Espresso, granita and aperitivo: the rebirth of Piazza Aldrovandi (with some “however”)

It’s no mystery that I live very close to Piazza Aldrovandi and that this piazza that-isn’t-actually-a-piazza is one of my favorite spots to hang. I celebrated my last birthday at Ripasso, I love buying cute little plants at Verde Oliva and I begin (very early) these hot summer days with breakfast at Sartoria Gastronomica with a fellow early bird. But there’s so much more.

Lately, piazza Aldrovandi has been at the center of two very distinct trends. On the one hand, a real blossoming: little by little, some of the stalls that were not occupied by grocery shops have been filled with street food kiosks, creating a vibrant atmosphere, a social and yet gentle vibe all day long and up until the evening. On the other hand, following the ending of the curfew, most of the students that used to gather on piazza Verdi and via Petroni moved to Aldrovandi to station there all night.

This wouldn’t obviously be a problem per se, if it wasn’t for the illegal selling of hygienically dubious beers, the brazen drug dealing that goes on all the time and a general, somewhat aggressive carelessness. This caused protests by residents unable to sleep at night and the adjacent alleys turned into improvised public toilets, as well as carpets of broken glass to be removed every morning. That, in turn, produced some worried articles on local newspapers and ultimately lead to a real militarization of the area on weekends nights, in order to limit the access in the evenings. Not the best solution, if you ask me. Not the picture of joyful, inclusive Bologna we all cheer for.

I mentioned this particular situation, that would require a lot more discussing to be dealt with with the depth it deserves, because after all I’m still a journalist and wish to give you as much complete a picture as I can. However, since the mission of this blog is to exclusively cover the positive side of local life (don’t worry: I cover the negative at lengths on other platforms), let’s now all go back to the cool side of Aldrovandi.

Breakfast with a view

To enjoy it fully, I strongly recommend to go in the morning. Any time will do, but late morning (from 11 Am onwards) is best, and weekend late mornings are when a certain, lovely unapologetic laziness is at its peak. The wide and windy dehors of Sartoria used to be my habitual spot to lounge with a paper, a friend or a good scroll on my phone, but this corner café has now the sudden and very welcome competition of two brand new additions. One is Terzi To Go, the little kiosk from Caffè Terzi, discretely located in the middle of the market line, a favorite if you’re picky with your espresso blend or if you enjoy a touch of delicacy on the go: porcelain coffe cups, graceful little biscuits, a sober elegance.

The other morning king, already a favorite among lovers of a long Sunday breakfast, is Ofelia, the latest project of nearby Sicilian restaurant Pane e Panelle. Here you can indulge on a sumptuous mediterranean sweet feast, starting the day with a granita or a “brioche col tuppo”, as well as adding a Roman touch with a very rich maritozzo, or being more continental and have a cinnamon bun (something quite difficult to find in Bologna, just so you know). The stall is mint and pastel green with a nice peacock illustration on the back, and also serves aperitivo and fish tapas later in the day. The don’t do machine espresso though, only “moka”, allegedly not to cause too much competition with the other cafes.


Later in the day you can have a very nice fish lunch at Pescheria Aldrovandi, a little bistrot with a little tasteful seafood menu, or something more simple and less expensive, but still from the sea and still very much appreciated by locals, sitting outside the fish kiosk La Crevette, or again a very serious piadina on its neighbor stall.

When the happy hour is on, you can either stay there, go to the Pescheria Aldrovandi’s street food kiosk that sells seafood tapas, or move to yet another kiosk (it seems a lot of walking, but it really is a handful of stalls on a very small area, which is what makes this strolling from one to the other so pleasantly easy), Sottobanco, for a glass of prosecco. I particularly like the big table the guy of Sottobanco always positions at the border of its space, almost in the middle of the piazza, but Halas it is always occupied by the same group pf habitués (note to self: become their friend).

After dinner, the choice is basically between La Sartoria and Ripasso, and I strongly recommend the latter. First because I think that Sartoria gives its best in the morning, and secondly because I’m a fan of Ripasso. With a smart selection of spirits, a bunch of fun variations on Spritz, cocktails made with love, very nice nibbles and professional (as well as good looking) staff, it’s one of those places where you always end up ordering that, second and third round.

And as the night continues on this lovely “streety piazza”, hopefully there will be no more need to have the police standing by on its borders. It would mean that everyone has found her own way to enjoy it without damaging it and its charm.

Shit, what a reasonable little conclusion I wrote. I am getting old.

(Cover photo by @verdeoliva.officinafloreale )

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