Peeking through one of Bologna’s many porticoes just off of Piazza Maggiore lies what is one of the best streets for foodies in Italy, Via delle Pescherie Vecchie.
This small alleyway slices through the district known as the Quadrilatero, which has been an important part of Bologna’s city center since the Medieval period. Bordered by Piazza Maggiore, Via Rizzoli, Piazza della Mercanzia, Via Farini, Piazza Galvani, and Via dell’Archiginnasio, the Quadrilatero has housed markets, artisans and tradesmen’s shops, cafés, and restaurants for hundreds of years. There have been bars on Via dei Rannocchi literally since 1465. It’s an area of Bologna that you can’t miss!
My favorite part of the Quadrilatero is without a doubt Via delle Pescherie Vecchie. Lined with tiny, semi-underground market stalls, shops, and restaurants that serve up some of the best food in the city, you can easily spend a few hours here, eating, shopping, eating, people watching, eating, and just taking it all in. Did I mention eating?
Read on to find out why Via delle Pescherie is a must-see in Bologna!
Bologna’s best street for foodies: Via delle Pescherie vecchie
If you’re familiar with Italian, you might have noticed that the name of the street has to do with fish. You are correct! The name of the street derives from “pescaria,” which used to be the word for a fish market. In modern Italian, it’s “pescheria,” so, pretty close.
Apparently, the oldest records available indicate that the street was once called Via dello Scorticatoio, which means “slaughterhouse.” It seems that Via delle Pescherie Vecchie has always been a foodie street.
Once upon a time, it was known as Via delle Pescherie Nuove (new fish market street). This was meant to distinguish these fish markets from their first location on Via Pellizzarie, which has been lost to time. The city’s history has it documented that in February of 1583, the fish markets were transferred to the current Via delle Pescherie Vecchie, but the name of the street wasn’t changed from Nuove to Vecchie (old) until 1843.
When you’re shopping and eating on this street, you’re shopping and eating where Bolognesi and tourists have been eating for over 400 years.
Where to shop
There are still several fish markets. One of them towards the end of the street further from Piazza Maggiore serves up a seafood fritto misto at night (I believe they call it “aperifish”). You can grab your fish fry and a glass of wine and sit at a little table outside. I’ve never tried it, but it’s always crowded. It seems perfect for a summer night. If you’re interested, it’s called Pescheria del Pavaglione, and it’s at number 14.
You can also get meat. My favorite butcher shop is Ceccarelli Amedeo, which also sells cheese, pasta, and a whole host of other things. The staff is friendly, and the meat is fresh and delicious.
Produce is also on full display, and is perhaps the most attractive element of the street. Small, half-underground market stalls, referred to as “buche” or “holes,” show their best and brightest every morning until the early afternoon. I’m not sure at exactly what time the “buche” close, but I’d guess it’s no later than 1 o’clock.
Browse and see what’s in season.
Where to eat
I’ve eaten at three places on Via delle Pescherie Vecchie, and they are all delicious. I’d say it’s the best place to go if you’re looking for a tagliere di salumi e formaggi, or a meat and cheese board.
It’s touristy, there are no two ways about that. If you’re looking for a hole-in-the-wall where no one speaks English, this is not it.
If you want to eat on a street that hasn’t changed much since the Medieval period, where locals still shop and eat, and you can have some of the best grub this magically delicious city has to offer, then stay put and go to one of the three places I’m going to talk about below.
051, known alternately as Zerocinquantuno, Zerocinquantino, and Zerocinquantello (I can’t understand the difference, so I’ve decided to just let it go after some angry shouty Googling) has a few locations around the city, which I guess technically makes it a chain. Before you start thinking Hospitaliano, stop, because it’s not like that. Yes, you’ll see 051 in a couple of other places, but it’s not serving up fettuccine alfredo and a hefty portion of breadsticks.
On the contrary, 051 offers a variety of taglieri, sandwiches, and at some locations, a few pasta dishes.
051 also offers tigelle with their amazing charcuterie and cheese, which are round, flat bread rolls made of flour, lard, yeast, and water. They come warmed up in a little basket. Get them.
I can hear you carb-phobic folks groaning. Some people seem to think that carbs are “unhealthy” or “bad.” Do us all a favor and leave that thought on the plane, or better yet, launch it into the sun. The lard might be another story, but don’t think about it! Live! Eat! Get the tigelle!
La Baita is a hop, skip and a jump from 051. Some friends brought me there recently, and I thoroughly enjoyed every bite. Like 051, they mainly focus on charcuterie and cheeses.
The standout on my visit to La Baita was definitely the burrata. This was possibly the best burrata I’ve ever had. I’ll definitely get it again next time, and possibly eat the whole thing myself. If someone wants to share it with me, I guess I’ll have no choice but to fight them.
There are two Simoni locations on Via delle Pescherie Vecchie. At the far end of the street if you’re walking away from Piazza Maggiore, you’ll find the Simoni shop, where you can buy cold cuts, cheeses, and meats. At the end that’s closer to Piazza Maggiore, you’ll find the salumeria.
I must confess, Simoni is my favorite for one simple reason: they slice the affettati so that they’re really, really thin, and I like that. Jeremy prefers La Baita, and we’ve been to the various 051 several times. They are all good, I repeat, they are ALL GOOD! It’s just that Simoni slices their stuff just how I like it. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that my mom always requested cold cuts “as thin as you can slice it without shredding.” She knows what she wants, that mother of mine, and I do too. And what we both want is paper-thin but still in tact cold cuts. Simoni delivers.
They also serve up little bite-sized chunks of parmesan with a sweet, tangy balsamic glaze that is soooo goooooooooood.
Don’t leave without trying this…
Make sure whatever tagliere you get includes salame rosa. It’s typical of Emilia Romagna, and is produced by far fewer outfits than its more well-known cousin and my dear friend, mortadella. Salame rosa is made of pork shoulder, thigh, and cheek. These cuts are cubed and mixed together. Salt, pepper, garlic, and sometimes rosemary are added to this mixture, which is compressed into a sausage casing and cooked for 15-24 hours. Salame rosa is leaner and drier than mortadella, and oh-so-good.
Also, if you’re a fan of prosecco but want to go local, get a glass (or a bottle, no judgement) of Pignoletto frizzante. It’s a bit drier than prosecco, and its cool crispness pairs well with the saltiness of the meats and cheeses.
Make sure to give yourself some time to explore the other little streets in that area, particularly Via Drapperie and Via Clavature. You won’t be disappointed!
Want to experience more of Bologna’s foodie scene with a local?
Bologna’s food culture is truly extraordinary. If you want to experience more of what the city has to offer, book this awesome, six-stop, three-hour food tour, which will take you to several locations off-beat foodie locations in the city. I haven’t done it myself, but it has a stellar 4.8/5 rating!
More Bologna posts and guides
Book your stay in Bologna
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a booking or purchase something through one of them, I’ll earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Luggage and Life!