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Ferrara Italy Travel Guide

Visit Ferrara - a Renaissance Gem in Northern Italy

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ferrara italy bicycle pictures

Ferrara is a bicycle city--as you can see from in front of the train station.

James Martin
ferrara italy picture

A palace along Ferrara's main drag.

(c) 2002 James Martin
ferrara cathedral

A detail from the Ferrara Cathedral.

(c) 2002 by James Martin

Ferrara Highlights:

  • 9200 meters of city walls commissioned by Duke Ercole I d'Este and built between 1493 and 1505 with walking paths on top; as in Lucca, you can bike and walk around on top of them.
  • Castello Estense de Ferrara--a defensive structure from the early middle ages that dominates the old city
  • Ferrara's Cathedral, built in 1135, a gem of Romanesque and Gothic architecture
  • The Church of Sant'Antonio in Polesine contains beautiful frescoes from the 13th and 14th centuries

How to get to Ferrara

Ferrara is in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy along the Po River, south of Venice and Padua. It is a city of bicycles, but no doubt you'll want to arrive on motorized transport.

By Train

Ferrara is on the Bologna to Venice train line--33 trains a day originating from Bologna pass though Ferrara each weekday. Ferrara is an hour and a half by train from Venice. It is an hour to another interesting destination, Ravenna.

By Car

By car from the direction of Bologna, take A13 north. From Venice, take A4 southwest to Padua and continue on A13 south to Ferrara.

By Bus

Bus info for Ferrara and the surrounding area is available at telephone 0532-599492. The bus from Modena takes one and a half hours.

A little History of Ferrara

The history of Ferrara as a city dates back around 1300 years when Ferrara was a Byzantine military castrum (fortified city). In 1115 Ferrara became a free commune and in 1135 the Cathedral was built.

The Este family ruled Ferrara from 1208 to 1598, constructing many of the monuments we see today. Under the Estes, Ferrara became a center of the arts. Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, and Petrarch, among others, spent time under their patronage. But the Estes lacked a male heir. So the Pope claimed Ferrara and it became part of the Papal States, beginning a three decade decline before awakening in the 1900s, seemingly becoming aware of it's own glorious past. Now the city is looking pretty spiffy and awaits your visit.

Where to Stay in Ferrara

There are a couple of interesting Bed and Breakfasts in Ferrara, including one for Charlie Chaplin fans. You'll find links to them in the links below. Venere offers a number of user rated Ferrara hotels (book direct). Ferrara is easily visited as a day trip if you're already bedded down in Venice, Bologna, or Ravenna (to see the mosaics). On a recent visit to Ferrara, we enjoyed the Hotel Annunziata and its views of the castle.

If you prefer a vacation home or apartment HomeAway offers over 40 Vacation Rentals in Ferrara.

Ferrara Palio

Usually in May, Ferrara advertises a Palio they say is the oldest in the world. The weeks before the palio race, competitions in flag throwing are held. Read more about Flag Throwing in Italy and Ferrara and see the Flag Throwing in Ferrara video.

Ferrara Pictures and Tours

Go on to the first picture in our photo tour of Ferrara.

If you'd like a virtual tour of Ferrara, with information on interesting facts, the castle, the cathedral, lodging, and the traditional foods, see our Virtual Tour of Ferrara.

Ferrara Map

See a Ferrara Map marked with the major attractions.

A Suggested Travel Itinerary that includes Ferrara

Get a map and information on on Emiglia-Romagna Itinerary that includes Ferrara.

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