Bologna Inside - Second Edition

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Browsing is not always part of the equation in small shops and boutiques when shopping for abbigliamento e calzature (clothes and shoes). You are expected to tell the salesperson what you want as soon as you step over the threshold. If you’re not up for hovering salesclerks, head for a department store, such as COIN on Via Rizzoli, 7. Sometimes bad clothes happen to good people, but in Bologna the real style mavens wouldn’t be caught dead in last year’s fashions. Via D’Azeglio has many shops carrying elegant fashion items and children’s clothes. Via Farini’s exclusive boutiques cater to fashion slaves on a quest for top-notch items. And if anything other than Gucci, Fendi, La Perla and Bruno Magli simply won’t do, then go to Galleria Cavour, located off Via Farini. Under the portici of Via dell’Archiginnasio, you will find smaller shops with swimwear, lingerie, shoes and accessories. More moderately priced clothing shops can be found on Via San Felice, Via Rizzoli and Via dell’Indipendenza.


If you find a garment that fits well but needs minor alterations, the shop where you buy it will usually offer to do the work for a fee. Many family-run dry cleaners have someone on the premises who can do alterations for less than you’d pay elsewhere. Sarte (seamstresses) are still in demand here, especially for weddings and special occasions. Many women can refer you to someone they know and trust. Bring a photo of your dream dress - an experienced sarta will be able to copy the design.


If money were no object, it would not be hard to be chic and avant garde in Bologna - inspiration is everywhere. But doing so on a budget takes talent, or perhaps just knowing where to go to find the best fashion deals. Outlets, known as spacci, are shops that sell merchandise from past seasons or items that haven’t sold well in regular stores.

Castel Guelfo Outlets

Via del Commercio, 20/d
Castel Guelfo di Bologna
A large outlet mall with many stores carrying clothing, housewares and furniture.

Fashion Outlet

Via Emilia Ponente, 73
Anzola dell’Emilia
Single warehouse with fashions divided by brands, avoid Sundays.

Gianfranco Pini Le Occasioni Outlet

Via Clavature, 17
Reduced prices on women’s and men’s shoes. Lots of size 37 and up.


Via Circonvallazione Sud, 14/20
Pancaldi shoes, sold at half price by the manufacturer.

When I first arrived in Bologna I was terrified of Italian commesse. I would only shop where all the merchandise was in sight, and even there I was afraid of getting dirty looks for unfolding the t-shirts. After six years, I got engaged and had to find a wedding dress. Realizing I was not going to find one at Oviesse, I held my head up high and entered “grown-up” stores like Luisa Spagnoli. There no-one got offended when I didn’t actually buy anything. Now I have no qualms about making the girls pull down 10 different pairs of pajamas and still walking out empty-handed. I finally feel I belong, I just wish I’d faced up to my fears earlier.

Alexa Sinel

Postacchini Surplus

Via Carbonesi, 6
Items leftover from the regular Postacchini shop. Finding the right size can be a challenge.

Sotto Sotto

Via Reno, 7/2
Casalecchio di Reno
A large outlet store carrying a good selection of brand name designer clothing.