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The first stop on a food tour of Bologna has to be the Quadri­latero. This se­ries of in­ter­con­nect­ing lanes off the Pi­azza Mag­giore is lined by tiny stalls and bot­te­gas of­fer­ing meats, cheese, fish, fruit and veg­eta­bles. In oper­a­tion since me­dieval times, most stalls main­tain their an­cient fea­tures, in­clud­ing un­der­ground cav­erns that serve as cool rooms. Look closely while you shop and you’re sure to see stall­hold­ers van­ish below ground level, only to reap­pear bear­ing pump­kins, mel­ons or pota­toes. The Quadri­latero is a great place to shop for fresh food, but it also makes an ex­cel­lent venue for a light lunch: al­most all the salume­rias in these lanes have restau­rants in­side of­fer­ing plates of sliced meats and cheese with lo­cal wines to wash them down. Hardly any take book­ings, but turnover is fast and ser­vice is friendly. If you can’t find a ta­ble, never fear. The

Mer­cato di Mezzo ( Via Clava­ture, 12), be­tween two of the Quadri­latero’s laneways, is an­other per­fect spot for food shop­ping and snack­ing. Once the city’s cov­ered mar­ket­place and now the hub for its gas­tro­nom­i­cal tra­di­tions, the site has been trans­formed into a haven for lo­cal food lovers and vis­i­tors alike. On the ground floor, com­mu­nal ta­bles are sur­rounded by stalls fea­tur­ing lo­cal de­lights. Pro­sciutto, tortellini and ragù all get a run, but it’s the lo­cal sweets like the com­fort­ing torta di riso and fruit-flecked

pinza that sur­prise. Above, the first floor is a cel­e­bra­tion of Italy’s favourite ex­port: pizza. Here, it’s given a lo­cal touch, served with beers from Bologna craft brewer, Bal­adin.

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