If a big fancy mall blew up, and people started living around it, that would be the gist of what Bologna looks like. Every Italian brand name you've ever heard of that you can't afford has a store here (and an Apple store), yet it has a small town feel. Just about every street is a pedestrian street first, and a vehicle street second. And just about every walkway is covered overhead by archways more beautiful than necessary.
In terms of tourism, I did everything I wanted to do in a few hours in the afternoon. Even my host who is from Bologna said there wasn't much to do there. But I did come here for a specific reason: the food.
I signed up for a cooking class where they teach you how to cook traditional dishes with a sauce called Bolognese (you know, like spaghetti Bolognese).
But here in Bologna, it's not spaghetti that is the tradition, it's taglietelle. Taglietelle is an egg noodle, and I now know how to make it. I also know how to make another kind of pasta that I've never seen before that has an interesting name: strozzapreti. It means priest strangler/choker. It's just flour and water formed into strips (it resembles the white choker that priests wear), and then twisted. I don't believe that is what Wikipedia said was the origin of the name, but Wikipedia didn't make it by hand to see what it looked like.
The head chef also taught me to make Bolognese ragu the traditional way, and also another way with half the duck breast we bought.
The other half of the duck breast was pan fried, baked in the oven, and served with caramelized pears.