The journey from Bologna to FERRARA takes only half an hour by train. It was the residence of the princes d'Este, an eccentric dynasty, which during the Renaissance played an important political role. The d'Este family placed orders with the best artists of their time and built the city, which, despite the relatively low population, was one of the most beautiful urban creations of that period and has not lost any of its beauty until today.

When the descendant was gone, d'Este were forced to hand over Ferrara to the papacy and leave for good. Life in Ferrara practically died out. The eighteenth-century travelers found empty streets and clogged sewers swarming with mosquitoes. Since then, Ferrara has risen from its decline and has become the region's center of fruit production, as evidenced by acres of land planted with tidy, tree-topped trees outside the city. It is a popular stop for tourists traveling from Bologna to Venice, but they rarely stay here overnight, so in the evening the city center remains yours, almost exclusive, disposal.

Access and accommodation

The Ferrara train station is located just on the west side of the city walls and can be reached in ten minutes along viale Cavour (or take buses no 1 i 2) from the center centered around the castle. The bus station is located in Corso Isonzo. A vaulted passage takes you to the AAST office in Piazza Municipio (codz. 9.00-13.00 i 14.30-19.00), which offers maps and tourist materials about the city. South of castello runs Corso Porta Reno to the city walls, main shopping street of the city, z arkadowym szpalerem pasticerrie, bars and boutiques. Corso Ercole I d'Este runs in the opposite direction to Ferrara's main art galleries and parks, but too much, towards the east, there is a maze of alleys that make up the city's medieval quarter.

Most cheap hotels can be found here. San Paolo is by far the best, via Pescherie Vecchie 10 (• 0532/34402), where a double room costs 28 500 L; if it turns out to be full, w Casa Artisti, via Vittoria 66 (• 0532/35314), i w Raiti, via Dell Sciences 13 (w 0532/464156), the rooms cost money 25000 L. When and in these hotels there are no places, generally you can find something in the Nazionale, Corso Porta Reno 32 (• 0532/35210), where does the room cost 36000 L. There is also the Tre Coronne on Corso Porta Reno 70 (•053235207) and Garibaldi under no. 77 (•053226318), in both prices approx 25000 L.

A camping site in Ferrara, Estense, is located right on the beltway outside the city walls, access by bus no 3. North of viale Cavour, at via B. Tisi and Garofalo 5, is an IYHF youth hostel (• 0532/21098; open 7.00-9.00 i 18.00-22.00; bus no 1, 2 or 9), with beds after approx 10000 L for members - but only open from April to October.


The massive Castello Estense dominates the city center (in summer every day. 9.30-12.30 i 15.00-18.00, in winter every day. 14.00-17.00; 5000 L), built as a response to the uprising at the end of the 14th century. and in its time recognized as an outstanding achievement in military engineering. But behind the gloomy brick wall, court life flourished, who sustained artists such as Pisanello, Jacopo Bellini, Mantegna, and the poets Ariosta and Tassa. The princes d'Este was a pragmatic family, knowing the ways of getting money: taxes were kept at this level, so that the receipts slightly exceed the expenses, official titles were sold, Fees were collected for transportation around the Padua and troops were loaned to various rulers of Naples, Milan and Florence.

The first d'Este, who lives in Ferrara, was Niccoló II: tons he commissioned the construction of the castle, though actually the later members of the family were these, who decorated it. One of the most famous members of the family was Niccoló III d'Este, who began his reign in 1393 r. He became famous for the patronage of the arts and for his numerous love relationships, but a number 27 kids, to which he confessed, seems exaggerated, but it surely fathered more of them than just a legitimate heir, Ercole. He was also a ruthless man, which was talked about, that he had killed his wife Parisina and his own son, Ugo, born of another woman, when discovered, that they are having an affair. Together with Ercole, they ruled Ferrara in its heyday, two other sons of Niccolò III., Leonello i Borso. Leonello was friends with the humanist Alberti, but also became a caricature of his time, checking the horoscope every morning, what he should wear. Borso loved hunting and galloped through the Mesola forests in satin and gems. Daughters of Ercol, Beatrice i Isabella, they married members of the Sforza and Gonzaga families, sealing the position of d'Este as one of the most respected Renaissance dynasties. Grandson of Ercolae, Alfonso I, he married Lucrezia Borgia, which included Titian and Ariosta among its artists and poets, and the traditions of patronage were maintained by the last prince d'Este, Alfonso II, who invited Tass and Guarini to his court.

It is hard to believe, visiting the castle now. The castle rooms to some extent reflect the splendor of the family; the salone deo giochi and the living room were decorated by Sebastiano Filippi with plafond frescoes, showing bacchanalia, framed by a series of figures for wrestling or discus throwing. In general, however, it is cold, drafty building, and the dungeons are the most steeped in history, where the murmur of the water in the moat brings to mind the enemies of d'Este: Ugo and Parisina were imprisoned here before their execution, while Terranta and Giulia d'Este were held for most of their lives after their attempt to overthrow Alfonso I.

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