Slide Stories of Ferrara

Ferrara, whose historic centre is now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, belongs both to those who built it, and those who have preserved it. The blue pathway that we propose here is dedicated to both of these categories of people who have contributed to the city’s identity.

You’ll learn everything there is to know through people who have protected the city’s heritage over time, thanks to their historical awareness and scholarly passion. Historiographers, document curators, and archivists: from bibliographer Giuseppe Agnelli, who is credited with cataloguing the ancient section of the Ariostea Library, to historian Giulio Righini, and rationalist engineer Girolamo Savonuzzi, who, together with his brother Carlo, changed the face of the city itself.

You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the special men and women whose exemplary life stories are an intricate part of Ferrara’s history. Examples include the political and journalistic efforts of Carlo and Francesco Mayr; the Navarra Brothers’ essential contribution to the development of modern agronomy; the courage of Alda Costa, an elementary school teacher who was ardently opposed to fascism; and the intellectual works of Vittorio Cini, who dedicated an important cultural foundation to his son Giorgio.
Delving even further into the past, there’s the humanist poet Celio Calcagnini, an authority at the court of the Este family.  Not to mention the men who made this journey possible: Duke Borso d’Este, who wanted to be solemnly entombed within the Charterhouse itself, and Ferdinando Canonici, the mind behind the monastery’s transformation into the monumental cemetery of today.

Borso D'Este
Ferrara 1413-1471

The first Duke of Ferrara, an example of a liberal Renaissance prince, was the Charterhouse’s sponsor and patron, and promoted its construction. It was his wish to be entombed there, with a solemn funerary monument. Prior to the demolition (in 1815), the tomb was originally located in the corner between the Church and the First Grand Cloister; today it’s located in the central exedra of the First Grand Cloister itself.

Carlo Mayr
Ferrara 1810 – Roma 1882

A politician who was liberal and republican during his youth (affiliated with the Young Italy movement, and participated in the moti del '31 movement), and had a subsequent career in the administration of the Kingdom of Italy. After 1848 he promoted the emancipation of the Jews from the ghetto of Ferrara, in opposition to the papal power.

Ferdinando Canonici
Ferrara 1780 - 1873
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The true father of this place, Canonici is the one who, as an “amateur architect”, planned the Charterhouse’s transformation into a monumental cemetery, based on four cloisters that replicated the ancient original cloister, and two large curving arcades. He is also credited with the pavement in Piazza delle Erbe, with the creation of the famous “listone.”

Carlo Grillenzoni
Ferrara 1814 - 1897
Carlo Grillenzoni

A physician specialised in gynaecology and obstetrics, he was director of the University of Ferrara’s Anatomy Department, was appointed Dean in 1874, and was chief of surgery at the Sant’Anna hospital. He promoted the establishment of the Fondazione dei giardini d’Infanzia (the Nursery School Foundation) in Ferrara.

Giuseppe Agnelli
Ferrara 1856 – 1940
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A pupil of Giosuè Carducci, he was a bibliographer and a central figure for the development of archiving in Ferrara. He directed Ferrara’s provincial History and Heritage delegation, as well as the Ariostea Municipal Library, which he reorganised and enriched, rendering it a major study centre.

Francesco Mayr
Garmisch 1801 – Ferrara 1883
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A writer and jurist, he founded the Gazzetta di Ferrara newspaper, and became president of the Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara bank. A staunch supporter of Cavour’s policies, as a deputy he promoted the transfer of the capital from Turin to Florence.

Giulio Righini
Ferrara 1884 – 1965
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A passionate scholar of the art and history of Ferrara, an authoritative member of the “Ferrariae Decus” and the “Provincial History and Heritage delegation of Ferrara”, and president of the Academy of Sciences of Ferrara. His tomb is preserved in the arch of the Righini family.

Alda Costa
Ferrara 1876 – Copparo 1944
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Elementary school teacher, leader of the Socialist Party of Ferrara, declared Antifascist, and founder of Women’s trade unions. A scrawny and combative woman, she bravely opposed fascism during the time of the first fascist squads, and after the march on Rome. Her tomb is preserved in the cell that houses the soldiers who fought for freedom, and is embellished with a majestic statue of the Pietà sculpted by Annibale Zucchini.

Giorgio Cini

The only child of businessman Vittorio Cini and actress Lyda Borelli, he devoted himself to liberating his father from the Dachau concentration camp. He died tragically in a plane crash at just 31 years of age. In his memory, his Father founded a Cultural Foundation in his name, which is located at the family’s home in Ferrara.

Fausto Beretta
Ferrara 1898 – Africa 1936

A musician, he was awarded the gold medal for valour, as he “fell courageously, saving the lives of many wounds at the cost of his own” at the Varien-Tembien Pass in Italian East Africa.

Severino and Gustavo Navarra
Ferrara 1847-1921 e 1845-1907
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Major landowners, thanks to their paternal inheritance, the Navarra brothers strongly believed in the agricultural vocation of the Ferrara area, and helped further the agricultural profession among young people by establishing a Practical School of Agriculture, which remains active today. Their tombs are found in the family arch.

Gregorio Boari
Ferrara 1795 - 1865

A painter and restorer particularly representative of the cultural climate of the Restoration period. Trained in Rome, where he learned the rules of the Raphaelesque model, in Ferrara he became a well-known expert on figurative culture due to the ecclesiastical jobs he undertook associated with the fifteenth and sixteenth century traditions. One of his most noteworthy works, among others, is his reproduction of Raphael’s “Madonna della Seggiola.”

Celio Calcagnini
Ferrara 1479-1541

A humanistic intellectual, poet and court historian, as well as a ducal officer employed by Cardinal Ippolito (I) d'Este, and Ambassador. He was cited by Ariosto in the 43rd canto of L'Orlando Furioso. At the time of his death, his remains and his library were preserved at the convent of San Domenico; today the Charterhouse has a plaque in his memory, but his body is not entombed there.

Girolamo Savonuzzi
Ferrara 1885 - 1943

Chief engineer of the municipality of Ferrara, a position that he even retained under fascism, despite his declared socialist ideas, thanks to his friendship with chief magistrate Renzo Ravenna; together with his younger brother, Carlo, he contributed to the modernisation of Ferrara’s urban fabric with his projects. Noteworthy expressions of rationalist architecture include the Poledrelli School, the Natural History Museum, and the Frescobaldi Conservatory.

Luigi Gulinelli
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Personaggio centrale della prima industrializzazione nel ferrarese, grazie alle bonifiche di terreni agricoli e allo sviluppo delle lanerie, delle fornaci e dei concimi chimici. A lui si deve la costruzione del primo zuccherificio e della prima distilleria di Ferrara. La Cella Gulinelli, elegante e ricchissima di fregi, è attualmente non visitabile in quanto sottoposta a interventi di restauro.

Church of San Cristoforo

In 1452, construction began on the primitive church and the monastery intended to host the Carthusian Order of Monks,
who settled there in 1461 and remained for over three centuries. The current building dates back to 1498, when, during the construction of the Herculean Addition ordered by Ercole (I) d'Este, the ancient temple was monumentalised and incorporated within a new majestic place of worship dedicated to St. Christopher. The project’s architect was Biagio Rossetti, who built a majestic single nave church with six side chapels, which was not entirely consistent with the architectural canons of the Carthusian Order. The interior houses a veritable trove of late Renaissance masterpieces by renowned painters from Ferrara, which have just recently been rendered available for public viewing once again after a major restoration effort following the earthquake of 2012. A monument that simultaneously commemorates the history of Ferrara, the fame of its figurative “poets”, and the eternal value of beauty.