The Quadrilatero – Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Where Food Is a Magnificent Obsession

Being the preeminent culinary center of a food-conscious country is an imposing position that Bologna la Grassa (Bologna the Fat One) has shoul­dered proudly and insouciantly for centuries. Most trips to this handsome medieval city are devoted to the pursuit of gas­tronomic pleasures.

Head straight for the Quadrilatero. The well-known food district lies within a medieval labyrinth whose narrow streets and porticoed arcades of family-run shops make up the city’s oldest and best-preserved quarter.

Bologna is the birthplace of mortadella sausage (the distant and infinitely more tasty granddaddy of American bologna), meat-stuffed tortellini pasta, and the exquisitely chunky ragu alia bolognese. The popular preoccupation with eating is happily played out amid some of Italy’s most historically important architecture.

The hungry and the plain curious will be in paradise in Tamburini, Italy’s most lavish food empo­rium, an amazing display of artistically pack­aged and prepared foods, pastas, meats, and salads. A visit here is more about cultural enhancement than shopping, but no one with a sense of sight or smell or taste leaves the store empty-handed. The recent addition of a self- service bistrolike corner is a godsend.

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