Shopping in Bologna often revolves around food. On a warren of medieval lanes behind Piazza Maggiore, the Quadrilatero is the gastronome epicenter of Bologna, full of venerable gourmet shops. At Tamburini, one of Italy’s most lavish food shops, Via Caprarie 1 (tamburini.com; tel. 051/232-226), a selection of pastas, meats and fish, soups and salads, vegetables, and sweets is sold to be taken away or enjoyed in-house, accompanied by 200 wines by the glass. La Baita, Via Pescherie Vecchie 3A (tel. 051/223-940), lets you choose from a dizzying selection of hams and cheeses and enjoy them in a busy mezzanine dining room. While FICO Eataly World Disney-fies the gourmet experience, foodies still flock to Bologna Eataly (Via degli Orefici 19; www.eataly.it; tel. 051/095-2820), which sells cookbooks, cheese, hams, and other products, as well as prepared foods and wine that can be consumed picnic-style at indoor and outdoor tables. The covered marketplace across the way has been converted into the Mercato di Mezzo (Via Clavature; tel. 051/232919), a food hall housing small bars and food stands; in the evenings many offer free snacks to accompany drinks.
Venture a few blocks west of the Quadrilatero to find Bologna’s central food market, Mercato delle Erbe, at Via Ugo Bassi 25 (www.mercatodelleerbe.eu; Mon–Thurs 7am–midnight, Fri–Sat 7am–2pm). Aside from produce, fish, and other food vendors, the hall has fast-food outlets with a couple of clamorous dining areas.
U.S. travelers should keep in mind that you are allowed to bring Parmigiano and other hard cheese home with you, as long as it’s wrapped and labeled from the shop, but not prosciutto or most other meats. Olive oil and vinegar are okay, too, but any container over 3.5 ounces will have to go into your checked luggage.
Maybe it’s not unexpected that Bologna has many famous chocolatiers. Majani, Via de’ Carbonesi 5 (tel. 051/234-302), claims to be Italy’s oldest sweets shop, making confections since 1796. Roccati, Via Clavature 17A (www.roccaticioccolato.com; tel. 051/261-964), is run by a husband-and-wife team that makes the gianduja (hazelnut and cognac-filled chocolate) their ancestors once concocted for the princes of Savoy.
It also only stands to reason that this youth-oriented city is awash in bohemian chic, and the place to seek out some stylish vintage fashion is La Leonarda, Via San Leonarda 2/2A (tel. 340-936-8884), with a well-chosen, ever-changing selection of stylish second-hand fashions; proceeds go to an organization that aids the homeless.
Galleria Marescalchi, Via Mascarella 116B (tel. 051-240368), features traditional art, offering paintings and prints for view or sale by native son Morandi and Italian modern master De Chirico, as well as Chagall and Magritte.
If you have hard-to-fit feet, walk to Piero, Via delle Lame 56 (tel. 051-558680), for attractive footwear for men and women in large sizes, ranging up to European size 53 for men (American size 20) and size 46 for women (American size 14). Bruno Magli quickly made a name for himself after opening his first shoe factory in 1934. Today, a Bruno Magli shop selling leather bags, jackets, and coats for men and women -- in addition to shoes -- is at Galleria Cavour 9 (tel. 051-266915).
The Veronesi family has been closely tied to the jewelry trade for centuries. Now split up and competing among themselves, the various factions are represented by F. Veronesi & Figli, Piazza Maggiore 4 (tel. 051-224835), which offers contemporary jewelry, watches, and silver using ancient designs; and Giulio Veronesi, with locations at Piazza di Re Enzo 1H (tel. 051-234237) and Galleria Cavour 1 (tel. 051-234196), which sells modern jewelry and Rolex watches.
The World's Greatest China Shop
Faenza, 58km (36 miles) southeast of Bologna, has lent its name to a form of ceramics called faience, which originated on the island of Majorca, off Spain's coast. Faenza potters found inspiration in the work coming out of Majorca, and in the 12th century they began to produce their own designs, characterized by brilliant colors and floral decorations. The art reached its pinnacle in the 16th century, when the "hot-fire" process was perfected, during which ceramics were baked at a temperature of 1,742°F (950°C).
The legacy of this fabled industry is preserved at the International Museum of Ceramics (Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche), Via Campidori 2 (tel. 0546-697311; www.micfaenza.org), called "the world's greatest china shop." Housed here are works from the artisans of Faenza as well as from around the world, including pre-Columbian pottery from Peru. Of exceptional interest are Etruscan and Egyptian ceramics and a wide-ranging collection from the Orient, dating from the Roman Empire.
Deserving special attention is the section devoted to modern ceramic art, including works by Matisse and Picasso. On display are Picasso vases and a platter with his dove of peace, a platter in rich colors by Chagall, a "surprise" from Matisse, and a framed ceramic plaque of the Crucifixion by Georges Rouault. Another excellent work is a ceramic woman by Dante Morozzi. Even the great Léger tried his hand at ceramics.
From November to March, the museum is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9:30am to 1:30pm, Friday to Sunday from 9:30am to 5:30pm. From April to October, hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30am to 7pm. It's closed New Year's Day, May 1, August 15, and Christmas.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.