Sunday, 7 April 2013

Leon d'Oro, Ferrara: The Italian Diaries, part I.

According to my family, Lonely Planet guide has made a huge mistake by ranking pasticceria Leon d'Oro no.21 out of 26 things to do in Ferrara. Surely it must be a no.1 attraction. It certainly was our no.1 destination every day of our stay in Ferrara. From the previous visits we knew it was Sasha's favourite place. This time we introduced Eddie to the pleasures of an Italian cafe. Eddie loved Italy and all things Italian, he was truly in his element.

Leon d'Oro occupies the most enviable position, just opposite the cathedral. It also offers the outdoor seating on Palazzo Municipale's internal courtyard. You choose, which views to admire while tucking into your pastry (or two, or ten). And if you enjoy "people-watching", you can't beat this place, all the Ferraresi pass you by and the throngs of tourists too.

Leon d'Oro might be a bit pricey, but it is still less expensive than our local cafes in Witney. For two lattes, 2 or 3 big croissants and a tempting selection of mini-pastries you pay about 10-12 euros. At the local Costa or Nero you would certainly pay more for the similar offer, and there is no comparison in the quality of food. I don't know why the local cafes prefer the bitter varieties of coffee for their latte or cappuccino.

There is also a well-equipped bar (I haven't had any cocktails in Leon d'Oro as I love their latte). My in-laws had cocktails when we visited the cafe/restaurant together, and they looked very tempting. Plus they got the platter of savoury pastries and olives and huge juicy capers which could tempt a saint. I almost regret I didn't try their cocktail. On the only day when I told my husband I'd like a Bellini, Leon d'Oro was closed, so we ventured to the Hotel Europa instead for a pre-lunch cocktail (I know, very decadent).

The pastries are absolutely heavenly. The tiny brioches with different creams (my favourite was the hazelnut cream nocciola), tiny cannoncini alla crema pasticcera (puff pastry horns with cream), dangerously delicious filled bomboloni (doughnuts), sugar-dusted or dipped in chocolate, are light, and you can easily eat several in one go.

We were lucky one day to get just in the middle of the palio rehearsal on the square. While Sasha and my husband stayed inside the cafe, I grabbed Eddie and we ran out to watch the parade and take photos (watch this space, there will be a separate post on the rehearsal).

Sasha is watching the palio with his Dad and Godfather.

If you are visiting Ferrara, this is the place you must go to, at least once.

This is only a small section of the huge array of pastries, sweet and savoury. As there were always people around, I couldn't take one big panoramic picture (alas) to show you just how many pastries there are to choose from.

The staff is friendly. The serving wenches were cooing over Eddie, saying "Ciao, bellissimo" and he melted, basking in their attention and grinning from ear to ear.
Sasha was on his good behaviour, well, most of the time, but we have never felt unwelcome, though we did have to leave a bit earlier once when he got overexcited.

So, whether you want just an aperitif, a latte and a pastry or a proper meal, Leon d'Oro is the right place to visit. And their latte is truly the best latte in the world.

Disclosure: we haven't been "bribed" by any freebies to write about the pasticceria. Well, we did get some free biccies, but then everyone who orders a drink, gets a complimentary selection of biscuits.


  1. Oooh looks divine ! And if this is part 1, I'm looking forward to the next instalment ! :)

  2. Finally catching up with some reading! Yum, this looks delightfully delicious - a must-go!