Our StoryNoemi was born in April 1922. She was the ninth daughter of a family of farmers who lived in the countryside of Ferrara.
She dropped out of school at the age of 10 because the school was too far (nearly 20 km) away and she was needed at home to prepare the meals for her brothers when they would come back hungry from working in the fields. As she used to tell me, in the countryside, life was tough and she didn’t like the hard work required in the fields. So, in order to contribute financially to the family in an alternative way, she started preparing homemade ice-cream which she would then go and sell to the Berco’s factory in the city of Copparo on her small motorbike. She became a mother when she was 17, but that was not me. I, the third sibling, would come later - a menopausal decision when she was in her 40s!
Noemi was always a hard working woman, who started her career selling a bunch of different things: from fruit to sandwiches, and even ice-cream. She would travel long distances along the country roads, and through this acquired a great business know-how.
She had a beautiful slim figure and would always walk around with a cheerful smile on her cheeks. When crossing the town square, everyone would turn and look at her and say: “Noemi, you better put some pebbles in your pockets or you’ll fly away”.
As years went by, she grew tired of travelling so far and took the first chance she got. She opened up her first tavern, "Osteria alla Bernarda", in a small village near Copparo. I never found out exactly how long she lived there with my father and my younger brother. But what I know is that after my sister was born, they moved to another tavern called "Adlà da Po" which in our dialect means ‘at the other side of the river Po’.
Here, Noemi learnt different recipes, including ‘baccalà alla veneziana’ [stockfish in Venetian style] and ‘pesce gatto in umido’ [catfish stew].
In 1958, following her father’s death (my grandad Primo), she inherited some funds and with the helps of some loans she managed to buy this tavern, in Via Ragno 31. My father, at the beginning, did not support her, because he was in charge of some farming land by the Po’s Delta, which were the result of new land draining projects. But my mum categorically affirmed: "Mi a vag a Frara, ti fa quel cat vo!" meaning: “I am going to Ferrara, you do whatever you want!” And this is just to give you an idea of the strong and emancipated woman she was. What better word to use to describe her other than tireless!
She would wake up at 4am every morning, clean the tavern, and then hang both the tavern and home laundry. After that, she would start making pasta: from cappellacci and cappelletti to fresh-egg tagliatelle. Around lunch time she would go to the kitchen, and start cooking for her customers.
In the meantime, my dad would remain at the front desk, sitting at the cashier and preparing the bills (he always liked being the tavern’s bookkeeper).
At the end of the lunch service, she would clean the kitchen and she would then have all the house duties to take care of. She was never what you might call tidy, and luckily that is the only good skill I did not inherit from her. Other than that, we are one and the same!