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Museo archeologico nazionale di Ferrara


The museum

In the halls of Palazzo Costabili, jewellery, vases, ornaments and utensils of the Hellenic and Etruscan period, from more than 4.000 tombs, are on display representing the ancient city of Spina.

Museo archeologico nazionale di FerraraMuseo archeologico nazionale di Ferrara

Situated near the Po River Delta, Ferrara has still today the unique aspect that the Este gave it during three centuries of government, until 1598, transforming it from a Medieval centre in a real Renaissance ideal city.

Its urban structure, defined “Herculean Addition” by the project of Ercole I d’Este, who conceived longitudinal and intersections streets instead of the usual Roman plan, make it the first modern city in Europe. Because of this feature, Ferrara has been recognized a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995.

Museo Archeologico Nazionale Ferrara - Il Giardino di Palazzo Costabili

Museo Archeologico Nazionale Ferrara – Palazzo Costabili courtyard

Palazzo Costabili said “of Ludovico il Moro”

Jewel of the XVI century, the building was designed by Biagio Rossetti on behalf of Antonio Costabili, Ambassador for the Este in Milan. By tradition it is linked to the name of Ludovico il Moro, who was said to have built the residence to ensure himself a safe exile in the hometown of his wife, Beatrice d’Este.

The cornerstone of the palace is the courtyard, completed only on two sides and adorned with a double lodge decorated with columns and white stone reliefs inspired by classical antiquity. In the porch in front of the garden – recently restored in Renaissance style – the “Treasure Hall” (Sala del Tesoro) is home to an extraordinary cycle of frescoes by Benvenuto Tisi, called Garofalo, dating from the early sixteenth century.

Museo archeologico nazionale Ferrara Salone delle Carte Geografiche


Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Ferrara

Renaissance art and architecture coexist with the remains of the ancient city of Spina in the halls of the Archaeological Museum. Inside, the rich findings of the necropolis: pottery, vases and ornaments in bronze, gold, silver, amber and glass paste jewelry, from the Hellenic and the Etruscan period, resurfaced since 1922 on reclamation public works of the Valleys of Comacchio.

The representation on maps of the territory where flourished the ancient port city, decorates the walls of the “Hall of Maps” (Salone delle Carte Geografiche), painted when Palazzo Costabili was transformed into Archaeological Museum, which occurred in 1935 in the middle of the fascist period. The aim is to introduce the visitor to the discovery of the evolution of the Po Delta, the ancient river Eridanos with its constant changes of course that marked the luck and the decline of Spina in ancient times and of Ferrara from the Middle Ages.

Museo archeologico nazionale Ferrara L'abitato di Spina

Museo archeologico nazionale Ferrara – the settlement of Spina

Evidence of a wealth arising from the flourishing trade between Spina and the Mediterranean ports, the “Hall of Golds” (Sala degli ori) is set up like a real jewellery, thanks to a partnership with Bulgari, and collects a wide exhibition of jewelry, amber and glass paste ointment bottles, which highlight the richness of local Etruscan aristocracies between the sixth and the fourth centuries BC.

Museo archeologico nazionale Ferrara - Sala degli Ori

Museo archeologico nazionale Ferrara – Hall of Golds

The ability of Etruscan artisans is well represented also by the beautiful amber jewels, often collected in rich necklaces with alternations of glass paste and gold. The link with the amber and its origins evokes the legend of Phaeton, the son of Sun-God fallen in River Eridanos waters after a mad flight at the helm of his father’s chariot. His sisters, the Heliades, wept copious tears that became amber.

Museo archeologico nazionale Ferrara - La Sala degli ori

Museo archeologico nazionale Ferrara – Hall of Golds

The fish plates

Among the imported Greek pottery particularly appreciated by the Spina’s inhabitants, the fish plates stand out. They are decorated with detailed depictions of the meals that they could “hold”. We find all the protagonists of the 2.500 years ago fish market, redfish, mullet, bream, monkfish, rays, cuttlefish and squid, but not the eel even if it was regularly consumed during banquets.

Museo archeologico nazionale Ferrara - Piatti da pesce

Museo archeologico nazionale Ferrara – Fish plates

The typical shape of the fish plate, characterized by a central hollow, suggests that it should serve to contain sauces or condiments for the precious fish, certainly one of the most popular foods in a river and sea emporium as Spina was.

Museo archeologico nazionale Ferrara - Piatti da pesce

Museo archeologico nazionale Ferrara – Fish plates

The Etruscans at the table

Although until today only modest written documents able to witness the Etruscans thought and literature survived, archaeology and other sources at our disposal make certain that Spina inhabitants have been influenced by the customs of Greek society, with which they traded and coexisted.

The Greek sources – through the surviving fragments and the works of Aristophanes, Archestratus, Diphilus – list the types of fish exposed on the market stalls or in specific places (opsopolia), they explain the various fishing techniques and describe the menus and the preparation of the recipes. It is not surprising to discover in the verses of the poet Philoxenus that even in ancient times boiled fish was good, but the cooked and fried ones were a lot more.

Located in the building designed by Biagio Rossetti for Antonio Costabili, the museum holds the remains of the necropolis and the town of Spina, the thriving Etruscan commercial port was one of the focal points of the region between the sixth and third centuries B.C. The exhibition also contains some of the grave furniture found in some of the four thousand tombs, the beauty of their craftsmanship is very impressive, and among this is a large collection of Attic pottery, in particular red-figured vases of the fifth century B.C. Recently several radical restoration projects were carried out on the building. The museum has a "Sala del Tesoro" (Hall of Treasure) which boasts one of the most beautiful frescoes painted by Garofalo, as well as the "Sala delle Piroghe" the Hall of Pirogues, including boats of the late Roman (IIIrd-IVth century AD) and the "Sala degli Ori" (Hall of Gold Jewelry) with its collection of gold jewelry, silver, amber and vitreous glass paste, dating from the fifth and fourth centuries BC. On the ground floor, four rooms can be found, two of which are painted by Garofalo and his school and they are dedicated "alla città dei vivi" (the city of the living) to the town of Spina, cults and myths, people and writings. At the end of the museum there is a "virtual library" which leads into the neocropolis. The "Piano Nobile" (Main floor), in consonance with the original layout of the room done in the thirties, is dedicated to the Etruscan necropolis of the city and includes masterpieces of painted Attic vases, Etruscan bronzes and precious objects imported from all over the Mediterranean.


via XX Settembre, 122
44100 Ferrara


Tuesday-Sunday 9.30-17.00

Ph: +39 0532 66299
Closure: Monday
Full: 5,00 €
Reduced: 3,00 €