What to see and things to do in Ferrara, UNESCO World Heritage Site

renowned for its Renaissance palaces and churches.

2 Nov 2019

Gruppo UNA

This fascinating city can give Florence a run for its money, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its Renaissance palaces and churches. The city of Ferrara is situated on the River Po, less than 48 km from Bologna. Ferrara was ruled by the House of Este from the year 1752, and became a renowned centre of art, poetry, music and architecture under Este patronage.  Visitors will find the city a real gem, and as it's often overlooked by major tour operators and holidaymakers, the town can be surprisingly free of the crowds found in the more popular destinations such as Venice and Florence. 


Some of the main sights of Ferrara include:

  • the iconic Este Castle which is situated in the centre of the town and dominates the surrounding area. This huge, moated castle is square, featuring a tower at each corner;
  • Cathedral of St. George, built in 1135AD,  which is one of Italy's best examples of Romanesque architecture. The cathedral has been sympathetically restored over the centuries and noteworthy features include its Gothic upper facade and the sculptures in the main entrance. Its interior has a baroque style which was added in the year 1712;
  • the medieval Casa Romei building and the surrounding alleys and narrow streets of the medieval town;
  • the National Gallery housed in Palazzo dei Diamanti;
  • the frescoes in the Palazzo Schifanoia;
  • beautiful Palazzo dei Diamanti;
  • the National Picture Gallery, which holds a large selection of art from the Ferrara School which came to prominence towards the end of the 15th century;
  • the city walls were constructed over hundreds of years and surround the town entirely. This area is now a pleasant park, enabling visitors to walk the walls without disturbance from traffic.

Church in Ferrara

More things to do in Ferrara for foodies.

Ferrara is one of the few Italian cities with an established, historic Jewish community, and this connection has influenced many of the local foods and dishes. One of the signature dishes of Ferrara is Cappellachi di zucca, which is local ravioli stuffed with Parmigiano Reggiano, butternut squash, and nutmeg flavouring.

A macaroni pie dish that can trace its roots back to the medieval era is pasticcio di maccheroni which features porcini mushrooms with ragu Bolognese in a bechamel sauce. There are abundant local fish dishes, as seafood plays a major role in local foods, due to the fisheries of the Po Delta and the proximity of the Adriatic Sea.

Some of the most popular dishes include clams with pasta, and a variety of eel dishes. Some of the most common pastries and desserts include pampepato pie, tenerina, and zuppa inglese. The clay soils of the region mean there are very few local wines, as the soil is not ideal for growing grapes. Bosco Eliceo is the only wine of note within this region.

Where to stay near Ferrara.

Smart hotel ideally located outside of the Renaissance city of Ferrara, UNAWAY Hotel Occhiobello offers guests peaceful well-furnished rooms, a renowned restaurant, fitness facilities, various meeting spaces and a pleasant garden.

Guests enjoy warm Italian hospitality and efficient services that cater to their needs in this chic Ferrara hotel.