Museo Archeologico Nazionale

Top choice in Ferrara

Housed within what is arguably Ferrara's most beautifully preserved palace – the 1505 Palazzo Costabili – the city's national archaeological museum is mainly devoted to what some consider to be the most important collection of Greek and Etruscan ceramics in the world. Recovered from some 4000 ancient tombs at the Etruscan city of Spina buried in the Po Delta, there are in fact so many extraordinary 6th- to 3rd-century BC Attic volute-kraters (decorative mixing bowls) here that the museum has even set aside a few you can touch.

But highlights here run far deeper than spun clay. The museum has a remarkable collection of colourful Phoenician and Rhodian molten glass, and amber and golden jewellery dating to the 5th and 6th centuries BC. Not to mention two 12- to 15m-long Roman pirogues (dugout canoes) and the astonishing 16th-century frescoed ceiling – complete with a rose window in gilded wood – in the Treasure Hall. And there are wonderful gardens, too.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Ferrara attractions

1. Museo Lapidario

0.21 MILES

Your ticket to Palazzo Schifanoia also gives entry to this nearby museum, which has a small, undocumented collection of Roman and Etruscan stele, tombs…

2. Palazzo Schifanoia

0.24 MILES

Dating to 1385, the Este's 14th-century pleasure palace suffered significant earthquake damage in May 2012 and the museum will be shuttered until 2020 for…

3. Casa Romei


This palace was once owned by Giovanni Romei, a top administrator to the Este clan – and his importance shows in the architecture. The austere brick…

4. City Walls

0.43 MILES

Only Lucca in Tuscany can claim a more complete set of walls than Ferrara, though with a total circumference of 9km, Ferrara's are longer and among the…

5. Museo della Cattedrale

0.62 MILES

This museum houses various artefacts from Ferrara's duomo, including a serene Madonna by Jacopo della Quercia, a couple of vigorous Cosimo Tura canvases,…

6. Duomo

0.66 MILES

The outstanding feature of the pink-and-white 12th-century cathedral is its three-tiered marble facade combining Romanesque and Gothic styles on the lower…

7. Palazzo Municipale

0.74 MILES

Linked to the castle by an elevated passageway, the 13th-century crenellated Palazzo Municipale was the Este family home until they moved next door to the…

8. Castello Estense


Complete with moat and drawbridge, Ferrara's towering castle was commissioned by Nicolò II d'Este in 1385. Initially it was intended to protect him and…