By choosing to study in Ferrara, students expose themselves to a relatively tourist-free city of 130,000, located on the Po river only thirty minutes by train from Bologna and one hour from Venice. Ferrara was once described as "the first modern city of Europe." Long associated with the Este family, who built the famous castle, this independent city state, which had been a center of learning and the arts, went into a long decline at the end of the renaissance and only reinvented itself in the second half of the twentieth century as a vibrant agricultural and industrial trading center. Ferrara's historic center is located within the old city wall, a favorite walking venue, and is filled with medieval and renaissance monuments, palazzos, churches, and a renowned cathedral while its museums, exhibitions, festivals, and theater reflect both its rich artistic, musical, and cultural heritage and its continuation in the present. The old city is made even more attractive by being devoid of automobiles and full of shops and cafes. Bicycles are, thus, a primary means of transportation, giving the center the feel of a small and friendly community. The university, which is also located in this part of the city, was first established in 1391 and today enrolls approximately 12,000 students.
Students choosing to study in Ferrara will take all of their classes at the Università degli Studi di Ferrara alongside Italian students. Single-semester students will take a course at the Centro Linguistico d'Ateneo that focuses on writing for academic purposes, as well as three units worth of university courses. Year-long students will enroll in four university courses only during their second semester. They select their courses from a wide variety of disciplines including: Anthropology, Architecture, Art History, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, History, Law [Politics], Linguistics, Literature, Mathematics, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, and Physics.