Things to Do in Ferrara with Kids
We spent one exciting day in Ferrara with the kids and we will definitely remember this charming town for its castles and palaces. We had the opportunity to see performances in the castle with knights and princesses. It looked so real like we had traveled back in time. While knights ride horses, nowadays most people in Ferrara ride a bike through the city.
When I first heard about Ferrara, I thought that it was famous for Ferrari cars. Ferrara – Ferrari! It sounds logical, but there is no connection at all between the luxury cars and renaissance town. Ferrari is produced in another Italian city, Marinello, and Ferrara is a bike town. What makes Ferrara really special and so different from any other Italian city are its bicycles. 90 percent of the population rides bikes, like in Amsterdam or Copenhagen.
Ferrara is famous for its large number of churches, monasteries, palaces, museums, fortresses and the university founded in the 14th century. For children, the most exciting place was the medieval castle which we entered over a wooden bridge. It is actually the only castle in Europe still surrounded by water. We were so lucky because right at the time of our arrival, the castle came alive with knights and beautiful dames, dukes, duchesses, jugglers, and musicians. It was magical, like being part of some fairytale. These are one of those rare moments when you see your children with their mouths wide open and not saying anything. Our children actually didn’t realize that this was a performance. They believed that these guys really lived in the castle. Naive but cute creatures!
In Ferrara, we saw one of the most beautiful palaces in Italy, Palazzo dei Diamanti. It is not common that children stare at a façade of some building, but this one attracted their attention because it is decorated with diamonds. Its facade consists of more than 8,000 marble blocks carved in the shape of diamonds. However, the real treasure is inside the palace! There is a large collection of artworks. Thanks to the rich and powerful Esste family, whose members represent great lovers of art, Ferrara has become an intellectual and artistic center that has attracted some of the greatest names of the Italian Renaissance from the 15th and 16th centuries.
The main square in Ferrara, Piazza Trento-Trieste, is child-friendly, which means a lot of space to run around without any traffic. There are two sights in this square that can be visited free of charge: the Romanesque Cathedral of San Giorgio and house of the poet Ludovico Ariosto.
One of the culinary specialties of Ferrara is pasta stuffed with pumpkin and parmesan cheese (cappellacci di zucca). We ordered it in a prominent, award-winning restaurant not far from the city and experienced a culinary shock!
I think they can run for a Guinness record in the category of the smallest portions in the world. Have you ever seen a smaller portion of pasta that costs 9 euros? After eating this amount of food, even the children were still hungry. You can learn from our mistakes. If you order a pasta in an Italian restaurant, do not expect to be full after one course of the meal. Italians traditionally eat 3-4 courses of food in restaurants: antipasti, primo piatti, secondo piatti, dolce. Such a complete meal costs about 25-40 euros per person. This is one of the main reasons why pizza became so popular in Italy. Many cannot afford a 4-course meal, so they order pizza which is the cheapest way to avoid hunger.
We quickly recovered from this culinary shock thanks to outstanding ice-cream from a traditional pastry shop called ‘La Romana’. We popped our heads into the kitchen to see how they made it, but it must be the best-kept secret in the world! Unlike the pumpkin pasta, the prices are good and the portions are big!
If you travel to Italy, you might like to read more travel stories because we try to look at things from the new point of view.