By Jackie Humphries Smith
TORTELLINI, TAGLIATELLE, MOZZARELLA, PARMIGIANO…
The Italian words roll off our tongues like musical notes as we make our way down the ancient market street. Pausing before store windows chockablock with pastas, cheeses, and meats, we were pointing to favorites like children at a candy store. We’d come for a bite of Bologna; a taste of what has made this town, Italy’s culinary capital. That clearly wasn’t going to be a difficult to-do.
Our favorite, the Quadrilatero market area, is known for the small retail food and wine shops that line its narrow streets. Bordering Bologna’s historic Piazza Maggiore, this ancient quarter was created centuries ago for the development of trade and crafts. Here, in the early morning, we watched locals vying for fresh-caught fish, fruits and vegetables, meats, and cheeses. Returning after dark, we joined with others at tables outside the many delis, sipping wine, nibbling from charcuterie platters and people watching.
Dating back to the Middle Ages, this food focused neighborhood, has successfully blended old and new culinary experiences. One evening we sipped some of the area’s Sangiovese wine at the modern 051 Osteria, where food and drink choices are on QR codes. Footsteps away, we dined at Osteria del Sole, the oldest in Bologna, having opened in 1465. Its wine list is handwritten on a small chalkboard at the bar. Wine is all they serve – you bring your own food. So popular is this unassuming icon, that without reservations, you might find yourself sharing a table with university students or long-time regulars.
THE CITY OF THREE NICKNAMES
Be assured there is far more to this city than its gastronomic greatness. So much so that it has earned three nicknames over the centuries. First, la dotta, the learned, with a nod to its University of Bologna, founded in 1088, the oldest continuously operating university in the world. It is also nicknamed la rossa, the red, in honor of its red roofs. Its third moniker, la grassa, the fat, is a tribute to its food.
Read the full article in Issue 16
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