I leave in 1 week!! I still have SO MUCH to do!!
For this trip, I decided to go back to places I have been to before to get to know each one more in depth. I started out by reserving apartments in Venice and Rome and then decided on the "middle” according to the train schedules and connections.
I have never considered renting an apartment in the past but after reading so many wonderful comments about staying in apartments on the Slow Travel website, I decided to take the leap.
My apartment in Rome was the first accommodation reserved. I must thank Ann, another Slow Traveler, who pointed me in the direction of this lovely apartment in Trastevere.
I next found an apartment in Venice. I have been a little nervous about my apartment in Venice as there was no down payment required or a credit card number needed to reserve this apartment and the availability calendar continued to show that the apartment was not rented during my requested dates for months after I made my reservation. I was originally told that keys would be sent to me and I was given directions to get to the apartment on my own. I was also told to pay the agency the following Monday (as I arrive on a Saturday when they are closed).
When sending my re-confirmation email the other day, I was told that a new person was now handling the apartment. After my initial panic, and reassurance from Slow Traveler friends, the woman contacted me and all is well. She will meet me at the train station in Venice which makes me feel much better. This way, she can answer any questions I may have about the apartment and I won’t be wandering around lost with my 4 maps of Venice. The apartment is in the Cannaregio area close to where they filmed the flower shop scenes in the movie Bread and Tulips.
After setting my beginning and ending places, I next worked on the "middle". I always try to see my friends while in Italy and so the 3rd part of my trip planned was a stop in Coccaglio to visit Katia & Guido. We met many years ago while sitting on a bench in Vernazza waiting for a train that was an hour late and have been good friends ever since.
The rest of the "middle" was the hardest part to plan. I wanted to try to do more of a "slow travel" trip this time but ended up planning a 1 night stay in Bologna and then a 3 night stay in Cortona.
I thought about staying in Bologna the entire 4 nights but wanted to stay in a smaller town for this part of my trip. I have not been back to Tuscany for a few years and so I decided on Cortona, a town I have only spent a few hours in once many years ago.
After looking at the train schedules, I decided to make a 1 night stop in Bologna on the way. The train trip would have been 6 hours from Coccaglio to Cortona with at least 3 changes in trains and that is something I just did not want to do. That is how I ended up with a one night stay in Bologna. I am actually excited to return to Bologna, even if it is only for 1 night. The food is amazing there and I have already decided where I will eat. I will only grab what I need from my suitcase and I don't plan to unpack everything so I can get right out to see the city right after I arrive.
Recently I realized that my itinerary may now have a little glitch in it as a strike has been announced for the day I plan to take the train from Cortona to Rome. After looking at all my options, I decided that I will go to Rome a day early if the train strike is not called off. The apartment is available and the woman renting it has been extremely generous in offering it to me without charging me since I will still have to pay for my room in Cortona as I need to give them notice of any cancellations 2 weeks in advance.
Here is my final itinerary:
arrive in Milan, June 9th
take the train to Venice
1 week in Venice - apartment in Canareggio
2 nights with friends - (Katia & Guido) in Coccaglio
1 night in Bologna – Hotel San Porta Mamolo
2 OR 3 nights in Cortona – B&B Le Gelosie
*depending on the train strike
10 OR 11 nights in Rome - apartment in Trastevere
*depending on the train strike
1 night at the Newark Liberty International Airport Mariott
arrive in Honolulu
I want to thank everyone on Slow Travel for all of your support, advice, hotel reviews, restaurant reviews, and trip reports. I will try to post when I can while in Italy to let you know of my adventures.