Bologna Inside - Second Edition

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Christine Ricci portrait photo

Christine Ricci, University Administrator
Princeton, NJ, USA & Tokyo, Japan


Think of your first few shopping expeditions in Bologna as adventures. Shopping is a great way to practice your Italian, get to know Bologna and learn more about the cuisine and culture. Whether you’re looking to fare la spesa or fare shopping, you’ll need to follow some shopping etiquette. There is not much “self-service” in Bologna and in clothing stores you should let the titolare or commessa help you. Unless you are in the piazzola, it is best not touch any merchandise on your own. If you haven’t decided and simply wish to browse, you can always say “dò solo un’occhiata, grazie.” Although there are numerous large supermarkets in the city, food shopping at small grocers or in the open-air market is still part of the daily ritual for many Italians. For the newcomer, figuring out when shops are open can be confusing. While some shops in the historical center of the city still close for a long lunch and don’t reopen on Thursday afternoons, many others maintain orario continuato. Open for business or not, the pride Bologna shopkeepers take in their enticing vetrine makes window shopping under the city’s characteristic arcades a delightful experience, no matter what the weather!

fare la spesa = go grocery shopping
fare shopping = go shopping for clothes, gifts etc.
il titolare/la commessa = owner or salesperson
la piazzola = weekly bazaar in Piazza VIII Agosto
dò solo un’occhiata, grazie = I’m just looking, thanks
orario continuato = continuous opening without a midday closure
le vetrine = window displays