Few places exist in the world where you can still feel the medieval past haunt your every step like in Bologna, Italy.
I absolutely love exploring areas like this, where a leisurely stroll turns into so much more as you imagine the history that preceded you.
Bologna has largely been spared the earthquake devastation other parts of the country have endured through the centuries, leaving the city fairly preserved and looking as though a horse and carriage could come 'round the corner at any moment, though you'll hear their hooves on the cobblestone streets long before.
This is the Quadrilatero - the area every visitor to Bologna finds themselves entering and feeling this was just the place they were looking for!
The ancient mercantile center of Bologna gets its name "Quadrilatero" from the word Quadrilateral referring to a defensive system or fortress. This area had its greatest development in the Middle Ages and has remained relatively unchanged over time.
It was here that the major craft guilds of the city formed including the painters, furriers, goldsmiths, butchers, fish mongers, the Salaroli or meat processors, and barbers.
Back in the day, the merchant guilds were set along a small enclave known as the Mercato di Mezzo, but today the area has greatly expanded and is just steps from the Piazza Maggiore, the historic heart of Bologna. It's bounded by a large quadrant of streets: the Via Rizzoli, Via Castiglione, Via Farini, Piazza Galvani and Via dell'Archiginnasio.
Today you'll find jewelers, butchers, delis, fish markets, produce stands, bakeries, and high end apparel stores. It's a lively social scene with wine bars and eateries where locals and visitors enjoy an evening Aperitivo with friends.
Osteria del Sole
When you stroll the Quadrilatero, not only are you in the oldest commercial center of medieval Bologna, you're also steps from one of the oldest pubs in the world - Osteria del Sole - in existence continually since 1465...1465!
Osteria del Sole is a great place to hang out with friends and catch up on the latest news. Shop for your dinner on the street, bring it along to the pub and grab a seat at one of the communal tables. Beer and wine is available here, and one of the best social experiences you can have!
IF YOU GO
Check out the Bologna Tourism website for lots of great information to help plan your visit. Better yet, stop in their office on the north side of the Piazza Maggiore and meet them in person!
Have you been to Bologna and the Quadrilatero? What historic cities do you love?