We had read about Osteria Del Sole when preparing for our Emilia Romagna trip but hadn't really intended to go there until Barbara, from Il Salotto Di Penelope who took us through Bologna's Quadrilatero market, recommended we go there for a glass or two of wine in the evening. I have had some interesting drinks in unusual places on five continents but this bar, with a history going back more than 550 years, definitely puts them all to shame. Perhaps its the sign on the door that says it all.
When we took our seats at the end of an otherwise reserved long wooden table with a couple of glasses of local Lambrusco there were just a few regulars, locals, playing cards or downing a beer before sunset, but in just a few hours it would be standing room only.
Situated on Via Ranocchi and without even a sign over the door, Osteria Del Sole is a traditional no-frills bar with a limited menu of champagne, French and local wines, beers and spirits sold by the glass or bottle at reasonable prices, but which uniquely does not serve any food - you are expected to bring your own, and spread out the prosciutto, mortadella, salami and cheeses, all available from the many delicatessens in the neighbouring streets, on the long tables you might share with other customers.
A group of university students, celebrating Julia's graduation as a veterinarian took their place at our table with three large trays of pizza and focaccia, while alongside, Italian businessmen held their annual Easter celebration. Their table was filled with every local delicacy and of course, a huge chocolate Easter egg destined to be smashed into pieces and shared with everyone in the bar. As the evening progressed, the two distinct groups started to mingle and share the fun.
Osteria Del Sole has been going strong since 1465. Its not Bologna's oldest, that honor belongs to Osteria Del Cappello, but it is the only one operating as a bar and as far as I know, the only place where your "Bring Your Own Food".
And it wasn't packed just inside the bar. The street outside was full of people holding the bar's iconic glasses filled to the brim with Prosecco, Lambrusco, Champagne or Chablis.
Photos by David Silverman. Copyright © 2017 dpsimages. All Rights Reserved