Ferrara - Emilia-Romagna
Upon arriving in Ferrara, visitors to the city will immediately discover one thing: Rome may have its mopeds, Venice its boats but, Ferrara has its biciclette (bicycles)! With 160,000 bicycles and only 135,000 citizens, the two-wheeled creatures run the city, triumphing over automobileswhich not allowed banned on Ferrara's system of roads and medieval thoroughfares. An agricultural marketing center, Ferrara is home to many food-processing establishments, and also hosts a variety of other manufacturers, whose products include chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and machinery.
Ferrara's history begins nearly 1,300 years ago, when it began as a Byzantine military castrum ('fortified city'), established on the banks of the Po. The city expanded outside the castrum during the period between the 7th and 10th centuries. In 1115 A.D., Ferrara became a free commune, and during that same year work began on the city's new Cathedral (which was consecrated later, in 1135). As Ferrara grew, its illustrious university was established, and the Estense familywho dominated the court from 1208 to 1598brought many renowned writers, painters, and musicians to the city (including Cosmé Tura, Francesco del Cossa, Ercole de' Roberti, Dosso Dossi, Ludovico Ariosto, Torquato Tasso, and Gerolamo Frescobaldi). After the decline of Estense rule (which lasted three centuries), Ferrara went into a social and economic period of hibernation, and did not awake until the second of the 1900s. However, the city has recently come back to life in a wonderful way, and currently offers its visitors a rich helping of art, culture, and history.
Taking advantage of the fertile plains surrounding the city, Ferrarese cooks prepare dishes with a variety of staple foods and wholesome ingredients. Several typical recipes include the salama da sugo (a 15th century dish made with pork, spices, and wine), pasticcio alla ferrarese (sweet bread stuffed with macaroni and meat sauce), passatelli (thin, vermicelli-like noodles, prepared with eggs, bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese, and cooked in chicken broth), and Ferrara's most famous desserts, the panpepato (a rich chocolate cake, made with almonds and candied fruit) and mandurlin dal pont (crunchy biscuits of eggs, sugar, and almonds). Herring, clams, sea-bass, scallops, mullet, and other types of seafood also play a traditional role in the Ferrarese diet.
When Leonello d'Este, a great patron to the arts, established the school of painting, the Officina Ferrarese, famous artists like Pisanello, Leon Battista Alberti, Piero della Francesca, and Titian flocked to the city.and luckily for us, left a trail of beautiful artwork in their wake. These works grace palatial walls around the city. The city's 14th century castle, the Castello Estense, stands in the exact center of town, and offers a panoramic view of the city from its balconies. The Duomo San Romano (the city's main Cathedral) showcases the collaboration of many talented artists and architects (including Rosetti and Alberti); while directly across the street, the Museo della Cattedrale displays some of the church's original and precious pieces. Make sure to tour some of the city's other Palazzi, including the Palazzo Diamanti, Palazzo Massari, Palazzo schifanoia, Palazzo di Ludovico il Moro, and the Casa Romei. Also, visit the city's Synagogues, Jewish Museum, and Jewish Cementary to learn more about the history, art, and culture of Jews in Ferrara.
Congregate in Piazza Maggiore, the best meeting-place in the city, and admire the gorgeous fountain of Neptune, Palazzo de Podestá, and 14th century Basilica di San Petronio. If find yourself in Bologna anywhere from mid-June to mid-September, you will be able to enjoy the city-sponsored entertainment festival, which offers an array of dance, theater, music, cinema, and art shows.
Trains make daily trips to Bologna, Padua, Ravenna, Rome, and Venice. Buses, leaving from the train station, run to Bologna, Modena, and Ferrara's beaches.