The day we started moving into our new apartment in Bologna Centro, I met with my padrona (landlord) in the morning for an apartment walkthrough and exchanging of the keys. We realized that we needed some extra keys made so that I could let delivery trucks park behind the building. Then we realized we needed caffè. Then I happened to ask her where she liked to buy her groceries (in or outside Centro?). And before you knew it, it was decided that I would accompany her on her morning’s errands! Errands may not sound exciting, but in Italy, doing errands can be a fun and social affair, especially when shopping in the little shops found in Centro.
Here’s where we went:
Stop 1 – Caffè
Before starting our errands, we went for caffè with my padrona’s parents (they live next-door to me). As we strolled down our street, the small via we live on suddenly came alive as every person we passed waved or stopped to chat with the family. After much chitchat (in which I was introduced as the Americana), we finally made our way to a nearby bar in Piazza Santo Stefino. At the bar, again it was clear that Centro is a small world for its residents. My padrona’s brother showed up and joined us. All of the customers and shop owners greeted one another as if they see one other every day.
Bar Tabaccheria Santunione, via S. Stefano, 21
Stop 2 – Ferramenta
We stopped into the Ferramenta (Hardware store) to copy a few sets of keys. I have eight keys for the apartment, four of which I use regularly! I feel like a character in one of those old fashion comedies where someone has to undo five locks to open the door. But, on the upside, I do feel safe!
Ferramenta Tedeschi, via Luigi Carlo Farini, 24
Non Stop – Pescheria
On the way to the butcher, my padrona pointed out her favorite pescheria (fish shop). She warned me never to buy fish on a Monday or the day after a holiday (it won’t be fresh). Seeing as it was the day after Italian Labor Day, we continued on…
Pescheria Del Pavaglione, via Pescherie Vecchie, 14
Stop 3 – Macelleria
Next we went to the Macelleria, or butcher. There my padrona bought meat minced (macinato) two ways, half for ragù and half for polpette (meatballs). She pointed out the tortellini, which she said are good and well priced (compared to the higher prices of more well known shops nearby). Here she heeded me to never buy the mortadella with bits of pistachio. People think Bologna is famous for this, but apparently it’s not eaten here.
Ceccarelli, via Pescherie Vecchie, 8
Stop 4 – Minimercato
Then we headed to Coop, an Italian grocery store chain. I stood outside and watched my padrona’s dog, while she ran in and grabbed a few miscellaneous items, like pasta sfoglia (puff pastry), that she needed for an aperitivo she was hosting that evening. Note: Her dog was allowed to accompany us into both the Ferramenta and the butcher!
Coop, via San Vitale, 4
Stop 5 – Formaggeria
Last we walked down Piazza Aldrovandi, a wonderful street with a row of stands selling vegetables and other food items. We stopped at her favorite formaggeria stand, where she bought a soft gorgonzola and prosciutto. She scored me a sample of the prosciutto (one of the saltier variety). She commented that the gorgonzola was a “formaggio che cammina”, or a “cheese that walks”. When I asked her to explain, she said that some cheeses that walk have worms (which is why they can move/walk!). She said the gorgonzola didn’t have worms but could walk for other good reasons. I’m guessing it’s made from raw milk? On Piazza Aldrovandi, she also pointed out Bottega del Pane as a good place to buy small handheld pizzas.
Antica Formaggeria da Roberto e Daniela, Piazza Aldrovandi, 5
Of course, if you only shop in little markets in Centro, you’ll say farewell to most of your pay check. So many Italians head to Supermercato’s or Ipermercato’s outside of Centro for their bigger shopping trips. My patrona recommended the Carrefour near Ikea as a good option. She noted that the area by Ikea is a goldmine when it comes to big shopping trips because there’s Ikea, Leroy Merlin (like Home Depot), and a huge mall called Shopville Gran Reno Euromercato.
Ipermercato Carrefour, Casalecchio di Reno Marilyn Monroe, 2/9
In a nutshell: Guided tour of running errands in Bologna Centro with my charming patrona = one happy Americana. Something I had done many mornings before (grabbed a caffè, bought groceries) became alive and seemed much richer when done amongst a community of friends.