Economist and politician Born in Palermo, Ferrara was imprisoned by the Bourbons and liberated by the uprising of 1848. As member of the Sicilian parliament, he was sent to Turin to announce to the second son of Charles Albert his appointment as king of Sicily. Due to the Bourbon restoration, Ferrara was forced to stop in Piedmont where he became editor of the publication Risorgimento and taught political economy at the University of Turin. In 1860 he returned to Palermo to join the financial administration of the Provisional Government. Ferrara later became counselor for the Court of Auditors, Member of the Parliament, Minister of Finance (1867) and Senator (since 1881).
Director of the Scuola Superiore di Commercio in Venice since 1868 -member of the Accademia dei Lincei(1876)- Ferrara drew into its orbit between 1850 and 1875 the major Italian thinkers and gave impetus to economic studies.