Ferrara | Good Ageing Potential

To call it historied would be to understate matters just a trifle. Al Brindisi wine bar in Ferrara doesn’t measure its longevity in generations but in centuries, nigh on six of them actually. The first records of this venerable tavern date to 1435, when apparently it was already a notorious drinking den known as the Hosteria del Chiucchiolino, a colloquial name which has something to do with intemperance and is appropriately difficult to enunciate.

Still operating on the exact same spot behind the cathedral in Ferrara‘s spectacular Renaissance town centre (another UNESCO World Heritage site), it’s now run by Federico Pellegrini, a lively d’Artagnan-like figure, no mean jazz musician, and third generation Pellegrini at the Enoteca. Unassuming outside and in, Al Brindisi serves up a full menu of good, home-cooked, regional fare and salads, including typical Ferraraspecialities such as cappelletti and salama da sugo. Dining is at bare wood tables with bench seats, while the counter area is packed with all the clutter of wining and cold dining under timbered ceilings.

No shortage of wines, of course, or of single malt whiskies – a legacy of Federico’s father Moreno. They also serve good ports but, in keeping with tradition, no beer or coffee. Titian tippled here, probably downing a glass or two in the company of Benvenuto CelliniAriosto waxed lyrical about the place after comparing notes with Torquato Tasso, and Copernicus pored over his notebooks in the rooms on the first floor. You’d be in good Renaissance company, then, over a bite at lunchtime, a hearty aperitif or a generous meal.