Although San Petronio in Piazza Maggiore may seem to be Bologna’s most important church, San Pietro is the cathedral and official seat of the bishop.
Wear comfortable shoes to walk up to the San Luca hilltop sanctuary from Porta Saragozza, along the world’s longest covered pavement or portico (3.8km). On the way have a look at Dall’Ara football stadium (Via Andrea Costa 174); tickets are usually available on match days.
Take Via Righi and you’ll find a cluster of eateries including the woodpanelled Serghei. Book in advance as the limited tables are in great demand thanks to the genuine Bolognese dishes on offer, such as homemade tortellini.
At lunchtime hungry folk should make for Fantoni for simple, tasty fare and low prices. Try tagliatelle al ragù, the genuine equivalent of spaghetti bolognese.
For cosy old-time décor, checked tablecloths and traditional flavours eat at Trattoria Meloncello. Specialities include meatballs with potatoes and peas. If you make it to San Luca, take a break at Vito (Via Monte Albano 5, 051 437711) a bar-restaurant-pizzeria with a tremendous choice of dishes and drinks. Back at Meloncello, pop into Billi (Via Coubertin 1, 051 6142225), a historic bar and cake shop specialising in the city’s certosino fruitcake.
It’s hard to imagine that Bologna is built over a system of canals, but peer through the window in Via Piella and you’ll see one flowing below.
Several of Bologna’s best hotels are on this road, including I Portici (rooms from €129) which combines cool contemporary design, art-deco features and a 14th century ice-house. Nearby is Torre Prendiparte (Via Sant’Alò 7, 051 589023, prendiparte.it, rooms from €300). There’s just one suite, which spans three of the 900-year-old tower’s 12 floors, which guests are free to explore.
Clothing and footwear stores stand shoulder to shoulder along Via Indipendenza; things get even busier on Fridays and Saturdays when the Montagnola market is held. For gastro souvenirs and cookery books, head for the Vecchia Scuola Bolognese cookery school (Via Galliera 3).
Is one of several boutiques selling fresh contemporary styles by young designers while Maison Madeleine (Via San Felice 79A) specialises in cake design and sells quality baking implements. Artists inspired by the city’s terracotta colour scheme can stock up on materials at Mesticheria Bolognese (Via San Felice 21G/H).
Via del Pratello’s pubs and winebars are many and varied; most also serve good food. Try Birreria del Pratello (24) and Mutenye (44) for a choice of beers or Il Cantinone (56) for wine. Circolo Pickwick (Via San Felice 77A) and Enoteca des Arts are also atmospheric and open till late.