Ferrara is located in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, which is renowned for culinary contributions like prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, and balsamic vinegar. The city’s famous pasticcio di maccheroni (macaroni pie) includes a few of them. The dish dates back to the 16th century and was traditionally prepared during Carnival season before the lean weeks of Lent kicked in. Cooked pasta is combined with truffles, meat sauce, and creamy béchamel then wrapped in a sweet pastry shaped to resemble a priest’s hat.
It’s not often someone suggests drinking vinegar, but one of the world’s most famous vinegars comes from a town outside of Ferrara and it’s truly, good enough to drink. Aceto Balsamico di Modena can only be produced in the provinces of Modena where Trebbiano grapes contain just the right concentration of sugar and acidity. The grapes are pressed, then the liquid is cooked, caramelized, and aged in wooden barrels for at least 12 years. The result is a syrupy dark liquid that is far sweeter than the term vinegar implies and is often served as an after-dinner drink.
One of the most delightful aspects of Ferrara is the fact that it’s not a huge tourist destination like Venice, Rome, and Florence. But it is one of Italy’s greenest cities, filled with medieval castles, picturesque parks, and magnificent Gothic, Romanesque, Renaissance, and Baroque churches. The Castle Estense, or Castle of Saint Michael, is a massive fortress in the city center built by the Este family who ruled the city from the 12th to 15th century. The building is made from red bricks and features roof top terraces, marble balconies, four massive towers, a drawbridge, and even a moat! Take a trip back in time exploring the nooks and crannies of this remarkable historical site.