Drift into Bologna on one of the easygoing Interregionale trains and spend some time admiring the flat, industrious landscape of Pianura Padana through your cabin window.
Check out the Archiginnasio anatomic theater, on the campus of the Western world’s oldest university. From there, move on to Piazza Verdi and picture the square as it was in 1977: besieged by tanks sent in by the Italian government to suppress a student revolt.
Walk among Via Petroni's punkabbestias with their dogs, and get the finest Madrasi Kebab in town at King Kebab. Munch it on the way to the San Leonardo Park but take care not to disturb Signora Maria, the park-keeper.
Consider getting a crate of beer at a night shop and joining the student gatherings in Piazza Santo Stefano. But if you find that the streets are empty, then everyone will probably be at one of several festivals held throughout the year, such as Netmage, a festival for media arts held in January.
Some influences from Bologna’s past as the Italian Mecca for underground art live on in places like XM24, open every Thursday as a public space for arts, (hack)tivism, culture, urban resistance, a farmer's market and a bio VoKu. On another day, drop by Modo Infoshop, a bookstore and bar, where you’ll meet artists and many interesting people living and working in Bologna.
In 2005 Martin Scorsese donated his personal archive to the Cineteca of Bologna. Check the cinema Lumière programme for cheap screenings and for film festivals in town. Among them, the Gender Bender Film Festival and the Future Film Festival are internationally renowned. If you are in Bologna in summer, consider attending an evening screening on the enormous screen in Piazza Maggiore.
After a good dose of the city, consider a trip to the hills on the southern side of Bologna. You may choose to go to a pilgrimage through the steep portico leading to St. Luca's church or take a walk in Villa Spada or Parco Talon. If you get to Monte Donato at night, you will probably find improvised diesel-powered DJ-sets and beer-fueled barbecues.
Before catching your train, you shouldn't leave Bologna without having a superb Gelato at Sorbetteria Castiglione. Enjoy the unexpected density of their chocolate ice-cream.
Pizza @ Trattoria San Felice
Ice-cream @ Gelateria castiglione
Madrasi kebab @ King Kebab
Public space xm24
Enoteca Alto Tasso
Bar de Marchi
Cassero gay & lesbian center
Libreria delle Moline
Future Film Festival