Slide Seven Arts

Ferrara is the birthplace of numerous great figures in the fields of literature and the visual arts, who, after their lives of fame and international success, returned to their hometown to be laid to rest.

These include poets, architects, painters, and film directors whose works we’ve all enjoyed, and who you’ll now be able to thank “in person” for they ways in which they touched our lives. Take a personal journey into the poetry of the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, discovering the great masters of the schools of romanticism, divisionism, symbolism and futurism: Gaetano Previati, with his religious works and his avant-garde style much acclaimed by futurists; Filippo De Pisis, with his exquisite landscapes; and, above all, Giovanni Boldini, the portraitist most beloved by the high society of Paris during the Belle Époque.

Match the names with their plaques at the most fascinating and recognisable spot in Ferrara’s historic centre, the magnificent rotunda in the Theatre’s lateral façade by Antonio Foschini.
Finally, let yourself be swept away by the historical images: the realistic images in Florestano Vancini’s masterful historical-political feature films, and the fantastical images by Michelangelo Antonioni (recipient of an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1995), who made cinematic history with the final scenes of Blow up, Zabriskie Point and, above all, The Passenger.

Giovanni Boldini
Ferrara 1842 – Parigi 1931
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A painter of worldwide fame, his name became synonymous with the female period portrait, with his luminous realism. He was a prominent figure of the Belle Époque, and was admired by the high aristocratic society of both France and England. His tomb, which was created by the Del Monaco e Zigola studio, was inaugurated in 1983 to receive Boldini’s remains from their original primitive monument (included on pathway 3); it stands proudly on its own, in an area surrounded by greenery.

Michelangelo Antonioni
Ferrara 1912 – Roma 2007

Film director. Educated in the intellectual circles of Ferrara headed up by Giorgio Bassani, he moved to Rome in 1940, where he began his directing career with the short film People of the Po Valley. His greatest masterpieces include Blow up and Zabriskie Point; he made cinematic history with the final scene of The Passenger. He received an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1995.

Gaetano Previati
Ferrara 1852 – Lavagna 1920

A painter noted as a talented disciple of Segantini, who became a great symbolist and went on to earn the title of “champion of the avant-garde.” He achieved fame with his works on the theme of motherhood, and his illustrations of The Betrothed and the tales of E.A. Poe. His tomb is extraordinarily modest: a simple slab on the ground with his name indistinctly engraved next to those of his family members.

Filippo Tibertelli De Pisis
Ferrara 1896 – Milano 1956
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A painter, writer and art critic, known as an interesting character who fell outside the schemes of twentieth-century art. He was trained in Ferrara under the influence of Carrà, De Chirico, Savinio, and the metaphysical style of painting, but lived a good part of his life in Paris, where he produced a refined pictorial and poetic style, expressed above all in landscapes of city, marine still life, and portraits. His body was interred along with other members of his family.

Florestano Vancini
Ferrara 1926 – Roma 2008

A film director and screenwriter, and a great researcher of the vices of the Italian people behind the camera, his works exude a love for his native land and a passion for historical and political topics. His staging of a story by Bassani in The Long Night of ‘43 was unforgettable.

Antonio Boldini

Painter and father of the famous Giovanni Boldini. He mainly devoted himself to religious painting, and copies of sixteenth century paintings from the School of Ferrara, namely by Il Garofalo; many of these were accepted into public and private collections as original Renaissance works. The extremely modest appearance of his tomb, positioned on the ground, stands in marked contrast to the two majestic mausoleums dedicated to his more famous son.

Corrado Govoni
Ferrara 1884 – Anzio 1965
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A poet and storyteller who, after an initial crepuscular phase, adhered to the principles of futurism. A central figure in the development of the twentieth century poetry, he collaborated with some of the early century’s most important literary journals. A poem dedicated to his son, Aladino, can be found next to the tomb, which is surrounded by beautiful specimens of rare plants.

Benvenuto Tisi detto Il Garofalo
Ferrara 1481-1559
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A painter who initially adhered to the symbolist trend, and later to divisionism and social painting. He even worked in the field of theatrical sets, and was assigned several jobs at La Scala. In accordance with his own wishes, his tomb, the upper portion of which has unfortunately been damaged, also contains the remains of his beloved mother, who lived with him her entire life, and next to whom he wanted to be buried.

Vincenzo Monti
Alfonsine 1754 – Milano 1828

A poet, a translator of Homer, a major figure in early nineteenth century literary patriotism, and the official poet of Napoleonic Italy. Although not a native of Ferrara, he was buried in the Cell of Ferrara’s Illustrious Citizens.

Antonio Sturla
Ferrara 1894 -1968
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Cinematographer Antonio Sturla was the director of photography for over 100 documentaries, and contributed to the professional training of renowned directors like Vancini and Damiani, as well as three-time Academy Award winner Carlo Rambaldi. The Frabetti Tomb (now the Sturla Avogadri Tomb) in which his remains were laid to rest, is embellished by a beautiful Madonna kneeling in prayer, sculpted by Luigi Legnani. The detail of the half-open door leading to the afterlife is incredibly evocative.

Lanfranco Carretti
Ferrara 1915 – Firenze 1995

A philologist and literary critic, he taught Italian literature at the Universities of Pavia and Florence, and was a member of the Accademia dei Lincei. He contributed to classical studies with enlightening critical editions of Orlando Furioso and Jerusalem Delivered, and with a Carthusian philological work on the three editions of Manzoni’s novel The Betrothed.

Giuseppe Mazzolani
Ferrara 1842-1916
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A portraitist, restorer, and a master of the art of copying the great Renaissance masters. His copies of the Hall of the Months at Palazzo Schifanoia were studied by Aby Warburg, who believed them to be authentic. He made a name for himself with his restoration of the frescoes at Palazzina Marfisa d’Este.

Antonio Foschini
Venezia 1741 – Ferrara 1813

An architect whose greatest design achievements were the San Camillo di Comacchio hospital and the Teatro Comunale di Ferrara. One of the city’s most fascinating features, the magnificent rotunda in the Theatre’s lateral façade, is named after him.

Giuseppe Mentessi
Ferrara 1857 – Milano 1931

A painter who initially adhered to the symbolist trend, and later to divisionism and social painting. He even worked in the field of theatrical sets, and was assigned several jobs at La Scala. In accordance with his own wishes, his tomb, the upper portion of which has unfortunately been damaged, also contains the remains of his beloved mother, who lived with him her entire life, and next to whom he wanted to be buried.

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.