“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.

The Este family ruled Ferrara from 1208 to 1598, constructing many of the monuments [seen] 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 its own glorious past.”

Above, the Castello Estense de Ferrara, first built in the 1300s and restored in the 1500s. 

Dungeon graffiti. As I ducked my head to enter this humid room, I thought 1) “Wow, there are no windows in here. Did they give the prisoners a lamp at least, or did they throw them into a black hole?” 2) “If I were royalty, I wouldn’t want a prison in my house.” It turns out, the castle was originally built as a fortress for the powerful Este family after a violent, popular revolt against them. Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer…

Later, they got much fancier inside the castle. 

I ate an awesome panino here (panino is the singular of panini) before I walked around.

Like many Italian cities, Ferrara has a very interesting history, which you can read about on the UNESCO website. Ferrara was declared a World Heritage site for being “an outstanding planned Renaissance city…that had a profound influence on the development of urban design throughout the succeeding centuries…Ferrara, which grew up around a ford over the River Po, became an intellectual and artistic centre that attracted the greatest minds of the Italian Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries. Here, Piero della Francesca, Jacopo Bellini and Andrea Mantegna decorated the palaces of the House of Este. The humanist concept of the ‘ideal city’ came to life here in the neighbourhoods built from 1492 onwards by Biagio Rossetti according to the new principles of perspective. The completion of this project marked the birth of modern town planning.

An artists’ market is held in Ferrara every last Sunday of the month. I would show you a photo of some ceramics, but that vendor screamed at me as soon as she saw my camera. Thus, my plan to steal all her ideas and open up a dish shop has been thwarted–for now. Seriously, are these people Amish? Do they think we’re stealing their souls with our digital devices? Or are they just crankier than fruit vendors? I’d be proud if someone thought my merchandise was worth a picture. I’d assume it meant they were interested enough to perhaps make a purchase, and thus wouldn’t yell before giving them this opportunity. OK, this rant has gone on long enough.

The San Giorgio Cathedral dates back to the 12th century. 

Sarah Mikutel