Interpreting the present day city through the shops, workshops and markets that dialogue with the historic city is the best way to discover its real identity.
Bologna has a long tradition of crafts and business dating back to the Middle Ages when the establishment of the university made the city cosmopolitan.
The area now known as “Il Quadrilatero”, where the ancient trade guilds were based, has become the city’s most traditional commercial centre. Enclosed by the main squares of the city – Piazza Maggiore, Piazza S. Stefano, P. Galvani, Minghetti, della Mercanzia, Porta Ravegnana and Re Enzo – it offers a broad but concentrated selection of quality food products and jewellery in the continuing goldsmith’s tradition of via Orefici.
After crossing via Rizzoli you come to a part of the city that is partly hidden and somewhat mysterious, dotted with towers and bordered by the city gates and the Reno canal, which became the Jewish ghetto in the mid fifteen hundreds. It was here among the narrow alleys and small courtyards that artistic and traditional crafts found the perfect place for their shops and new workshops. The bordering streets contain a concentration of businesses concerned with designer products, organic food and natural products interspersed with trattorias, restaurants and osterias historically rooted in the urban fabric and offering specialities of the local cuisine of Bologna.
The nearby university quarter, where the Civic Theatre and conservatory are also located, contains a concentration of bookshops and specialist’s shops supporting the activities of the university and the culture of the city.