What to see in Ferrara, Italy (part 2)
1 – Castle Estense
Start at the city center and visit Ferrara’s castle. The castle sits in the center, surrounded by a moat, and yes there are draw bridges. You will find yourself standing on the city block, staring up at the castle while cars, bikes, and motorcycles whiz by – a castle that has been absorbed into the modern world.
The red bricks, red shutters, and towers stand tall and dominate the main downtown. The castle dates back to the late 14th century and was home to the Este Court. Your visit will take you through stately rooms with painted ceilings, artwork, maps, and the charming Garden of Oranges (a balcony filled with potted orange trees, sitting high above the busy city streets).
Hours and Ticket prices:
-Open 9:30 to 5:30pm
-Open until 7pm from June to August with a 2 hour lunch break (1 to 3pm)
-Open every day – March to September!
8 Euros for Adults, 6 Euros for seniors/kids/groups (prices as of 2016)
2 – Piazza and Cathedral
From the Castle you should walk to the Romanesque Cathedral in the Piazza Trento e Trieste. Along the way, notice the Theater building with a circular courtyard. The Municipal Theater and Ferrara Musica house performances and concerts. From October to May you can buy tickets for the special performances or for the resident orchestra throughout the year.
The Piazza is a long rectangle with the Romanesque Cathedral along one edge. The Cathedral façade was being worked on when I was there, so I had to be content with admiring the side which is decorated with stone columns along the top, all of which vary in pattern and size. The Cathedral dates back to 1135 – that is 800 years old! Always impressive to see the work of those masonry and craftsman still standing! The interior of the Cathedral is dark but when the sunlight shines in you see gold painted angels and the marble floors that look like a giant chess board.
Cathedral Hours: Open 7:30 to Noon and 3:30 to 6:30pm
3 – Across from the Cathedral (side) is the Cathedral Museum housed in another church. This is a lovely little museum with two parts. Part one is the upstairs floor of the side building where you can see some sculptures and a large collection of illuminated manuscripts. Part two is in the actual church. There you will find tapestries from the 1550’s that depict the stories of Saint George and Maurlius. In addition, there are the 13th century stone panels that depict the months with great detail in the clothes, faces, and tools. And perhaps the most interesting, is the Madonna of the Pomegranate statue, a 15th century stone sculpture.
Hours and Ticket prices:
-Open 9:30 to 1pm and 3 to 6pm
6 Euros for adults, 3 Euros for seniors/kids/groups (prices as of 2016)
4 – From the Piazza continue down Via Mazzini where you will find a pleasant pedestrian walk by shops and red brick buildings. When I was visiting Ferrara I was looking up at colorful umbrellas, an open art installation over Via Mazzini.
Insider Tip: Ferrara is a city of bikes which means watch out! Be mindful of bikes whooshing by as you back up to look at a building, darting around corners as you wait to cross the street, and remember that little “ding” is the warning sound of a bike rider coming up behind you.
Continue reading the next post for on what to see past Via Mazzini! — Sign up for the blog so you don’t miss a post – usually once a week so your inbox will not be flooded with emails, I promise.