A beautiful circular route through the Ferrara countryside to discover some of the most beautiful, evocative Delizie Estensi, the historical residences of the Dukes of Este, included by UNESCO in the World Heritage Site List as they are able to illustrate “the influence of Renaissance culture on the natural landscape in an exceptional way”.
Starting from Voghiera, a town famous for the production of PDO garlic, there is the Delizia di Belriguardo, the favourite summer residence of the House of Este. This was the first of the famous House of Este residences to be built outside the walls of Ferrara and it has always remained the richest and most sumptuous so as to deserve the title of the “Versailles of the Estensi family”, with dozens of frescoed halls alongside huge, fabulous “Italian-style” gardens. The Civic Museum of Belriguardo, divided into four sections: The Archaeological section contains Etruscan finds; the Renaissance section is housed in the beautiful Sala della Vigna, named for the frescoes that adorn its walls; The section of Art Modena and the Section of Industrial Archaeology that exhibits objects of daily and domestic use.
You get back on your bike and, in only a few kilometres, you reach the Delizia del Verginese, originally a country farmhouse, which was transformed into a ducal residence in the early 16th century by Alfonso I d'Este and donated to Laura Eustochia Dianti. After the Duke's death, the lady retired there, making it her small private court and commissioning its renovation, carried out mainly by Girolamo da Carpi. The rooms of the Delizia del Verginese house the permanent exhibition entitled "Mors Inmata. The "Sepolcreto dei Fadieni" focused on the discovery of a small Roman necropolis situated only a stone's throw from the Delizia itself. Outside, a reconstruction of the garden belonging to the Delizia, known as the "brolo" has been created, which in the Renaissance period, consisted mainly of flowers and fruit trees.
Just a little further down the road is the Delizia di Bevignante, in the village of the same name near Argenta. Although this is also a country villa, it also was used for defensive purposes and was a political representation of the power of the Estensi family, as is testified by the crenellated tower that stands at the centre of the building. However, this Delizia can only be visited from the outside.
Finally, bring this ring-route to an end by passing through San Nicolò and returning to Voghiera.
LENGTH: 28 km
ROAD BOTTOM: partly on asphalted sections and partly along dirt roads
BIKE TYPE: mountain bike