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House of Este Culture


Torquato Tasso called it “Lady of the Po”: Ferrara the timeless city, nested in a metaphysical dimension. Ever since its origins the city's days of glory and sorrow were deeply intertwined with the changeable environmental conditions, of which water is the key element.

An amphibian city, which came to be among moors and water bodies, engulfed by the fog.
Due to a unique, alchemical mixture of events the internal or external fights of the rich aristocratic families and their enlightened expansion or withdrawal policies, mostly related to complex dynamics of the Italian and European scenario turned the small, haggard group of huts on the Po river into an amazingly beautiful and complex city. The beautiful, aristocratic Ferrara, the city that the Dukes of Este turned into a magnificent icon of the Renaissance.

Ferrara's history is written in its stones, in the open, flowing city structure, fully completed by the Herculean Addition, and also in the city's very own concept of spaces distribution, at the same time pompous and intimately minimalist: luxurious and brilliant in the interiors of the houses; sober and sophisticated in the architectural scenery described by the exteriors. In 1999 this amazing architectural "landscape" was included, together with the "Delizie" in the UNESCO World Heritage.
The beauty of this landscape has charmed the world for centuries and provided the ideal scenario for countless poets and artists. Ariosto and Tasso were often seen in these streets, in the very good company of Dosso Dossi, Cosmè Tura, Leon Battista Alberti, forebears and inspirators of more recent artists such as Carrà and De Chirico and also the Ferrara-born Boldini and Bassani.

The bronze statues of the Este Dukes stand guard in the City's main square; the Cathedral combines its orderly and perfectly tripartite façade (with Gothic style elements dotting the original Romanesque structure) with the precious Cathedral Museum inside, hosting priceless works of art, the Castle that has long ago lost the gruff, menacing look its original role as a stronghold required to don an enchanting visage of tall, jutting crenellated towers, all-circling uninterrupted balconies, wide windows.

Among the many buildings and streets that bestow to Ferrara a city and streets layout unique in the world there are, in addition to the 15th century Estense Castle , the Palazzo dei Diamanti, home of the City Gallery of Modern Art and National Picture Gallery, Palazzo Massari, which too is home to important Museums, the Schifanoia Delizia , the St. Francis church , the St. George church , the Palazzo Renata di Francia. The unique Via delle Volte is probably the longest surviving Medieval street.
Among the many events that enrich the City's cultural life the best known areFerrara Musica, the renowned musical festival, and the great exhibits that Ferrara regularly hosts: it is these events that continue the great cultural tradition that the House of Este had started.

Indeed the influence of the Este has positively extended well beyond the borders of the city. In particular along the Po many Delizia (villas) have been built over the years: Belriguardo Castle, the Verginese Delizia, and the Castle della Mesola, down to the Po mouth,: a hunting pavilion for Este Court and at the same time a garrison near the border. The Court extended down to the Valli di Comacchio: . in the Delizia "le Casette", whose building materials were, later on, used to build the "casoni", the typical structures of the Valli, the glory of the Renaissance shined amidst the bubbly waters.

Link to Ferrara Terra e Acqua


Byzantine Culture




The precious Ravenna, a mosaic-studded gem set amidst a luxuriating green belt sprawls over the Adriatic coast as it did in its glorious past, offering the vision of a lively, modern city which at the same time is steeped in its glorious past.
The city, in the days of Augustus, was the urban heart of the powerful Classe military harbour. In 402 it became the Capital of the Western Roman Empire; under Theoderic it represented the most important base of the Eastern Roman Empire in the Byzantine area, and remained so until 751.

The Byzantine wing covered the Adriatic Coasts with its magnificence and Ravenna reached the apex of its glory in the 5th and 6th century: in 540 it became the Capital of the Exarchate, and of that glorious era some amazing vestige has survived to our days: the Galla Placidia Mausoleum, the Church of St. John the Baptist, the Baptistry of Neon, the Arian Baptistry, the Spirito Santo Basilica, the Archiepiscopal Museum, Teoderich's Mausoleum, the amazing Basilicas: San Vitale (a very ancient Benedectine Monastery, referenced in documents ever since the 10th century), Sant’Apollinare Nuovo and Sant’Apollinare in Classe, with the amazing mosaics (UNESCO World Heritage) that earned Ravenna worldwide fame: a treasure chest full of Late Antique and Early Middle Ages architecture and art of the highest renown.

Ravenna is also home of the tomb of Dante Alighieri, just next to the Church of St. Francis, the Academy of Fine Arts and the City Art Gallery with very precious works. There are also very important traces of the Republic of Venice: the Rocca and the Piazza del Popolo square in the centre of the city.

The 16th century former Camaldolese Monastery hosts the precious Classense Library.
The city is home to several remarkable cultural events, the most important being the Ravenna Festival: one of the mainstays of international summer music festivals.

The Ravenna pinewoods (San Vitale, Classe, Cervia) that surround the city perfectly summarise Ravenna's Territory, a territory where even the natural environment echoes with History.
The Ravenna territory stretches to the borders of the Valli di Comacchio, with just the Reno River standing between them. This is where the Sant’Alberto centre is.

Link to Ravenna Intorno


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