Shopping in Bologna
When it comes to shopping, Bologna can hold its own against rivals such as Milan and Rome. It is particularly pleasant at the weekend when Zone 'T' (via Rizzoli, Via Independenza and Via Ugo Bassi) and the streets east of Piazza Maggiore are closed to traffic.
The four main shopping streets (Via dell'Indipendenza, Via Ugo Bassi, Via Rizzoli and Via D'Azeglio) lead off Piazza Maggiore in crossroad formation. All the big name Italian designers can be found here as well as a proliferation of antiques and books.
Via dell'Archiginnasio is also lined with exclusive shops, including Gucci and Armani, with nearby Via Farini luring fashionistas too. Other shopping areas include Galleria Cavou, near the Archiginnasio Palace, and Corte Isolani close to Piazza Santo Stefano.
For a taste of Bologna, the streets to the east of Piazza Maggiore (Via delle Vecchie Pescherie and Via delle Drapperie, known as the Quadrilatero district) abound with stalls selling everything from seasonal fruit to fresh fish, seafood and salumerie (deli) stocked with prosciutto and mortadella.
The delectable Mercato delle Erbe, on Via Ugo Bassi, sells fresh fruit and vegetables every morning 0715-1300 and evening 1730-1930, except Sunday, and Thursday afternoon. There's also a daily produce market on Via Clavature, east of Piazza Maggiore. La Baita Formaggi, Via Pescherie Vecchie, is also renowned for its cheeses. At the weekend a huge flea market takes over Piazza dell 'Otto Agosto.
Most of the major shopping malls can be found on the outskirts of Bologna, such as Centro Borgo, at Via Marco Emilio Lepido, 186, Centro Lame, at Via Marco Polo, 3, Centro Nova, at Via Villanova, 29, and Parco Commerciale Meraville at Via Tito Carnacini, 57.
As a rule, shops open Monday to Saturday 0900-1300 and 1530-2000, although larger department stores and supermarkets may stay open throughout the day. Nearly everything is shut during August, on Thursday afternoon and on Sunday.
Good Bologna mementos include Pignoletto, the local sparkling white wine, as well as pasta, oils and leather goods, including handmade shoes.
Value added tax is 22%. Travellers from outside the EU can claim back sales tax on purchases over €155 (only those from shops displaying the sign 'tax free for tourists' or similar).