Bologna is the gastronomic capital of Italy. Often overlooked, this university town is a must for food lovers. Bologna is easily reached from Milan by high-speed train (only 52 minutes). You're dropped off at the train station and make your way to the heart of the town (Piazza Maggiore, home of the Neptune Fountain). On our day in Bologna, we made four favorite "foodie" stops. The train station and Piazza Maggiore are connected by the Via Indipendenza.
Just off of Via Indipendenza at Via Marsala is Enoteca Italiana. This wine and food shop is packed with wines from throughout Italy and Italian food specialties. A great place to stock up on gifts to take home, for a picnic, or some great snacks to eat in your hotel.
Here are three great places to dine near Piazza Maggiore:
For more elegant dining, try Da Cesari at 8 Via de' Carbonesi (south of Piazza Maggiore). This romantic restaurant serves delicious Bolognese dishes and homemade wine. Tel. 051/237710, closed Sun. and Sat. in July. http://www.da-cesari.it/.
Note that all of these establishments are closed for part of August. You won't regret a trip to this lovely town. For more on dining in Italy, check out Eating & Drinking in Italy: Italian Menu Translator and Restaurant Guide.