Our impressions of Ferrara were mixed. It offers a nice combo of medieval and renaissance architecture, with a number of fine streets in the pedestrian city core and several impressive sights. However, many buildings were showing signs of neglect, and many streets looked too deserted to be fun. In our random pedestrian walks we came onto a couple of very busy and bustling streets, which curiously only reinforced the contrast with other areas of town. Quite a lot of restoration was going on, so possibly on the return visit we will see a brighter town.
Ferrara is a biking city. Pedestrian streets are not off boundaries for bicycles, which are everywhere. It may be a pleasant diversion on a not very hot day to rent a bike and ride around town core, which is sufficiently sizeable.
Castello d’Estense ♥♥ is very much worth a visit. Although the rooms are mostly empty, the spaces themselves are quite interesting, the ceiling paintings are fantastic (if significantly and visibly patched), and there is a wealth of information about the history of the area and the dynasty of the Dukes d’Este. A nice interesting touch are angled floor mirrors in some halls that allow you to view painted ceilings without craning your neck.
Duomo ♥♥ is quite elaborately decorated, with some nice stained glass and a couple of great altarpieces, but it shows need for renovation.
We only looked from the outside at the palaces inscribed on Ferrara’s World Heritage entry, Palazzo Diamante, Palazzo Prosperi-Sacrati, and others, a few blocks from the medieval core. Close to them is the pleasant little park Massari ♥.
One other point of interest, Palazzo Schifanoia ended up outside of our limited walking itinerary. There are also a couple of museums in the city that were not in our plans to visit.
Places to Eat
Osteria del Ghetto ♥ is on a quiet medieval street not too far from bustling center. Street-side seating was all reserved in advance (we made a mistake of not calling ahead), so we had to accept seating in one of the upper floor dining rooms. It was slightly stuffy on an early August night, but A/C eventually helped. The ambience is unremarkable when you eat inside. The menu is not extensive, but had some good choices. We tried proscuitto con melone, cappelletti al ragu, tagliata del manzo, and verdure all griglia – all pretty good. A couple of nice cakes for dessert. Very pleasant family-driven service. Our damage: €60 for two with a bottle of wine.