Bologna is the undisputed food capital of Italy, but to work up an appetite there are plenty of sights to visit.
Beginning with an arduous climb up 498 steps to the top of the 100-metre Torre Asinelli, a 12th-century skyscraper. One reason Bologna is so lively is its huge student population: its university is the oldest in the world, dating back to 1088. Visitors are allowed into the old university library, where the ceilings are decorated with flamboyant frescoes, and into the dramatic 1637 anatomical theatre, where bodies used to be dissected.
Bologna e il Nettuno Renzo Ferrante
The city is criss-crossed by some 50km of portici, stately arcades lined with cafe's, bars and boutiques. Portico Cavour is for those looking for designer labels, while the Portico Nanni is the place to browse for Italian cookbooks.
Bologna is trattoria heaven, with huge portions of classic cucina casalinga (home cooking), such as handmade tagliatelle smothered with ragù bolognese that has simmered for hours, or tiny tortellini floating in a capon broth. I like the cheap and cheerful Trattoria Danio (Via San Felice 50, +39 051 555202), where a three-course lunch costs €12.50. Even at the more elegant Ristorante Biagi (Via Savenella 9/a, +39 051 4070049), where Signora Dina Carbone has been cooking for 50 years, an exquisite dish of tortellini in brodo costs €13.
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The choice of wine at the modern Enoteca Italiana (Via Marsala 2/b +39 051 235989) is exceptional – it has more than 600 bottles, but I prefer the spit-and-sawdust Osteria del Sole (Vicolo Ranocchi 1/d, +39 347 9680171), which has been serving for 450 years, close to the medieval Mercato di Mezzo.
The Bologna hotel scene is not brilliant, but Hotel Touring (doubles from €110, +39 051 584305, hoteltouring.it) is a small family-owned property with a great rooftop terrace, while at B&B Benelli (doubles from €70, +39 051 252138, bb-benelli.it) Signora Roberta lets a spacious guest room in her flat and has lots of tips.
Recommended Place To Stay in Bologna