The Este Villas: the ancient noble houses in Ferrara’s countryside


The Este Villas: the ancient noble houses in Ferrara’s countryside

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

“The residences of the Dukes of Este in the Po Delta area perfectly visualize the Renaissance culture effects on a natural landscape”

The Este Villas are part of a big landscape transformation projects that had to reflect the magnitude of the Este Family and their good governance through the creation of villages, roads and water drains. The administrative nodes of this great work were Represented by the Villas; leisure homes for the Dukes, but also administrative centers deputies to the maintenance and rehabilitation of the Delta territory. In 2000, UNESCO also has noticed the extraordinary work of the Este family, giving at the Villas the recognition of World Heritage because they “perfectly visualize the Renaissance culture effects on a natural landscape.”

The Este Villas, at least in their original conformation, were composed by 8 different buildings: Schifanoia Palace of Ferrara, the Este Castle of Mesola, The Villa of Mensa in Copparo, the Belrigurado Villa in Voghiera, the Verginese in Gambulaga of Portomaggiore, the Benvignate Villa in Argenta , the Diamantina in Vigarano and the  Pio Palace in Tresigallo.

Map of the Este Villas

Today only a few of these ducal residences can still be visited, but remains that this great network of administrative buildings and set of leisure is still one of the greatest works of transformation of the natural landscape of the whole Italy.

Mesola Castle

Mesola | Pic by Luca Zampini

Opening hours: April-October: Tuesday to Sunday inclusive from 9:30 to 24:30 / 15:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Closing days: Monday
Tickets: full price € 4.00, reduced € 2.50 (over 65, under 18, groups min. 15 persons)

Four massive towers, crenellated walls and large windows, so here is a Castle in the middle between a military fortress and a hunting lodge, protected by nine miles of city walls and surrounded by the Dukes hunting woods. Here, briefly, the beautiful Castle of Mesola starting point of many of the trip along the eponymous forest. Bulwark against the Venetians, the Mesola castle was built in the mid 1500s and had to have a defensive function along the routes of the Adriatic Sea and the river Po. Unfortunately the Duke Alfonso II, who built the castle, left no heirs and Este territory returned under the power of the Papal States. Today the castle houses the Museum of the Deer of Mesola and is still in silent giant overlooking the woods that surround it.

Belriguardo Palace

Este Villas

Belriguardo Palace | Pic by Paolo Benetti

Opening hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 to 12:00; 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: full price € 5,00,€ 2,00 reduced (disabled, schoolchildren, students, up to 18years, teachers, journalists)

Among the most sumptuous Este’s residences, the Belrigurado Palace was built by order of Niccolò d’Este in 1435 and was the first Villa built outside the walls of Ferrara. It was conceived as a summer palace, in its original conformation included dozens of salons painted by the major artists of the time, plus about 30 hectares of  gardens that made it the nickname of “The Italian Versailles“. In the time it housed Ludovico il Moro, the Prince Vincenzo Gonzaga and Pope Clement VIII, together with the writers Torquato Tasso and Ludovico Ariosto.
About the ancient pageantry of Belriguardo little remains today, after the transfer of the Este Family in Modena and Reggio, this palace was used to obtain houses and its great halls became shelter animals.


Este Villas

Verginese | Pic by Vanni Lazzari

Opening hours: Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10:00 to 24:30 / 15:30 to 19:00 (from April to October) Sunday at 11 am and at 16:30 guided tour included in the ticket price.
Tickets:  full price € 3,00, € 2,00 reduced (children between 6 and 12 years, over 65)

Originally built as a farmhouse Country, the Verginese Palace was turned into a ducal residence in the early sixteenth century by Duke Alfonso I d’Este and given to Laura Eustochia Dianti, mistress of the Duke after the death of his wife Lucrezia Borgia.
It is the most particular of the Este Villas and here everything recalls the old feeling of the Duke to his beloved: the shape, the battlements of the towers and the garden, called “Brolo“, which was built according to the functional principles of the Renaissance, where flowers and fruit trees make up an utility in the production of fruits.

Schifanoia Palace

Este Villas

Schifanoia Palace | pic by Massimo Baraldi

Opening hours: Every day from 9:30 to 18
Closing days: Monday
Tickets:  Whole 3.00 euro; Reduced € 2.00 (Groups 15 pers., Over 65 years)
Free admission for holders of MYFECARD

This Palace of Ferrara city centre dates back to 1385 and its name means “that avoids boredom“. It was commissioned by Alberto V d’Este as a place of  in 1385 in a green zone of the Ancient Ferrara, close to the old course of the River Po. The interior decoration, including famous Hall of the Months, are now xonsidered by experts as one of the higher pages of the Italian Renaissance. Since 1898 hosts the collections of the Civic Museum of Ancient Art.

Benvignante Palace

Este Villas

Benvignante Palace | Pic by Zappaterra

Opening hours: The Delight And Only open from the outside

It is in the municipality of Argenta and was built in 1464 on the behest of Borso d’Este. Although falling in the type of country villas, he covered a primary defensive function and it had to represent the power of Este Family’s policy.




Explorer and Adventurer: loves sailing the oceans, climbing the highest mountains and surfing on the waves of the web

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *