The small alleyways on the eastern-side of Piazza Maggiore, bounded roughly by via Rizzoli, via Castiglione, via Farini, piazza Galvani and via dell’Archiginnasio make up the area known locally as the Quadrilatro – a picture-postcard-pretty market area where you can buy all sorts of amazing local produce, from fish through to fruit, vegetables, and various meats (including horse!). It’s also home to lots of great cafes, bars, and restaurants.
Once upon a time the main market area of the city was on Via Rizzoli, the mercato di mezzo (not to be confused with the new Mercato di Mezzo in the heart of the Quadrilatero, that’s dedicated to trendy food outlets like Eataly. Up until 1909 the part of the city under the two towers was radically different – there were markets, and more towers. In 1909 work finally began on remodelling this part of the city, based on the Urban design ideas en vogue in cities like Paris; only twenty years after the original plan was approved, in 1889!
The city actually has many small fruit and vegetable markets dotted around its suburbs, and one central market off Via Ugo Bassi, il Mercato Delle Erbe – a giant hanger of a building, with hustle, bustle and generations of Bolognese shopping for daily ingredients; the quadrilatero is a more up-market, touristy destination, but still a great place to find quality prosciutto, pasta, fruit and vegetables. Bologna is rightly considered a culinary capital in Italy, and so the Quadrilatero is a great place to get food gifts for friends and family.
Things to keep an eye out for
There are a lot of bars in both Via Clavature and Via Pescherie Vecchie, making it a perfect starting point for a night out in Bologna, to enjoy an aperitivo before heading on to explore other areas of the city (like the more studenty Via Zamboni or Via del Pratello).
It’s also worth pointing out, though, that this part of the city is well worth a visit even if you’re not a foodie, as it has some wonderfully preserved medieval streets, and it’s regularly listed as one of the tourist highlights of the city.