The Borgia Ring isn’t a piece of jewellery to wear on your finger, and it’s not about court gossip either.
This heritage treasure is a cycle tour in the heartland of Ferrara – fertile country liberally strewn with the historic residences of the Dukes of Este, rising like apparitions from the past.
Known as the Delizie, these delights are places that “illustrate the influence of Renaissance culture on the natural landscape in an exceptional manner”, according to UNESCO. Which is why they – and the city of the Este itself – are now on the World Heritage list.
The route also passes through Consandolo, near another Delizia (no longer in existence) linked to Ercole II d’Este, son of Lucrezia Borgia.
The route is partly on country roads, partly on unsurfaced tracks, overlapping here and there with the Via Romea Germanica Roman way.
If you’re looking for a fairly level ride for all the family to enjoy, with country views, lovely architecture and Renaissance moods, this is the one for you!
Delizia di Belriguardo
It was the Este court’s summer residence of choice – indeed, the first aristocratic summer palace in the whole of Europe – and one of Lucrezia Borgia’s favourite abodes.
The first section was erected in 1435, and the building is now home to Belriguardo Civic Museum.
The collection has 4 main strands: the Archaeology section with various Etruscan finds; the Renaissance section in the beautiful Sala della Vigna (vine room), named after the vine-laced frescoes adorning the walls by celebrated painters of the day; the Modern Art collection with numerous works by Giuseppe Virgili, a leading light in the 20th-century Ferrara school.
Finally, there is the Industrial Archaeology section, presenting everyday and domestic objects made by Ferrara metalwork companies from the late 19th to the mid 20th centuries.
Delizia del Verginese
It was a gift from Duke Alfonso I d’Este to his lover, Laura Dianti, after the death of his wife, Lucrezia Borgia.
Dianti turned what was a simple farm building into a little Renaissance palace: a rectangular two-storey villa with a pair of crenelated towers at each end. Behind, the Renaissance garden with dovecote is agreeable to explore.
Delizia di Benvignante
The Delizia di Benvignante is in the village of the same name, near the town of Argenta.
It was built in 1464 by Borso d’Este as a gift for his right-hand man, Teofilo Calcagnini.
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