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Following up on Ferrara



Last week, I posted about my stay in the Italian city of Ferrara in June, particularly focusing on the Castello Estense, the seat of the very powerful Este family which ruled Ferrara and surrounding region for centuries.

But there were many other beautiful sites to visit in Ferrara, which is in central Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, and only about 50 kilometers northeast of Bologna.


I thought the facade of the Ferrara's Cattedrale, only a stones-throw from the castle, was stunning. (See above photos) Construction began in 1135, when the Romanesque lower part of the main façade and the side façades were completed. The St. George and the scenes from the New Testament above the central door are the work of the sculptor Nicholaus and also date from the original construction. The upper part was built some decades later in a Gothic style

This is a shrine on a medieval side street very near the cattedrale and near what is reportedly the oldest wine bar in the world, the Osteria Al Brindisi.


Of course, Ferrara is filled with souvenirs/reminders of the powerful Este family. One I enjoyed was the Palazzo Schifanoia, a Renaissance palace built for the Este family. The name "Schifanoia" is thought to originate from "schivar la noia" meaning to "escape from boredom" according to Wikipedia. This essentially describes the original intention of the palazzo and the other villas in the same area, where the Este court went to relax. This area is about a 15-minute walk from Ferrara's historic centre and in the days when these villas were built, were likely out in the countryside.


The highlight of the Schifanoia is the allegorical frescoes with details in tempera by or after Francesco del Cossa and Cosmè Tura, and executed around1469. Photos aren't allowed, of course, so this I have taken from Wikipedia. It is from the Salone dei Mesi (The Salon of the Months) Tura's pagan cycle matching each month to a mythical figure.

Behind the palazzo is an interesting restaurant that looks more like a farmyard, with decent food and wine served at tables scattered around the yard.


Comments (11)

Great post and photos!

Great photos, Sandra! What a lovely town!I love the look of the restaurant.

I love the exterior of the Duomo in Ferrara. The B&B I have stayed at there sent me a great photo of it at night during Christmas time a few years ago. I will email you the photo.

The Palazzo Schifanoia sounds so familiar. I think I spent time chatting to the bartender in the restaurant (although I remember it more as a bar) when I was there. Van Morrison was playing. We started talking about music and he was trying to talk me into going to see a concert in Prato (not with him). Now if it was with him, it might have been another story!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, wonderful follow-up post on Ferarra. I also thought that the facade of the Cattedrale was amazing. Regretfully, I didn't have the chance to visit inside so it is nice to read more about it and the history in your post. That's a beautiful shrine that you found and a really unique little restaurant.

Thank you for writing more on Ferarra. I can tell that I need to go back and spend more than just an afternoon there. I also enjoyed your wonderful photos too. Have a great day today.

I love the looks of that restaurant too. And that is some church! Love the shrine also...I wonder if that's a copy of a painting that is somewhere else in the city. Did you go to the world's oldest wine bar?


Hi Leslie, thanks!

Candi, the restaurant was quite fun. I had seen a sign for a bar/cafe/cafeteria in the entrance to palazzo, so I was expecting something like a little coffee bar in the basement. But this was quite charming!

Girasoli, I would LOVE to see a photo of the Cathedral lit up for Christmas! It really was quite beautiful.

You probably were in the same restaurant/bar. I sat outside in the yard, but it's quite interesting inside -- strangely, it reminded me of the kind of frontier-style place you'd find in North America! Rough-hewn floors and walls, tons of memorabilia hanging from the walls, funky music, lots of little products like jam for sale, a few tables and stools around the bar if you just wanted a coffee. I think the kitchen must have been in the basement.

Hi Kathy, thanks for your comments! Ferrara seemed to really shut down in the afternoon -- from stores to even museums and churches closed right down for 3 or 4 hours. Which would make it really tough for a day visitor to see anything. If you ever have time to stay overnight, to catch things in the morning or later afternoons, you would really enjoy it!


"schivar la noia" - I love that! I'm really enjoying reading your entries about this area, Sandra. Wonderful photos too, the cathedral IS stunning! And the restaurant is so charming.


Annie, it's an interesting shrine, isn't it? The painting does look like it should be copy of something and it looks a bit Gothic, with the tiny head on the oversized body of infant Jesus...

And I did have dinner my last night in Ferrara at Al Brindisi -- it was very good although I was the only person inside! It was a warm evening but all the outside tables were taken, so I felt a bit kenspeckle inside.

Pokey and colleenK on SlowTrav had given Brinidisi such rave reviews (except for the standup washroom) that I knew I had to try it.

Hi Anne, thanks very much. Blogging about Italy helps me to feel like I'm still a little bit connected there.

I just had to google "kenspeckle" - another great word I've learned from you!


Annie, I threw kenspeckle in just for you! I remember hearing it used (by Scots) as meaning a feeling of being conspicuous, or sticking out like a sore thumb! (which was how I felt even though it made no sense -- the interior of the bar was empty, so there was no one to see me so kenspeckle!)

Meanwhile, I've been googling Agnusdio -- your new post is fascinating!

It's a great word!

Palazzo Agnusdio was something I read about first and then went looking for; I'm not sure I would have stumbled across it (it's kind of buried in the Venetian maze).

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