An important centre of economy of the Ferrara area especially thanks to its prosperous agriculture. The town was quoted in historical documents dating back to before the year 1000 A.D. and use to be part of the Estense family’s hunting grounds as we can see from the structure of the town hall that was rebuilt in 1822 on the ruins of a magnificent castle built in 1540 by Ercole II of Este ( the “Delizia of Copparo”).
Historians have been trying to find the etymology of the name Copparo for many years now, some believe that the name Copparo could be a fusion of the names “Coppa d’oro” (Golden cup).
The origins of the area can be dated back to the high Middle Ages due to fact that it was part of the territory of the Churches of Ferrara and Ravenna (955 A.D.) under the name of “Mass in Copario”. The oldest reference to Copparo can be found in the “Privilegio of Pope Adrian the II” (870A.D.).
Many documents discovered by historians dated between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance refer to Copparo as an area disputed by Ferrara and Ravenna.
Certain letters and documents regarding land ownership divisions show Copparo as both a thriving agricultural center and an area full of game and wildlife, making it an excellent hunting ground.
The Dukes of Ferrara already owned a hunting castle, right from 400 A.D. Nicolò d’Este and the Duke Borso often went to visit these places of recreation bringing their numerous entourages along with them.
The ancient territory of Copparo excels in the 1431 census as the largest wheat and barley sown area. At the time the area could count on a population of 344 that grew to 581 in 1590 and eventually to 1654 by the year 1676.
The town was destroyed by a fire towards the end of the 15th century.
Many too were the floods of the river Po. In 1640 the Po broke through the river bank at Zocca completely flooding Copparo and nearly reaching the city walls of Ferrara.
No real changes happened during the french revolution and napoleonic periods.
In 1908 the district of Copparo was separated into 5 independent municipalities : Berra, Copparo, Formignana, Ro and Jolanda di Savoia.
The Copparo territory is situated on the Pianura Padana (Padana plain) 18 km from Ferrara and 50 km from Bologna, it is in the district area of the Po Delta around 10 km south of the river itself. It is 157 km2 with a population of around 16.000. The area lies in a naturally central position between Ferrara and the Adriatic Sea.
The main production company in Copparo is Berco Spa that has been contributing to the economic growth of the town since 1920 adding also an international feel to it. The aforementioned company is the largest manufacturer of spare parts for the undercarriages of earth moving machines in Europe and is still today considered a world level figurehead in this field.
Copparo was the largest agricultural district of Italy right up to the end of the 1800s and still today agriculture is one of the most important and salient resources of the territory. The most important and renowned product is pears making it one of the biggest producers both nationally and in Europe with a quality of product so excellent that it has been awarded the IGP mark ( Protected Geographical Indication) to its various types of pears.
Copparo is also a dynamic town thanks to its multitude cultural and social of events.
The “Delizia Estense”- Municipal residence
The “Delizia” of Copparo, used by Ercole d’Este II as a place of relaxation and leisure, was built between 1540 and 1547 following the project by the architect Terzo dè Terzi from Ferrara based on a pre-existing hunting castle.
Following the descriptions passed down through official sources, the impressive building consisted of five interconnected towers with two inner courtyards: the south face of the building connected two of these towers while the north face was made of the of the other two towers connected by a lower longitudinal section interrupted halfway by the fifth tower, the tallest and most majestic of them all.
Some of the most important artists of Ferrara were rallied to decorate the building, amongst these we can find Girolamo da Carpi, Benvenuto Tisi da Garofalo, Battista Dossi and Bastianino. The paintings were tragically destroyed during the terrible fire of 1808.
An ornamental crenellation ran along the whole building connecting the four corner towers. The gardens Delizia gave on to were splendid and geometrical.
The construction is shaped up to follow a “classical” cstructure where the corresponding single elements are broken down into a spectacular perspective.
In 1862 the Mayor Spisani bought the building on behalf of the district of Copparo and in 1875 it was renovated and turned into the Municipal Residence.
Monumental Fountain (Fontana monumentale)
Initially the people killed during the First World War were remembered with two tombstones put in place in 1923 on the facade of the town hall. In 1933 a “Monumental Fountain” was erected to celebrate the foundation of the Inter-district Aqueduct Consortium and the arrival of drinkable water.
The majestic monumental fountain, a graceful crowning element of the municipal aqueduct, acts today as a commemorative endeavor to the fallen ,directly opposite the Town Hall and dominates the center of the Piazza della Libertà square. The fountain is made of green imperial and white Carrara marble, it has a large round stone pool with sprays that collects rain water. From a second pool covered in inscriptions regarding the fallen small tubes shoot sprays of water inward. There is a white tall pillar surrounded by four pilaster sides of black marble engraved in bas-reliefs depicting: Diana of war, the assault, the song of war, the war wounded, sacrifice, the mercy to the Fallen, Diana of Victory and honor to Italy. The center pool has on its front a stone crest of the Copparo District with a crown of laurels, a bunch of wheat spikes and a cup engraved in bas-relief.
The fountain was carried out by the architect Piero Toschi of Forlì together with the sculptor Enzo Nenci from Ferrara and was unveiled the 4th of November 1935, one year after the termination of the fountain. This delay was due to the fact that the original crystal monolith broke and had to be replaced by a white Carrara marble one.
The tower of the “Delizia”
Built at the same time of the Delizia between 1540 and 1545, it is the only survivor of the impressive building commissioned by Ercole II of Este his favorite hunting grounds full of game and wild boars. It was situated on the northern side of the Villa and used as an observation tower of the Po river due to the recurring raiding by venetian troops. The renovation work, carried out between 1982 and 1988 by the architects Alessandri and Zappaterra, has shed new light on the historical interest of certain structural elements such as existence of a main entrance that confirms the direction of the Villa towards the Great River.
In present times the District library can be found in the tower.
Ex Carceri galleria d’arte civica
Inaugurated in 2003 the Gallery is situated in the ex district prison from the late 1800s. It was converted to its new use by Dario Ambrosone and named after the intellectual socialist Alda Costa. In the gallery itself there is a permanent exhibition of the works of art from the 20th century donated by the art gallery director Renzo Melotti. A larger display of contemporary artists whose works of art are kept temporarily in storage will be possible in a further extension of the buildings connected to the gallery. Melotti’s kind donation, with its 110 works of art ranging from paintings to sculptures to drawings and graphic designs, is a testimony of the figurative preference of the collector and makes it possible to create an artistic timeline from impressionism to cubism, realism, naif, “arte povera”,culminating with a whole section dedicated to Ferrara and its surrounding territory.
The “De Micheli” theatre
The initial idea of the Teatro De Micheli all started in 1908 when Enrico De Micheli bought a piece of public land on Vittorio Emanuele II square on which he was to build his residence with an adjacent theatre hall with a gallery made of wood columns, free stalls and pews.
The “small theatre” was created in order to fill the void of a space that could be ideal for different kinds of shows and representations to fulfill the growing cultural and recreational needs of the community.
The official grand opening of the Theatre was on the 22nd of May 1909 with a staging of “The Barber of Seville” by Gioacchino Rossini.
The repertoire offered by the De Micheli theatre ranged from Opera to Cinema, comedic plays in the local dialect, variety shows and charity events. Thanks to its versatility the theatre was also used as an institutional setting for public and political events.
In 1923 due to the precarious nature of the theatre’s structure the owner decided to completely rebuild the establishment thus giving it its present appearance and configuration.
It was closed down at the start of the Seventies but in 1989 it was bought by the District Administration of Copparo. Presently it is an active theatre offering different types of plays and cinematographic shows.
The church of Saint Peter and Paul (Chiesa di San Pietro e Paolo)
The parish church is mentioned in the “Statua Ferriare” of 1287. Due to the numerous floods of the river Po and the disastrous earthquake of 1570 the structure of the church went into decline so much that it had to be nearly completely rebuilt in 1581. In1594 the facade was made to face east and later repositioned facing west and a presbytery and a choir were added.
The questionable stylistic tendencies brought about after the damage following the second world war modified the primitive structure of which not much is left apart from maybe the rose windows.
The original bell tower dated back to 1184, the one built with cusp stands in 1813 was 64 meters tall and was renovated in 1954 after the damage it suffered during the bombings and is now 66 meters tall.
Inside the church you can admire two pictures by Ippolito Scarsella also known as “Lo Scarsellino”.
Villa Bighi in Copparo is the only modern architectural building designed by the eclectic artist Dante Bighi. Since it was built in 1963 it has never been used as a simple residence and is to this day one of few “minor” modern architectural buildings still standing in the area of Ferrara. During the life of its owner it was used as an art exhibition space and to accomodate artists an intellectuals of the last century from around the world.
In 1989 Bighi donated his private collection of contemporary works of art to the District of Copparo, around a 100 masterpieces of well known figureheads of all the major artistic movements of the second half of the 1900s like Fontana, Warhol and Giò Pomodoro. In 1994 the owner donated his entire Villa with everything inside it: the furniture, works of art, furnishings and the great library.
The only obligation left by Bighi regarding his donation is that the Villa is to be used as a place of cultural and intellectual growth. Today the Villa is home to the “Dante Bighi Center for studies”, created in 2007 , whose aim is the creation of cultural projects focused on regenerating the heritage of abandoned public buildings into new spaces for the community.
Beneath the banks of the River Po of Volano in an isolated area and rather evocative setting there is an estate known as “La Mensa”. Its name comes from the connections the building had with the Archbishops properties in Ferrara. The Villa, as the inscription on the marble at the front of the building clearly states, was built between 1474 and 1495 following the request of Bartolomeo della Rovere, Bishop of Ferrara, nephew of Pope Sisto IV and brother of his successor , Giulio II , Giuliano della Rovere.
The Church of San Venanzio
Just outside Copparo lies a small yet beautiful romanic church originally named after Saint Mary of Savonuzzo. Today that church is named after San Venanzio.
The church was built in 1344 on the banks of an ancient riverbed following the wishes of Giovanni de Saletta, owner of large estates in the area, that desired a place to heal souls on his lands.
On one side the crowning element is indented while the bell tower has double arched windows. After various acquisitions the church was donated by the last owner to the District of Copparo and to the Ferrari Decus. Inside the church itself frescos of the Bologna school depicting the life of the Virgin Mary have been recovered.
“La Tratta” museum
The museum was founded in 1986 with the purchase of items from the farming community of the Lower Ferrara area owned by Severino Peron and through the years it has grown thanks to various private donations.
Since the year 2000, thanks to an intense renovation, the museum can be found at the farmhouse and barn named “La Tratta” in an effort to bring the many objects back to their origins.
The display is based on the main production cycles of the area of Copparo, such as : wheat, wine and hemp cycle, recreating some domestic settings like the kitchen, barn and bedroom in order to make the experience as close to past realities as possible. Since 2004 the museum is only open for booked guided tours.
On the 22 of May 2020 the District of Copparo made an agreement to take up the activities of the museum with various organizations connected to the area (“Archeologia dell’Aria” and the reenactment group ”Storia in Grigio Verde”
Archeologi dell’ Aria APS
Archeologi dell’ Aria is a no profit social advancement organization made up of volunteers, experts and enthusiasts of Second World War plane CRASH POINTs. The aim of the organization is to find crashed airplanes from the 20th century (especially from the Second World War), retrieve missing pilots and crew members and gather, identify and protect aviation related materials connected to WWII in Italy. Much of the work is also focused on historical research using documents regarding life stories of the pilots or aviation in general and spreading facts and history of events connected to Italian and international aviation forces on a national scale using exhibitions, conferences, book presentations and learning material for schools and at the “LA Tratta” museum.
“Storia in Grigio Verde”
The organization for social and cultural advancement “Storia in Grigio Verde” is a historical reenactment group dedicated to researching and studying military and civilian events regarding the first half the 20th century. The organization promotes learning about an important period of Italy’s national history, honoring the memory of those that lived during the two most bloody conflicts of History itself through reconstructions of examples of everyday life and situations.
“Storia in Grigio Verde” is also active in researching and preserving heirlooms and relics of the 1900s thanks to the perfect setting that is the museum “La Tratta” thus creating a hands on experience for visitors who wish to know more about the two World Wars.