Piazza Nuova

December 4, 2014 / Places
Bagnacavallo, Emilia-Romagna

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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GB

by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

16 Responses to “Piazza Nuova”

  1. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    GB this looks marvellous. And what a splendid fellow Maurizio must be. Had to smile at the Love Boat mention…

    Reply
  2. Henry Cole

    A great article, I would love to visit the Osteria and sample some of his food and vino. Interesting that he worked on the “Love Boat” series

    Reply
  3. Colleen Simpson

    Absolutely love this!!! I am in Seattle for a month (from my home in Umbria) visiting family and finding the sprawling suburban malls to be both ugly and congested….nice to think that there was one planned that was aesthetically beautiful and that it is still thriving! Grazie.

    Reply
  4. Suzanna Anderson

    Leave it to the Italians to create a beautiful structure for simple day to day shops! It fits in perfectly with Italy’s history.

    Reply
  5. Anstell Ricossa

    I agree with Suzanna. Beautifully designed to blend with the City ! Not a garish modern shopping mall ! Believe all Italians have an innate sense of beauty !

    Reply
  6. Veramente perfetto. I agree that American suburban sprawl could take notes from this! I live in Seattle proper, made up of many quaint business districts. These could also be improved upon with structures such as this, promoting civic gathering for everyday and special events. I think I remember reading that Portland created a piazza-type thing downtown with a white, suspended shade for rain, or shine even.

    Reply
  7. Does anyone know what the blue contraption is with the rusty hardware on it? It looks like some sort of torture thing but I am sure (hoping) it’s not! :)

    Reply
    • GB

      It’s a large scale to weigh produce! No torture, we promise no wheat was injured in the making of this note.

      Reply
  8. Loved this article! Italy is so full of beautiful surprises. It will take me a lifetime to visit all the amazing towns in Italy, each with its own beauty and delightful surprises, and Italian Notebook continues to whet our Italian appetites, literally and visually.

    Reply
  9. Thank you for sharing this wonderful loggia in Bagnacavallo – as an artist it is where I would love to have my workshop.

    I would like to thank everyone for sharing all the wonderful treasures of la bella Italia – every post lifts my spirit and starts my day smiling.
    Tanti aguri di Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo
    Maria

    Reply
  10. M. Bernadette Higgins

    The “blue contraption” has brought back many childhood memories. Except for the color, my father’s family operated an Italian bread bakery for
    several generations in New Haven CT. A smaller version of the blue scale was
    used by my uncle Joe to weigh each loaf before it was put on a wooden panel and slid into a wood heated brick oven to bake. Another larger scale of the
    same variety, also not blue but grey, sat by the door and weighed the sacks of
    flour and cornmeal. Sadly, the bakery closed after my uncle’s death but the memories of that wonderful tasting bread remains clearly in my heart and in the
    memories of those who had the privilege of eating it.

    Reply

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