Area of historical interest, Bologna
The area of the most characteristic market of Bologna is called Quadrilatero. Set between Piazza Maggiore and the Two Towers, this lively market area is delimited by Via Rizzoli, Piazza Mercanzia, Via Castiglione, Via Farini, Piazza Galvani and Via dell’Archiginnasio.
Bologna’s citizens already came here to buy local products in the Middle Ages, when the area was completely dedicated to trade and craftsmanship activities. It’s not a coincidence indeed if, while strolling down the colourful streets, you come across street names like Via degli Orefici (goldsmiths), Via Pescherie Vecchie (old fish markets) and Via Drapperie (cloth shops). The place names of the Quadrilatero area perfectly reflect the partition of guilds which were hosted here, each one selling their typical products.
The Quadrilatero is also called Mercato di Mezzo. Yet, the latter name actually corresponds just to a part of the whole market, which was reduced at the end of the 19th century to make room for the future Via Rizzoli. From that moment on, lots of shops had to move from Via del Mercato di Mezzo to the current Quadrilatero.
Over the centuries, Mercato Quadrilatero has never lost its importance and still keeps on offering its visitors the possibility of buying Bologna’s delicacies in the lively atmosphere of the city centre. In the workshops and stands of Via Pescherie and Drapperie, for instance, you can find wines, handmade pasta (above all the famous tagliatelle and tortellini), cheese and cold cuts, but also seasonal fruit and vegetables.
Strolling through the market streets you can also bump into traditional family workshops, as well as many places where you can have a break with a glass of wine in your hand. For instance, in Vicolo Ranocchi 1 there’s Osteria del Sole, the oldest tavern in the city that reminds us that Bologna was once a city of taverns. This Osteria opened in 1465 and keeps on welcoming locals and visitors in a jolly atmosphere.
Finally, Mercato Quadrilatero rhymes with music as well. In 2011, Via Caprarie was defined as “Jazz Street” to celebrate Bologna’s fame in the 50s and 70s, when the International Jazz Festival took place in the city and was an unmissable event for jazz lovers. Strolling along the way you can notice the stars and plaques with the names of great Italian and foreign musicians who performed in Bologna in the past.