Daily life and dialect at Bologna’s Herbs Market
You can find anything in Bologna’s Mercato delle Erbe (Herbs Market): fresh and cured meat, fruits and vegetables, bread, jams and preserves… all inside one of the city’s most iconic buildings, always crowded and boisterous with a lively mix of locals and tourists.
The current structure with a Greek cross layout dates back to 1949, and replaced a previous building designed in the early 1900s by Arturo Carpi, which was destroyed by bombs during the Second World War.
The current location on Via Ugo Bassi is only the latest stop in the Market’s itinerant history around Bologna, which started with the inauguration in piazza Maggiore in the 13th century, and included a short stay in Piazza San Francesco in the last quarter of the 1800s.
Come here to meet the real people of Bologna, who speak a dialect that their younger fellow citizens cannot understand – as Enrico Brizzi noted in a novel of his:
“I went to the Herbs Market with my grandma, where she spoke dialect to the sellers. I could grasp some of it, but as soon as the conversation took off I felt like I was watching some incomprehensible Japanese or Uzbek theater scene” (translated from E. Brizzi, “La vita quotidiana a Bologna ai tempi di Vasco”, Laterza, Rome-Bari 2013).