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Bologna is Italy’s secret gem. It might not be as visited as the likes of Rome, Venice or Florence, but this medieval city is every bit as enticing, and with a reputation for having the best food in Italy, is well worth a visit.
A Roman street plan complete with perfectly preserved red brick medieval buildings and more than 35 kilometres of arcades make this city one of the most atmospheric in Europe. And when you’re not gawping at the Old Town you’ll be straining your neck to get a glimpse of the 13th century tower blocks that still stand.
Sign up for a course at Vecchia Scuola Bolognese to learn some of the secrets behind the famous local cuisine in a light-hearted but professional context. You also get to enjoy a tasty lunch you'll have made yourself (11 Via Galliera, 051 649 1576, lavecchiascuola.com).
Bologna is so proud of its mortadella that it's holding an event dedicated to the aromatic pink sausage this month: MortadellaBò. On 9-12 October, the city's main square, Piazza Maggiore, will be taken over by stalls and stands as well as performances, all with a distinctive pinkish hue. mortadellabo.it
After descending from a trek to the hilltop San Luca sanctuary, stop at Billi, a long-established cake shop. Their speciality is the traditional fruitcake called panspeziale or certosino, a dense and tasty treat made with dried fruit, spices, honey and dark chocolate (1 Via Pietro de Coubertin).