Ferrara ([ferˈraːra] listen (help·info)) (Emilian: Frara) is a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, capital city of the Province of Ferrara. It is situated 50 kilometres (31 miles) north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km (3 miles) north. The town has broad streets and numerous palaces dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, when it hosted the court of the House of Este. For its beauty and cultural importance it has been qualified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Modern times have brought a renewal of industrial activity. Ferrara is on the main rail line from Bologna to Padua and Venice, and has branches to Ravenna, Poggio Rusco (for Suzzara) and Codigoro.
|Comune di Ferrara|
Location in the Province of Ferrara
|Province / Metropolitan city||Ferrara (FE)|
|Frazioni||Aguscello, Albarea, Baura, Boara, Borgo Scoline, Bova, Casaglia, Cassana, Castel Trivellino, Chiesuol del Fosso, Cocomaro di Cona, Cocomaro di Focomorto, Codrea, Cona, Contrapò, Corlo, Correggio, Denore, Focomorto, Francolino, Gaibana, Gaibanella, Sant'Egidio, Malborghetto di Boara, Malborghetto di Correggio, Marrara, Mezzavia, Monestirolo, Montalbano, Parasacco, Pescara, Pontegradella, Pontelagoscuro, Ponte Travagli, Porotto, Porporana, Quartesana, Ravalle, Sabbioni, San Bartolomeo in Bosco, San Martino, Spinazzino, Torre della Fossa, Uccellino, Viconovo, Villanova|
|• Mayor||Tiziano Tagliani (PD)|
|• Total||404.36 km2 (156.12 sq mi)|
|Elevation||9 m (30 ft)|
|Population (31 December 2014)|
|• Density||330/km2 (850/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Postal code||44121 to 44124|
|Patron saint||St. George|
|Saint day||April 23|
Antiquity and Middle AgesEdit
The first documented settlements in the area of the present-day Province of Ferrara date from the 6th century BCE. The ruins of the Etruscan town of Spina, estabilished along the lagoons at the ancient mouth of Po river, were lost until modern times, when drainage schemes in the Valli di Comacchio marshes in 1922 first officially revealed a necropolis wiht over 4,000 tombs, evidence of a population centre that in Antiquity must have played a major role. 
There is uncertainty among scholars about the proposed Roman origin of the settlement in its current location (Tacitus and Boccaccio refer to a "Forum Alieni"), for little is known of this period, but some archeologic evidence points to the hypotesis that Ferrara could have been originated from two small Byzantine settlements: a cluster of facilities around the Cathedral of St. George, on the right bank of the main branch of the Po, which then ran much closer to the city than today, and a castrum, a fortified complex built on the left bank of the river to defend against the Lombards.
Ferrara appears first in a document of the Lombard king Desiderius of 753 AD, when he captured the town from the Exarchate of Ravenna. Later the Franks, after routing the Lombards, presented Ferrara to the Papacy in 754 or 756. In 988 Ferrara was ceded by the Church to the House of Canossa, but at the death of Matilda of Tuscany in 1115 it became a free commune. During the 12th century the history of the town was marked by the wrestling for power between two preminent families, the Guelph Adelardi and the Ghibelline Salinguerra; however, at this point, the powerful Imperial House of Este had thrown his decisive weight behind the Salinguerra and eventually reaped the benefits of victory for themselves. In 1264 Obizzo II of Este was thus proclaimed lifelong ruler of Ferrara, Lord of Modena in 1288 and of Reggio in 1289. His rule marked the end of the communal period in Ferrara and the beginning of the Este rule, which lasted until 1598.
In 1452 Borso of Este was created duke of Modena and Reggio by Emperor Frederick III and in 1471 duke of Ferrara by Pope Paul II. Lionello and, especially, Ercole I were among the most important patrons of the arts in late 15th- and early 16th-century Italy. During this time, Ferrara grew into an international cultural centre, renowned for its architecture, music, literature and visual arts.
The architecture of Ferrara greatly benefited from the genius of Biagio Rossetti, who was requested in 1484 by Ercole I to draft a masterplan for the expansion of the town. The resulting "Erculean Addition" is considered one of the most important examples of Renaissance urban planning and contributed to the selection of Ferrara as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In spite of having entered its golden age, Ferrara was severely hit by a war against Venice fought and lost in 1482-84. Alfonso I succeeded to the throne in 1505 and married the notorious Lucrezia Borgia. He again fought Venice in the Italian Wars after joining the League of Cambrai. In 1509 he was excommunicated by Pope Julius II, but was able to overcame the Papal and Spanish armies in 1512 at the Battle of Ravenna. These successes were based on Ferrara's artillery, produced in his own foundry which was the best of its time.
At his death in 1534, Alfonso I was succeeded by his son Ercole II that in 1528 married Renée of France, the second daughter of Louis XII, thus bringing great prestige to the court of Ferrara. Under his reign, the Duchy remained an affluent country and a cultural powerhouse. However, an earthquake stroke the town in 1570, causing the economy to collapse, and when Ercole II's son Alfonso II died without heirs, the House of Este lost Ferrara to the Papal States.
Late modern and contemporaryEdit
Ferrara, a university city second only to Bologna, remained a part of the Papal States for almost 300 years, an era marked by a steady decline; in 1792 the population of the town numbered only 27,000, less than in the 17th century. In 1805-1814 it became briefly part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, a client-state of the French Empire. After the 1815 Congress of Vienna, Ferrara was given back to the Pope, now guaranteed by the Empire of Austria. A bastion fort erected in the 1600s by Pope Paul V on the site of and old castle called "Castel Tedaldo", at the south-west angle of the town, was thus occupied by an Austrian garrison from 1832 until 1859. All of the fortress was dismantled following the birth of the Kingdom of Italy and the bricks used for new constructions all over the town.
During the last decades of the 1800s and the early 1900s, Ferrara remained a modest trade centre for its great rural hinterland that relied on intesntive cultivations of crops such as sugar beet and industrial hemp. Large land reclamation works were carried out for decades with the aim to expand the available arable land and eradicate malaria from the wetlands along the Po delta. Mass industrialisation came to Ferrara only at the end of the 1930s with the set-up of a chemical plant by the Fascist regime that should have supplied the regime with synthetic rubber. During the Second World War Ferrara was repeatedly bombed by Allied warplanes that targeted and destroyed railway links and industrial facilities. After the war, the industrial area in Pontelagoscuro was expanded to become a giant petrochemical compund operated by Montecatini and other companies, that at its peak employed 7,000 workers and produced 20% of plastics in Italy. In recent decades, as part of a general trend in Italy and Europe, Ferrara has come to rely more on tertiary and tourism, while the heavy industry, still present in the town, has been largely phased out.
After almost 450 years, another earthquake struck Ferrara in May, 2012 causing only limited damage to the historic buildings of the town and no victims.
The town is still surrounded by more than 9 kilometres (6 miles) of ancient walls, mainly built in the 15th and 16th-centuries. Along with those of Lucca, they are the best preserved Renaissance walls in Italy.
The imposing brick Castello Estense sited in the very centre of the town is iconic of Ferrara. The castle, erected in 1385, is surrounded by a moat, with four massive bastions. The pavilions on the top of the towers date from the 16th-century refurbishment.
The City Hall, renovated in the 18th century, was the earlier residence of the Este family. Close by it is the former Cathedral of San Giorgio, The Romanesque lower part of the main façade and the side façades was completed first in 1135. According to a now lost inscription the church had been commissioned by Guglielmo I of Adelardi (d. 1146). The sculpture of the main portal was signed by a Nicholaus, mentioned in the lost inscription as the church's Romanesque architect. The upper part of the main façade, with arcades of pointed arches, dates from the 13th century. The recumbent lions guarding the entrance are copies of the originals, now in the narthex of the church. An elaborate 13th-century relief depicting the Last Judgement is found in the second story of the porch. The interior was restored in the baroque style in 1712. The campanile, in the Renaissance style, dates from 1451–1493, but the top storey was added at the end of the 16th century. The campanile is still incomplete, missing one additional storey and a conical top, as it can be seen from numerous historical prints and paintings on the subject.
Nearby is the University of Ferrara; the university library houses part of manuscript of the Orlando furioso and letters by Tasso. Its famous graduates include Nicolaus Copernicus (1503) and Paracelsus. The campus also shelters the University of Ferrara Botanic Garden.
Unlike other towns, Ferrara retains many early Quattrocento palaces, often retaining terracotta decorations, though most are comparatively small in size. Among them are those in the north quarter (especially the four at the intersection of its two main streets), which was added by Ercole I in 1492–1505, from the plans of Biagio Rossetti, and hence called the Addizione Erculea.
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, which first rose to prominence in the latter half of the 15th century, with Cosimo Tura, Francesco Cossa and Ercole dei Roberti. Noted masters of the 16th-century School of Ferrara include Lorenzo Costa and Dosso Dossi, the most eminent of all, Girolamo da Carpi and Benvenuto Tisi (il Garofalo).
The Casa Romei is perhaps the best preserved Renaissance building in Ferrara. It was the residence of Giovanni Romei, related by marriage to Este family and likely the work of the court architect Pietro Bono Brasavola. The occupation of the palace by the nuns of the Corpus Domini order prevented its destruction. Much of the decoration in the inner rooms has been saved. There are fresco cycles in the Sala delle Sibille (Room of Sibyls), with its original terracotta fireplace bearing the coat of arms of Giovanni Romei, in the adjoining Saletta dei Profeti (Room of the Prophets), depicting allegories from the Bible and in other rooms, some of which were commissioned by cardinal Ippolito d'Este and painted by the school of Camillo and Cesare Filippi (16th century).
The Palazzo Schifanoia (sans souci) was built in 1385 for Alberto V d'Este. The palazzo includes frescoes depicting the life of Borso d'Este, the signs of the zodiac and allegorical representations of the months. The vestibule was decorated with stucco mouldings by Domenico di Paris. The building also contains fine choir-books with miniatures and a collection of coins and Renaissance medals.
The City Historical Archives contain a relevant amount of historical documents, starting from 15th century. The Diocesan Historical Archive is more ancient, mentioned in documents in AD 955, and contains precious documents collected across the centuries by the clergy.
In 2007, there were 135,369 people residing in Ferrara, of whom 46.8% were male and 53.2% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 12.28 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 26.41%. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06% (minors) and 19.94% (pensioners). The average age of Ferrara residents is 49 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Ferrara grew by 2.28%, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.85%. The current birth rate of Ferrara is 7.02 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births. Ferrara is known as being the oldest city with a population over 100,000, as well the city with lowest birth rate.
As of 2006[update], 95.59% of the population was Italian. The largest immigrant group was other European nations (mostly from the Ukraine, and Albania: 2.59%) North Africa: 0.51%, and East Asia: 0.39%. The city is predominantly Roman Catholic, with small Orthodox Christian adherents. The historical Jewish community is still surviving.
The Jewish community of Ferrara is the only one in Emilia Romagna with a continuous presence from the Middle Ages to the present day. It played an important role when Ferrara enjoyed its greatest splendor in the 15th and 16th century, with the duke Ercole I d'Este. The situation of the Jews deteriorated in 1598, when the Este dynasty moved to Modena and the city came under papal control. The Jewish settlement, located in three streets forming a triangle near the cathedral, became a ghetto in 1627. Apart from a few years under Napoleon and during the 1848 revolution, the ghetto lasted until Italian unification in 1859.
In 1799, the Jewish community saved the city from sacking by troops of the Holy Roman Empire. During the spring of 1799, the city had fallen into the hands of the Republic of France, which established a small garrison there. On 15 April, Lieutenant Field Marshal Johann von Klenau approached the fortress with a modest mixed force of Austrian cavalry, artillery and infantry augmented by Italian peasant rebels, commanded by Count Antonio Bardaniand and demanded its capitulation. The commander refused. Klenau blockaded the city, leaving a small group of artillery and troops to continue the siege. For the next three days, Klenau patrolled the countryside, capturing the surrounding strategic points of Lagoscuro, Borgoforte and the Mirandola fortress. The besieged garrison made several sorties from the Saint Paul's Gate, which were repulsed by the insurgent peasants. The French attempted two rescues of the beleaguered fortress: the first, on 24 April, when a force of 400 Modenese was repulsed at Mirandola. In the second, General Montrichard tried to raise the city-blockade by advancing with a force of 4,000. Finally, at the end of the month, a column led by Pierre-Augustin Hulin reached and relieved the fortress.
Klenau took possession of the town on 21 May, and garrisoned it with a light battalion. The Jewish residents of Ferrara paid 30,000 ducats to prevent the pillage of the city by Klenau's forces; this was used to pay the wages of Gardani's troops. Although Klenau held the town, the French still possessed the town's fortress. After making the standard request for surrender at 0800, which was refused, Klenau ordered a barrage from his mortars and howitzers. After two magazines caught fire, the commandant was summoned again to surrender; there was some delay, but a flag of truce was sent at 2100, and the capitulation was concluded at 0100 the next day. Upon taking possession of the fortress, Klenau found 75 new artillery pieces, plus ammunition and six months worth of provisions.
In 1938, Mussolini's fascist government instituted racial laws reintroducing segregation of Jews which lasted until the end of the German occupation. During the Second World War, ninety-six of Ferrara's 300 Jews were deported to German concentration and death camps; five survived. The Italian Jewish writer, Giorgio Bassani, was from Ferrara. His celebrated book, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, was published in Italian as Giardino del Finzi-Contini, 1962, by Giulio Einaudi editore s.p.a. It was made into a film by Vittorio de Sica in 1970.
During WWII, the Este Castle, adjacent to the Corso Roma, now known as the Corso Martiri della Libertà, was the site of an infamous massacre in 1943.
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Criteria||Cultural: ii, iii, iv, v, vi|
|Inscription||1995 (19th Session)|
|Buffer zone||117,649 ha|
The Renaissance literary men and poets Torquato Tasso (author of Jerusalem Delivered), Ludovico Ariosto (author of the romantic epic poem Orlando Furioso) and Matteo Maria Boiardo (author of the grandiose poem of chivalry and romance Orlando Innamorato), lived and worked at the court of Ferrara during the 15th and 16th century.
The Ferrara Bible was a 1553 publication of the Ladino version of the Tanakh used by Sephardi Jews. It was paid for and made by Yom-Tob ben Levi Athias (the Spanish Marrano Jerónimo de Vargas, as typographer) and Abraham ben Salomon Usque (the Portuguese Jew Duarte Pinhel, as translator), and was dedicated to Ercole II d'Este. In the 20th century Ferrara was the home and workplace of writer Giorgio Bassani, well known for his novels that were often adapted for cinema (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, Long Night in 1943). In historical fiction, British author Sarah Dunant set her 2009 novel Sacred Hearts in a convent in Ferrara.
During the Renaissance, the House of Este, well known for its partonage of the arts, welcomed a great number of artists, especially painters, that formed the so-called School of Ferrara. The astounding list of painters and artists includes the names of Andrea Mantegna, Vicino da Ferrara, Giovanni Bellini, Leon Battista Alberti, Pisanello, Piero della Francesca, Battista Dossi, Dosso Dossi, Cosmé Tura, Francesco del Cossa and Titian. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Ferrara hosted and inspired a number of important painters who grew fond of its eerie atmosphere: among them Giovanni Boldini, Filippo de Pisis and Giorgio de Chirico.
Ferrara gave birth to Girolamo Savonarola, the famous medieval Dominican priest and leader of Florence from 1494 until his execution in 1498. He was known for his book burning, destruction of what he considered immoral art, and hostility to the Renaissance. He vehemently preached against the moral corruption of much of the clergy at the time, and his main opponent was Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia).
The Ferrarese musician Girolamo Frescobaldi was one of the most important composers of keyboard music in the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods. His masterpiece Fiori musicali (Musical Flowers) is a collection of liturgical organ music first published in 1635. It became the most famous of Frescobaldi's works and was studied centuries after his death by numerous composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach. Maurizio Moro (15??—16??) an Italian poet of the 16th century best known for madrigals is thought to have been born in Ferrara.
Ferrara is the birthplace and childhood home of the well-known Italian film director, Michelangelo Antonioni. The town of Ferrara was also the setting of the famous film The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Vittorio De Sica in (1970), that tells the vicissitudes of a rich Jewish family during the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini and World War II. Furthermore, Wim Wenders and Michelangelo Antonioni's Beyond the Clouds in (1995) and Ermanno Olmi's The Profession of Arms in (2001), a film about the last days of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, were also shot in Ferrara.
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, small meat-filled ravioli served in chicken broth or with a white sauce made from cream and, optionally, local truffles. A peculiar first dish is the pasticcio di maccheroni, a domed macaroni pie, consisting of a crust of sweet dough enclosing macaroni in a Béchamel sauce, studded with porcini mushrooms and ragù bolognese. The second course that is a must of the Christmas table is the Salama da sugo, a one-year-old dry salami made from a special selection of pork meat, spices and red wine. Seafood is an important part of the town tradition, due to the vicinity to the sea, and grilled or stewed eel from the river Po delta is especially appreciated. In the Ferrara's pantry you can also find a kosher salami, made of goose meat stuffed in goose neck skin. The Christmas traditional dessert is a chocolat pie, the pampepato, and the zuppa inglese. The clay terroir of the area, an alluvial plain created by the river Po, is not ideal for wine; a notable exception is the Vini del Bosco Eliceo (DOC), made from grapes cultivated on the sandy coast line. The typical bread, called coppia ferrarese, has been awarded the IGP (Protected Geographical Status) label .
Ferrara railway station, opened in 1862, forms part of the Padua–Bologna railway. It is also a terminus of three secondary railways, linking Modena with Ravenna and Rimini, Suzzara, and Codigoro, respectively. The station is located at Piazzale della Stazione, at the northwestern edge of the city centre.
Twin towns — sister citiesEdit
Ferrara is twinned with:
The last municipal elections was held on May 25, 2014, resulting in the election of Tiziano Tagliani (Democratic Party) as Mayor of the city of Ferrara. The division of the 32 seats in the city council is as followed:
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- Colonel Danilo Oreskovich and 1,300 Croatians of the 2nd Banat battalion, 4,000 Ferrarese auxiliary troops commanded by Count Antonio Gardani, and several hundred local peasants commanded by Major Angelo Pietro Poli. Acerbi. The 1799 Campaign in Italy: Klenau and Ott Vanguards and the Coalition’s Left Wing April – June 1799.
- Acerbi, The 1799 Campaign in Italy: Klenau and Ott Vanguards and the Coalition’s Left Wing April – June 1799.
- Accerbi reports that wages were the equivalent of a daily intake of 21 "Baiocchi" in cash and four in bread. Acerbi, The 1799 Campaign in Italy: Klenau and Ott Vanguards and the Coalition’s Left Wing April – June 1799.
- Acerbi, The 1799 Campaign in Italy: Klenau and Ott Vanguards and the Coalition’s Left Wing April – June 1799; Klenau's force included a battalion of light infantry, a couple battalions of border infantry, a squadron of the Nauendorf Hussars (8th Hussars), and approximately 4,000 armed peasants. For details on Austrian force, see Smith, Ferrara, Data Book, p. 156. Klenau's force also captured 75 guns from the fortress.
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See also: Ferrara bibliography (in Italian)
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ferrara". Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 283.
- Acerbi, Enrico. "The 1799 Campaign in Italy: Klenau and Ott Vanguards and the Coalition’s Left Wing April - June 1799". Napoleon Series, Robert Burnham, editor in chief. March 2008. Accessed 30 October 2009.
- See also: Bibliography of the history of Ferrara
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ferrara.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Ferrara.|
- Official Tourism Office Site - in six languages
- Official website
- Search engine and index of websites related to Ferrara
- The Comunale Theatre
- Ferrara Balloons Festival - the biggest Hot Air Balloons Fiesta in Italy
- Ferrara Under the Stars - The most important Italian summer music festival
- Ferrara Buskers' Festival
- Palazzo dei Diamanti - Ferrara National Museum of Art
- The University of Ferrara
- Local Newspaper