Ask a local: what should I do, see, and eat in Ferrara, Italy?

by Gigi Griffis

Welcome back to Ask a Local, a series of posts in which I interview locals all over the world about what to see, where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in in their city or town. The following interview was originally published in my Italy guide.

Today I’m happy to introduce you to Mattia Rimessi, a bicyclist, musician, and student, here to tell us all about Ferrara – a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of ancient palaces, broad streets, and the non-competitive Buskers music festival.

First, tell us about you.

I have lived in Ferrara my whole life (24 years). For the past three years, I have been using my vacations to travel the world by bike with my close friends. We had traveled through Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The next trip we’re planning? India and Nepal. I also really like music. I play trumpet, harmonica, and piano. And I love playing sports as well.

If someone is visiting Ferrara for the first time, what do you recommend they see or do?

First, I would take them to my favorite place to relax: Piazza Ariostea. It’s a square like an arena with a statue in the middle.

Then I would bring them to a hidden place called Terra Viva (located at Via dell’Erbe 29, really close to Piazza Ariostea), where there is a sacred vegetable garden; it’s a magic place with a restaurant that only uses food that they produce themselves. I particularly love that it’s inside the town walls.

Finally, I would take them to the Medieval wall and we’d walk along the top to help with our digestion. Along the way, we would visit one of the most beautiful, interesting jazz clubs in Europe, which is inside a circular medieval tower.

The other well-known parts of the city are the castle and the cathedral.

What neighborhoods or parts of town are best to stay in?

Every part inside the wall is a good place to stay. There are a lot of restaurants and pubs and the most beautiful thing is to lose yourself wandering the city streets. It’s a small city, so you won’t really get lost.

Let’s talk about day trips…what nearby places should everyone make sure to visit?

Near the city, you’ll find the longest cycle path of Italy, which starts from Bondeno and follows the Po River down to its delta (about 123 kilometers). You can rent a bike and have a great day away from the city and its crowds.

Tell us about the local dishes. What should people try here?

In Ferrara, try typical dishes like cappellacci di zucca (butternut squash pasta), pasticcio di maccheroni (a sweet pastry with béchamel sauce, mushrooms, nutmeg, and truffle), and salama da sugo (pork with spices and wine, aged and cooked) with a local wine called Lambrusco.

What are your top three favorite bars and restaurants?

Due Gobbi (located at Adelardi 7), Brindisi (located at Via Guglielmo degli Adelardi 11), and Xi Comandamento (located at Via Carlo Mayr 57) are three nice bars near the cathedral.

The three best restaurants are Osteria delle Volte (located at Via Delle Volte 37/a), Balebuste (located at Via della Vittoria 44), and Pizzeria Orsucci (located at Via Giuseppe Garibaldi 76).

What is the best way to meet locals and make friends?

I think that if you are an open-minded person, you won’t find it difficult to meet people. The most difficult thing is finding people who speak English.

What is the best place to go take beautiful photos of the city?

Under and over the wall.

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