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Aviano: Tiare Shopping welcomes shoppers every day of the week

By KENT HARRIS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 13, 2014

It ain’t the Mall of America.

But Tiare Shopping, the largest retail complex in northeastern Italy, is no slouch when it comes to shopping options, either.

More than 170 shops will be featured in the mall just off the A4 autostrada in the town of Villesse, about an hour’s drive east of Aviano Air Base, if all the retail spaces become occupied. There are more than 4,000 parking spaces. And one of the anchor tenants — Ikea — is almost a mall in itself.

There’s a bit of an American feel as well. Architecturally, it’s similar to a host of American malls. McDonald’s occupies a spot at the edge of the food court. Foot Locker is represented. So is Game Stop. It’s very American in its business hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.

Signs in English are sprinkled throughout. Of course, the English signs aren’t there necessarily to attract American customers. The borders of Slovenia and Croatia, many of whose residents speak English when visiting Italy, are closer than the U.S. Air Force base. And it’s not hard to spot license plates from those countries during a typical visit. The Austrian border is about as close as Aviano. The mall hopes to attract 6 million visitors a year from within Italy and without.

Ikea, the furniture and home decor giant, is about as international as it gets. The H&M clothing store is also well known to many on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. There is a host of popular Italian chains. MediaWorld, Scarpe&Scarpe, the UCI cinemas and the Ipercoop supermarket hold prominent places. But there are several smaller outlets, ranging from Alcott to Zuiki, that might not be so well-known. About 90 percent of the retail space is occupied or reserved for businesses who have signed leases.

Ikea, which opened at the site as a stand-alone store in 2009 before the mall made its debut in December, has the largest presence. A company that works closely with the Swedish home furnishings giant — Inter Ikea Centre Group — owns the mall, which is reported to be the first in Italy to incorporate an Ikea store. Other malls housing an Ikea store are under construction, including one near Brescia, west of Vicenza.

Retail shops take up two floors of Tiare Shopping, which offers a ground-floor parking garage. Another parking level, below ground, is still under construction.

More than 30 clothing stores make up the largest chunk of retail space, though restaurants aren’t too far behind. There are more than 20, mostly located in the food court next to the seven-screen cinemas (which, unfortunately for English speakers, show movies only in Italian). Roadhouse Grill, a chain that offers an Italian take on American cuisine, sits across the hallway from McDonald’s.

Much of the mall’s literature focuses on making the visit a family experience. There are several play areas indoors and outdoors for younger kids. Ikea has its own area for child care. There’s a toy store, pet shop and other venues for those a bit older.

And, speaking of pet stores, several dogs on leashes were spotted during a recent visit. They had plenty of room to walk while their larger friends added packages and lightened their wallets.

harris.kent@stripes.com

 

Tiare Shopping

Directions

Tiare Shopping is in Villesse, Italy, off the A4 autostrada between Mestre and Trieste. Take the exit for the A34 (Villessse/Gorizia). Follow the brown and yellow signs for centro commerciale from there. There’s a toll of 5.30 euros from Portogruaro to the exit.

Times

The mall is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Ikea is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Movies (in Italian) start at 2 p.m.

Costs

It’s free to park and walk around the mall. Getting food or merchandise from the businesses will, of course, cost you.

Food

There are about two dozen options, from snacks to sit-down meals. One good choice is Roadhouse Grill, a chain that features American-style food (steaks and burgers) with an Italian twist. It offers large portions at fairly reasonable prices. McDonald’s is across the aisle. There are multiple smaller places in the food court offering various specialties. Ikea has its own restaurant.

Information

There’s an information desk located in one of the public areas on the ground floor near the main entrance (on the far side of the mall from Ikea). English is spoken.

There’s also a website (in Italian) where potential customers can sign up for a mall newsletter and get more information about special upcoming events: www.tiareshopping.com, in Italian.

Much of the literature for Tiare Shopping focuses on making the visit a family experience. Some shoppers even bring the family dog to the mall just off the A4 autostrada in Villesse, Italy,
KENT HARRIS/STARS AND STRIPES

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