Ferrara Things to Do
Monuments and Museums
Situated in the middle of the city, this imposing castle is surrounded by a moat with four massive towers at each corner. It was originally built to protect the family from the townspeople. When Niccolò I extended the city’s walls, it lost some of its defensive function. When Ercole 1st took the reins, the castle underwent extensive renovations with the addition of numerous apartments. Today, the castle is a must-see for any visitor to this stately city. With richly appointed Gothic Rooms, frescoed salons, and interesting dungeons, the Castello is a monument to the splendor and squandering pomp of the Este family. It should be the first stop on any tour!
These ancient city walls date back to the 15th century and are the country’s best-preserved walls (besides Lucca). Here you can walk or bike along the tree-lined paths that follow the walls. It is one of the most enjoyable and relaxing ways to experience this enchanting city and meet the lovely people.
San Giorgio Cathedral
Guglielmo of Adelardi, who is now entombed there, built this Romanesque cathedral in 1135. The cathedral has been added to over the centuries, with additions made in the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. As you walk into the cathedral, you will pass between two recumbent lions that guard the entrance. Once inside, the restored Baroque interior houses elaborate relief sculptures of the Last Judgment.
Palazzo dei Diamanti
Named after the diamond points that form the façade’s stones, the Palazzo houses a large collection of works by the artistic school of Ferrara.
Corpus Domini Monastery
Here is where you will find the tombs of the House of Este, as well as notable figures like Lucrezia Borgia, and Eleanor of Aragon.
A very interesting architectural structure with frescoes depicting the life of Borso d’Este (Niccolò III’s illegitimate son, who would rule Ferrara and Modena from 1450 until his death in 1471). It also features allegorical representations of the months of the year, and the signs of the zodiac. There is also an impressive collection of Renaissance medals, coins, and choir-books.
Nearby Comacchio is a fascinating historic town in the Po Delta. Known as the “town of bridges,” it is an architectural wonder with beautiful palaces, monuments, and canals. The nearby Pomposa Abbey has a stunning basilica and ancient bell tower.
Palio di Ferrara
A competition held in May, pits the eight districts against one another. Originating in 1279, it is one of the oldest such competitions in the world. Today, it a month of festivities, parades, a horse race, flag races, and great music. You will see people dressed in period costumes performing dances and other surprise elements. The competitions are held to see which district will win the coveted drape of Saint George, the patron saint of the city.
Ferrara Buskers Festival
With its long tradition of musical and artistic patronage, this music and street performance event hosts thousands of artists from 35 different nations. You will see dancers, jugglers, clowns, musicians, equilibrists, and more. This 10-day festival is one of the most important international music events that takes place each September.
Ferrara Balloon Festival
A ten-day event celebrating hot air balloons in the hot air ballooning capital of Europe. Beginning in 2005, this has become one of the most popular events in Italy. It is an amazing sight to watch all the balloons take off just outside the city walls and soar over this beautiful Renaissance city.
Parco del Delta del Po
This would be an ideal day trip, with beautiful mansions and enchanting pathways to explore, offering an enlightening experience for both the eyes and the spirit.