So, I'm beginning to fine-tune travel plans for my June trip to Italy. This includes more careful planning of my day trips, whether I should aim to spend a day in gorgeous Venice, and if so, what to do with only one day there? I can pay more attention to this, now that I have finally resolved the whole Bologna hotel question, in a way that surprised me a little -- I've switched my affections, from Hotel Porta San Mamolo to Hotel Orologio!
Some history: I had made up my mind to stay for my week in Bologna at the Hotel Porta San Mamolo, a lovely-looking spot about 10 minutes from the historic centre, and one which has received rave reviews. I wasn't put off by the distance from central Bologna and thought its internal garden looked lovely. Hotel PSM had quoted me a rate of 105 euros for a superior double for single use.
But after seeing rave reviews about Hotel Orologio in central Bologna on Mary T's blog and Chiocciola's mention of finding a very good price at the Orologio, I checked its rates out of curiosity. Initially, Orologio quoted 135 euro for a double for single use. When I balked, it came down to 90 euro. I remained sceptical, worrying that such a change in rate surely meant I'd be getting a broom closet over the back-alley garbage containers.
However, Mary offered to call the hotel on my behalf, to see what Orologio's rate might actually represent. The hotel kindly came back with an offer of a deluxe double room for single use, still at 90 euro. Thank you for your help, Mary!!!!! The savings on seven nights' stay is helpful, and a deluxe double room sounds appealing. I have been worried about noise coming from the nearby Piazza Maggiore, Bologna's main square, but staff at Orologio assure me they'll give me something quiet. I may even pack my new sound machine which is remarkably lightweight (well under a pound) just for extra assurance!
So now, the next big question: Should I do a day trip to Venice from one of my bases in the Emilia-Romagna? A quick recap: I'll arrive in Parma and spend 3 nights there, before taking the very short train trip down to Bologna, my base for a full week. From Bologna, I'm thinking I'll take one day trip to Ravenna and spend another in Padua. I'm very excited about seeing both of those cities, as well as my plans for 5 days staying put in Bologna.
After Bologna, I'll take the train (another short trip) to Ferrara for 3 days. It's from here that I'm thinking I might visit Venice for a day. The train trip is about 90 minutes, which isn't too far, or too difficult (especially without luggage!) Now, I don't want to short-change Ferrara, and I do believe in Slow Travel; that is, not charging from city to city in too short of time. But I also think Venice is so beautiful and I haven't spent nearly enough time there.
So, if I do buzz over to Venice for a day (and in June, days are delightfully long!) what should I do? I think it's good to have a plan, because otherwise, I wander aimlessly. Sometimes that can be good, but in a labyrinth like Venice, it could also mean lurching around in circles, eating in an overpriced restaurant and become discouraged by the sight of too many shops catering to tourists! (I am, of course, a tourist myself but I do try to avoid throwing money away on fake Murano glass or masks made in China.)
Better if I have a bit of an idea for a lovely day in Venice. Should I go off the beaten path???? Or re-visit favourite spots? San Marco always calls and I have only been inside once (shocking, but true) yet in mid-June, it's going to be wildly busy! Should I look at major art sites, such as Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (I do love annunciations!) or stay outdoors and hunt for some of Annie's shrines?
Advice, as always, is much appreciated!