Recently I spent a weekend in Bologna in order to prepare myself for upcoming food trips to this beautiful city. I had been to Bologna before, but it was necessary to update my list of must-see (food) shops, bars and restaurants and to visit the newly opened FICO Eataly world.
I was really looking forward to take the train from Milano and head to Bologna, nicknamed La Grassa, for its excellent food culture. With an empty stomach and a list of restaurants, bars and other food places to discover, I started my second day in Bologna. From the former Jewish Ghetto, where our Airbnb was, it was just a short walk before we arrived in the Quadrilatero, the main food shopping area of Bologna. As one can conclude from the names of the streets, this area has for long been home to many artisans like goldsmiths (Via Orefice), shoemakers (Via Calzoliere) and the fishermen’s streets (Via Pescherie Vecchie). Entering is these narrow, car-free streets, one has the feeling of being in a lively market. This is the real Italy!
The street with the most dense number of food shops is Via Drapperie, once textiles were sold here. In this street one finds a bakery, more than one salumeria, a pastificio, fish sellers and colorful fruit and vegetable shops. Most of them are historic shops of Bologna that have been in the area for over a century. Bolognese go here for their weekly shopping. Prices should be honest here, however, I have not seen any of the students that live and study in town.
In the Quadrilatero one also finds the first of the two former covered markets that have been reactivated recently. Mercato di Mezzo became the first covered market of Bologna after the Unity of Italy (1861) and in 2014 reopened after a serious renovation. Now one can enjoy here a breakfast, lunch or aperitivo bought at one of the ground floor kiosks, have a pizza on the well-lit first floor or immerse oneself in the world of beer in the cosy basement. I went here for a breakfast and saw many people that joined me for a quick coffee and brioche. Although the food was good, I was not completely convinced of the atmosphere that was there: it was a bit messy (which maybe is normal for a market) but in such a way that I didn’t feel sitting there for too long. It might be done on purpose, to avoid people occupying the tables all morning consuming just one cup of coffee?
After a walk around the city and some good-finds - one of the goals of this trip to Bologna - like ZOO where we had a coffee and VERDURA which is perfect in case you want to prepare yourselves a healthy meal and the lunch in Via Pratello, we headed to the Mercato delle Erbe. This market really surprised me and I hope it will inspire many other (Italian) city that have to revitalize their excisting markets: the place hosts both a traditional market with ‘boxes’ in which fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, cheeses are sold, alternated by more modern vendors selling exotic product or handmade jewelry. On the sides of the buildings main body, there are two areas - similar to food courts - around which different small restaurants sells their products which can be consumed on the spot. Both where filled with people and in a warm ambience.
Wandering through the streets of Bologna I was surprised by the coziness of this city and the perfect combination it has between traditional stores and trendy bars. Bologna is perfect for a (long) weekend and the combination of visiting the city and a day at FICO Eataly World is definitely worth a consideration.
Interested to organize a food trip to Bologna (and Milan). Contact me to receive more info.