Although it certainly has a thriving tourism industry, Ferrara is not on the typical foreign tourist’s itinerary, which makes it perfect for those tourists who want to get off the beaten path of Venice-Florence-Rome and soak in some authentic northern Italian culture. It’s characterized by twisting medieval cobblestoned streets, a Duomo (cathedral) with a looming Gothic façade, and—best of all—a castle straight out of storybooks, complete with towers, moat, and drawbridges (that you can cross during the day).
Thanks to the d’Este family of astute art patrons, Ferrara contains many beautiful objects de arte, but the genuine masterpiece is the city itself. Half medieval, half Renaissance, the dual cityscape was the vision of oligarch Ercole d’Este, who hired architect Biagio Rossetti to seamlessly meld the newer section to the old. This careful planning earned Ferrara the title of Italy’s first “modern city.” Today, its captivating, anachronistic ambience is best explored on foot or by bicycle.
Touring the sites will occupy a day, but after that the best way to experience Ferrara is to relax at one (or several) of its cafes and enjoy la vita italiana going on around you.
- 1 IAT Ferrara (Tourist Information Office), Largo Castello 1 (Viale Cavour), ☎+39 0532 209370, e-mail: email@example.com. 09:30-17:30. (updated Apr 2016)