I want to thank everyone again for all of your suggestions regarding my Arezzo dilemma. It really helps to talk it out and get input from travel friends. I have booked with Hotel Patio in Arezzo but am still considering other options. At least I have a hotel at the moment. I have even thought about Siena. Haven’t been back there since 2001 (studied Italian twice in Siena – 5 weeks total). The major negative though about Siena is my timing would bring me there right before the Palio, which would usually be great, but the extra all night singing and other noise would not be a welcome additon to my jetlag. I did find one amazing new place on the outskirts of the city but within easy walking distance, which would be nice and quiet, but they want 150 per night! I will have to continue to mull over this part of my trip.
Meanwhile, onto the second half of my trip. After leaving Lucca, I currently have five nights booked at my favorite hotel in Bologna. I plan to do a couple of daytrips while there. Possibly returning to Parma and Ferrara. I have also thought about going back to Modena and visiting Reggio Emilia for the first time, and then there is the thought of returning to Ravenna. I realize I could never visit all of these places so again more decisions.
I am starting to wonder if I should extend my stay in Bologna or add a second place to stay somewhere in the Emilia Romagna region. If I do choose a second location, it will have to be somewhere either not much farther from Lucca or Stresa. One of my conditions I put on my itinerary this year was to keep all train travel to two hours if possible. A second location would most likely add time to one of my train trips so I would have to look carefully at the possible connections as part of my decision. And as you probably know by now, I am very picky about hotels and will have to look at options in each possible location. I do have a favorite in Ferrara if they still have a room available. I might just end up staying in Bologna the entire time adding a night or two to this part of my trip.
And then there is Stresa. My original plan was for six nights in Stresa. I love staying near the water and I love being on boats. Still, I am a little uneasy about committing six nights in Stresa, mostly because once again I am not finding hotels that are jumping out at me saying, "Stay here, Stay here!”
These are the hotels I have been looking at:
Hotel Elena (1 star hotel) - Single B&B €55 / Double B&B €77. There are so many great reviews it has been difficult eliminating this hotel, even though it has no AC. Comments mention that it does cool down at night in the summer and others complained of the heat. I have no idea if the singles are tiny boxes because as usual, there are only photos of double rooms. The doubles are not that much cheaper than Hotel Boston for the loss of A/C.
Hotel Boston (3 start hotel) - Single B&B €70 / Double standard B&B €91.50. Non-smoking rooms are a plus here. Some complaints of noise but mostly good reviews. The other question is that the website says "Air-conditioning is available upon request, subject to charges, and then in another section it says "Individually controlled air conditioning".
Hotel Du Parc (3 star hotel) - Double B&B €103.33. Good reviews overall and free wireless but some train noise complaints. I thought it was non-smoking but am not sure now. Need to check into that. Not sure now why this hotel is on my list since it is more expensive than Hotel Boston? At one point I almost booked it though so there must have been a reason.
OR do I splurge at Hotel Palma (4 star) - Double for Single Use €135. I would probably only stay 4 nights max if I stayed here. Non-smoking rooms and great reviews overall except for a few picky rich people complaints such as "there weren't neither Turkish bath nor tennis courts there", "Swimming pool across a busy main road isn't ideal and wasn't very inviting". I doubt I will stay at this hotel though, especially since the euro has just jumped 10 points practically overnight. It was fun to dream a little though :)
My other question for Stresa: Do I want to stay 1-2 days on Isola Pescatori? This idea popped into my head after reading Dana's blog post about this lovely island.
There are only two hotels on the island. One is much too expensive. The second one, the Hotel Belvedere has rooms with a view for €150 and with a view and balcony for €180 (both again out of my price range) but the hotel also has one or two Double B&B rooms without a view for €100, which as of last night were still available. The only downside besides not getting the view (which I can live with) is that according to a comment on Venere.com, the windows closely face another building's walls and soon-to-be-windows (which now might be real windows as the comment was written in 2006). This hotel does not have A/C and without a good breeze if the windows are up close to another building, it might not be a pleasant stay. I might just have to keep Isola Pescatori as a daytrip and miss out on the fun of an overnight stay.
** UPDATE: I went back and googled Hotel Du Parc trying to find where I saw the non-smoking comment for this hotel. It is on the Hotel Du Parc ItalyBy.Com website. There are more nice reviews on this website. I think I am going to have to email them. This could be the hotel for me! It is starting to whisper in my ear. They also have an annex with I believe slightly cheaper rooms. Now I just need to figure out the dates.
So, I have up to twelve nights to play with before heading to Coccaglio to spend time with my friends Katia and Guido at the end of my trip. Right now I have five nights in Bologna, six nights in Stresa, and I also have an extra night to put somewhere (because of the change in my return date). I could add this night to Bologna, Stresa, or Coccaglio. I originally planned four nights in Coccaglio since Katia works during the week figuring I would arrive in the late afternoon during one of the days she works and do a daytrip to Verona on the second day she works.
So, do I want to add two nights to Bologna and take a night away from Stresa, add one night to Bologna and keep Stresa as is (six nights), or keep the plan as is, adding the extra night to Coccaglio. And if I add nights to Bologna, do I want to stay in Bologna the entire time or split that portion up with another stop along the way. Decisions, decisions!
Isn't trip planning fun??