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Ferrara was Europe’s first modern city, and plans laid here have been copied across the continent. Sara Scarpa visits the often overlooked city of the Este family…
One evening earlier this year, I watched a television programme about the Signorie, the governing bodies of old Italy, and was fascinated by the stories of these famous families who ruled il Bel Paeseduring the Medieval and Renaissance periods.
What really caught my attention was the tale of the younger branch of the Este House, who ruled Ferrara for over three centuries. I must confess that I did not know much about them before, but I was inspired to read more. The history of the Estensi is deeply connected to the history of Ferrara.
Ferrara is a city in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. Situated 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Bologna and 2 to 3 hours away by train from Florence or Venice, its historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ferrara is not on the typical foreign tourist’s itinerary, which makes it perfect for the travelers looking for something less common than Venice, Florence and Rome. Extremely picturesque and mainly built by Renaissance’s all-powerful Este family, Ferrara is a great addition to your list of must-visit cities of the world.
This is one of Italy’s greenest cities, full of medieval castles, parks and churches (such as the magnificent Castello Estense and the 12th-century Duomo), where almost every museum and tourist attraction is housed in a luxurious palace.
30 hours in Ferrara. That was all the time we had. And it was a foolish mistake.
While Ferrara is not a big city like Florence or Bologna, it’s packed with things to see and do. After all, Ferrara, City of the Renaissance, and its Po Delta are UNESCO World Heritage sites. When planning your trip, at least double the 30 hours to even come close to scratching the surface.
The idea of a trip to Ferrara came about end of last year when we received an email offer from Italo. They were adding Ferrara as a new destination, and as we had never been to Ferrara, we decided to book the trip for a weekend in January 2017.
It took slightly over 2.5 hours to get to Ferrara from Rome by train with stops in Florence, and Bologna.