Head to Bologna, Italy’s food capital

Rome: Why should I go? Known as “The crossroads of Italy”, Bologna is steeped in history, with a stunning opera house and leaning towers — one leans more than its more famous counterpart in Pisa. It’s also a great destination to pair with Florence or Venice.

Streets made for walking? Its ­historic centre is home to 25 miles of porticoes and 600 archways, something so unique it has been nominated as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

These archways lead the way to all of Bologna’s key attractions, including Basilica di San Petronio, the city’s most important church.

Foodies should visit Fico Eataly World, on the outskirts of the city, where you can enjoy this delicious Italian pasta dish

On weekends, the centre is pedestrianised, but cycling is a popular pastime and the countryside is within easy reach.

Anything for the bucket list? Bologna doesn’t have the nickname “The Fat One” for nothing. Foodies should visit Fico Eataly World, on the outskirts of the city.

A cross between a food hall, factory, farm and theme park, this mammoth 100,000sq foot building has the best Italian produce — from local Mortadella cured meat to pasta made right in front of you.

The “food park” has to be seen to be believed. Make sure you wear your stretchy pants.

Bologna doesn’t have the nickname ‘The Fat One’ for nothing, be sure to enjoy the many amazing foods the city has on offer

Music lovers will find a lot to entertain them in Bologna too, as it’s a Unesco Creative City of Music because of its heritage, with Wolfgang Mozart studying in the city as a teen.

It’s also home to the ocarina, a small, flute-like wind instrument which has its own festival every two years in nearby Budrio.

Where should I eat? The city’s mayor made headlines around the world earlier this year when he said spaghetti bolognese was “fake news” and not from Bologna at all.

He certainly has a point, as it’s actually tagliatelle ragu that’s eaten regularly in the city, as the thicker ribbons of pasta absorb the meaty sauce better than spaghetti.

I had a delicious bowl at Osteria Del Cappello — near the main square — for £9, mopped up with local breads. One delicious local treat is gnocco fritto, fried pillows of bread served with sliced cured meats and cheeses.

Fancy a drink? Bologna and its surrounding region has its own types of wine, and I particularly liked a sparkling one called Pignoletto.

Enjoy the region’s wine and gastronomy, while feeling like part of the old Italian aristocracy at 18th Century villa, Accademia dei Notturni, just outside Bologna.

Enjoy traditional food from one of the city’s many beautiful and historic shops

In Bologna itself, Le Stanze is a beautiful bar in a former chapel, while Le Scuderia serves superb cocktails near the university.

Where should I stay? Agriturismo La Dondina has rooms in converted horse stables making for an unusual and relaxing base just outside the city.

Villa San Donino Trattoria Osteria is another fabulous B&B which also serves incredible local delicacies in its restaurant such as tasty gnocchi and tenerina, a flourless chocolate cake.