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 facade, 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 art, 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 meld the newer section to the old seamlessly. This careful planning earned Ferrara the title of Italy’s first “modern city.” Today, its captivating, anachronistic ambiance is best explored on foot or by bicycle.
Ferrara: one of the most beautiful of Italian cities, was formerly the capital of the Estensi and has been resuscitated in modern times from the degrading decadence into which it fell with its inclusion into the Papal States.
This is a guide to Ferrara
There are extensive descriptions and photos of the attractions. The Estense Castle history is covered in detail.