Your real Bolognese knows that home is close when San Luca, up on the hill, can be seen from the motorway. It is a sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna of San Luca, the city’s patron saint. People say she comes down to visit us at times; we certainly go up and see her often enough – up those never-ending steps; and up into the other hills too. I go up there a lot, whenever I need to switch off and recharge my batteries.
Back in the centre, for lunch or dinner, I'll make two suggestions, alternatives that are complementary in a way. The first is Rodrigo, a piece of history, so old it's almost a fossil. It makes no concessions to the innovation to be found in the surrounding streets; but it offers excellent Emilian cooking, including fish, the service is impeccable and a tiny, outmoded form of courtesy in the menus: the menu handed to the men has the prices, while the ladies' menu has no prices. The second is Osteria del Sole, one of the oldest osterias in Bologna. It has retained the characteristics of a place where you go mainly to drink, and what you eat is bought from one of the many nearby delicatessens. The atmosphere is relaxed and entertaining, but it is always best to book, as it has become extremely popular.
The best aperitifs are to be had at Casa Minghetti, which has tables outside in the square. It is a place where people of all ages and backgrounds come to enjoy an aperitif, partly thanks to the superb professionalism of the barmen and staff.
Finally, a suggestion for the weekend, however unlikely it may seem: the Salaborsa Library. Apart from being in an incredibly beautiful building, below which is an archaeological site that can be visited free of charge, it also has a very full programme of cultural activities. The library organizes readings, exhibitions, initiatives for children, and the city council have recently been trying to turn it into a place for receptions too.