Bologna • food, fashion and Ferrari ….
The good news about Bologna’s Guglielmo Marconi international airport is that is only 6km (3.75 miles) north of the town centre. The even better news is that the airport’s refurbishment is finally finished, giving a much improved check-in area and a vastly better retail and food & beverage offer once airside. It needed it. With around 7m passengers annually – making it Italy’s 6th busiest airport – being delayed at Bologna wasn’t much fun before the expansion. There simply wasn’t enough space once through security and the facilities were limited; now there’s a vast new Sky Lounge bar and restaurant area in the Schengen zone, along with various additional satellite drinking and eating areas such as I Dolci Di Nonna Vincenza- most of which also sell regional foodstuffs.But we’re jumping the gun a little. The retail offer actually starts before security – though of course it is duty/tax paid, with an impressive new Victoria’s Secret store next to the existing Ferrari outlet. So, while the men are browsing the Ferrrai store dreaming of driving one of these wonderful beasts through France from St Tropez, the women can spend his money on lingerie and toiletries next door! The Ducati store which used to be in this area has now moved airside but continues to offer a range of branded clothing and accessories.
Once airside – security can still be somewhat slow – passengers will initially find themselves turning left into the Schengen zone; Travellers to the UK or non-European destinations will need to head the other way to passport control before their flight; just remember to leave enough time as the passport control queue can be quite lengthy.
The tax free/duty free shop here is run by Gebr Heinemann, which operates outlets all over Europe and beyond with a remit to offer passengers good value spirits, tobacco, fragrances, cosmetics, confectionery, tobacco etc (duty free prices for those flying outside the Euro zone).Last year saw the main store expanded by nearly six times to some 620 sq m. The area is split into two by the walkway, with sunglasses, jewellery, watches and an extensive range of fragrances, cosmetics and skincare to the left, and liquor, wines, confectionery, toys and local produce to the right. Heinemann’s remit wherever it operates is to offer passengers a real ‘sense of place’ thus you’ll find an excellent Regional Market offer here including Italian delicacies such as local wines, Limoncella,pastas, oils, cheeses and confectionery lines.
For those leaving from gates 17 upwards (eg through passport control), there’s a second Heinemann walk through store – somewhat smaller at 330 sq m but still offering a great range of merchandise.
The layout in both is modern and attractive and well signed both by product range and brand – so it’s easy to navigate and find what you want. Intra-EU passengers, of course, cannot buy ‘duty free’ but Heinemann works hard to offer attractive prices nonetheless and you’ll regularly find special offers and sales with 30% or more off certain brands.
We particularly like the fragrance/cosmetic/skincare offer here (there’s even a pretty good selection of skincare lines for men which is unusual). It’s not just very comprehensive with just about every brand you can think of, Heinemann highlights new lines in a special section at the back of the Schengen zone shop. On our visit these included Elie Saab Le Parfum, Givency Ange ou Demon le Secret, Hugo Boss Unlimited (exclusive to the retailer), Boss Jour pour Femme, Jil Sander Ultrasense and Just Cavalli. They also have a ‘our recommended’ section for those not needing guidance.
The spirits/wines sections is also impressive; look out for travel retail exclusive offers such as Aperol Spritz travel pack which contains a bottle of Aperol and Cinzano Prosecco (very reasonable we thought at Euros 18.50) and Jagermeister exclusive pack containing two x 0.5l bottles and a deer head pourer.
Unsurprisingly • being in Italy • there is a strong focus on fashion at the airport and here’s a word to the wise. Don’t expect to save a packet. Generally speaking in Italian airports (whether shops are landside or airside), prices in branded boutiques will not be less than those on the domestic high street. It’s up to the individual brand whether they choose to absorb any or part of the VAT or not……most (we understand) don’t. If you’re flying outside the EU, (because don’t forget there is no duty-free/tax free within the zone) it might be worth investigating buying on the high street and then reclaiming the tax (see sites such as www.global-blue.com for more information, rules and regulations).Still, if price is not an issue, then some of Italy’s best are here • the beautiful bags and leathergoods of Bologna based Furla; the modern style of Mandarina Duck; clothing and accessories from Aeronautica Militaire, Armani Jeans and Ducati. If you feel like spoiling yourself, the Ingram store offers a “tailor made reservation” service for men and women where you can have a shirt made quickly to order, while more recently opened Piquadro’s impressive 33sq m store is not only beautiful to look at with its metallic inspired architecture, but also offers a wide range of accessories designed specifically with the business traveller in mind.
If you’ve spent much time in Bologna and the Emilia Romagna region, then chances are you’ll have eaten yourself silly. After all, this is the city that gave the world not only spaghetti Bolognese but also tortellini and tagliatelle. If you didn’t fill your bags with foods to take home in Bologna, then you can stock up at Vecchia Malga Aeroporto. On the Ground Floor of the airport, the outlet recreates the atmosphere of a typical Bolognese grocery store and offers a full range of local specialities.
The quality of the food served at the airport may not be quite up to the same standard as you found in the heart of the city….but it has most certainly got significantly better; as has the retail offer. We’ll happily drink a glass of Prosecco to that!