Friday – The Arrival
Our first glimpse of the beautiful city of Ferrara was the Villa Horti della Fasanara, a picturesque bed and breakfast on a gravel road not far from the city center. We entered through the closed gates of the Villa to a long stone walkway leading up to a grand brick house with a beautiful balcony above the front door – the kind you can just picture some Italian man leaning out of while calling out to his lover below.
We met the bride’s family for the first time as well as some of the couple’s friends and again marveled at the challenges and wonders of language. Her Bulgarian parents speak no English so she and her brother served as translators for the first meeting of the two families. After settling in to our glamorous lofted room with its own sitting area and bed and bath upstairs, we dressed for dinner and headed into town by foot and by bicycle for aperitivos.
One thing I love about Italy is its abundance of outdoor seating. Almost every evening while in Italy we ate outside, taking in the scenery and the breeze while we savored our pasta and wine. For Friday’s (rehearsal) dinner (of sorts), we gathered at a café in the main plaza and shared glasses of spritz and Prosecco along side bites of capers and puff pastry morsels (along with potato chips – totally wasn’t expecting that one). The immediate families of the bride and groom continued to dinner at Cusina E Butega, a modern looking restaurant serving classic Ferrara dishes such as the cappellacci di zucca, a fresh pasta filled with pumpkin and topped with ragu (tomato and meat sauce). Our table was right next to the kitchen, so I frequently stole glances of the chefs preparing the dishes every time the automatic door opened (another cool feature of a very modern restaurant).
As a lover of filled pasta I ordered the signature dish and quite enjoyed it, though Sam’s cappelletti in brodo di cappone (“meat-filled tortellini in a capon broth”) had a rich and delicious sausage-like flavor. When Sam asked what a capon was, our waiter (whose mastery of English and comical expressions made the dinner all the more enjoyable) explained that it was an older chicken whose, *ahem*, balls get cut off so that he grows nice and fat. We all got a good laugh out of his conclusion to the explanation, “It’s a funny story,” he told us. “Well, not for the chicken.” We rounded out our meals by sharing a platter of assorted Italian meats (think prosciutto and mortadella) and cheese (delicious nutty, crumbly Parmesan) and a carafe of fizzy red Lambrusco wine. Most of us were too full for gelato so we decided to save our appetites for Saturday, the day of T & R’s wedding.
Saturday – The Wedding
Saturday morning began with an impressive breakfast spread – pastries (dare I call them desserts?), bread, meats, fruit, yogurt, assorted juices, and espresso.
When we were finished, we headed out to bike around the old walls of the city. (Ferrara is known for being a very bike-friendly town, which is why we were originally told we would be biking to dinner in our wedding attire. Though we didn’t end up biking, the bride and groom actually did, wedding dress and all!)
After exploring the city, enjoying light lunch and gelato downtown, we dressed for the wedding and witnessed the beautiful ceremony (in Bulgarian and English) in one of the Villa’s gardens.
The party moved on to cocktails and snacks (didn’t take pictures, but they had some delicious and beautiful treats including a mortadella mousse in a pastry crust and some cheese wrapped in prosciutto to look like tortellini) before heading into town for a decadent two and a half hour dinner.
In Italy, dinner begins with antipasti (salads and meat trays) followed by primi piatti, which is almost always pasta. To start, we were each served a full plate of prosciutto and Parmesan, drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar. This plate was followed by not one, but two pasta dishes: gnocchi with spinach and bacon and the famous pumpkin-filled pasta with ragu. (I refrained from taking pictures of all of these gorgeous and delicious dishes for the sake of enjoying the evening.)
Our main course was a tender rosemary-seasoned steak with grilled vegetables and potatoes served along side it. Then just when we thought we’d eaten everything they brought out (what seemed like) the restaurant’s whole dessert collection: a pistachio pie, a chocolate cream tart, a hazelnut tart, dollops of whipped cream ladled with rich hot fudge sauce (we never figured out whether this was a dessert by itself or simply condiments for the desserts it accompanied), and an apple pastry. I sampled a small taste of every dessert because, well, that’s how I am and enjoyed all of them except for the pistachio pie. We sipped on limoncello and coffee, trying not to indulge in too much because (just in case we thought we hadn’t eaten enough already) there would be drinks and wedding cake (yes more cake!) back at the villa.
We came back to more cake, grilled nectarines, assorted berries, and more Prosecco on the lighted lawn of the Villa. I felt like I was at some glamorous Italian party the way the Villa was all lit up from the front with glowing outdoor chairs and couches to lounge on.
I had looked forward to the dancing, but unfortunately it was cut off too soon due to laws concerning noise past midnight. Instead we all stayed up talking and toasting the newly-weds, swearing that we’d never eat again after tonight’s delicious feasting. (Spoiler alert: we did).
One by one we slunk off to our rooms (grateful that they weren’t too far away) to sleep and dream of the fantasy-like day that we’d lived, disbelieving that the celebratory night that we’d all been looking forward to had ended so quickly.