Ferrara is a city and commune in northern Italy. It is situated 50 km northeast of Bologna and has broad streets and numerous palaces dating from the 14th and 15th centuries. For its beauty and cultural importance it has been qualified by UNESCO as World Heritage Site.
The town is still surrounded by more than 9 kilometres of ancient walls, mainly built in the 15th and 16th centuries, which, together with those in Lucca, are the best preserved Renaissance walls in Italy.
The most iconic building of the town is the imposing Castello Estense in the very centre of the town. It is a brick building surrounded by a moat and four massive bastions. A little way off is the university, which has faculties of law, architecture, pharmacy, medicine and natural science. The library has valuable manuscripts including letters by Tasso.
Ferrara has many early Renaissance palaces, often retaining terracotta decorations. Among the finest palaces is Palazzo dei Diamanti (Diamond Palace), named after the diamond points into which the façade's stone blocks are cut. The palazzo houses the National Picture Gallery, with a large collection of the school of Ferrara.
The Casa Romei is the best preserved Renaissance building in Ferrara. It was the residence of Giovanni Romei, related to Este family by marriage his to Polissena d'Este. The building is likely the work of the court architect Pietro Bono Brasavola. It did not fall into decay because it was inherited by the nuns of the Corpus Domini order who lived there without making any changes to its structure.
Other places of interest to visit are: Piazza Ariostea; The Communal Theatre; The Certosa; The Church of Santa Maria in Vado; The Church of St. Luca; The Church of St. Benedict; The Church of St. Charles; The Church of St. Cristopher; The Church of St. Dominic; The Church of St. Francis; The Church of St. George; The Church of St. Paul; The Church of St. Roman; The house of the poet Ludovico Aristo; The Massari Gardens; The monastery of Sant'Antonio in Polesine; The Palace of Ludovico il Moro and The Palazzina di Marfisa d'Este.
The Palio of St. George is a typical medieval festival held every last Sunday of May. The Buskers Festival is a non-competitive parade of the best street musicians in the world. In terms of tradition and dimension it is the most important festival in the world of this kind. Additionally, Ferrara is becoming the Italian capital of hot air balloons, thanks to the ten-day-long Ferrara Balloons Festival, the biggest celebration of balloons in Italy and one of the largest in Europe.
The cooking tradition of the town is characterized by many typical dishes that can be traced back to the Middle Ages and reveals in some instances the influence of the important Jewish community. The signature first course is cappellacci di zucca, a kind of ravioli with a filling of butternut squash, Parmigiano-Reggiano and flavored with nutmeg. It is served with a sauce of butter and sage. The traditional Christmas first dish is cappelletti, meat-filled ravioli served in chicken broth or with a white sauce made from cream and, optionally, local truffles. Seafood is an important part of the town tradition, due to the close vicinity to the sea, and grilled or stewed eel from the river Po delta considered a speciality.