At the side of Piazza Savonarola is a marble monument which shows the various depths of floods during the past centuries. The city has been covered with watered numerous times and it is amazing how deep the water was.
The dates of the floods are recorded on the monument.
Ferrara has a great history, you can see that when you reach Piazza Savonrola and see the castle. Complete with a moat and towers, the castle is in fairly good condition. You can take a boat ride on the weekends, which could be fun especially for children.
Ferrara has a great history of foods, and your visit to a local trattoria will make your day complete.
Featured here are some photos taken on a typical Sunday.
“We took our lunch in historic Ferrara, and I feel one could almost write a book about the castle alone. I took a photograph of one of the grim towers of the castle, where the beautiful, pleasure-loving, young, artistic, athletic Marchesa Parisina Malatesta, wife of Niccolo III, was made to expiate the crime of her guilty love with Ugo Aldobrandini, her stepson.”
—from “Italian Castles and Country Seats” 1911 by Tryphosa Bates-Batcheller (1876-1952, American socialite)
At the beginning of the castle tour a wooden model of the castle is displayed in one of the rooms. Also, on display in this same area are enlarged portraits of the Este dukes (see photos #4 and #5).
“A minute, before the monstrous moated castle of Ferrara, which, like an illustration to a wild romance, came back again in the red sunrise, lording it over the solitary, grass-grown, withered town.”
—from “Pictures from Italy” 1846 by Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
The town of Ferrara may have been withered in the 1840s when Dickens visited; but it was a lively, vibrant city when we visited.
Ferrara’s 14th century Castello Estense is surrounded by a moat and has three drawbridge entrances. You can feel like a knight or lady of olde when you cross the castle’s western drawbridge, a reminder of the castle’s initial defensive purpose; this is also the main tourist entrance.
On the right part of the facade, just above side entrance to the cathedral, there is the statue of Alberto V d'Este, who in 1391obtained a papal bull from Boniface IX for the institution of a University.
The right side of the Cathedral is flanked by a series of a small haberdashers shops.
The four defending towers; the Tower of the Lions, the Marchesana Tower, St. Catherine's Tower and St. Paul's Tower were the sentry points of an enormous fortress surrounded by a moat much wider than the present one.
Before the castle was built, an old 25 m high watchtower from 900 stood to defend the northern line of the city walls, near strategic Lion Gate. During the construction works Bartolino da Novara turned the watchtower into a small fort with a much wider base and larger battlements on the first floor. This fort is called the Tower of the Lions. At one time it was the sight of the castle prison, it also houses an ancient clock mechanism.
After the danger of the revolts had passed, starting from the 15th century, work was begun to transform the fort into a court residence.
The Castle, built and made famous by the Este family, remains the heart and symbol of Ferrara. After the Este family the castle was occupied by the Legate Cardinals who represented the papacy. In 1796 Napoleon Bonaparte presented it to the Commune of Ferrara.
Giulio d'Este was illegitime son of Ercole I d'Este, the Duke of Ferrara. This palace, which is atributed to Biagio Rossetti, was suppose to be his home. Giulio was imprisoned in the jail inside of Castello Estense after attempting plot against Cardinal Ippolito, his own brother. There he spent over 50 years.
Nowadays Palazzo Giulio d'Este is the seat of Prefettura, the police of Ferrara.
Palazzo Turchi - Di Bagno, built in 1492, is another project of the architect Biagio Rossetti who planned to create so-called "Quadrivio degli Angeli", composed of Palazzo dei Diamanti, Palazzo Prosperi - Sacrati and Turchi - Di Bagno. This palace is part of grandious opus by Rossetti, known as "Addizione Erculea".
The structure of the palace have lineal forms without any decorative elements, except for the corner - La Parasta - adorned with white stone and double line od Corinthian pillars.
Ince 1933 the palace served as an military barraks and therefore suffered of heavilly damagings in WW II. Nowadays it houses Biological Depertment of the Ferrara university and the Botanical Garden of the city.
Palazzo Prosperi - Sacrati was the first building to be constructed on the Quadrivio. It was supposed to be the home of Francesco da Castello, who was a personal physician of Ercole I d'Este. Works on this palace began in 1493 and still in progress when in 1511 poor doctor da Castello died.
The palace was built in the Venetian style and has remarkable marble portal with the terrace above it. Nowadays the palace is home of the Paleontological Museum of Ferrara.
The Dominican Girolamo Savonarola is son of Ferrara, born here in 1451 during the Este reign, was judged a heretic for his strong criticism of the Catholic Church and its actions. Savonarola was burnt at the stake in Firenze in 1498.
Savonarola was an very influential cntributor to the politics of Florence, from 1494 until his execution in 1498. He was known for book burning and destruction of what he considered immoral art. Many fine Florentine Renaissance artworks were lost in Savonarola's notorious bonfires, including paintings by Botticelli which he is alleged to have thrown into the fires himself. Savonarola was a preacher and he preached vehemently against the moral corruption of much of the clergy at the time.
Lorenzo de Medici and his son soon became the targets of Savonarola's preaching. After de Medici was dismissed, Savonarola set up "Christian and religious Republic"in Florence. Florence, however, soon became tired of Savonarola because of the city's economic misery, partially derived from Savonarola's opposition to trading and making money.
In 1497 Savonarola was excommunicated by Pope Alexander VI Borgia and soon arested and charged by heresy. His public execution was in 1498, at Piazza della Signoria, the same spot where he burnt many books and artworks. Girolamo Savonarola was burned and his ashes were thrown in the River Arno.
Oratory of the Annunziata is also known as the Church of Death because it was the headquarters of an arch-confraternity (Btotherhood of Death) who aided the dying. The re are valuable the 15th and 16th centuries frescoes inside the church, atrributed to various Ferrara artists of the age. It also contains invaluable cross by the Queen of Naples Isabella of Aragon, who was in exile in Ferrara. The most highly valued fresco in the oratory is the Resurrection, atributed to the school of Pisanello.
The 15th century complex of the church Corpus Domini and the adjacent Convent belongs to the Clarisse Order. Both, the church and the convent, contain notable works of art left to the Nuns by will of d'Este Family.
The convent of Clarissa nuns conserves the heirlooms of St. Catherine Vegri, a damsel of noble origins who abandoned the luxuries of the court to devote herself to the religious life.
Besides, several members of d'Este family are buried here: Eleonora d'Aragona, Alfonso I, Ercole II, Alfonso II and the famous Lucrezia Borgia.
Palazzino Marfisa d'Este belongs to the best examples of the 16th century high class residence, once surrounded by the magnificent garden known as Casini di San Silvestro. Erected in 1559, it was home of Princess Marfisa who refused to move to Mantova with the rest of d'Este family after Papal army took rule over Ferrara. Marfisa was maecenas to Torquato Tasso, who wrotte many of his books in the garden of her villa.
After death of the Princess Marfisa the palace was longtime closed and then reopened to house fine collections of the furniture from 16 to 17th centuries.
Palazzo Roverella was designed by Biagio Rosetti in 1508 in typical Ferrarese style, main body of terracotta, richly adorned facade, stone portal ornamental in retangular pillars, and three-light window and windows with paired pillasters. The central balcony was added in the 18th century. The interior trully sumptuous is the result of the rebuildings in the 20th century.
This palace was last work of Biagio Rosetti, arose in the Corso Giovecca an ideal axis which divides the medieval from the Renaissance.