A thin sheet of pasta wound round a soft filling made from ricotta, chard or spinach, and grated cheese, and then twisted at the end to make the unmistakeable "tails".
"Al turtel (quand al capitta)/ l`è cme al libar ad la vitta," wrote the local poet Valente Faustini in dialect, celebrating the delights of the tortelli of Piacenza with the right emphasis, in a poem that proclaims that this is a dish worthy to appear “in sla tàvla anca dal re,” - even on the king's table!
In reality, the tortelli of Piacenza were invented for the table of a noble lord. In 1351 the cooks of the castle of Vigolzone invented these bundles of filled pasta in honour of Francesco Petrarch, illustrious guest of Bernardo Anguissola who held the fief of Grazzano from the Visconti at that time.
Today the tortelli are still prepared according to the same recipe, closed by hand one by one and served simply with butter and grated Parmigiano cheese. During the season they can be served with a sauce of porcini mushrooms and tomatoes, though purists turn up their noses at this!
Since 2006 the tortelli con la coda of Vigolzone are a DE.CO.(Denominazione Comunale) product, meaning they are recognised as being typical of this municipality.
A detailed history of the tortello, full of anecdotes and historical details, can be found in Roberto Mori`s book I Tortelli di Petrarca, published by Tip.le.co. with the subtitle “L`affascinante origine del più amato primo piatto piacentino”.
The tortelli con la coda are the principal elements in the Festa del Tortello, held every year in Vigolzone the third weekend of July. The festa is organised by the Pro Loco and involves the whole town for several months, the time needed to prepare enough tortelli to satisfy the crowds that flock to the food stands during this event.