Last month two earthquakes rocked the villages and towns of northern Italy including the late medieval and Renaissance town of Ferrara. Established by the powerful Este dynasty this UNESCO World Heritage site is a town of bicycles, black magic and imposing architecture suspended in time. Although there was some damage to the magnificent buildings in the town’s centre, thankfully no one was killed here; restoration work is already well underway and nearly all sites are now open to the public.
1. The d’Este Castle
This impressive castle, parts of which date back to 1135, is well worth a visit. It towers over the Piazza Castello where jazz, rock and folk festivals are held throughout the summer; a magnificent backdrop to a wonderful collection of concerts.
2. Al Brindisi, the oldest wine bar in the world
Follow in the footsteps of Titian and Copernicus in this charming enoteca in an unimposing side street tucked away behind the cathedral; the perfect spot for a pre-dinner aperitif or a late-night drink any time of the year.
3. International Street Musicians Festival in a beautiful Renaissance setting
The breath-taking facade of the Romanesque-Gothic cathedral overlooks the Piazza Cattedrale where the buskersí festival held every August is the biggest of its kind in the world with musicians from around the globe covering every conceivable musical genres.
4. Cappellaci di zucca
Dating back to the court of the d’Este dynasty the local pumpkin filled pasta, cappellaci di zucca is delicious washed down with a cold glass of Lambrusco, a mildly fizzy, red wine with the flavour of raspberries. Pumpkin season starts in late summer and Osteria delle Porte Serrate, in Via Montebello is the perfect place to discover these and many other tasty dishes and fine wines on a warm September evening. The building dates back to the 1500s; eat inside in the smart restaurant or outside in the enchanting courtyard.
5. A chocolate cake fit for a queen
For dessert donít miss out on a slice of tenerina; created for the Queen of Italyís visit to Ferrara in 1900, this mouth-watering cake is made with chocolate instead of flour. Need I say more!
Kathryn Burrington is Author of†Travel with Kat.