Ferrara appeared for the first time in documents dated 754, and is characterised by a continuous passage of noble dynasties. The town was built on the fork of the old route of the River Po, where it branches into the Volano and Primaro, and in the medieval period became a free Commune and began to develop along the west banks as well. The structure of the town has remained virtually intact and offers some very fascinating views, with important civic and religious buildings. In 1492, Duke Ercole I of Este ordered that the town be extended to the north and appointed Biagio Rossetti for the work, one of the most important architects and town planners of Italian Renaissance. The extension to the north doubled the surface area of Ferrara with a very advanced project: the Diamond Crossroads, new wide straight roads, where elegant palazzos, large squares and luxuriant gardens soon sprang up. With Devolution in 1598, the town and land left by the Este family passed under direct political and administrative control of the Church, to then be dominated by Austria between 1832 and 1859. Finally it became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Ferrara has now been declared world heritage by UNESCO.
The city and its monuments
The Este Castle, the Municipal Palace, the Cathedral of St. George, Palazzo Paradiso and Palazzo dei Diamanti, seat of the national picture gallery, are just some of the important monuments in the town, whose art is its main attraction. Este Castle, also called Castle of St. Michael, is a square brick building with four defensive towers situated right in the centre of the town. Its construction started in 1385, it was partly renovated in 1554. The Municipal Palace, rebuilt in the 18th century, was the first residence of the Este family, nearby is St. Georges Cathedral, built by Guglielmo degli Adelardi and consecrated in 1135, when the Romanic main façade and side façades were completed. The arches in the top of the façade date back to the 13th century and the interiors were renovated in Baroque style beginning in 1712. Palazzo Paradiso houses the Ariostea Civic Library, which holds the most complete collection of works by Orlando Furioso, some letters from Torquato Tasso and the Bible which belonged to the Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola. It is now an important university town, hospital centre and one of the most visited so-called minor art towns. The renaissance town walls are 9 kilometres long and can be travelled entirely on foot or bike.
The geographical area
The province is characterised by the famous Ferrara Lidos, well away from the hectic Romagna Riviera, with fine sandy beaches and deep waters, with seven bathing resorts. The Comacchio Lidos are all completely different from each other. The most northern Lido is Volano, where the River Po flows into the sea, creating a very valuable environment for natural resources, perfect for lovers of walking and fishing. Then there is Lido delle Nazioni, a more mundane and sporting centre, with wide avenues travelled by cyclists and walkers. Going south we reach Lido di Pomposa and Lido degli Scacchi, with their calm luxuriant green surroundings they are ideal for family holidays. Just a few kilometres away, Porto Garibaldi, without doubt the most picturesque, and height of gastronomy and fishing. The boats depart from here to visit the Po Delta and for deep-sea fishing for mackerel. We finally reach Lido degli Estensi and Spina, with their endless sandy beaches.