A Taste of Ferrara: Discovering Authentic Emilia-Romagna Cuisine

By: Nicole Dickerson / Last updated: April 8, 2024

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes


Cappellacci di Zucca Ferraresi
Cappellacci di Zucca Ferraresi

Guide to Emilia-Romagna Gastronomy and Cuisine: Read more

Regional Cuisine:

Bologna, Forlí-Cesena, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Ravenna, Reggio Emilia, Rimini

From the 13th to the 18th centuries, Ferrara was ruled by the House of Estes. Their royal court along the banks of the Po River was one of the great cultural powers during the Renaissance. As such, the Estence court contributed many opulent, delectable dishes to Emilia-Romagna’s food.

Cappellacci di Zucca Ferraresi

These pumpkin hats of Ferrara are a fresh, stuffed pasta with a velvety, luxurious filling of butternut squash, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and nutmeg for a sweet spice. The first cappellacci di zucca Ferraresi were invented in the Estence court for the Duke of Ferrara, Alfonso D’Este. This pasta dish is frequently served with butter and sage, though it can be served with tomato or meat sauce. Tortelli di zucca are also common in Ferrara. They’re made with a similar filling, though the pasta does not have the same hat-like shape as cappellacci di zucca Ferraresi.

Coppia Ferrarese

Coppia Ferrarese is a unique double loaf, twisted bread with historical origins. Lucrezia Borgia’s (daughter of Pope Alexander VI) blonde curly hair is thought to have inspired the bread’s twisted shape when she came to Ferrara in 1502 to marry Duke Alfonso D’Este. The dough for Coppia Ferrarese is made of flour, pork lard, extra-virgin olive oil, water, sourdough, salt, and malt. As of 2001, Coppia Ferrarese became registered as a Protected Geographical Indication.

Pasticcio di Maccheroni

For an authentic taste of Ferrara, look to pasticcio di maccheroni. This uniquely sweet and savory dish was created in the royal Estence court. Its shape resembles a priest’s hat, hence the name. The dish is seasoned with truffles, meat ragù, béchamel, dried mushrooms, and Parmigiano Reggiano wrapped inside a sweet pastry crust and baked.

Pinzini Ferraresi

Another staple popular in Ferrara is pinzini ferraresi, a fried flatbread. The bread dough is made of lard or oil, flour, yeast, water, and salt. After being flattened, the dough is fried, and the crispy, delicious result is served warm as an antipasto with other typical accompaniments.

Salama da Sugo

A unique food of Ferrara and its province, Salama da Sugo is an Italian pork sausage made with multiple cuts of meat. The pig’s neck, neck fat, belly, liver, and tongue are finely minced together. Next, the meat is mixed with seasonings like salt, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and red wine. Then, pork casings are filled with the mixture, bound by twine, and left to age six to nine months. Traditionally, salama da sugo is boiled and served hot with mashed potatoes or pumpkin purée.

Torta di Tagliatelle

Torta di tagliatelle, also known as torta di ricciolina, is another decadent dish from Ferrara. This specialty is traditionally prepared around Christmas or Easter. A golden, shortcrust pastry is the base for torta di tagliatelle. The crust houses thin, freshly made tagliatelle noodles with sugar, butter, and almonds. The torta is baked until golden brown, then soaked in almond liqueur and dusted with sugar to serve.


Pampapato di Ferrara

Around Christmas, you’ll find an Italian fruit cake called pampapato di Ferrara. The fruitcake includes almonds, hazelnuts, candied fruit, cocoa, honey, cinnamon, and cloves. Notably, pampapato is also uniquely flavored with black pepper for an extra flavor.

Torta Tenerina

This tender cake was created in Ferrara in the early 1900s in honor of Elena Petrovich, the Queen of Montenegro and wife of Italian King Vittorio Emmanuele III. The flourless dessert is made with butter, eggs, and sugar, resulting in a velvety chocolate cake.

Zuppa Inglese

Another dish created for Duke Alfonso D’Este, zuppa Inglese, or English soup, is a typical dessert of the region. This sweet treat is made from sponge cake soaked in Alchermes liqueur and layered with pastry cream.


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Nicole Dickerson

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