When the city chased all the market stands off Piazza Maggiore and Via Rizzoli in the 1870's, much of the food trade took refuge in this 'quadrilateral' of ancient narrow streets east of the Piazza. They've been there ever since, making this area the heart and soul of Bologna's culinary traditions and the best place to start your education in Emilian cooking. It's where you'll find some of the best meat, cheese and produce shops in Bologna, if not the entire galaxy. There's no shortage of places to eat and drink too, including real Bologna institutions such as Tamburini on Via Caprarie, a great tavola calda/delicatessen, or old-fashioned bars like the Osteria del Sole (since 1465) on Vicolo Ranocchi.
Lately the big news here has been the reopening of the Mercato di Mezzo. Built in the 1870s to re-house the old stands on the Piazza, this was the city's first covered market. Closed for years, it was lavishly refurbished in 2014 by the local Co-op chain and Eataly into something a bit more than a range of stands selling fruit and veg. On the ground floor's Centrale del Gusto, you can try Bologna's best breakfast, or buy your Lambrusco or other Emilia Romagna wines at the Enoteca Regionale dell'Emilia Romagna, eat pizza at the Eataly Pizzeria upstairs, or try the beers from Teo Musso's microbrewery Baladin. So far it has been a spectacular success, with outdoor seating in Via Clavature near the church of Santa Maria della Vita. Best of all, it's open every day, and you can get a meal or a snack until midnight.
Images by Mercato di Mezzo, Pro Loco Emilia Romagna