Ferrara was the day trip planned for day number four of the IHTM Italy excursion. After breakfast, we departed from Bologna and drove to the little city Ferrara. We were met by our guide, Elisa, who immediately apologized for the rain, but promised it wouldn’t stop her from giving us a great tour around the city.
Elisa explained that to this day, the city of Ferrara is surrounded by a city wall, but that the city in fact can be divided into two parts: the medieval and the renaissance part. We started our tour by visiting the castle on the border of the two city parts, where Elisa gave us an introduction to the history of important families that had resided in the castle and ruled Ferrara throughout the times.
From the castle, we walked over to the Ferrara cathedral where we got a detailed explanation if the symbolic of the facade. We learned that because mass used to be held in Latin, which peasants did not understand, communicating religious messages through imagery and symbols was very important, and thus the facade of the building had a very important function.
We continued our tour and walked over to the Jewish ghetto where around 2000 Jews had lived in medieval times because on of the rulers of Ferrara had been known as the protector of the Jews. Unfortunately, we could not visit the synagogue because it was severely damaged by an earthquake in 2012.
After our city tour, we had lunch at a traditional “ospiteria”, a type of restaurant which is said to be the origin of restaurants. On the table were baskets with traditional Ferrarian bread called coppia. Elisa explained that the special shape of the bread symbolizes a couple that clings together. After a lot of coppia, risotto, tortellini, meat with potatoes, and chocolate mousse, it was time to say goodbye to Elisa and head back to Bologna.
Ferrara is definitely a city worth visiting. Since it is not a very well-known tourist destination, it was not as over-crowded as Florence or Rome, but I found it just as interesting with all its traditions and extensive history.
By Valeska Ruiken