I’ve been to Ferrara twice, in 2009 and 2020, but all I can remember from my first trip (in my pre-blogging days) are the city walls, lots of people on bicycles, and eating cappelletti stuffed with pumpkin, which in a way sums up this relaxed city quite nicely.
However after my second visit I wrote seven blog posts about my experiences, most of which somehow seem to involve a walk followed by lunch, although I suppose they are two of my favourite things in life. I had no evening meals in 2020 as all the restaurants were closed in the evenings due to Covid restrictions. The museums were shut too, which on the positive side means there will be lots more for me to see and do next time I next visit.
You’ll find everywhere mentioned on my Google map.
The first thing a visitor should do is take a walk around the historical centre and see Piazza Trento e Trieste and Castello Estense (post here).
Logically this could be followed by a walk and lunch in the nearby Jewish ghetto (post here).
For some more serious excercise you could take a 9km walk around the walls, naturally followed by lunch (post here).
Or you could take a more gentle stroll along Viale Cavour to look at the modern architecture (post here).
Or take a turn around the monumental cemetery (post here).
For my colleagues it’s good to know where to have a working lunch in Ferrara Sud (post here).
In 2020 I stayed in two different hotels. For work I was at the Hotel Annunziata which is very centrally located opposite the castle at 5 Piazza della Repubblica (B). It’s a modern hotel with efficient staff and a good breakfast. While on holiday I also stayed at the Hotel de Prati at 5 Via Padiglioni, which was a little dingy but nice enough (C+) and considerably cheaper.
Ristorante Tiffany in the north west corner of Piazza del Municipio became my favoured spot for an evening aperitivo. It’s the nearest outdoor terrace to the Hotel Annunziata and a good spot to kick back with a Negroni and watch the world go by. I’m sure the food is good but I haven’t tried it.
Ferrara is famous for its cuisine and this may well be the best restaurant in town…
Ca’ d’Frara Trattoria Moderna (Advanced B+), 4 Via del Gambero, www.ristorantecadfrara.it
This modern, upmarket restaurant, hidden down a backstreet in the centre, comes recommended by Michelin Guide and the Taste Atlas. Despite appearances, it’s a good place to try traditional dishes. In fact they have a €35 Menu Ferrarese which was tempting but more than I could manage at the time. I began with Pasticcio di Maccheroni, a specialty of Ferrara from a 16th century recipe. It’s a slice of pie made from maccheroni pasta, ragù, truffles, nutmeg-flavored béchamel and baked in sweet shortcrust pastry (A). Traditionally it was shaped decoratively to resemble a priest’s hat and served during the Carnival season.
Much more challenging was my second attempt to enjoy Salama da Sugo, the famous local sausage. It was the same as the first time, super salty and hard to enjoy, perhaps best stirred into the unsalted mash it is served with. I’m sure it’s delicious if you’ve been brought up with it but for non-locals, it should carry a warning. The Verdure alla Grigliata cheered me up a bit, as it’s my favourite preparation for veg.
As elsewhere in Emilia Romagna, Sangiovese seems to be the red wine to go for. Local digestivi were hard to come by but here they had Umberto I ‘Ma Re’ Liqore de Fortana, a fortified wine made from black cherry extract and local Fortana grapes from the Vini Del Bosco Eliceo DOC. It goes well with traditional Ferrara desserts such as Pampapato, Torta Tenerina and Zuppa Ferrarese.
Zuppa Ferrarese is what other Italians call Zuppa Inglese, or what we would call trifle in the UK. There are many origin myths surrounding ‘English Soup’. Naturally the Italian versions dispute its Englishness.
If you’d like to take home some Pampepato then Panificio Pasticceria Perdonati Ferrara at 108/B Via San Romano is the place to get it. I found the centre to be a bit dry but I enjoyed the dark chocolate covering.
For Torta Tenerina go to Rizzati in the Torre dell’Orologio at 2 Piazza Trento e Trieste. I believe they do a good ice cream too.
More chocolates and cakes at Orsatti at 33 Via Cortevecchia.
For other ingredients to take home, or hotel room picnics, there are some good food shops quite near each other in the centre. Goloseria is a deli at 27 Via Giuseppe Garibaldi…
…while nearby Bottega Del Formaggio at 18 Via Cortevecchia is a cheese specialist.
On to Viareggio in Tuscany next!