things to see in ferrara

Ferrara is a historic town in the region of Emilia Romagna in Italy. Though its origins are a mystery, the first mention of Ferrara was in a document dating to 753 A.D.. These days, the town is famed for its UNESCO World Heritage sites, cathedral, broad cobblestone boulevards and historic centre along the River Po. A trip to Ferrara (map) wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its most famous monument, the Castello Estense.

The Castello Estense

The mirrors of Castello Estense

Built in the 14th century by the powerful Este family, the castle is an imposing monument complete with a deep moat, drawbridges and impressive towers. The rooms inside the castle are mostly bare of furniture but look up – or into the mirrors – and you’ll be treated to magnificent frescoes on the high ceilings. Some of them were damaged by an earthquake in 2012 and were being restored, but the frescoes, despite the band-aids, are nothing short of breathtaking.

The first mirror you’ll see.
No need to strain your neck! Just look in the mirror.
Nude men wrestling in this fresco.
My favourite ceiling.
The frescoes reflected in the mirrors.

Things to do in Ferrara

While you’re in Ferrara, you shouldn’t miss the stunning Cathedral, various palaces like the Palazzo dei Diamanti (Palace of Diamonds), 15th century City Hall and churches.

The 12th century Cathedral of Ferrara is a stunning example of Romanesque architecture.
Inside the Ferrara Cathedral
The 15th century Town Hall.
things to see in Ferrara
Palazzo dei Diamanti houses the National Gallery.

Hungry after a long stroll or bike tour? Drop by at Brindisi (map), Italy’s oldest tavern (still in existence).

Brindisi tavern in Ferrara.
A light lunch at Hostaria Brindisi.

I also recommend wandering along the maze of atmospheric alleys in the southern district that date back to the Middle Ages.

ferrara-alleys photo
The alleys in the southern district.

Read more about the Art Cities of Emilia Romagna

Ferrara is, due to its location on the rail network between Bologna and Padua/Venice, an easy day-trip from these cities. You can opt to stroll around the town or go on a bike tour. More information can be found at the Ferrara tourism office inside the Castell Estense.

Read about Comacchio, the ‘Little Venice’ of Emilia-Romagna, that’s not far from Ferrara and a must-visit in my book.

Search for hotels in Ferrara (

Ferrara is also a recommended destination in the Ultimate Euro Food Trip and is included in my guide of the best places in Emilia Romagna to visit.

Note: my visit to Emilia Romagna was part of the Blogville project, a collaboration between the Emilia-Romagna Tourism Board and iambassador.



5 Responses

  • […] From Modena, follow the Via Emilia back to Bologna before turning off towards Ferrara. A UNESCO World Heritage listed town, Ferrara is known for its unique 15th century Renaissance urban planning and architecture. I suggest spending 1-2 nights here to truly appreciate the town’s wonderful atmosphere and architecture. Visit the 14th century Castello Estense (its elaborate frescoes are amazing), the stunning Cathedral and Town Hall, the Palazzo dei Diamanti (the National Gallery), and explore the southern district, with its maze of narrow alleys that date back to the Early Middle Ages. Read about my visit to Ferrara. […]

  • […] From Reggio Emilia, you can continue to Parma (note: if you visit Parma, don’t miss Alfione at Viale Piacenza, a fabulous deli/restaurant) or back-track to Ferrara, a historic town with an imposing castle. Stroll around this picturesque town, visit the 14th century Castello Estense, the stunning Cathedral and the Palazzo dei Diamanti (Palace of Diamonds). Read about my visit to Ferrara. […]

  • Wow, the only thing more impressive than the mirrors is that lunch! How much for everything?

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