Anne's Blog

Ferrara: From Medieval Majesty to Cappellacci alla Zucca

Date: February 1, 2017 - categories: , , - 2 Comments

Another “along-for-the-ride” trip with Pino, off to see possible restoration projects for his crew. And this time, not very close to home but in Ferrara in Emilia Romagna. (If Pino’s restoration company wins the bid, a group of workers will stay there, Monday-to-Friday…)

We’d last been there years ago and were eager to wander again this castle-dominated medieval town, so rich in stunning historic monuments from the 14th-c Castello Estense of the ruling D’Este family to the medieval quarter with winding vaulted alleyways to the Jewish ghetto.

Castello Estense


Ferrara’s dark, vaulted medieval alleyways:


Ferrara’s historic Jewish ghetto:




But before our wanders, we headed to view the two Ferrara restoration projects Pino would be bidding on: restoration of the church San Cristoforo alla Certosa and restoration of the Teatro Comunale, both damaged in the 2012 Emilia Romagna earthquake.

First stop, the San Cristoforo church, part of the vast Certosa holdings:




Restoration will be complex…


Part of the vast Carthusian – late 11th-c monastic order founded in Cologne by San Bruno – monastery estate, la Certosa, restoration of the church will take months. Or a couple years…? Pino and various other bidding builders followed a technician throughout the immense church, viewing the restoration needs.



Pino and other bidding builders tour the Church with a technician:






They even climbed up into the vault above the nave to view damage there: I waited below, taking pictures of the assault….and then took time to photograph the stunning 15th-c inlaid choir stall, the display on how the intricate inlay was done still there in front of the choir….




The church inspection took about two hours and then on to the next restoration project to view: Teatro Comunale in the heart of Ferrara just across from the Castello Estense:

Il Teatro Comunale:



…across the square from the Castello Estense, reign of the ruling d’Este family:



We met a young ferrarese couple during the teatro visit – also involved in the field of restoration – and when they heard we were headed for lunch in the medieval section afterwards, Tiziana and Giorgio insisted on walking us there! We headed past the Castello Estense into the Jewish ghetto area, passing the medieval botteghe or artisan workshops of Jewish artisans.





…and as we walked, Tiziana pointed out a building where she had collaborated on restoration. They’d found a false ceiling on the upper floor littered with shoes, clothes and dishes: a hiding place of Ghetto residents in World War II.

The Ghetto building Titiana helped restore:


Our Ghetto stroll in twisting medieval alleyways lined with stuccoed pastel buildings led us to our trattoria. Before leaving Tiziana and Giorgio, we invited them for an aperitivo (and invitation to Assisi):



We’d walked kilometers and now the “reward”: that delectable ferrarese specialty, cappellacci alla zucca (literally, “big ugly hats with winter squash”). At least for me.


Not for Pino, siciliano, who opted for grilled swordfish: most definitely, not a Ferrara specialty!


A medley of mixed vegetables followed for both of us.


As we headed back to Pino’s van, we walked through the dark narrow medieval alleyways, many vaulted over, then through the meandering streets of the Ghetto and back to the massive D’Este family castello, dark and somber on that misty and icy January day.

Hopefully, we’ll return soon to Ferrara’s medieval majesty…and good eating!

Ferrara’s medieval quarter:



Walking through the Ghetto:


The D’Este family Castello Estense:



Read more on the Carthusians, founders of many a certosa
Read more on the Ferrara Jewish ghetto
Click here for more on the Castello Estense
Read about Emilia Romagna’s capital, Bologna, called “la città del cibo”
Read about more good eating in Reggio Emilia
Click here for more on Reggio’s good eating
Read about Ferrara, another Emilia Romagna gem
Read about Emilia Romagna goodness near Faenza
Read more on a culinary specialty of Emilia Romagna
Read about Emilia Romagna cuisine in Bagnocavallo


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