Ferrara is a beautiful renaissance city in the heart of Emilia-Romagna. The city has flowered under the Este family that has built a beautiful thick-walled castle in the 14th century. Besides, Ferrara is full of majestic palaces, castles, monuments, and small picturesque alleys.
Even though Ferrara has around 130,000 inhabitants, its size allows you to explore all attractions in a single day trip. Most of Ferrara’s important sights are concentrated around the center, and therefore, you can easily enjoy the city on foot or perhaps by bicycle. Here are all the things you can do in one day in Ferrara:
The first thing you will probably see when you come to Ferrara is this huge, gorgeous castle surrounded by the moat. It was built as a defensive fortress in the late 1300s and then later converted into a residence of the court. The castle has four towers, red terracotta bricks, elegant white balustrades, prisons, and many rooms that are open for tourists.
To explore the interior of the castle, you have to buy a ticket that costs 12 euros. Inside you can see beautiful rooms with frescoes, prisons, a lovely garden, and a chapel. Also, you can climb one of the towers to have breathtaking views of Ferrara from above.
Explore the center of Ferrara
The center of Ferrara is a pedestrian area so it can be explored only on foot or by bicycle. There, you will truly feel that Ferrara is a mix of art and history. The central square in Ferrara is called Piazza del Municipio. It was once an ancient ducal courtyard where the Este family hosted rich theatrical events.
Nowadays, you can enjoy silence, relaxation, and harmony in small hidden streets, or you can be part of hustle and bustle in the central square. Wherever you are, you will not feel like you are in the 21st century, but rather in a time when kings and princes ruled the world from their castles. Everywhere around the center, there are many welcoming and characteristic places to stop for a delicious meal or a drink.
Corso Ercole l d’Este
Corso Ercole I d’Este is the most famous medieval street in Ferrara which connects the castle to the city walls, at the Porta degli Angeli. According to UNESCO, it is one of the most beautiful roads in the world! Along the way, you will come across numerous ancient buildings, including the famous Palazzo dei Diamanti.
Palazzo dei Diamanti
Palazzo dei Diamanti is a unique building with a magnificent facade made up of 8500 blocks of white marble streaked with pink. It is one of the symbols of Ferrara even though, there are buildings with the same style in other Italian cities. Inside Pallazo dei Diamanti, you can explore the National Art Gallery with works by great artists. Also, there is a beautiful courtyard with a cloister and a well that is worth seeing.
Via delle Volte
Via delle Volte is a cobbled road of 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) full of arched passages that cross Ferrara. It was built in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and today it is a popular place for taking beautiful photos. The street is very romantic in daylight, but in the evening it becomes very silent and shady, so the atmosphere is kind of mysterious. Along the road, you can find rustical restaurants and taverns where you can try typical Ferrara cuisine.
Cathedral San Giorgio is a beautiful cathedral located at the main square in Ferrara. It was built in the 12th century in Romanesque and Gothic style with a distinctive white and pink marble facade and has been dedicated to Saint George and the New Testament. The cathedral has a bell tower which is not very well balanced as the whole cathedral rests on sandy ground.
The interior is made in a classical style and is full of amazing sculptures and frescoes. The one particularly beautiful is located under the dome. Also, the cathedral has a wonderful altar that stands out among the three naves. Those who love art should not miss this cathedral, because there are two masterpieces, the “Last Judgment” by Bastianino and the “Martyrdom of San Lorenzo” by Guercino.
Le mura di Ferrara
Le mura di Ferrara, or the walls of Ferrara, are the 10 kilometers (6 miles) long walls that surround the city. They are the perfect place to get away from the crowd and to be in the middle of nature despite being in the city. You can enjoy the fantastic tree-lined path, that is perfect for any occasion, whether it is for relaxation or training.
We suggest going around the walls by bike that you can rent in many places in Ferrara. For those who do not intend to spend too much time on the walls, it is easy to enter the beautiful streets of the city, pass by the imposing palaces and return to the walls.
How to get to Ferrara
There are several international airports in the area, and the nearest is in Bologna, which serves many European cities with newly opened intercontinental services. Driving around 90 minutes from Ferrara, you can also reach Venice, Treviso, and Forli airports. Also, Ferrara lies on the main train line on the Rome-Florence-Venice axis, so you can get there even by train.
Events in Ferrara
The spring and summer months are full of events in Ferrara, especially on weekends. Spring is dedicated to the Palio Storico of Ferrara and to the re-enactments dedicated to the Este family, a fascinating moment that involves the entire city. In August, there is the Buskers Festival when the streets are full of card readers, musicians, dancers, and jugglers ready to color the warm evenings of the historic center. With the arrival of autumn, the Balloons Festival attracts people from all over Italy and from all over the world to Ferrara.
Parking in Ferrara
Ferrara is one of not so many Italian cities that does not have parking problems. There is a huge one called EX MOF that is free and located in Via Darsena, only a few meters from the center.
Why to spend one day in Ferrara?
Ferrara makes a perfect stop on a trip between Florence and Venice so, try to stay the night if you can. There is a lovely relaxed atmosphere in the evening as well as a relatively lively nightlife generated by the large student population.