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Ferrara, Emilia Romagna: Guide To The Ancient Streets By Bicycle


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Maddy Giles



Immerse yourself in the rich history, culture, and beauty of Ferrara, a charming city located in the heart of the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. With its well-preserved medieval streets and Renaissance architecture, Ferrara offers a unique experience for travelers looking to explore a lesser-known gem in Italy.


Known as the “City of Bicycles,” Ferrara is renowned for its extensive network of bicycle-friendly paths and lanes, making it the perfect destination for cyclists of all levels. In fact, cycling has become an integral part of the city’s culture and a preferred mode of transportation for both locals and visitors.


Your journey through Ferrara begins with a visit to the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, you will be greeted by the magnificent Estense Castle, ancient city walls, and a maze of narrow streets dotted with charming cafes, boutique shops, and historic landmarks. Venturing further, you will discover the Jewish Quarter, the stunning Duomo, and the city’s lush parks and gardens.


Indulge in the local cuisine, known for its rich flavors and traditional dishes. From homemade pasta to exquisite pastries, Ferrara’s food scene will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.


With its idyllic setting, cultural heritage, and vibrant atmosphere, Ferrara offers a delightful experience that combines history, art, and gastronomy. Whether you are a history enthusiast, an art lover, or a food connoisseur, Ferrara has something to captivate everyone’s interests.


Join us as we guide you through the ancient streets of Ferrara by bicycle, uncovering hidden treasures and immersing ourselves in the city’s timeless charm.


Getting to Ferrara

Ferrara is easily accessible from various parts of Italy and Europe, making it a convenient destination for travelers. Whether you prefer to travel by plane, train, or car, there are several options available to reach this enchanting city.


If you are flying from abroad, the nearest major airports to Ferrara are Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ) and Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE). From these airports, you can easily reach Ferrara by train or car. The journey from Bologna takes approximately 30 minutes by train, while the drive from Venice takes around 1.5 hours.


For those already in Italy, Ferrara is well-connected by train. The city has its own train station, Ferrara Station, which is served by regional and high-speed trains. From major cities like Milan, Rome, Florence, and Venice, you can easily catch a direct train to Ferrara. The train journey offers scenic views of the Italian countryside, adding to the overall experience.


If you prefer to explore the region by car, Ferrara is located close to the A13 motorway, which connects the city to major Italian cities. The drive from Bologna to Ferrara takes approximately 40 minutes, while the journey from Venice takes about 1.5 hours. Parking options are available in the city, although it is worth noting that the historic center is mostly pedestrianized.


Once you arrive in Ferrara, getting around the city is a breeze thanks to its well-developed public transportation system. The city has an extensive network of buses that connects different parts of Ferrara, making it easy to navigate and explore the city’s attractions.


However, one of the best ways to experience Ferrara is by renting a bicycle. As mentioned earlier, Ferrara is renowned as the “City of Bicycles,” and cycling is a popular mode of transport. There are several rental shops in the city center where you can rent bicycles for a few hours or even for the duration of your stay. Cycling allows you to explore the city at your own pace and immerse yourself in its charming atmosphere.


Now that you know how to get to Ferrara, let’s delve into the best ways to explore this captivating city by bicycle.


Renting a Bicycle

With its reputation as the “City of Bicycles,” it’s no surprise that cycling is the preferred mode of transportation in Ferrara. Renting a bicycle is not only convenient but also the best way to experience the city’s charm and explore its hidden corners.


Ferrara offers several options for renting bicycles, making it easy for visitors to find a suitable bike for their needs. There are numerous bike rental shops located in the city center, where you can choose from a variety of bikes, including city bikes, electric bikes, and even tandem bikes for those who wish to ride with a partner.


Most bike rental shops offer flexible rental periods, allowing you to rent a bike for a few hours, a full day, or even for the duration of your stay. The prices are typically affordable, making it a budget-friendly option for travelers. It is advisable to book your rental bike in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure your preferred type of bike.


When renting a bicycle in Ferrara, you will be provided with all the necessary equipment, including a helmet and a lock. The rental shop staff will also give you a map of the city and offer recommendations on the best routes to take based on your preferences and interests.


Before embarking on your cycling adventure, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the city’s cycling rules and regulations. While cycling is ingrained in Ferrara’s culture, it’s important to remember that you are sharing the road with pedestrians and other cyclists. Always cycle in designated bike lanes or on the side of the road, and be mindful of traffic signals and pedestrian crossings.


Exploring Ferrara by bicycle allows you to effortlessly navigate the narrow medieval streets and venture off the beaten path. It gives you the freedom to stop and admire the architectural wonders, take detours to discover hidden squares and gardens, and simply soak in the atmosphere of this charming city.


Whether you are an avid cyclist or a casual rider, renting a bicycle in Ferrara is a delightful and convenient way to experience the city and all it has to offer. So hop on a bike, feel the wind in your hair, and let the journey begin.


Exploring the Historic Center

The historic center of Ferrara is a captivating maze of medieval streets, Renaissance palaces, and charming piazzas. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, and exploring it by bicycle allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history and architectural wonders.


As you pedal through the narrow streets, be prepared to be transported back in time. Admire the impressive palaces that line the streets, such as Palazzo dei Diamanti with its iconic diamond-shaped facade and Palazzo Schifanoia with its stunning frescoes.


Make sure to visit Piazza Trento e Trieste, the main square of Ferrara, which is home to the Estense Castle. This imposing fortress, with its four corner towers, is a symbol of the city and offers a glimpse into the noble life of the Este family, who ruled Ferrara for centuries. Take your time to explore the castle’s various rooms and courtyards, and don’t miss the opportunity to climb to the top of the towers for a panoramic view of the city.


Continue your cycling adventure to the ancient city walls, which surround the historic center. These walls, built in the 15th century, are remarkably well-preserved and offer a unique perspective of the city. Ride along the wide paths on top of the walls and soak in the panoramic views of Ferrara’s rooftops, gardens, and canals.


As you explore the historic center, take a moment to admire the city’s magnificent churches. The Duomo, dedicated to Saint George, is a prominent landmark with its impressive façade and beautiful interior. Step inside to admire the stunning frescoes and intricate details that adorn the cathedral.


Another highlight of the historic center is the Jewish Quarter, located near the Duomo. This well-preserved neighborhood is a testament to Ferrara’s multicultural history. Visit the Jewish Museum to learn about the history and traditions of the Jewish community in Ferrara.


Throughout your exploration of the historic center, you will discover charming cafes, local shops, and traditional trattorias where you can take a break and indulge in Italian delicacies. Experience the joy of sipping an espresso in a picturesque square or savoring a gelato as you ride along the cobblestone streets.


In the evening, the historic center of Ferrara takes on a magical ambiance. The soft glow of streetlights illuminates the facades of palaces, creating a romantic atmosphere. Take a leisurely ride at dusk and enjoy the tranquility of the city as it settles into the night.


Exploring the historic center of Ferrara by bicycle is a truly immersive experience. It allows you to discover hidden corners, soak in the city’s architectural beauty, and embrace the vibrant atmosphere of this enchanting city.


Riding along the Ancient City Walls

One of the most memorable experiences in Ferrara is cycling along the ancient city walls that surround the historic center. These impressive walls, dating back to the 15th century, are remarkably well-preserved and offer a unique perspective of the city.


As you hop on your bicycle and start pedaling along the wide paths on top of the walls, you’ll be greeted by breathtaking panoramic views of Ferrara. On one side, you’ll see the rooftops of the charming medieval buildings and the Renaissance palaces that fill the historic center. On the other side, you’ll marvel at the green spaces, gardens, and canals that add to Ferrara’s beauty.


The cycling route along the city walls is approximately 9 kilometers long, providing ample opportunity to immerse yourself in the stunning surroundings. As you ride, you’ll pass by several well-preserved fortress towers that were once used as observation points and defensive structures.


Take your time to pause at the various viewpoints along the way. From these vantage points, you can appreciate the strategic location of Ferrara and the network of canals that once served as a defense system for the city.


As you continue your journey along the walls, you’ll also encounter beautiful parks and green spaces. These areas provide a serene escape from the bustling city and are perfect spots to take a break, have a picnic, or simply soak in the peaceful atmosphere.


Keep an eye out for the Porta degli Angeli, one of the main gates into the city. This gate boasts stunning architectural details and is a perfect spot for a photo opportunity during your ride.


The ride along the ancient city walls is suitable for cyclists of all levels. The paths are wide and well-maintained, making it a comfortable and enjoyable journey. Remember to cycle at a leisurely pace, take in the scenery, and breathe in the fresh air.


Whether you choose to ride along the walls at sunrise, during the golden hour of sunset, or even under the starry night sky, the experience is sure to leave a lasting impression. The combination of history, nature, and stunning views makes cycling along the ancient city walls an unforgettable highlight of any visit to Ferrara.


So get on your bicycle, feel the wind in your hair, and embark on this incredible journey along the ancient city walls of Ferrara.


Visiting Estense Castle

A trip to Ferrara wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the magnificent Estense Castle, a symbol of the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. This impressive fortress, also known as the Castello Estense, is located in the heart of the historic center and offers a captivating glimpse into the past.


Constructed in the 14th century by the ruling Este family, the Estense Castle served as a residence, defense structure, and a symbol of power. As you approach the castle, you’ll be greeted by its imposing exterior, featuring four corner towers and a moat adorned with lush vegetation.


Step through the castle’s grand entrance and prepare to be transported back in time. As you explore the castle’s interior, you’ll encounter a stunning collection of rooms, each with its unique character and historical significance.


Begin your visit in the grand courtyard, an open space surrounded by elegant porticos. Take a moment to appreciate the architectural beauty of the castle and imagine the noble gatherings and celebrations that once took place here.


Make your way to the Ducal Apartments, where the Este family resided. Marvel at the lavish decor, intricate frescoes, and ornate ceilings that reflect the family’s wealth and influence. Walk through the various rooms, including the Camera degli Sposi, adorned with fascinating Renaissance frescoes by renowned artist Mantegna.


Another highlight of the castle is the Torre dei Leoni (Tower of the Lions), which offers an incredible panoramic view of the city. Ascend the tower and be rewarded with sweeping vistas of Ferrara’s rooftops, the surrounding landscape, and even a glimpse of the wide Po River.


Throughout the castle, you’ll find engaging exhibitions that delve into Ferrara’s history, the Este family’s legacy, and the castle’s role in the city’s development. These exhibits provide a deeper understanding of the castle’s significance and its impact on Ferrara’s cultural identity.


As you explore Estense Castle, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn about the infamous Niccolò III d’Este, the tyrannical lord of Ferrara, whose actions have left a lasting legacy on the city’s history.


Before leaving the castle, take a moment to wander through the castle’s gardens, a tranquil oasis within the bustling city. Admire the meticulously manicured lawns, fragrant flower beds, and peaceful fountains that create a haven of serenity.


Visiting Estense Castle is an immersive experience that offers a fascinating glimpse into the history and culture of Ferrara. Whether you are an architecture enthusiast, history buff, or simply curious about the city’s past, the castle’s grandeur and charm will leave you in awe.


So embrace the opportunity to step inside this majestic fortress and let the stories of Ferrara’s past come to life as you explore the halls and corridors of Estense Castle.


Discovering the Duomo

One of the most significant landmarks in Ferrara is the Duomo, a magnificent cathedral that stands as a testament to the city’s rich religious and artistic heritage. Located in the heart of the historic center, the Duomo is a must-visit for anyone exploring the captivating city of Ferrara.


Officially known as the Cathedral of Saint George, the Duomo is a remarkable example of Romanesque-Gothic architecture. As you approach the cathedral, you’ll be struck by its impressive facade, adorned with intricate sculptures, decorative motifs, and a majestic rose window.


Step inside the Duomo to discover a world of beauty and spirituality. The interior is equally awe-inspiring, with its soaring arches, intricately detailed vaulted ceilings, and ornate decorations. Take a moment to appreciate the masterpieces of art and craftsmanship that adorn the cathedral’s walls, including stunning frescoes and sculptural works.


One of the main highlights of the Duomo is the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, which houses a precious reliquary containing the Sacred Blood of Christ. Admire the exquisite craftsmanship of the reliquary and feel the palpable sense of reverence that emanates from this sacred space.


As you explore the Duomo, don’t miss the opportunity to climb the tower for a stunning view of the city’s skyline. The ascent may be challenging, but the panoramic vistas of Ferrara’s rooftops and landmarks are well worth the effort.


During your visit, it is also worth discovering the Museum of the Cathedral, located within the Duomo complex. The museum displays a collection of religious artifacts, paintings, and sculptures that provide further insights into the history and religious significance of the Duomo.


Attending a Mass or religious service at the Duomo is a unique experience that allows you to witness the spiritual importance of this sacred place. The tranquil atmosphere and the resounding chants and hymns add to the spiritual ambiance that permeates the cathedral.


When visiting the Duomo, it’s important to dress modestly out of respect for its religious significance. Ensure your shoulders and knees are covered, and refrain from taking flash photographs during your visit.


As you step out of the Duomo, take a moment to explore the surrounding Piazza Trento e Trieste. This bustling square is a hub of activity, lined with charming cafes and historic buildings. Relax in one of the outdoor seating areas, savor a cup of Italian coffee, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere.


Discovering the Duomo is a journey into the heart and soul of Ferrara. Whether you appreciate the cathedral’s architectural beauty, the spiritual sanctuary it provides, or the historical and artistic treasures within, the Duomo is a cultural gem that should not be missed.


So take the time to immerse yourself in the tranquility and majesty of the Duomo and let its timeless beauty leave a lasting impression on your visit to Ferrara.


Exploring the Jewish Quarter

As you delve deeper into the historic center of Ferrara, make sure to set aside some time to explore the Jewish Quarter, a neighborhood that bears witness to the city’s rich multicultural history. With its well-preserved streets and historic buildings, the Jewish Quarter offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives and traditions of the Jewish community in Ferrara.


The Jewish presence in Ferrara dates back to the Middle Ages when the Este family, rulers of the city, welcomed Jewish settlers from different parts of Europe. Under their patronage, the Jewish community thrived, and Ferrara became a center of Jewish culture and learning.


Begin your exploration of the Jewish Quarter at Via Mazzini, the main street of the neighborhood. As you walk along this lively thoroughfare, you’ll notice buildings adorned with Hebrew inscriptions, offering a hint of the area’s rich Jewish heritage.


One of the highlights of the Jewish Quarter is the Synagogue, a place of worship and community gathering. This architectural gem, dating back to the 15th century, is an important symbol of the Jewish community in Ferrara. Take a guided tour to learn about the history of the synagogue and its significance in preserving Jewish traditions.


Adjacent to the synagogue, you’ll find the Jewish Museum, which provides a deeper understanding of the Jewish community’s history and contributions to Ferrara. The museum showcases artifacts, documents, and artworks that shed light on the lives of Jewish families and their cultural practices.


Stroll through the narrow streets of the Jewish Quarter and take in the atmosphere of this unique neighborhood. Admire the well-preserved buildings, many of which still bear Hebrew inscriptions, and imagine the vibrant community that once thrived here.


Don’t miss the opportunity to step inside the former Jewish cemetery, known as the Old Cemetery. This sacred ground holds the memories of Ferrara’s Jewish community and is a poignant reminder of the community’s presence throughout the centuries.


Exploring the Jewish Quarter is not only an opportunity to learn about the history and culture of Ferrara’s Jewish community but also a chance to reflect on the importance of preserving multiculturalism and promoting tolerance in our world today.


Remember to be respectful as you explore this neighborhood, as it holds deep historical and cultural significance. Admire the architectural treasures, learn from the exhibits, and take a moment to appreciate how the Jewish community has enriched the cultural fabric of Ferrara.


Visiting the Jewish Quarter allows you to connect with Ferrara’s multicultural past and gain a deeper appreciation for the richness and diversity of the city’s heritage. So take the time to explore this enchanting neighborhood and let the stories of Ferrara’s Jewish community unfold before your eyes.


Enjoying the City’s Parks and Gardens

When you need a break from exploring the historical treasures of Ferrara, take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s picturesque parks and gardens. Ferrara boasts an abundance of green spaces that offer tranquility, natural beauty, and a chance to connect with nature.


One of the most iconic parks in Ferrara is the Parco Massari, a sprawling oasis located just outside the city walls. As you enter the park, you’ll be greeted by lush green lawns, vibrant flower beds, and majestic trees. Take a leisurely stroll along the winding paths, soak in the serene atmosphere, and find a peaceful spot to relax and unwind.


Within Parco Massari, you’ll also find the enchanting Castle of the Mesola, a medieval fortress surrounded by a moat and beautiful gardens. Explore the castle’s grounds, learn about its history, and enjoy the scenic views of the surrounding parkland.


Another beautiful green space in Ferrara is the Giardino Botanico Carlo Goldoni. This botanical garden offers a delightful array of plants, flowers, and trees, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers. Take a leisurely walk through the garden, discover the diverse flora, and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.


Ferrara is also famous for its system of canals, and the banks of these waterways are transformed into charming green spaces. The Parco Urbano G. Bassani, located along the city’s canals, provides a serene setting for picnics, leisurely walks, and even boat rides. Immerse yourself in the natural surroundings and enjoy the gentle lapping of the water as you unwind in this urban oasis.


For a relaxing respite, head to the Parco Pareschi, a park known for its charming lake and abundant birdlife. Take a seat on one of the benches, watch the graceful swans glide across the water, and listen to the soothing sounds of nature.


Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll, a peaceful picnic, or simply some quiet contemplation, Ferrara’s parks and gardens offer a welcome retreat from the bustling city streets. As you wander through these green spaces, take a moment to appreciate the city’s commitment to preserving and enhancing its natural environment.


The parks and gardens of Ferrara not only provide a refreshing escape but also serve as important ecosystems for local flora and fauna. They are a testament to the city’s dedication to preserving its green spaces and promoting sustainable living.


So take a break from the historical sights and enjoy the tranquility and beauty of Ferrara’s parks and gardens. Whether you’re seeking solitude, a family outing, or a romantic stroll, these natural havens offer the perfect opportunity to connect with nature and rejuvenate your spirit.


Sampling Local Cuisine

No visit to Ferrara would be complete without indulging in the city’s delectable cuisine. Known for its rich flavors and traditional dishes, Ferrara’s food scene is a true delight for the taste buds. From homemade pasta to mouthwatering pastries, the local cuisine showcases the region’s culinary heritage and will leave you craving for more.


Start your culinary journey with a taste of the renowned cappellacci di zucca, a local specialty. These delicate, pumpkin-filled pasta parcels are typically served with a butter and sage sauce or a rich ragù. Every bite is a burst of flavors, combining the sweetness of the pumpkin with the savory notes of the sauce.


For seafood lovers, don’t miss the opportunity to savor the anguilla murata, a traditional dish of marinated eel. The eel is cooked with a special blend of herbs and spices, resulting in tender, flavorful meat. It’s a true delicacy that reflects Ferrara’s proximity to the Adriatic Sea.


Another must-try dish is the salama da sugo, a unique cured meat specialty. Made from a mix of different cuts of pork, the salama da sugo is slow-cooked for hours in a fragrant sauce flavored with red wine, spices, and sometimes even chocolate. The result is a succulent and flavorful dish that pairs perfectly with the local red wines.


Ferrara is also well-known for its pastries, and no visit is complete without indulging in a slice of the famous torta tenerina. This dense, chocolatey cake was originally created for the noble Este family and has since become a beloved local treat. Its rich, velvety texture and intense chocolate flavor make it irresistible for any dessert lover.


If you’re in need of a sweet pick-me-up, don’t miss out on trying the pampepato. This spiced cake is made with a variety of ingredients, including almonds, hazelnuts, honey, chocolate, and an assortment of warming spices. Its unique combination of flavors and textures will leave you wanting more.


As you explore the streets of Ferrara, keep an eye out for local trattorias and osterias where you can fully immerse yourself in the city’s culinary scene. These traditional eateries serve up regional specialties and provide a warm and inviting atmosphere for you to experience the authentic flavors of Ferrara.


Accompany your meal with a glass of Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine produced in the Emilia Romagna region. Its fruity and slightly sweet taste pairs perfectly with the local cuisine.


Whether you choose to dine in an elegant restaurant, a cozy trattoria, or opt for a casual street food experience, Ferrara’s culinary offerings are sure to tantalize your taste buds and leave you with a deeper appreciation for the region’s gastronomic heritage.


So make sure to sample the local cuisine and immerse yourself in the flavors of Ferrara. From savory pasta dishes to indulgent pastries, Ferrara’s culinary delights will create unforgettable memories of your visit to this enchanting city.



Ferrara, with its ancient streets, rich history, and vibrant culture, captivates every visitor who steps foot in this hidden gem of the Emilia Romagna region. The city’s distinctive charm and well-preserved heritage make it an ideal destination for travelers seeking an authentic Italian experience.


From the moment you arrive in Ferrara, you are greeted with a warm embrace and a sense of timelessness. As you navigate the historic center by bicycle, you’ll discover the secrets of its medieval streets, admire the grandeur of Estense Castle, and marvel at the architectural beauty of the Duomo.


The city’s commitment to cycling accessibility is evident as you navigate the ancient city walls, immerse yourself in the Jewish Quarter, and find solace in the tranquil parks and gardens. Ferrara’s devotion to preserving its cultural treasures allows visitors to effortlessly connect with the city’s past and appreciate its unique character.


Ferrara is not only a visual treat but also a culinary delight. From the traditional cappellacci di zucca to the decadent torta tenerina, the local cuisine tantalizes your taste buds and showcases the region’s culinary prowess.


But Ferrara is more than just its sights and flavors. It is a place where history comes alive, where the medieval meets the Renaissance, and where the legacy of the Este family lives on. It’s a city that invites you to slow down, to savor every moment, and to immerse yourself in its cultural tapestry.


As you bid farewell to Ferrara, you’ll carry with you memories of its ancient streets, the melodies of its hidden corners, and the taste of its delectable cuisine. The charm of Ferrara will stay with you long after you’ve left, beckoning you to return and uncover more of its timeless treasures.


So, hop on a bicycle, traverse the historic streets, taste the flavors, and create unforgettable memories in the enchanting city of Ferrara.