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Ferrara is a city in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, capital city of the province of Ferrara. It is situated 50 km north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km north. The town has broad streets and numerous palaces dating from the 14th century, when it hosted the court of the house of Este. 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. The town is still surrounded by more than 9 kilometres of ancient walls, mainly built in the 15th and 16th centuries. The most prominent building is the square Castello Estense, in the centre of the town, a brick building surrounded by a moat, with four towers. It was built after 1385 and partly restored in 1554; the pavilions on the top of the towers date from the latter year. Near it is the hospital of Santa Anna, where the poet Torquato Tasso was confined during his attack of insanity (1579–1586). The Palazzo del Municipio, rebuilt in the 18th century, was the earlier residence of the Este family. Close by it is the cathedral of San Giorgio, consecrated in 1135, when the Romanesque lower part of the main façade and the side façades were completed. It was built by Guglielmo degli Adelardi (d. 1146), who is buried in it. The upper part of the main façade, with arcades of pointed arches, dates from the 13th century and the portal has recumbent lions and elaborate sculptures above. The interior was restored in the baroque style in 1712.
The campanile, in the Renaissance style, dates from 1451–1493, but the last storey was added at the end of the 16th century. A little way off is the university, which has faculties of law, architecture, pharmacy, medicine and natural science; the library has valuable manuscripts, including part of that of the Orlando Furioso and letters by Tasso. In the university took their degree Nicolaus Copernicus (1503) and Paracelsus. Ferrara has many early Renaissance palaces, often retaining terracotta decorations; few towns of Italy as small have so many, though most are comparatively small in size. Among them may be noted 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, so named for the diamond points into which the facade's stone blocks are cut. It 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 (Painting) include Lorenzo Costa and Dosso Dossi, the most eminent of all, Girolamo da Carpi and Benvenuto Tisio (il Garofalo). The Archivio Storico Comunale contains a relevant amount of historical documents, starting from 15th century. The Archivio Storico Diocesano is more ancient, mentioned in documents in 955, and contains precious documents collected across the centuries by the clergy. Many libraries also enrich this town, which possesses a cultural heritage of extraordinary importance. The Monastero del Corpus Domini contains tombs of the Estes, including Alfonso I, Alfonso II, Ercole I, Ercole II, as well as Lucrezia Borgia, Eleonora d'Aragona, and a dozen others.
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