Orlando Furioso 500 years: Renaissance Italy on display in Ferrara


Orlando Furioso 500 years: Renaissance Italy on display in Ferrara

Estimated reading time: 1 minute

Of Dames, of Knights, of armes, of loves delight,
Of courtesies, of high attempts I speake.

Have you ever read these verses?
It is the beginning of one of the greatest masterpieces of Western literature, that defined the epic of the Italian Renaissance and exerted a wide influence on the whole European later culture: Orlando Furioso (literally Raging Roland), epic poem composed by Ferrara’s poet Ludovico Ariosto at the beginning of the 16th century.

Orlando Furioso, which earliest version appeared in 1516, is the continuation of Matteo Maria Boiardo‘s unfinished romance Orlando Innamorato (Orlando in Love). The poem, composed in the ottava rima scheme, describes the adventures of Charlemagne, Roland and the Franks during the battle against the Saracens, with diversions into many side-plots. As declared in the first lines, the poem is not just about war, but also about love and the romantic ideal of chivalry, mixing realism and fantasy, humor and tragedy.
Many themes are interwoven in its complicated episodic structure, but the most important are the paladin Orlando’s unrequited love for the pagan princess Angelica, which drives him mad, and the love between the female Christian warrior Bradamante and the Saracen Ruggiero, who are supposed to be the ancestors of Ariosto’s patrons, the Este Family of Ferrara. Surprisingly contemporary, don’t you think? 

Now Palazzo dei Diamanti of Ferrara celebrates the 500 year anniversary of Orlando Furioso’s first edition with an astonishing exhibition that drives us into the adventurous Ariosto’s universe.

The exhibition, organized by Ferrara Art Foundation and curated by Guido Beltramini e Alfonso Tura, starts from few important questions: what did Ludovico Ariosto see when he closed his eyes? what images did he have in mind as he was composing the poem? which artworks acted as muses to his imagination?
The exhibition answers these questions with a retrospective among battles, passions & enchantments, guided by the riveting narration of the curator Guido Beltramini (Italian & English audioguide included in the ticket).

A deep journey with all 5 senses within the poem, to discover the works that may have (and have been) influenced Ariosto: an exciting exploration of the Italian Renaissance, with works by Leonardo, Raffaello, Mantegna, Giorgione, Botticelli, Tiziano, just to name some of the most famous.

Click play and dive with us into the Italian Renaissance:

  • Olifant known as the Horn of Roland
    Eleventh century

  • The Battle of Roncevaux

  • Sarcophagus plate with Amazons
    220-230 A.D.

  • Nicholas Silva
    Joust and battle armor

  • Vincenzo Catena
    Judith with the head of Holofernes

  • Sword called “Boabdil”
    End of 15th century

  • Paolo Uccello
    St. George and the Dragon

  • Piero di Cosimo
    The liberation of Andromeda

  • Maestro dei cassoni Campana
    Theseus and the Minotaur

  • Charta called “of Cantino”

  • Ludovico Ariosto
    Orlando Furioso
    First edition 22 aprile 1516

  • Sandro Botticelli and studio
    Chaste Venus

  • Dosso Dossi

  • Ludovico Ariosto
    Autograph manuscript of Orlando Furioso

  • Flemish manufacture on design of Bernard van Orley
    Battle of Pavia with the capture of the king of France

  • Tiziano Vecellio
    The bacchanal of Andrii

  • Michelangelo Buonarroti (copy)
    Leda and the Swan


Social Media Manager for @inEmiliaRomagna and full-time mom.
I love traveling, both physically and with imagination, thanks to movies and books, and I celebrate every day with a smile.

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