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Bologna......and Venice???

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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!

Comments (16)

sheri:

I would definitely stay outdoors and search for Annie's shrines. I was really intrigued by her post!

Woo hoo. I am loving your plans, Sandra.
Venice sounds very appealing to me too. I only spent three days in Venice and by no means an expert, but if I do go back for one day, I think I will try to check out San Marco, crowds dependent of course. But I'll try to wonder in some of the other sestieres, Cannaregio is on my list, and sure, I'd go look for some of Annie's shrines.
You will have a great day, and I agree, 90 minutes is not bad at all.

Well, you are getting me thinking of changing my mind again! A deluxe double sounds wonderful. I wonder if I could get the same deal.

There are a few trains that are 1:39 mins from Bologna to Venice if you don't want to give up time while in Ferrara. The train will cost more though as the fast trains are the Eurostars. Oh wait...just read your post again and I see that you are going to Padua from Bologna. I thought you were going from Ferrara. I guess I would probably go from Ferrara then since there are more train options.

I would probably want a plan also if only going for a daytrip. Have you done the tour of La Fenice? I really enjoyed this tour. The ticket to visit the opera house cost 7 euros two years ago. This included an audio guide. Make sure to bring your passport because you have to leave it with them in exchange for the audio guide.

You probably want to be outside though soaking up Venice.

I would probably pick one or two sestieri and wander, check out the churches, enjoy the campo, etc. I have been there in June and it is crowded around Piazza San Marco and the streets from San Marco to the Rialto Bridge. The other areas are not so bad.

sandrac:

Sheri, aren't Annie's posts wonderful? The shrines are very intriguing -- and there are so many options! And outdoors in June in Venice would be spectacular!

Thanks Candi, I don't feel like I know Venice very well and would like to spend more time off the beaten path (ie Rialto to San Marco!) But San Marco really appeals. Maybe if I aim to visit right at noon it won't be so bad...I've noticed in Rome that crowds really drop off from about noon or 12:30 to around 1 p.m. Everyone seems to want lunch at that same time!

Girasoli, I love the idea of a tour of La Fenice -- thank you! I hadn't thought of that, and I have always wanted to visit. I love opera and opera houses, I'm going to check out times right now.

I'm flip-flopping a bit on the timing of my day trips and I really should lay out all of the train schedules to see what would be most efficient. Perhaps Venice from Bologna and Padua from Ferrara would make the most sense....I'll give this more careful thought.

As for the hotel question, it's a tough one. Since you know and love Hotel PSM, that makes a big difference, I think.

I've always heard that June is crowded in Venice but with tourism down, maybe you'll get lucky and it won't be so bad.

If you decide to visit Basilica di San Marco, you want to be in there when the lights come on at 11:30 am. They usually leave them on for an hour, sometimes longer but you can't count on it being longer than an hour.

If the lines are long to get into the basilica, you might consider going to either the 11 or 12 Noon Mass, that way you can go in the side door and skip the long lines in front. :) Once Mass is over, you are free to roam AND the mosaics will be lit!

More later about best off-the-beaten path neighborhoods for shrines.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, looks like your plans are all coming together very nicely. It would be great for you to see San Marco and your plans to go during the least crowded times is a good one. I also liked seeing the art in the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari and I also liked visiting the Madonna dell'Orta Church in Canareggio. I couldn't remember how to spell it and when I googled it, it was cool that Annie's blog entry on that church came right up.

And when you are looking for a place to rest your feet and chill, then I have to give a big shout out for my favorite campo Santa Margherita in the Dorsoduro District. There is even a nice place called Causin to have a gelato (a recommendation I found in Chow Venice).

Then, I would agree with the others and say to take the rest of your time there to visit the less traveled neighborhoods. I am also a big fan of Annie's entries on the churches and beautiful shrines and that would be so much fun to find some of them while you are wondering around. And I'm not sure what time the last train leaves for Ferrara, but I hope it is late enough for you to have a nice dinner there and watch the sunset in Venice. Spectacular! Sorry for my long winded comments, but I just can't help myself. It's Venice.

sandrac:

Ooooh, great tip, Annie, about attending 11 a.m. Mass at San Marco! I would like that anyway, and a good way to beat the lines. I would also love to be there when the lights are on -- the one time when I was able to visit, it was a bit dark inside. That made it feel atmospheric, but it wasn't the best viewing.

I'd really appreciate some of your ideas on lesser-known sites of Venice as well.

Kathy, thank you for these great suggestions and your comments are not too long -- they're just right!

Madonna dell'Orta intrigues, I'm going to research that a bit more. I also like the Campo Santa Margherita very much -- the last time I was in Venice, I stayed in the Dorsoduro but it rained almost every day, so I didn't have gelato once or sit outside very often. I have heard of Causin and now I want to check it out!

Thanks to Girasoli, I'm rethinking whether to visit Venice from Bologna. I think there could be more and better train options, including later departures so at the very least I could perhaps sit at the bar outside my old hotel, La Calcina, and watch the sun set over the Giudecca Canal!

Oh yeah, it's a whole different experience when the lights are on. It's awesome! I really like being in there when they come on (and that 11 AM Mass is short, 30 minutes max).

If it were me with only one day, I'd probably want to spend most of my time outdoors, roaming around, and pop into a few churches. Madonna dell'Orto is a beautiful one, in Northern Cannaregio and off the tourist track for sure.

If you're in the mood for gob-smacking art, go to the Frari and then to the Scuola di San Rocco right behind it (that's where all the Tintorettos are and it's incredible). You will be in art overload after those two places and then could roam around San Polo and/or Santa Croce or walk down to campo Santa Margherita.

Best place for shrines and general neighborhood charm is the far eastern part of Castello. That's where all the big shrines I blogged about are. From the train station, you could get on the vaporetto and ride the whole length of the Grand Canal (love doing that!) and then down the Riva to the Arsenale or Giardini stop and get off. There are some nice shops and trattoria along Via Garibaldi in that neighborhood (and a nice church, San Pietro di Castello).

I'm still thinking and will post more later, but my favorite Annuniciation in Venice is by Titian, in the church of San Salvador which is easy to find (in campo San Bartolemeo at the base of the Rialto Bridge on the San Marco side). Hours are 9-12 and 3-6.

Oooh lots have happened! I sure hope you are happy with the Orologio!

As for the day trip, I am sure it would work from either city. The slowest/cheapest train from Bologna is still only two hours so it is definitely doable. Venice is so great so I can definitely understand that you want to go there!

Sorry for the hit and run posting, I was posting from work and kept getting interrupted!

In order to max your time (and not wear yourself completely out), if you decide to go to the Basilica, after that I'd pick either Castello or Cannaregio or San Polo/Dorsoduro. The advantage of the third one is that it's on the same side of the Grand Canal as the train station. You also might want to think about getting a one-day vaporetto pass, depending on what you decide to see and how far apart they are.

Another one of my favorite art sites is the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, in Castello but not that far from Piazza San Marco. It's a small Renaissance building, costs 3 Euro, and has about nine paintings, all by Carpaccio and all just exquisite. But Carpaccio isn't everyone's cup of tea and you might prefer to see Titian and/or Bellini (in which case, the Frari is perfect since they have two great Titians and one of the very best Bellini altarpieces).

It's really hard to narrow it down!

sandrac:

Hi Chiocciola, thanks -- I'm sure that I will be happy with the Orologio. I'll be interested in hearing your impressions after your stay there (which is coming up fast, I think!)

Annie, thanks so much for all of these suggestions. They are greatly appreciated.

It might be efficient for me to take the vaporetto immediately from the train station to San Marco for 11 a.m. Mass and sightseeing to start. Then, go from there!

I think you're right, that it would be great to spend a good chunk of time outdoors, soaking up Venice and seeing some of your shrines in Castello, an area I don't know at all. The Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni sounds very intriguing and I know little about Carpaccio. I'm going to have to check this out and review many of your shrine posts.

Thanks again Annie for all of your ideas -- I'll definitely be coming back to you with more questions, if you don't mind!

How about adding another week and just spending it in Venice?

You will find that taking the Vaporetto directly to San Marco will be crowded - because hordes of other day trippers are doing exactly the same thing!

Your plan to get out and wander about is a great one. Venice wa sone of my favourite spots to get lost in!

I'd check the cruise ship calendara nd pick a day when there are the LEAST number of cruise ships in the city, too. That will cut down considerably on the crowds in San Marco.

sandrac:

Ah, Jerry, if only I could add another week to my holiday and stay in Venice.....but, Venice is definitely in the plans for next year!

I also like your idea of checking cruise line schedules -- if I could find a day with the least amount of cruise ships stopping in Venice, that would help!

Now that you're in the cruising crowd (something like the jet-setters, I imagine!) do you happen to know where I might find such a calendar?

I’m thrilled to read that you’ll be spending a day in Venice. Lots of excellent ideas on how to spend your day. I think Annie’s recommendations should be an ST travel note on what to do in Venice, if the traveler has only one day in the city.

About the cruise ship itinerary, there’s an online calendar at the website of Venezia Terminal Passeggeri. You can search by date (day/month/year) and it will produce a list of ships docked and the times they’ll be in port.

http://www.vtp.it/pages/calendario/calendarioFiltri.jsp?m=6&r=null

sandrac:

Hi Maria, thanks so much for this link! I agree, Annie could do a wonderful ST note on A Perfect day in Venice. Letizia did something similar for Assisi, which I found very useful (especially spread over about 4 days!!!)

Marcia:

I am hoping for a Bologna trip next year, so look forward to reading more about your trip.

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