Known locally by the affectionate nick-name ‘the fat one’, Bologna is loved by travellers for its excellent variety of top-class cuisine, ranging from Michelin-starred restaurants to fresh-baked individual slices at the Pizzeria. But the delights of Bologna don’t stop at the stomach; it also offers one of Italy’s top shopping destinations, where Italian fashion houses and independent boutiques run rife.
With its distinctive red-brick and portico architecture and renowned cuisine, Bologna is a traveller favourite. For sumptuous living, right in the very heart of the city, Grand Hotel Majestic gia'Baglioni (Via Indipendenza 8) is a five-star treat with decadently palatial rooms. Antica Residenza D'Azeglio (Via Massimo D'Azeglio 64) is just as luxurious but more intimate, perfect if you're looking for a romantic escape. Mid-range seekers should check out charmingly funky B&B Chez Moi (Vicolo Bolognetti 26) or the cosy rooms as Casa Ilaria (Largo Respighi 8) for something more traditional. Budget travellers will like spick-and-span Hotel Corticella (Via Stoppato 31).
Bologna is one of Italy's top shopping destinations, and the city centre is crammed full of funky boutiques and designer fashion stores. This is a town where not splurging on a gorgeous piece of Italian fashion or new leather shoes is practically impossible. Both Via Indipendenza and Via Castiglione are two of Bologna's top shopping streets, but to check out where the beautifully dressed locals get their threads from, head to boutiques such as Casa dello Sport (Via San Stefano 6), Cappelleria Trentini (Via Indipendenza 33) and the massive Borgo delle Tovaglie Flagship Store (Via Farini 10).
Bologna's nickname, 'the fat one', sums up why this city is known as a paradise of epicurean delight. Don't leave without trying the local specialities of tagliatelle with ragu, tortellini and mortadella. Pappagallo (Piazza della Mercanzia 3) is one of the city's top dining choices for traditional Bolognese cuisine, while fine dining fans will adore Michelin-starred Trattoria Battibecco (Via Battibecco 4). For something less wallet-crunching, you can't go wrong with a pizza at Nicola's Pizzeria (Piazza San Martino) or any of the simple pasta dishes on the daily-changing menu at Trattoria Fantoni (Via del Pratello 11).
Bologna locals flood out onto the streets to watch the carnival's colourful float parade thread its way through the city. It's a great time to be here if you want to witness local culture.
Festival of San Luca
This local religious festival sees an effigy of San Luca paraded through the streets of Bologna and carried to San Pietro Cathedral by a colourful procession of priests.
Angelica International Music Festival
One of Italy's biggest festivals dedicated to contemporary music, this annual event stages a vast programme of concerts in venues throughout the city. The wide-ranging variety of performances on offer takes in the full scope of modern music.
One for art lovers, the Artelibro Festival sees the galleries and design spaces of Bologna stage a series of special exhibitions across a four-day period. A programme of art lectures and events runs concurrently, and the city's main piazzas host huge art markets where you can purchase work from up-and-coming artists.
Bologna Jazz Festival
This musical extravaganza attracts both big-name performers from across the world and up-and-coming musicians for a series of concerts which bring the wild rhythms of jazz onto Bologna's streets.