Updated: May 19, 2022
Food markets can be the best places to learn about the food of a city and to feel the most local vibes, when stalls are set and the smell of fresh goods spreads in the streets.
You can peek on what locals buy, how they interact, how they speak (markets are usually the best places to hear people speak in dialect!) and how they live the local life!
While browsing the piled-up and displayed groceries you may even find unknown products, like a fruit or a veggie you’ve never seen before and wonder how to cook or what it tastes like.
In Bologna there are several food markets and each one is worth being discovered and experienced. Here are our 4 favorite food markets in Bologna!
MERCATO DELLE ERBE
The Mercato delle Erbe is in Via Ugo Bassi n. 25. The entrance looks a bit like a tunnel, I know.
It was built 1910, but it was bombed during World War II and this is why the entrance on Via Ugo Bassi looks so new and not quite charming. During our A&F Bologna Tour we enter on the other side, from Via Belvedere, where the entrance was spared from the bombs.
The market was rebuilt in 1946 with the previous look and renovated in 2013 with a couple food courts that allow you to sit and grab a glass of wine and a bite to eat.
This market is a reference for locals that do their daily or Saturday shopping: quality is high and prices are reasonable, and the variety of products makes this place quite a good one for a complete grocery shopping.
Inside this market you’ll find fruits and vegetables stalls in the middle, two sides with restaurants and bars and several shops all around that sell meat, fresh pasta, bread and piadina, groceries, cheese and cold cuts.
Highligts and infos:
The Mercato delle Erbe is open from Monday to Sunday. Most of the shops and stalls do the siesta break in the afternoon (between 1pm and 4 pm). The food courts are open on Sunday too.
Remember: you don’t help yourself at the stalls, it is the owner of the shop that will bag the products you point to him/her.
We recommend to explore Formaggeria Barbieri to buy some Parmigiano Reggiano made with milk from cows that are bred in the Appennines mountains and give a look at the shop I Tipici to buy some in-oil goodness from other parts of Italy.
“Quadrilatero” is one of the oldest markets in bologna. It means “four-sided area” and it defines the neighborhood on the eastern side of Piazza Maggiore, alongside with Via Rizzoli, Via Castiglione and Piazza Minghetti.
In a once-upon-a-time atmosphere, the narrow and busy streets still hold the original medieval names: “via Pescherie Vecchie” for the fish, “Via Drapperie” for the fabrics, “Via Caprarie” for the goats!
In the past years, most of the area became a pretty touristy one, but some of the oldest shops and stalls still preserve high-quality products and trustworthy relationships with the local customers.
In Via Pescherie Vecchie the little fruits and vegetables stalls are still nicknamed “buche”, which means “holes”: they refer to the medieval fishmongers that used to be settled there and that used the “hole” as a cave to stock the ice in it and keep the fish cold.
Part of the market is also the indoor “Mercato di Mezzo” food court, open all week long but Monday. It’s a sort of food court where you can eat and drink different things, such as Italian brewed beer at Baladin.
Highligts and infos:
Open from Monday to Saturday from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm depending on the shops. Usually closed on Sundays. Some of the shops do a little afternoon siesta (from around 1.30 pm to 4 pm)
Most of the restaurants and Osterie in the Quadrilatero are open 7/7 but not all of them provide the best quality meats and cheese. We recommend Osteria Laboratorio Simoni for the cold cuts.
Don’t miss the Antica Aguzzeria del Cavallo if you look for the best quality cooking tools.
MERCATO DI PIAZZA ALDROVANDI
There’s a lot to discover down Strada Maggiore up to Piazza Aldrovandi, as you can experience during the A&F Bologna Tour! (Link interno) The Mercato di Piazza Aldrovandi is usually out of the typical tourist walk. Sometimes people misleadingly believe that there’s nothing worth to see further past the two towers.
This market is in the small square between Strada Maggiore and Via San Vitale and it is mostly frequented by locals and students that live nearby. It is extremely authentic, with stalls on one side and pretty old-fashioned shops underneath the porticoes.
Here you’ll find not only groceries and food but also old books and flowers, houseware items and baked goods.
Highligts and infos:
Open from Monday to Saturday.
Some stalls also serve drinks and nibbles for aperitivo. We recommend La Crevette for fish based tapas for a change.
Don’t miss out the colorful and cool murales decorations on the back of the stalls! They’re the work of a young artist, Marta Finotti, who won the contest for urban decoration set by the Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna.
MERCATO DI VIA ALBANI
This market is located at the first suburbs of Bologna, in Via Albani, a few blocks away from the Train Station. It may not be the most charming neighborhood but it surely has the most charming sellers and customers!
This is where the residents do their shopping every day or every Saturday, joking and chit chatting with the owners while waiting in line. You can see the customers slowly walking up and down the stalls with their empty shopping bags, checking on the best stuff to buy.
The surroundings are also full of great shops, such as Forno Brisa bakery or Stefino gelato place.
Highligts and infos:
Most of the shops are open only in the morning and closed on Sunday.
Walk around and try to see if you find Otto, the boy with a blue hoodie who plays videogames, the fiberglass urban art installation made by the artist Giovanni da Monreale in 2015.
You can have aperitivo in Mercato di Via Albani too: we recommend Bollore for the incredible vermouth-based spritz! Amazing!
TIME TO SHOP IN THE MARKETS!
Supermarkets may have taken over but even the laziest resident will have at least a weekly tour at the market to find the best stuff and to spend a little bit more for a lot more flavor and taste.
Going to the markets can be a nice way to remember what’s in season, think out of the box and get inspired for a new recipe, or bump into a friend and get a quick drink together.
If you want to experience some of these markets with us, just book our Bologna Tour and get ready for a tasty immersion!