Ten things not to miss in a one-day trip to Ferrara: follow our itinerary and immerse yourself in the charm of the city of noble Este dynasty.

The pearl of the Italian Renaissance, Ferrara is known to have been one of the capitals of European culture, a point of reference for illustrious poets, writers and artists. The city flourished most notably under the dominion of the Noble House of Este and still proudly displays a great wealth of majestic palaces, castles, and monuments – but the city is small enough to be enjoyed even in a single day trip.

Would you like to find out which are the city’s must-see points of interest? Follow our itinerary step by step, and leave some time to sample typical dishes in the best restaurants in the center of Ferrara: appetites must be satisfied!

What to see in Ferrara in one day: first stop, Via delle Volte

Our journey starts from the medieval heart of Ferrara, the narrow and cobbled Via delle Volte. A suggestive street that, as the name says, has a large number of arches and suspended passages: they were used by city merchants as a passage from the warehouses to their residences. A magical place of literary and artistic interest, this place was also described by Giorgio Bassani in his “Il giardino dei Finzi Contini”.

Via delle volte Ferrara in un giorno

Ferrara’s Duomo, not to be missed

From the long Via delle Volte you can easily reach the Cathedral of San Giorgio Martire, the second step of our itinerary: a majestic building with a grandiose Romanesque façade that bears the signs of all the city’s historical periods.

Ferrara’s venues: The Cathedral Museum

A short walk takes you to the Cathedral Museum; do visit it if you are an art lover and want to learn more about this building. Housed in the church of San Romano, the museum houses a large number of masterpieces from the Duomo: from Our Lady of the Pomegranate by Jacopo della Quercia to the precious bas-reliefs depicting the months of the year.

The Town Hall Square, center of Ferrara

Another outdoor treasure is the city’s main square Piazza del Municipio, an ancient ducal courtyard that in the time of the Este family hosted lavish theatrical events, and where Ariosto himself staged numerous plays. Admire the staircase of honor and the court chapel dedicated to Eleanor of Aragon.

Visit Ferrara in one day: stop at the Castle

And here we come to another of the must-sees on a trip to Ferrara: the Castle of San Michele, which began as a defensive fortress in the late 1300s and was later converted into a court residence. With its imposing terracotta structure and the four towers, today, it is the city’s iconic symbol and hosts halls, dungeons, and sumptuous apartments that you can visit as part of a museum itinerary.

Da Giorgio Bassani a Ludovico Ariosto la Ferrara letteraria e artistica - castello estense

© Castello Estense, Ferrara, ph. Luca Gavagna-le immagini

The Rotonda Foschini, a must-see in Ferrara

From the world-famous castle to one of Ferrara’s most picturesque yet concealed attractions – the Rotonda Foschini. Despite its location right in the center, it reveals its beauty only to the eyes of the more attentive visitors. It is a courtyard with a characteristic oval shape that is part of the Teatro Comunale complex. Admire the composure of the composition and the depiction of the Apotheosis of Ariosto that embellishes the vault.

Ferrara, day trip: a walk on Corso Ercole

We stay in the center to take a walk on Corso Ercole I d’Este, which connects the castle to the Gate of Angels on the city walls. The street represents the pivotal artery of the Herculean Addition, the great urban planning work commissioned by Duke Hercules I that earned Ferrara a mention among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Along the way, you will come across numerous valuable buildings, including the famous Palazzo dei Diamanti.

A touch of nature: a jewel in Ferrara

After so much architectural beauty, a breath of fresh air in the city’s greenery: we suggest you don’t miss a walk in the beautiful Massari Park, a public garden of no less than four hectares with specimens of Lebanon cedar, hackberry tree and ginkgo biloba. Just across the street from the park, you reach the Botanical Garden of the University of Ferrara, with a large collection of protected plants and species.

A Ferrara day trip itinerary: the church of Santa Maria in Vado

Another gem not to be missed is the ancient church of Santa Maria in Vado, dating back to the year 1000 and known for its prodigy chapel, which commemorates the blood miracle that occurred on Easter Day 1171.

Casa Romei in Ferrara and its museum

The last stop we suggest is Casa Romei, a beautiful example of a 15th-century mansion with an exhibition itinerary that allows you to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the time. In the interior, you will find works by great names in Emilian and Italian art, such as Donatello, Francesco del Cossa, Alfonso Lombardi, Gregorio di Lorenzo, and Bastianino.

Ferrara in un giorno, casa Romei credits dvdbramhall via flickr

© dvdbramhall via flickr

What to see in Ferrara in one day: ten stages

In summary, if you are in the city of Este for a short time, these are the ten stops on our one-day itinerary in Ferrara:

  1. Via delle Volte
  2. The Duomo di Ferrara
  3. The Cathedral Museum
  4. The Piazza del Municipio
  5. The Castle of Ferrara
  6. The Rotonda Foschini
  7. Corso Ercole
  8. Parco Massari and the Botanical Garden
  9. The Church of Santa Maria in Vado
  10. Casa Romei and its museum

Getting to Ferrara with Italo

Our itinerary ends here in your discovery of some of the city’s most beautiful sites. What are you waiting for? Plan your day trip by booking a  train to Ferrara – in a few well-spent hours, you will experience splendid art, nature, history, and architecture and take home warm memories of the Este dynasty legacy city. So much so that, we’re sure, you’ll want to come back at a slower pace to visit Ferrara for an entire weekend!