The ever laborious and pragmatic Romagnoli are responsible for this commercial real estate development. In this case, the Anziani (Elders) of Bagnacavallo, in the countryside surrounding Ravenna, decided…
“… di edificare le botteghe in forma di loggia per uso delle macellerie pubbliche e della carne pecorina e del pesce.”
“…to build shops/worshops in the shape of a loggia for the use of public butchers and sheep’s meat and fish.”
In a nutshell, a mall! It was built right on the edge of town, following an elegant elliptical layout, and proved to be such a success that within a few years five more workshop spaces were added, beyond the additional six that had already been planned, as well was a dedicated space to store olive oil.
Sure enough, with all this activity, it didn’t take long before an Osteria (wine shop and simple tavern) moved in too, catering to the shop owners and shoppers. It seems the new mall basically replaced the main piazza in town as the center of village life, and was soon used on holidays for celebrations, music, and dancing as well.
It still houses some artisan workshops and hosts all sorts of community activities, concerts and school events. And the Osteria is still there, recently refurbished by Maurizio (Bragonzoni). Turns out Maurizio speaks flawless English, having spent numerous years working on the actual “Love Boat” of TV series fame. No joke.
The man is a veritable forza della natura (force of nature), as we say in Italian, organizing music, literary, reading, and meet-your-local-politicians type events that promote the area and work to improve civic life, very much a Romagnolo tradition. He also works with local vintners on recovering old varietals of grape to produce traditional wines, personally produces a beer using local grape yeasts, and has organized an annual regional beer festival too.
Of course, he also runs the Osteria itself, whose menu and wine selection will knock any gourmet’s socks off. After eating two delicious variants of porcini, pancetta, and local cheese (one on polenta, the other with passatelli), I couldn’t help but tease him and say (sarcastically, of course) that I was very disappointed that there was no porcini and pancetta dessert on the menu. Without batting an eyelid, he answered that he would begin working on a recipe immediately.
I am happy to report that Piazza Nuova (New Square), founded in 1758, is as hale and hearty as its name suggests.
For more info, see La Cantina di Piazza Nuova.