Bologna's Shopping Areas, Bologna

Bologna's Shopping Areas (Self Guided), Bologna

When it comes to shopping, Bologna walks tall amid grands like Milan or Rome, with a harmonious mix of international chains, exclusive boutiques, luxury stores and open-air markets lining the streets in the city center, offering a wealth of international fashion, designer brands and top quality local delicacies in rich supply.

Shopping here is particularly pleasant on weekends when Zone 'T' (via Rizzoli and Via Independenza) and the streets east of Piazza Maggiore (which is a great place itself to browse – with craft shops, specialty delicatessens, cafés and wine bars) are closed to traffic, yielding way to the stalls with seasonal fruit, fresh fish and seafood, prosciutto, mortadella salami and so much more – for a true taste of Bologna! Some of the outlets, however, follow a somewhat unusual schedule: being closed on Thursday afternoon and Sunday.

The main shopping streets, leading off Piazza Maggiore, are Via Indipendenza and Via Rizzoli. The latter – a historic road built 2,000 years ago – is where most of Italy's high-end designer names have their storefronts. While the former is one of Bologna's main shopping areas with a variety of clothing stores, eateries, and fine wine sellers.

If you prefer a town market to luxury shopping, don't miss a stroll around the Mercato di Mezzo – a central location for trade and good food since the Medieval times.

Another one of the city’s most popular food mercatos is Orefici Market – well worth considering for a choice of Italian specialties and regional delicacies.

Whether you are a nostalgic old-style shop fan, a street market lover, or a luxury brand addict, this self-guided tour will cater to your needs, leading you to some of Bologna’s top shopping locations, reflecting the best the city has to offer!
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Bologna's Shopping Areas Map

Guide Name: Bologna's Shopping Areas
Guide Location: Italy » Bologna (See other walking tours in Bologna)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.8 Km or 0.5 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Piazza Maggiore (Main Square)
  • Mercato di Mezzo (Middle Market)
  • Orefici Market
  • Via Rizzoli (Rizzoli Street)
  • Via Indipendenza (Independence Street)
Piazza Maggiore (Main Square)

1) Piazza Maggiore (Main Square) (must see)

On a sunny day, there's no better place to be than soaking up the atmosphere at café tables in Bologna's Main Square, known as "Piazza Maggiore", or lounging on the steps under the arcades. This historic square, one of the oldest in Italy, underwent expansion in the 14th century and saw the addition of many grand buildings in the 16th century.

At its heart stands the impressive yet incomplete Basilica of San Petronio, a beloved landmark among locals. Nearby, you'll find notable structures such as the Municipal Palace, Notaries' Palace, Podesta Palace, and the Palace of the Banks. Adorning the center of the square is Giambologna's renowned statue of Neptune.

The slightly raised platform in the middle, familiarly known as the "crescentone" after the local flat bread "crescente" it resembles, holds historical significance. Damaged by Allied tanks during the liberation of Bologna in 1945, it serves as a commemoration of that historic day. In July and August, the space transforms into one of Italy's largest outdoor cinemas during the Under the Stars of Cinema ("Sotto le stelle del Cinema") film festival, with over 3,000 chairs arranged on the "crescentone", solidifying its status as the cultural heart of the city.

For visitors seeking convenience, the excellent tourist office on the square offers the Bologna Welcome Card, providing excellent value by offering free admission to many city museums and attractions, as well as discounts for shops, restaurants, and events.
Mercato di Mezzo (Middle Market)

2) Mercato di Mezzo (Middle Market) (must see)

Tucked away from the Main Square ("Piazza Maggiore") lies the Quadrilatero, a historic maze of food shops bustling with the same lively energy it had during its medieval prime. This ancient enclave was once the domain of the city's guilds, including blacksmiths, goldsmiths, butchers, fishmongers, and furriers, whose legacies live on in the street names today.

For an authentic taste of Emilia, look no further than this vibrant culinary hub. Open-air stalls, specialty food shops, and the Middle Market—now transformed into a chic food hall—offer a tempting array of regional delicacies and freshly prepared tapas-style snacks. Visitors are encouraged to indulge in a bit of "gaze and graze," sampling juicy peaches, cherries, intricately crafted pastries, handmade pasta, savory delights like pink Parma ham, and freshly caught seafood.

For a quick bite, grab some fried fish from Pescheria Pavaglione or listen to the satisfying smack of pizza dough being prepared at Rossopomodoro pizzeria. And let's not forget about the Baladin microbrewery tucked away in the basement—a haven for craft beer enthusiasts and burger aficionados alike. With its quirky, vintage-chic decor and two floors of inviting space, it's a must-visit spot for those seeking a taste of the unconventional.
Orefici Market

3) Orefici Market

Via degli Orefici is a narrow, yet well-known street in the heart of Bologna – “the gourmet capital of Italy” – that is packed with restaurants, bars and trendy clubs ideal for a romantic dinner or outing with friends. Also, there is an eponymous street market, famed as one of the city’s most popular food mercatos. There, in addition to a variety of Italian specialties, you will find a heavenly selection of regional delicacies.

The names of the streets in this part of town offer guidance to the businesses located there. For instance, the goldsmiths are found traditionally in Via degli Orefici (Goldsmiths' Street). Indeed, a large number of goldsmith shops have populated this street since the Middle Ages, producing rings, necklaces and bracelets fitted with gems and pearls, for generations, to this very day.

So, if you need a gold bangle – a great Italian souvenir! – make sure to pop into one of the Orefici shops.
Via Rizzoli (Rizzoli Street)

4) Via Rizzoli (Rizzoli Street)

The cafés, banks, and shops lining Via Rizzoli paint a modern picture of a street that has existed for over two millennia, originally known as Via Aemilia. This segment of the Roman "decumanus maximus" (the main east-west road axis) connects the heart of the city, Piazza Maggiore, with the Two Towers, emblematic of Bologna. Emerging in the early 20th century from the former Middle Market ("Mercato di Mezzo") area, it now bears the name of the renowned orthopedist Francesco Rizzoli, a Milan native who made Bologna his home.

On scorching days, the porticos offer pedestrians welcome relief from the sun, while their exquisite mosaic flooring adds a touch of Roman elegance to this historic thoroughfare. During peak hours, it comes alive with a variety of street performances.

For genuine Italian gelato, both creamy and light, with a selection of vegan options, be sure to visit OGGI Gelato Bologna.
Via Indipendenza (Independence Street)

5) Via Indipendenza (Independence Street) (must see)

Via Indipendenza, as we know it today, emerged in the 1880s, tracing the path of the ancient Roman Cardo Maximus to forge a vital link between the city center and the railway station. This bustling thoroughfare serves as a prime promenade, particularly the stretch extending from the Arena del Sole Theater to the crossroads of Via Rizzoli and Via Ugo Bassi.

It's a street of juxtapositions, where epochs collide harmoniously. Medieval and Renaissance buildings rub shoulders with faux antique 19th-century structures; high-end boutiques share sidewalks with street stalls; the world of business blends with the world of shopping.

Amidst this tapestry, don't overlook the Majani building, or "Palazzina Majani", an exemplar of Art Nouveau elegance crafted in the early 19th century to house the café and chocolate shop of the renowned Majani factory. While it now hosts a budget clothing retailer, its architectural finesse remains captivating – take note of the floral motifs adorning the portico capitals and wrought iron balconies.

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