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Since L'Inde Le Palais opened in 2001, stores that wear several hats have bloomed across Bologna's retail milieu. Here are three multitasking retailers.
- The original L'Inde Le Palais, conceived by Jacopo Tonelli, is a multilevel boutique brimming with collections by 50 designers including Givenchy, Valentino and Lanvin, accessories, furniture and tomes on fashion. Noting customers lingered to socialize after shopping, Tonelli created eatery and bar Café Le Palais opposite the boutique. "When I opened the store, the area was full of addicts and drunks. But I had this vision how it would all look and it became exactly that," Tonelli explained, adding he planned to expand with a gym and disco.
-Nearby, at the foot of the piazza of seven churches on Via Santo Stefano, is Camera con Vista, selling a mix of Spanish and Italian contemporary designers, costume jewelry and restored French 19th-century furniture. The store's owners take advantage of their unique location and host private weddings and other events.
-Opened by a cooperative group in September, Matilda makes the fashion-art connection. As a store, it sells urbanwear, printed T-shirts, jewelry and home goods designed by young Italians. It also has an adjoining exhibition space, where it shows works by young Italian artists.
Leading west from the city center is Via San Felice, an up-and-coming street with multibrand contemporary and high-end fashion boutiques, Libreria delle Donne — a bookstore featuring female authors dedicated to women readers — fragrant pastry shops, perfumeries, home design spaces and the 20-year-old designer shoe store Tassinari.
"Our shop used to be a dry cleaner, and at that time the street had nothing but household and textile stores," said owner Roberto Tassinari. "Now there is a lot more energy."
Rents in San Felice are cheaper than the city's well-heeled center locations, and the street attracts Bologna's savvy fashion set. "I like to think of Via San Felice as the Corso Como of Bologna," explained Tamara Nocco, owner of I Love Shopping, a fashion boutique that opened last year. Nocco stocks offbeat labels like Eley Kishimoto, Antoni & Alison, Brazilian swimwear brand Jo De Mer and homegrown fashion from Leitmotif, designed by Fabio Sasso and Juan Caro, an art student at Bologna University. The duo's trademark white poplin blouses with billowy sleeves sold out quickly, noted Nocco.