I always put myself through the same stressful process when planning a trip to Italy. I start out by thinking about the places I want to visit. I look at the train transportation options and connections and realize that my plan does not work. I then rework the order of the places and become more frustrated when the train transportation options continue to not work. I add new places, take out places, and try to rework the order again. At the same time, I check out hotel options and try to find flights that will work. I experience a few sleepless nights until my itinerary finally is set. I feel so much better once I have my basic itinerary in place.
This year, I had two definite locations in mind; Acqui Terme and Camogli (which I guess was not that definite since I am now staying in Santa Margherita Ligure). I thought about heading to either Stresa or Baveno after landing in Milan. I also thought about staying in Lucca and either Bologna or Parma at one point during my trip.
After looking at train schedules, trying to visualize lugging my luggage on and off trains, and remembering to do it slow, I came to my senses and realized that I needed to choose only three locations before heading to Zurich. I decided to start out in Santa Margherita Ligure and then to go to Acqui Terme (the train schedules worked best this way). The problem was trying to decide on my third location.
The logical choice would be the town of Como since it was a train stop on the way to Zurich. I have only been in Como twice, both times very briefly, walking from the boat dock to the train station; once coming from Menaggio and once from Bellagio.
My frustration with trying to plan a stay in Como was finding a good hotel. I also thought about Stresa and Baveno again even though the train routes were a little longer and more complicated. I have never been to the Italian part of Lake Maggiore. Like Sandra, I posted a question on the Slow Travel Italy forum to get input from others. I did not get any overwhelming recommendations for any of these three lake town options, and meanwhile, Bologna continued to tug at my heart.
I kept telling myself that logically I should head north to the lake region. To get a better feel for Como, Stresa, and Baveno, I went to the Italy Trip Report section on Slow Travel and searched each town. I read every trip report mentioning any of the three lake towns. Nothing really jumped out at me.
Bologna continued tugging. I did a search on trip reports on Bologna. Pedalaforte's, Bologna, Piedmont, late Nov. 2007, was the first trip report I read. Once I began to read the food descriptions (including gelato at da Gianni) on page four, my decision was made!! I started to imagine all of the gelato places I could try and thought about maybe even going back to Parma to have some gelato at K2. I not only thought of gelato, but also of all the wonderful restaurants I have wanted to try.
Food was my deciding factor and won out over a relaxing lake vacation.
My plan is to spend six nights in Bologna, staying at Hotel Porta San Mamolo. I spent a wonderful night at this hotel last year, breaking up a long train trip. My only other visit to Bologna was back in 2000, again only an overnight stay breaking up a long train trip. Each time was much too short.
I am excited to finally spend time in Bologna, to get to know this city a little better. I may possibly do a day trip or two while in Bologna. I have never been to Modena, and so that would be my first choice. I also may try to return to Parma or Ferrara, both places I have loved staying in during previous trips.
Because it is late and I am tired, instead of adding photos here, I will link a few of my previous blog posts with photos of Bologna from my trip last year:
*the Two Towers in Bologna
*more of beautiful Bologna
*a few more photos of Bologna