s Cathedral was consecrated in 1135 and in the 15th century the construction of the bell tower began, but never ended, designed by the famous artist Leon Battista Alberti. In the 17th century, because of a terrible fire, the interior of the Cathedral was completely rebuilt in Baroque style and this makes today the visit of the Cathedral an interesting experience, since it goes through the Italian religious art history.
One more curiosity: Ferrara’s Cathedral, with its 118 metres of overall length, is the longest religious building in Emilia Romagna.
Schifanoia Palace, erected in 1385 on Alberto V d' Este’s order, was designed and built as an intimate resting place and recreation area. The cycle of frescoes inside is a real political manifesto of the greatness of the Duke. It is represented, in fact, the "the right ordering of humanity and nature, under the good governance of the Duke” and it was commissioned by Borso d'Este in 1452, when he was nominated Duke by Emperor Frederick III.
Schifanoia Palace is also famous for its beautiful frescoes in the "Salone de Mesi" (Hall of the Months), which are among the most important frescoes of the Italian 15th century and represented a fundamental aspect of the social and economic life of the city: the harmony between the sacredness of the cosmic order and the everyday life of agricultural labour in the countryside.
House of Ludovico Ariosto
"Small but suitable for me, free from debts, not shabby and purchased solely with my own money"
In this way Ludovico Ariosto describes his house in Ferrara, the last stop of our morning tour around the city of Ferrara. This was the place where the Italian writer spent the last years of his life, devoting himself to the final draft of "Orlando Furioso” (The Frenzy of Orlando). The house today hosts a small museum dedicated to the Poet, while on the back there is a small garden created at that time by Ludovico Ariosto, where concerts and cultural events take place.
In the city centre of Ferrara it is easy to find restaurants and taverns to taste the typical dishes of the city. Here, good food has always been considered an art, at least since the 16th century, in other words since the dishes prepared at the court of the Este family were tasted by princes and dukes coming from everywhere in Italy.
Some ancient recipes of the Este family are still handed down, such as the "Salama da Sugo", "Pasticcio di Maccheroni" and "Panpepato". If you have decided to eat something in Ferrara, try a gourmet tour of the historical Italian cuisine ... you will not regret it!
Palazzo dei Diamanti
Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara (literally, Diamond Palace), called in this way because of its diamond-shaped outer walls, is one of the most famous monuments of the city and is situated in the middle of the so-called "Addizione Erculea": the great urban work that turned Ferrara, between the late 15th and early 16th century, into a city inspired by the most rigorous rational values of the time.
The first floor of the palace houses the National Art Gallery, with paintings of Ferrara’s school from the 13th to 18th century. Among them, we recommend some of the works of Andrea Mantegna and Gentile da Fabriano. The lower floor of Palazzo dei Diamanti is reserved to the Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art which continuously houses contemporary art exhibitions since 1992.
The Este Walls
We conclude our day in Ferrara proceeding by bike on the cycling route along the old walls of the Este city: 9 kilometres surrounding the city centre and that can be run both along the embankment and in its lower part, ideally stopping for a while and savouring an ice cream, if the weather permits. Ramparts, cannons, towers follow one another as evidence of the several military techniques of defence developed over the centuries, in an environment surrounded by vegetation which form a huge garden around the city.
The cycling route of the walls of Ferrara is also connected to other beautiful routes that move from the centre to the outskirts. So, if you are not too tired and you haven’t satisfied your desire for knowledge yet, you should follow them... they can be an excellent opportunity to better plunge into the great history of Ferrara.