A stroll down Via Drapperie, Bologna's main market street, leads past vegetable stalls overflowing with exotic citrus fruits and melons, cheese shops packed with crumbling wedges of aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, salumerias densely hung with sausages -- in short, enough delicacies to make a hungry tourist pine for a sharp knife. Nearly hidden amid the fray, Antica Aguzzeria del Cavallo has what they need. Walk beyond the unlikely window display -- a mishmash of camouflage gear, mace, switchblades and axes sharing the stage with kitchen cleavers, mezzalunas and a truffle slicer -- and you'll find one of the most comprehensive cutlery shops imaginable. If it cuts, rips, tears, nicks, grates, slices, shaves or pricks and is legal to sell, they most likely have it.
When Antonio Bernagozzi opened it in 1783, the shop was primarily a resource for hunters, which explains both the antique leather-sheathed daggers adorning the front wall, and those camouflage jackets (though not the canisters of mace). Here, a customer could once buy a steel hunting knife and return as needed to hone the blade before giving chase to wild boars in the nearby hills.
Seven generations later, the Bernagozzi family's shop has lost the horse-powered whetstone and the courtyard it once resided in (though they still offer a knife-sharpening service), but has broadened its collection of kitchen tools. On a recent Saturday, cooks clearly outnumbered hunters. In one corner, a pair of white-haired women compared handmade fluted pasta wheels (15 to 60 euros, $20 to $80 at $1.34 to the euro). Nearby, a young couple craned their necks to take in the modern and outdated implements lining the walls, perhaps wondering if the store still sells straight-edge razors (yes), and debating the merits of that mandoline.
Meanwhile, sales clerks were doing brisk business in what are still the mainstay of the operation, knives. One voluble saleswoman extolled the virtues of a Japanese ceramic utility knife (80 euros, and good for vegetables and fish) while another showed two Americans the many varieties of small folding knives (from 9 euros) -- just in time for a salami lunch.