Situated along the Po River, south of Venice and Padua, Ferrara is a medievil town that was designated a World Heritage Site in 1995. Ferrara was run by the powerful, yet somewhat tyrannical Este family in the 13th-century.
The Sarah Dunant's story, Sacred Hearts, takes place when Alfonso II d'Este was the Duke of Ferraro (1559 to 1597). The Duke was a patron of the Arts and Sciences and helped raise Ferraro to it's cultural height. Even though the Duke married three times, he failed to produce a legitimate heir and the city was absorbed into the Papal States upon his death.
Located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy the city dates back around 1300 years when Ferrara was a Byzantine military castrum (fortified city).The Este family ruled Ferrara from 1208 to 1598. 9200 meters of city walls commissioned by Duke Ercole I d'Este and built between 1493 and 1505 with walking paths on top.
Ferraro is a city of bicycles.
Below: The official Visit Ferrara website:
The fictional convent of Santa Caterina where Sacred Hearts is set is based historically and architecturally on those of The Monastero of St. Antonio in Polesine in Ferrara, an enclosed Benedictine community that still exists today.
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