The Po River has always made Ferrara and its surroundings fertile. It has, undoubtedly, influenced the development of these areas.
Po Delta Park
I would suggest you go to Po Delta Park : this place is really special. In my opinion, this place is ideal for a “slow” trip that respects the rhythms of nature. You can visit these places in different ways depending on the time you have available.
A tour on the motor ship Nena is very beautiful and impressive. The ship was named after Nazzarena (Nena) Casini who was born in 1913 in Salvatonica di Bondeno. She was a ferrywoman to whom a film (“The Bride of the River”) was also dedicated. At the time, such a woman was unique. She went up the river every day to transport people from one side of the river to the other until she died at 72 years old. Her father had taught her the job, she never married and the Po was everything to her.
Bondeno and the Fortress of Stellata
Next, there’s Bondeno, an ancient settlement where archaeologists found remains that date back to prehistoric times. In the Middle Ages, Bondeno was a fief of Matilda di Canossa and in 1362 the Estensi family fortified it to separate from Ferrara. One of its symbols is the Fortress of Stellata, as the name suggests, it has a star-shaped design. The fortress is located along the right bank of the Po River. When I was there it could only be visited externally. The unique position of the walls had the purpose to provide a better defense against the enemy’s weapons.
Comacchio is also worth mentioning (for more information www.visitcomacchio.it), it is also called “little Venice” because of the canals and the many bridges that date back to the 18th century. The most famous one is the “Trepponti” bridge. People think that the shape of the bridge is based on Cardinal Pallotta’s hat. As a matter of fact, the cardinal ordered the construction of the bridge in the early 1600s.
The Manifattura dei Marinati chronicles the town’s traditional eel-fishing industry. You can also take another motorboat tour (for more information www.ferrarainfo.com) with visits to the restored fishing huts that have now become museums where you can admire fishing tools and much more.
And now, I cannot fail to mention Ferrara, which was an Estense domain as well as, for some time now, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city is, undoubtedly, a cyclist’s paradise with bike sharing and various assisting points ideal for lovers of bikes.
What to see in Ferrara
- I’m going to start with the Estense Castle, which is the only one in all of Europe that is surrounded by a ditch. It is so imposing that you can’t miss it. And do you know what its real name is? It’s Castello di San Michele! And how come? Simple! Because the construction started on the day dedicated to Saint Michele.
- Not too far away there is the Cathedral of St. George in clear Romanesque-Gothic style and the Town Hall i.e., the Palazzo Marchionale which was the first Residence of the Este family.
- Via delle Volte, which in the past was the heart of commerce. In fact, in medieval times the merchants’ homes were located here. The arches protected them on the way from robberies and helped them get to the warehouses faster.
- Two other buildings worth mentioning are:
a. Palazzo Schifanoia where there’s an exhibition that you can visit. It is 1400 square meters large with 21 rooms and more than 200 masterpieces to admire.
- b. Palazzo dei Diamanti is another marvelous example of Renaissance work. Its name is due to the more than 8000 blocks of both white and pink marble that make up the diamond-shaped exterior. And did you know that there is also a legend? According to the legend, Hercules I D’este had the master builder hide a real and beautiful diamond behind one of these small blocks. However, to prevent the man from revealing his secret he had him blinded and his tongue cut out. The diamond has never been found.
For those who love biking trips, I would recommend a beautiful route of about 700 km that crosses the entire Po Valley from Turin and Venice. It is a beautiful journey that takes us through four regions. You can bike through unspoiled nature and protected areas dedicated to birdwatching. You’ll also be able to eat typical regional food. The itinerary will take you to courts and castles in Pavia, Cremona, and Ferrara.