Bologna is NOT known for its pastry making, but that does not mean that the people of Bologna don't enjoy excellent cakes and pastries.
Here is a list of the best pastry and cake shops in the center of Bologna in alphabetical order. Some of these, by the way, are also cafès and/or bars so you can stop by and eat something as well as take some home with you.
Atti (as in Paolo Atti & Figli) in via Caprarie no. 7 and its smaller sister store in Via Drapperie no.6 in the very heart of the old city's outdoor food market near the two towers. Here you will find all of Bologna's traditional cakes and pastries such as the typically Christmas certosino and Panettone, the ricotta cake, the rice cake and the tagliatelle cake. You will also find unfilled meringue shells that you can fill as you please (with layers of sweetened whip cream, crushed meringues and fresh fruit, preserved fruit or chocolate). They also make bread, fresh pastas (that Bologna is especially known for) as well as "take out food" such as lasagne that only require heating up.
Gamberini - Via Ugo Bassi 12, Bologna. Tel 051-741-7961
This shop was renovated a couple of years ago, however inside it still has a feel of years gone by. Beautiful and delicious pastries and cakes.
Laganà - Via Santo Stefano, 112, Bologna. Tel 051-347869
An old looking but excellent pastry shop, it boasts an old fashioned counter with excellent service. My personal favorites are the meringue halves filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit!!
Zanarini - Piazza Galvani 1, Bologna. Tel 051- 275-0041
A very chic place to get coffee, they are serious about their cakes and pastries. The shop was done over a few years ago, different yet reminds me a little bit of Gamberini.
Other fabulous pastry shops outside Bologna:
Rinaldini in Rimini - Piazza Mazzini 32 - Rimini tel. 0541 1833631 or Via Coletti - Rivabella di Rimini - Tel. 0541 27146
Looks and taste combined into works of art. The shops are amazingly beautiful and modern and their pastries are likewise almost too beautiful to eat.
and Dino's Pasticceria in Via P.C.S. Nasica, 40055, Castenaso, Bologna. Tel 051-786768
Although everything at Dino is fabulous, I think its buttery breakfast pastries are delectable and particularly recommend its artisanally made Christmas Panettone, Easter Colomba, Chocolate Easter eggs.