Urbino’s Retail Scene

By Jacki Miller

Urbino is a great fit for a college student or a traveler on a budget. The small town not only offers Renaissance architecture and art and mountain views, but also inexpensive prices on food, a variety of places to shop and everything is easily accessible by walking.

The popular products in the shops around Urbino range from regional food items – dried pasta, cured meats, olive oil and wine – to locally crafted ceramics to clothing.

This is an example of a restaurant in Urbino with its subtle advertising and "grab-and-go" atmosphere.
This is an example of a restaurant in Urbino with its subtle advertising and “grab-and-go” atmosphere.

At the two grocery stores in Urbino – Conad within the walled city and Coop in the Santa Lucia commercial center — it is common to find bottles of wine as cheap as 3 euros. Food shops known as degusteria stock their shelves with dried pasta, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and wines from area vineyards. Guerreri and Mancini are two local wine producers with quality red and white wines.

Shoes are a particularly good buy in Urbino because of the quality of Italian-made shoes. Prices are comparable to the United States; a pair of leather sandals costs 22 euros at one store in town, while a leather wedge cost 54 euros in another shop.

Be sure to check tags that clothing items are made in Italy. As in the United States, many imported items are made in China these days.

Along with clothing, shoes and jewelry stores, bars and cheap sandwich shops are scattered throughout Urbino. Many of the sandwich shops sell crescia, a thin, flaky local bread with your choice of meat and vegetables. Urbino is famous for its crescia sandwiches, which cost from 4 to 7 euros, depending on how many meats, cheeses, and vegetables are on it.

Here is an example of an Urbino gelatto shop’s sign.

Urbino has a very different way of promoting businesses and products than the United States. Rather than advertising on billboards, large signs and ads are plastered on the stone walls lining the streets. At the local mall across from Porta Santa Lucia, one of the entrances to the city, small signs display the names of the stores, similar to the big signs with a list of stores in a strip mall in the United States.

Besides the Santa Lucia commercial center, the other large commercial center just outside the city walls is the Consorzio, a shopping center with clothing stores and services such as an optical shop and a coffee shop. In addition to the Coop supermarket, the center across from the Santa Lucia entrance into Urbino also contains clothing stores, a café, wine bar, appliance store and an outdoor/sports store called Box.

There aren’t many big, flashy signs on top of store entrances except at the farmacia, or pharmacy. Urbino has several pharmacies with the same bright, flashing signs with a cross similar to the Red Cross, only these are green.

Many of the restaurants in Urbino advertised pictures of their food on menu boards on the sidewalk, and several clothing stores plaster the word saldi, which means “sale,” all over their windows trying to draw in customers with their low prices.

This is the gelato shop the class stopped at on their first night in Italy.
This is the gelato shop the class stopped at on their first night in Italy.

“I like how there isn’t as much advertising in Urbino, unlike the United States, and all the shops had something a little different than the last,” said Ashlyn Dempster, one of the students on the Tarleton State University communications course study abroad trip.

Artworks, handmade jewelry and ceramics also are local specialty items sold in small galleries. Locally made ceramics and linens printed with grapevines and other designs range in price from 5 euros to more than 50 euros, depending on size and quality.

Urbino also is the home of an Intaglio Engravers Academy and several shops in Urbino offer fine art engravings.

The placement of the little shops, galleries and restaurants in Urbino is very convenient because everything is within walking distance. Many small shops are made for the “grab and go” mentality, even if it is just to go across the street and sit down to enjoy a slice of pizza or a scoop of gelato while window-shopping on the narrow, cobblestone streets.

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