In the 14th and 15th centuries, the plains around Ferrara were marshy, entirely furrowed by streams and waterways, making them quite difficult to farm. The Este family completed important land reclamation works, installing a complex water diversion system and, to do so, they built numerous castalderie (efficient agricultural estates) throughout the duchy, always near waterways so that they could be easily reached. The prince would visit to check on the administration of the land, the progress of the land reclamation being done and to collect taxes. But beyond their economic, political and strategic functions, these farm estates were used for leisure, entertaining and hunting. With their sophisticated architecture and luxurious decorations, they were given the name delizie, attesting to their Edenic character as symbols of power yet also places of idle distraction for the itinerant Este court, often moving between their various abodes.

Duration: 4 hours
Length: 24 km
Road type: asphalt
Number of stops: 5
Departure/end point: Castello Estense, Piazza Savonarola
  • Departure from the gate of Piazza Savonarola.

Up until 1645, this was the site of a small dock for boats travelling down the Panfilio Canal, which ran along the course of present –day Viale Cavour, today one of the main roads in Ferrara, connected to the castle’s moat. In the late 1800s, the canal was filled in to allow for the construction of Viale Cavour, a straight line connecting the railway station to the city.
  • Head to the traffic light at the end of Corso Martiri della Libertà, cross the street and turn left onto Largo Castello and then along down Viale Cavour using the tree-lined service road, until reaching n.112.
At the end of the 1800s, Viale Cavour became the new axis of the city and home to the bourgeoisie. Buildings aspiring to grandeur and magnificence, characteristic of Fascist era, still alternate today with Art Nouveau cottages, where the relationship between architecture and vegetation was key. Today, only a handful of these buildings still have the Art Nouveau appearance that dotted the road up until the outbreak of WWII.

Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Built in 1908, this apartment complex was designed by Ciro Contini, the engineer who was behind a good part of the Art Nouveau buildings along Viale Cavour.

VILLINO MELCHIORRI – Viale Cavour, 184
It was designed by Ciro Contini in a symbolic reference to the profession of the commissioner, the noted flower grower Ferdinando Melchiorri, sunflowers and circles are at the heart of the entire decorative motif. The blooms engage and meander, becoming symbols of a “garden city”. The entire structure is meant to create a relationship between man and nature.

VILLA AMALIA – Viale Cavour, 194
Though yet another construction by Ciro Contini, yet one flower was kept: roses form the predominant decoration on the iron parts of the building and on the ceramic pediments above the windows.

  • Continue on until the end of Viale Cavour, then follow the signage for Mantova (sign for FE101) to head out of the city. After the second traffic light, use the pedestrian crossing on your left to cross Viale Po and continue on the bicycle path to make a short stop at the wood bridge over the Boicelli canal.
This canal was created between WWI and WWII to connect the old riverbed of the Po with its current route, acting as the border between Emilia Romagna and the Veneto. This was then the basis of the creation of the industrial area that was developed mainly along the Boicelli Canal.
  • Keep going on the bicycle path for about 1 km. Follow the “Burana” tourist indications, cross Via Modena before the roundabout, then turn right to get to the bicycle path.
This bicycle path is one of the easiest and most peaceful of the entire province, shaded in large part by poplars and willows. The flat, bright landscape, often called the “Burana habitat corridor”, is rich with animals and vegetation. The route flanks the Burana canal, reaching Bondeno. Near Vigarano, close to the cycle track is a former quarry that has been turned into a lake, surrounded by a public garden.
  • Continue along for almost 7 km until the bicycle path meets Via Diamantina. Follow the signs for the “Delizia”. On the way back, you’ll take the same road in reverse, following the FE101 signage for Ferrara.
The building that dominates the countryside of Vigarano Pieve was once a noble estate belonging to the Este court, a jewel of rural architecture. This delizia is composed of an imposing complex of buildings erected in the second half of the 1400s following the land reclamation ordered by Borso d’Este. Like many others, this delizia ensured the productivity of the land, monitoring it to protect it from the threats posed by water.
The barnyard in terracotta and the general layout of the building identifies the structure as a typical example of those belonging to the Ferrara court.
Privately owned today, the delizia is the headquarters of the Farming Culture Museum and houses a large collection of tools, equipment and objects related to farming. It can be viewed from the outside or visited during special short-term events.


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