Anello dei Borgia: in bici fra le delizie estensi

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The Borgia Ring is a cycle-tourism trail of about 40 km that stretches across the Ferrara countryside and takes in some of the so-called Delizie Estensi, those opulent residences built in the Renaissance era by the Dukes of Este in the areas around Ferrara and the Po Delta.

These large agricultural estates, with their refined palaces and opulent gardens, together with the Este city itself, enjoy UNESCO recognition as a prime expression of Renaissance culture.

The cycle route can be travelled both clockwise and anticlockwise along low-traffic roads and gravel tracks. It takes in three Delizie Estensi estates that have been most closely linked with the history of the House of Este and Lucrezia Borgia: Belriguardo (located in the municipality of Voghiera), Benvignante (municipality of Argenta) and Verginese (municipality of Portomaggiore).

It is a well-marked, signposted route that is suitable for everyone thanks to its lack of technical difficulties. You can complete the journey easily and return to the place of departure in the space of a day (also taking advantage of train services at the stations of Portomaggiore, Montesanto and Consandolo).

  • Length
    24 hours
  • Interests
  • Target
  • First stop – Delizia Estense di Belriguardo Voghiera

    The first stop on the route is Voghiera, site of the Delizia Estense di Belriguardo.
    This was the favourite summer residence of the Corte Estense, and was also one of the most beloved palaces of Lucrezia Borgia.

    Commissioned by the Marquis Niccolo d'Este in 1435, it was the first of the famous Estensi residences to be built outside the walls of Ferrara and was always the richest and most sumptuous . For this reason it earned the nickname "Versailles of the Estensi", with its dozens of frescoed halls and huge, fabulous “Italian style” gardens.
    Over time, various structures and functional spaces were added, such as pergolas and vineyards, orchards and vegetable plots, fish ponds, fountains and above all, vast and well-ordered gardens.

    Today, the only surviving space of aesthetic value is the great Sala delle Vigne (Vineyard Room). Many artists contributed to its development, such as Dosso and Battista Dossi, Camillo Filippi, Benvenuto Tisi da Garofalo, Tommaso and Girolamo da Carpi and many others.
    Inside the complex is the Civic Museum of Belriguardo, divided into four sections: The Archaeological Section; the Renaissance Section housed in the beautiful Sala della Vigna; the modern Art Section and the Industrial Archaeology Section.

  • Second stop - Delizia Estense del Verginese Portomaggiore

    Just a few kilometres by bike and you can reach the Delizia Estense del Verginese near Gambulaga, a hamlet of the Municipality of Portomaggiore.
    The Delizia, an ancient leisure residence of the d'Este family, was initially inherited by Ercole II, son of Lucrezia Borgia and Alfonso I d'Este. In 1534, Duke Alfonso I d'Este donated it to Laura Dianti, the woman who became his mistress after the death of his wife Lucrezia Borgia.

    Laura Dianti transformed what was a simple agricultural holding into a small Renaissance palace, composed of a two-story rectangular villa bordered by crenelated towers. The name of the residence must presumably be linked to the “Verzenese” canal or ditch that surrounded the agricultural estate in several parts.

    The rooms of the Verginese are home to the Sepolcreto dei Fadieni Archaeological Museum, which features Roman-era relics unearthed in a small necropolis near the Delizia. The finds tell of the daily, economic and social life of a Roman family.

    At the rear of the Delizia is the Brolo, the ancient garden of the Delizia consisting mainly of flowers and fruit trees. Created in the Renaissance, it combines the delight of colours and scents with the practical purpose of fruit production for the canteen. Today the garden has been reconstructed with meadows, flowerbeds and rose gardens, alternating in a geometric and symmetrical arrangement with fruit trees such as pomegranates, pears, hazelnuts and apple trees.

    At the bottom of the garden stands the Torre Colombaia, once used as a watchtower and ‘base’ for homing pigeons. On the way back to La Delizia is another building, the Vinaia del Sapere – the ancient drying room. It has now been renovated and is used for exhibitions and cultural activities.

  • Third stop – Delizia di Benvignante Argenta

    Another residence along the route, the Delizia di Benvignante is located in the homonymous village, a hamlet of the municipality of Argenta. It is, unfortunately, not open to visitors.
    Built in 1464 at the behest of Borso d’Este, it was later donated by the Duke to Teofilo Calcagnini, a gentleman and secretary to the Este court. The palace was also surrounded by a wooded park, a vegetable garden and vast cultivated estates.

Last update 19/01/2024

Information offices

Ufficio Informazioni Turistiche - Argenta
Piazza Guglielmo Marconi, 1 - Argenta (FE)
+ 39 0532 330276

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