Situated just 2 and a half hours from Milan, the beautiful city of Ferrara is well worth a visit. Currently a UNESCO world heritage site, this Italian Renaissance gem became an intellectual and artistic centre during the period of great splendour of the House of Este, attracting men of art and science of the calibre of Tiziano, Mantegna, Copernico and Ariosto. The city is richly blessed with much of its legacy intact. Today its long streets lined with deserted Renaissance “palazzi” and gardens combine with the medieval centre of town to make up one of the most hauntingly romantic towns in Italy.
Discover the centre of the city, still surrounded by imposing Renaissance walls, and visit the Este Castle. Towered and turreted, this moated, four-towered castle still hosts a number of lavish, richly frescoed rooms. Just a little further on, you will come across the Diamond Palace. Built in 1493, it outshines all the other ducal palaces in the city and takes its name from the more than eight thousand marble and ashlar stones covering its façade. Also most definitely worth a visit is Palazzo Schifanoia which lures art lovers to its Salon of the Months, completely frescoed by several of Ferrara’s greatest 15th century artists with vivid depictions of courtly life and the months, with relative signs of the zodiac. Also worthy of note is the Gallerie d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea housed in the beautiful Palazzo Massari (Corso Porta Mare, 9. www. Open 9am-1pm; 3pm-6pm. Closed on Mon) and the Cathedral of St. George, whose outstanding feature is its triple facade rich in statues, loggias and windows. Ferrarese cuisine is famous for its “cappellacci di zucca”, fresh, homemade egg-pasta stuffed with a delicious pumpkin filling. Another ancient recipe, dating back to medieval times, is “coppia ferrarese”, a type of twisted, sourdough bread made with flour, lard, olive oil and malt, serving as a perfect accompaniment to delicious local cold cuts.