Ferrara

Ferrara is a city in Italy. Together with the nearby delta of the Po river, Ferrara has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Understand

The city hall

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.

Get in

Get around

See

Do

Buy

Eat

...Pasta: [Note: Do not leave Ferrara without trying its trademark cappellacci di zucca (round pasta stuffed with squash/pumpkin), either "al burro e salvia" (with butter and sage) or "al ragu" (with meat sauce).]

...Pizza: [Note: In Italy it is customary for each person to order a whole pizza for him or herself. The crusts are thin, so one pizza is almost exactly enough for a filling dinner for one person. Generally cheaper than a full-course meal, perfect for students.]

Bar Settimo in Via Cortevecchia. Don't be put off by the dingy bar at the front. At the back is one of the friendliest restaurants in Italy, presided over by the splendid Norberto. The food is simple but excellent and not at all expensive. Pizzas and Salama da Sugo con Pure are particularly good. For years it has been the favourite watering hole for performers at the Teatro Communale and Ferrara Musica. After concerts the place is very lively and, unusually for Ferrara, it closes late.

...Panini and Piadine:

[Note: In Italian, a "piadina" is the type of pressed, flatbread sandwich that is known in the United States as the "panini." Actual "panini" (singular "panino") are merely normal sandwiches.]

...non-Italian fare

Drink

Sleep

Go next

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