Anne's Blog

Piacenza Pleasures Revisited

Date: March 3, 2019 - categories: , , - Leave your thoughts

I think Pino and I are due for a return to Piacenza (in Emilia Romagna).  We have such good memories of our first visit there – when I wrote a note on our trip for Italian Notebook.

Time to add the “Piacenza musings” now to this blog:

*Founded by the Romans, devastated by the Goths and resurrected by medieval noble families, this elegant Emilia Romagna city flourished thanks to its location on a natural commercial artery, the Po River.  In the 16th century Pope, Paul III gave the town another boost to glory, declaring his son Duke of Parma and Piacenza.  In front of the porticos of the 13th century Gothic marvel, Palazzo del Pubblico, bronze statues of Farnese dukes on horseback inspired the piazza’s name Piazza dei Cavalli.

The presence of a Papal court is a guarantee of wealth:  by the 18th-century, three hundred patrician families had settled into their luxurious palazzi piacentini.

As you stroll through Piacenza – passing one elegant palace courtyard entryway after another – you can almost hear the clatter of carriage wheels on cobblestones as elegant coaches return home…

But porticoes grace not just Piacenza’s noble courtyards and medieval city hall:  there were some in the dining room of Osteria Carducci where we headed to savor some specialita’ piacentine.

Pisarei e faso’ is one such dish, in which the pisarei – tiny gnocchi made with breadcrumbs and flour – are married to a sauce of borlotti beans (fagioli called “faso’ ” in piacentino dialect).  A signature dish of the region’s cucina povera, farm women would have used lard (from the family pig) in the sauce but the Osteria cook added a touch of pancetta.

Our young waitress, Antonella (daughter of Sicilian immigrants – so the connection with Pino was immediate),  resolved the dilemma suggesting  a small portion (ha!) of the pisarei for antipasto followed by the tortelli.

Both dishes were feasts for the palate – and the tortelli, also for the eye: tortelli piacentini are braided!

I decided to skip the secondo, but not Pino: he had to try their polenta with cod:

Co-owner, Giulian (from Albania, although he grew up in Piacenza)  stopped at our table to make sure Pino was enjoying the cod. ( “Si, motto! Buonissimo…”)

Afterwards, Giulian served us caffe’ but made sure we tried at least a taste of their sbrisolana before leaving. From “sbriciola” (“crumb”), the sbrisolana’s crumbly goodness was the prefect topping for a day of piaceri piacentini:

Read here about another Emilia Romagna favorite – with good eating!

Click here for a note on Ferrara, Emilia Romagna gem not to miss

Read about Reggio Emilia, not far from Piacenza

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