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City Guide: Out and About in Bologna

Bologna is Italy’s self-proclaimed gastronomic capital, known as La Grassa, or The Fat Lady. But amongst the delicacies, the city offers rich retail pickings.

Piazza Maggiore: The Heart of the City
After filling up on pastries at Zanarini, take in the city’s scenic historic center with a few convenient stops at beauty retailers en route. Two hundred meters east of the city’s main square, Piazza Maggiore, is Via Farini, where you can find Sephora, which is fast ramping up its business here. About 100 meters west is one of Bologna’s oldest perfumeries, Al Sacro Cuore, which stocks an exhaustive offering of niche Italian and international scents alongside established classics. (Sephora, Via Farini 6/a-6/b; Al Sacro Cuore, Galleria Falcone e Borsellino 2/E)

Piazza Santa Stefano is the historical heart of Bolognese life. Aside from a bevy of bars, pizza shops and designer stores, another attraction is the extravagant Fountain of Neptune, which doubles as an easy-to-locate meeting point. Across from the piazza is a sizeable outpost of German-based perfumery Douglas, and a few meters along is Italian department store Coin. Following the acquisition of mass market clothing retailer Upim in December by Gruppo Coin SpA, the new owner is busy revamping Upim locations into new-look Coin stores, including overhauling its beauty halls with new fittings and emporium-style assortments. (Douglas, Via Francesco Rizzoli 10; Coin, Via Francesco Rizzoli 7)

The Quadrilatero: Specialty Stores Galore
Just behind Piazza Maggiore, you’ll find a warren of streets that are part of the quadrilatero—the oldest part of the city—with small market shops showcasing everything from zucchini flowers to maturing hams. Snuggled alongside is an array of beauty and fashion stores including MAC Cosmetics; luxury boutique Ratti, which stocks Chanel, Bottega Veneta and Valentino, and the must-see concept store L’Inde Le Palais. On Via Drapperie, you’ll find a branch of Limoni. The beauty retailer is Italy’s current market leader with a 15 percent market share of the cosmetics sector and about 519 doors in Italy and overseas. (L’Inde Le Palais, Via Dei Musei 6; MAC Cosmetics, Via Clavature 13/C; Ratti, Via Clavature 15; Limoni, Via Drapperie 10)

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Via Dell’Indipendenza: The Main Drag
In Bologna, even if it rains, you don’t have to get wet, thanks to the ingenious system of elegant arcades. Take a stroll along the main drag, Via dell’Indipendenza, before hitting the arcades of Via Dei Mille, home to Acqua & Sapone (Water and Soap). With its low-price yet expansive selection, this booming chain now has 650 outlets in Italy. Also worth checking out is one of Bologna’s many pharmacies—the fastest-growing channel in Italy—such as Pharmacy Del Pavaglione. (Acqua & Sapone, Via dei Mille 10; Farmacia del Pavaglione, Via dell’Archiginnasio 2)

Where to…

Meet and greet over breakfast: Caffe Pasticceria Zanarini
Since 1928, well-dressed Bolognese have flaunted their double-ply cashmere over coffee at the city’s premier meeting spot. An elegant stroll from the city’s luxury mall, Galleria Cavour (home to Prada, Fendi and cashmere king Brunello Cucinelli), people- watching starts early here. Open every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Mondays. (Piazza Galvani 1; +39-051-275-0041)

Lunch far from the maddening crowd: Eataly
Break free from the fair and hit this former church, the Bologna outpost of culinary chain Eataly. The expansive site has plenty of cafes and spots for lunch, while the store doubles as a convenient one-stop shop for picking up goodies for those left behind in the office. Open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to midnight. (Eataly, Via degli Orefici 19; +39-051-095-2820)

Energy fix: La Sorbetteria Castiglione
Gelato is the perfect pick-me-up when those all-important energy levels start flagging. La Sorbetteria Castiglione has a mouth-watering selection of artisanal flavors. If you’re planning on working late back at the hotel, opt for a take-out box and fill it with your favorite flavors. Open Monday to Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (Via Castiglione 44; +39-051-233-257)

Dine on the expense account: Al Pappagllo
The best place for a full-blown four-course meal is Al Pappagallo (The Parrot). Housed in a 14th-century palazzo, this old-school restaurant offers typical Bolognese fare with service provided by white-clad (if occasionally grumpy) waiters. Open Monday to Saturday for lunch from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., and dinner from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Closed Sundays. (Piazza della Mercanzia 3; +39-051-231-200)

Live la dolce vita: Nu Lounge
Rub shoulders with Bologna’s beautiful people at Nu Lounge, with its serious drinks list and accompanying bar snacks menu. Open Monday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. (Via dei Musei 6; +39-051-222-532)

Survival Guide

Visionary retailer Nicky Kinnaird of Space NK is a Cosmoprof veteran. Here, her fail-proof fashion plan for looking great tutti i giorni.

By Day: “Flat shoes for racking up the exhibition hall miles and dressing in layers as temperatures vary both indoors and out. I like Robert Clergerie cream suede brogues, taupe pants cropped just above the ankle from Brunello Cucinelli or Marni, fine cotton or cashmere vests from J. Crew or Marni and an easy cream boyfriend cardigan from Cucinelli, all pulled together with a plaited skinny belt. Barton Perreira sunglasses and my lightweight Goyard cream tote to carry all brochures and samples are essential, too.”

By Night: “For supplier dinners, I opt for simple Marni or Jil Sander shifts with a Pellini cuff or statement Marni necklace. I also always have a fine cashmere wrap on hand as you never know when the temperature might dip.”