The city of Ferrara is situated on a branch of the beautiful Po River in Northern Italy. Its location makes the charming town an ideal stop for visitors exploring the countryside via river cruises. Italy is famous for its ancient towns steeped in intrigue, romance and drama – and Ferrara is no different! Read on to uncover this UNESCO World Heritage Site’s thrilling medieval past.
The Ancient City of Ferrara
Ferrara provides a fantastic example of a medieval European city, complete with palaces, churches, charming cloisters and outdoor courtyards. Now an ideal location for beach holidays, culture breaks and river cruises, Italy was once a dangerous melting pot of influential families vying for power. The city of Ferrara owes both its fascinating history and much of its beautiful architecture to one specific family – the House of Este.
The House of Este and the Castello Estense
In the twelfth century, a noble Italian family known as the House of Este, set up their court in Ferrara. After the locals rebelled against tax in 1377, the family fortified their palace creating an impressive military stronghold to defend themselves against angry citizens. With four towers and a deep moat, even the most violent of rioters struggled to put a dent in the brick fortress called the Castello Estense.
The family founded a university in the city a few decades later which was a key step in heightening their power and influence. Soon members of the Este Court could be found in the most important circles across Europe. However, the family was made infamous by a certain young boy called Nicolò III who became head of the household in 1393.
The Legend of Nicolò III
Nicolò became master of the family at just 10 and got married at the tender age of 14. Despite his age, marital fidelity was not his style and he is said to have kept an astonishing 800 mistresses. Even with so many women around, Nicolò only had about thirty children all of which were brought up in a ramshackle manner in Castello Estense.
Nicolò’s cheerful, chubby cheeks disguised a jealous and controlling disposition. After catching his beautiful wife in the arms of her stepson – Ugo – he had them both brutally beheaded in the dungeons of his castle. This thrilling tale was famously immortalised by the British poet, Lord Byron.
Difficult family relations seem to be a tradition for the House of Este, with two of Nicolò’s grandsons blinding their brothers in a fit of jealousy. The two blighted siblings plotted to take over the throne and were thrown into the cells beneath Castello Estense for their troubles – they were left there for years and years!
In Ferrara you can see the sites of these dramatic historical happenings with your own eyes. Take advantage of the area’s wonderful river cruise aboard La Bella Vita.
About The Italian Hotel Barge Bella Vita
La Bella Vita
La Bella Vita is a stylish 20-passenger vessel with a typically modern
Italian interior, reflected in the use of vibrant colors throughout to
create an atmosphere of casual relaxation. There is an inviting bar area
in which to enjoy a glass of Prosecco and a spacious dining room with
louvre doors that open to give a perfect view as you are served
delicious Italian specialities and wines.
There are two main deck junior suites and eight lower deck staterooms,
all air-conditioned and with en suite facilities. The upper deck
has a huge sun deck with a large canopy and comfortable loungers to
relax and watch the world drift by.
Enjoy delicious regional cuisine, fine Italian wines
and the services of an attentive crew that will make this an
La Bella Vita offers 6-night, all-inclusive private charters, as well as cabin cruises. Themed cruises such as family, golf, opera, and wine appreciation are available for private charters.
- Learn More: Online Brochure
- Route: Venice, the Islands of the Venetian Lagoon, the Bianca Canal and the Po Valley
- Up to 20 guests
- Charters and Cabin cruises
- Itineraries: Standard classic, Family, Golf, Opera, Wine appreciation
View La Bella Vita‘s online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging: www.BargeCharters.com