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Step into the past: Ferrara’s “Al Brindisi” is the world’s oldest tavern

Ferrara is the city that hosts the first tavern in the world. It couldn’t be otherwise, in a country like Italy, where gastronomic and culinary culture is one of the cornerstones of Italian identity.

It is not only the oldest tavern in the world, but it is much more. Its history has magically and surprisingly intertwined with figures we studied in school, such as Nicolaus Copernicus and Ludovico Ariosto.

 The tavern’s doors first opened in 1435

The tavern seen from the inside

Al Brindisi” has witnessed Italy change and, in a sense, has seen it being born. Italy did not yet exist as such and was still divided into kingdoms, duchies, and marquisates. America had not yet been discovered; Christopher Columbus had not yet been born. He would only sail with the three caravels 57 years later. As for Italy, neither Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo Buonarroti, nor Sandro Botticelli had been born yet.

In the era of a future Renaissance Italy, the mother of all taverns was born next to the cathedral. In those times, customers arrived at the tavern on small boats, traveling on a drainage canal called Gorgadello.

At the beginning of the 15th century, the tavern was famous as the Osteria del chiucchiolino. It’s a nickname referred to the word ciucco, meaning drunk in the local dialect.

The interior of the restaurant has remained as much as possible linked to the original traditions, also with lutes and mandolins
Cappellacci alla zucca

Among the most illustrious customers Nicolaus Copernicus and Ludovico Ariosto

Who can boast such a clientele nowadays? Nicolaus Copernicus moved to Ferrara as a young man but had a great relationship with Italy. He studied law at the University of Bologna, then moved to Padua, and in the last Italian phase, to Ferrara. The young Pole stayed above the ancient tavern. Here he graduated in 1503 in canon law, but it is speculated that it was in Ferrara that he came into contact with the writings of Plato and Marcus Tullius Cicero. During his stay, he had the first insights about the movement of the Earth, which would later lead him to formulate the revolutionary heliocentric theory.

Ludovico Ariosto, on the other hand, one of the most influential authors of the Renaissance, dedicated verses to the hostaria (archaic form of osteria) Al Brindisi in his comedy La Lena.

The famous verses are inscribed in this marble plaque near the tavern

In 1973, Karol Wojtyla (264th Pope), retraced the steps of Nicolaus Copernicus on the occasion of the fifth centenary of his birth and also visited the famous hostaria.

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