With a rich legacy dating back to the Medici era, Ferrara is a treasure trove of history. The World Heritage-listed Italian city is enclosed within ancient medieval walls and dotted with magnificent Renaissance palaces. Whether you want to tour its lavish palaces or get lost in the winding laneways of the Jewish Ghetto, Ferrara is an enchanting slice of northern Italy.
Things to do in Ferrara
Barricaded by a moat and drawbridge, the mighty Castello Estense looms above the city. It was raised by lord Nicolò II d'Este in 1385 and is considered one of Italy’s most beautiful palaces. Today, you can tour the royal suites and descend to the gloomy dungeon where infamous events once shocked the nation.
Nearby Palazzo dei Diamanti is another architectural highlight, named after the diamond-shaped stones that stud its facade. It was built for an Italian nobleman in the 15th century and now houses the National Picture Gallery. Inside, you can admire works from legendary “School of Ferrara” painters like Guercino, Dosso and L’Ortolano.
Take a stroll around the former Jewish Ghetto, housing the Jewish Museum and Ferrara’s Jewish community for more than 200 years. Its cobblestone streets are lined with beautiful terracotta buildings, where you can enjoy a leisurely drink at a cosy “osteria” wine bar.
Stretching for nine kilometres, the Ferrara City Walls are among the most impressive in all of Italy. They’re fringed by a well-marked network of walking and cycling paths that make it easy to complete the loop.
Getting around Ferrara
With its flat landscape and spacious streets, Ferrara is easily explored on bicycle. If you’re exploring the Old Town or Jewish Ghetto, the best way to get around is on foot. Local buses also service the city, with the trip to Stazione di Ferrara taking around five minutes.