Or at least, time to start planning the next trip! I realize I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, but half the fun of a trip is in the planning. And I'm really picky about where I stay. I realize that will come as an enormous shock to those of you who know me well. Or, know me at all. Let's just stay my travel style isn't exactly laid-back! But I can't help it; I'm strongly affected by my surroundings -- which is why I continue to be drawn back to Italy. The amazing beauty pulls me back because it nourishes my soul.
Actually, my soul isn't starving that badly here. My very large office windows look down on the front of the Supreme Court of Canada building as well as one of the historic buildings in the Parliament Hill precinct. Which is very nice and I can't complain about the view. I can also look across the Outaouais River to Gatineau (not so nice from this perspective!)
But that's off topic. I can't live on one view alone.
So, back to travel planning. Today (and this will definitely be subject to change) I'm thinking that what I should do is fly into Venice in mid-September; stay there for perhaps five nights; train out to either Padua or to Verona for three or four nights; then train down to Bologna for the final five or six nights.
I'll have to consult Slow Travel to get opinions on this proposed itinerary and where to base myself. One thing that I know for sure is that I would very much like to spend some time in Bologna, because it sounds beautiful and very interesting. I think it would be a great base for a day trip to Ravenna and very much want to see Ravenna and its mosaics. Maybe another day or two is possible from there, perhaps Ferrara? I can also fly out of Bologna fairly easily at the end of the trip. So, in my anal-retentive way, I've already sent a room request to Hotel Porta San Mamolo. After all, it got such good reviews from Girasoli and Palma. and once I have my accommodation down, the rest will flow.
Now, working backwards from Bologna, I'd like to spend a few days in the Veneto region. This would take me out of the Emilia-Romagna province, I realize, but not that far. And I really want to see Padua and in particular, the very famous Giotto frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel. There are other churches and frescoes in Padua that I'd love to see as well. So the next question becomes: where to base in the Veneto? Would Padua hold my interest for three or four days? Just in case I decide that Padua is the place, I've emailed the well-regarded Hotel Majestic Toscanelli. If I can't get a room there, maybe it's a sign I should look elsewhere, perhaps Verona, which seems larger and more vibrant. But would it be too large?
Finally, if I'm going to be that close to Venice, perhaps this is where I should begin my trip. It's much easier to get IN to Venice, than it is to get OUT. Particularly by air. Flights always seem to leave Venice's Marco Polo airport very early, presumably so they can make connections in larger hubs such as Milano or London. That means getting to Marco Polo at the crack of dawn, which means getting up in the middle of the night. I don't relish that. So better to start in Venice than to finish in Venice, I think.
I'm not exactly drooling for Venice, in part because the last time I was there -- a week in early October 2005 -- it rained much of the time and was extremely cold and dampened my visit considerably. I even saw aqua alta, as San Marco and other areas flooded. I'm hoping that mid-September would be a bit more welcoming, but I'll also be better prepared for rain if I do go to Venice this time.
But much now depends on Venice hotels. My very favourite, and very reasonably priced, is La Calcina. If I can get the room I want there (single with a view of the Guidecca Canal) the rest of the trip will fall into place. As a backup, I got an immediate response from the Pensione Accademia, which wants about 140 euros per night. That's good for Venice, but a bit steep for my budget.
Something more interesting to think about, than another cold, damp Ottawa day!