About a month ago, I laid out my travel plans for another trip to Italy this coming September. I'm still paying the bills from two weeks in Rome in January, but those scars will heal. I had had the notion I wanted to see Bologna and for some reason, that led me to think I should spend a week in Bologna and a week in Veneto since they aren't too far apart. And I never want to be one of those travelers racing from Capri to Venice to the Cinque Terre with two hours in Florence in between somewhere.
But just because I'm too lazy to physically rush around doesn't mean my mind doesn't dart from idea to idea. Especially when it comes to travel. No sooner had I laid out Plan A, and booked hotels, then I decided I didn't really want to go to Venice after all. So, I considered a Plan B. I love Florence, it has been a few years since I had spent any time there -- maybe that might be a good companion week to Bologna, instead of Venice.
But then, I really started to think that I ought to see new places and broaden my knowledge of Italy. So, I posted a sweeping question on Slow Travel's Italy board: One week in Bologna and then what? A lot of people suggested Ferrara, not far from Bologna and apparently lovely in itself but also a good base for day trips to Ravenna, which I really want to see, and Padua, also high on my list.
Others argued for Parma, also near Bologna and reportedly beautiful, but maybe not quite as useful as a base for day trips.
Hmmmmm. There seems no doubt at all that food and wine will be fantastic in all three cities! Apparently, there is great art and beautiful palazzos and piazzas to see in all three, great shopping and lots to do.
So, I've devised Plan C. I'm going to try to fly into Bologna itself, but failing that Milano. Then take the train straight out to Parma.
-- Two nights (Sunday, Monday) in Parma at the Hotel Torino, which has gotten good reviews.
-- Train to Ferrara for four nights (Tuesday through to Saturday) at the Albergo Annunziation. Also good reviews although I was initially shocked at their opening bid of 160 euros per night for a double room for single use. When I emailed back and said I simply couldn't afford that, they reduced it to 120 euros. Still a bit high, but it looks very nice.
I also think that Ferrara looks like an excellent base for day trips to Ravenna and Padua because the rail connections seem very good.
--Train back to Bologna for the final seven nights or eight nights (depending on when I fly back home, and hopefully, from Bologna) staying at Hotel Porta San Mamolo. It's a bit of a ways from the very centre, but it also has gotten v. good reviews from other Slow Travelers, including fellow blogger Girasoli!
I don't think a week is too long for Bologna. I figure that I might do another day trip to two from there, especially if, for some reason, I don't get to Ravenna and Padua earlier in this trip. Who knows, I might give into my desire to see Florence even for just a day!
I'm not yet extremely excited about this trip, however. Maybe it's because I haven't seen a lot of great photos from the Emilia-Romagna region and so it hasn't yet fired my imagination. Before I traveled to Umbria last June, for example, I had seen so many wonderful shots of hill towns and steep, rambling streets that I couldn't wait to get there. E-R, in contrast, looks a bit flat and dull.
I just have to fire up my imagination, I think, and start reading biographies of the D'Este family to get in the groove! Oh, and start cancelling those Plan A hotels