Bologna might not have its own cat café like Rome or London, but lovers of the cute felines shouldn’t worry: there’s still Calamario. Now, this shop isn’t about cats, in theory. It is actually a well known and rather posh gift shop that has been adorning the very central Via De’ Carbonesi for long. I first got to know it more than a decade ago thanks to my mother, a gift card freak, always in search of the fanciest, most extravagant card for some birthday. And she invariably ended up here, where they really have an amazing selection of vintage style supplies (think paper dolls and Victorian times) for writing down your love and congrats in an old style fashion.
But then I found out another peculiarity of the place, or rather three: three very furry and gentle creatures that nap on pink pile of shabby chic cushions, playfully hide under the upholstery or gaze at the oblivious customers behind a chest of drawers. There’s the black one that usually stands by the entrance or just upside, like a smug and aloof butler. There’s the creamy one who’s also the shyest (but loves to be petted) and whose pale blue eyes have the loveliest strabismus of Venus. Then there’s my favorite, the black&white, who greets you meowing and literally insists on you following her across the whole shop up to its bottom, where she proudly shows you her food, eating a “croquette” or two in a demonstrative fashion. True story, happens every time. Every time I melt and pretend I’m surprised.
Now, as a pet lover and compulsive petter, whenever I happen to walk down Via De’ Carbonesi I always have to enter Calamario coming up with some excuse: I might pretend to need a fancy set of plates, some embroidered tablecloth, a centerpiece, a linen curtain, a brightly colored tea cup, a fluffy cushion… truth is, my slightly bohemian style makes me hardly believable as a customer, but it is now a known fact that the cats are the main attraction of the shop, and the owner is welcoming those who are respectful of the place and of its actual owners. Plus, browsing around this overcrowded, upper class bazaar is actually quite nice.
Yes, my taste might be more on the ethnic/minimal/basic type, but this doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy a trip or two in the realm of the real housewives, dinner party experts and fancy Bed and Breakfasts owners. And sometimes I end up with a little bargain. Within the years, I paid my obsession for petting cats with a rétro painting of a platter of figues, some extremely decadent coffee cups and three flower-shaped wooden place mats (did you know that they’re known in Italy as “American style mats?”). I’m actually proud of all of these. So, you should basically visit this shop both if you actually happen to be a style-obsessed, shabby-chic design lover and and if you’re just a cat person. In the second case, just pretend you need a gift card.