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6 nights in Venice and Bologna over Christmas?

6 nights in Venice and Bologna over Christmas?

Old Nov 28th, 2021, 05:29 AM
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6 nights in Venice and Bologna over Christmas?

"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry." That's Steinbeck, but could very well be the new Omicron variant that's playing havoc with our travel plans.

And so it is with our 2.5 week Spain and Morocco itinerary for the last 2 weeks of December. Due to the new Omicron Corona variant, we need to drop Morocco from our itinerary as countries move to restrict travel. The original plan was 7 nights in Andalucia, 6 nights in Morocco and finish with 5 nights in Madrid for New Years and first few days of the new year.

Now we need an alternative for the 6 nights in Morocco and are thinking going from Andalucia to Venice for 2 nights and then 4 nights in Bologna/other town in Emilia Romagna. We'll be in Venice Dec. 23-25 and in Emilia Romagna from 25th-29th. I understand most shops etc. will be closed on Dec. 25 and 26 and perhaps Christmas eve too. But could it actually be nice to see Venice when it's so quiet. Is this a bad idea? Plus, if we stay in a nice hotel (Gritti Palace or St. Regis) I suppose they'll leave the bars and restaurants open despite the holiday?

While we have been to Italy several times we have never been to Emilia Romagna. 4 days isn't doing it justice, but will probably give us a flair for this region to lure us back again. Or would you recommend some other town/s around Veneto and maybe doing 3 nights in Venice and 3 nights somewhere else in that region? We thought about another region within Spain, but prefer to do Venice & Bologna unless the experts here think it's a terrible idea to jaunt through Venice over Christmas. Thank you!
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Old Nov 28th, 2021, 03:18 PM
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I would first consider your flight connections.
Would you depart from Seville or Granada? If from Seville, you best connection would be on the 1:30 pm Iberia flight connecting in Madrid to another Iberia flight arriving Venice Marco Polo at 6:45. This seems to be the best, quickest connection--a trip of 5 hours, 15 minutes, according to matrix.itasoftware.com Other connections are much longer.

I'm not a Venice expert by any stretch, as I've only been 4 times, but my most memorable trip was for New Year's Eve, which I would gladly repeat.

From Bologna back to Madrid, Iberia has a 12:25 pm non-stop.

Had you considered staying on the Iberian peninsula, flying from Seville to Lisbon?
TAP has a (very expensive!) non-stop on Dec. 23 or Iberia has a connection through Madrid that takes 3 hrs. 35 min.
Then fly back on 12/29 to Madrid non-stop on TAP or Iberia from Lisbon, just 1 hour, 15-30 min.
But starting Dec. 1, to fly from Spain into Portugal, passengers need a negative antigen test done no more than 48 hours in advance and must fill out a Portuguese health form.
https://portugalcleanandsafe.pt/en/p...r-locator-card.

In Lisbon you could splurge for the newly reopened Bairro Alto Hotel (a LHW) in Chiado, which would be equivalent in comfort to Seville's Mercer. Their Bahr restaurant & (weather permitting) roof top terrace will be open for Xmas for their guests. So will the Hotel Tivoli (another LHW) on the Avenida da Liberdade. Its roof top SEEN (for Christmas Day dinner) and their casual Cervejaria Liberdade (on the 23rd & 26th) will be open. Bookable on The Fork.

Maybe 3-4 days in Lisbon and perhaps a couple of nights facing the ocean in Cascais at the venerable Hotel Albatroz or facing the sea in Guincho at the equally distinguished Fortaleza do Guincho? Or in Sintra at the Tivoli Palacio de Setais?
Or perhaps you've already visited both and don't want to repeat.
Just an idea...

Or another idea...fly from SVQ non-stop to Palma de Mallorca on Iberia and explore the island.

Now, I'll leave it to the Venice-Bologna experts to tell you about the pros and cons of Christmas holidays there.

Last edited by Maribel; Nov 28th, 2021 at 03:43 PM.
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Old Nov 28th, 2021, 07:41 PM
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In your shoes - and assuming you still go - I'd spend the extra time in Spain. There is much more to see than you have time for. 7 nights in Andalusia is nothing and that's only one region of Spain. Why rush off to another country and short change both? You risk stretching yourselves too thin by going to another country. Plus you only have to deal with the covid logistics on one country then.
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Old Nov 28th, 2021, 08:12 PM
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mdn,
I just re read your original itinerary and remember you had planned to be 5 nights in Sevilla and 2 in Granada (and I know you've already been to Barcelona, Rioja, San Sebastián and Asturias).

To make covid logistics less complicated, simply staying in Andalucía.... from Sevilla and before Granada, you could add a couple of nights in the sherry triangle--Jerez de la Frontera/El Puerto de Santa María/Sanlúcar de Barrameda with lodging at the Casa Palacio María Luisa in Jerez or at the Parador in the city of Cádiz, then move on to museum-rich Málaga (perhaps at the deluxe Hotel Gran Miramar facing the beach). The Málaga Christmas lights there are spectacular and weather will be mild. Málaga is famous for its "320 days per year of sunshine".

Just another thought.
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Old Nov 28th, 2021, 09:04 PM
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Jerez, Cadiz (and surrounds) and Malaga in addition to Seville and Granada sounds wonderful. Or maybe Ronda and Arcos de la Frontera? We visited in December 2019 (my third visit to Andalusia and my daugther's first) and had a wonderful time. The weather was really mild and we even wore just t-shirts and jeans when in Malaga. We also loved Cordoba and would love to return. I wish I were able to go again!
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Old Nov 29th, 2021, 01:37 AM
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i'd limit travel to one region or state
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Old Nov 29th, 2021, 03:04 AM
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I do LOVE Venice but have only been there in the summer and September. I had never considered going in the winter. But, I recently met an Italian artist and gallery owner now living in the US. As we talked about the places I've visited, she said I should visit Venice in the winter. She said the city is so atmospheric, beautiful and uncrowded it's worth a visit despite the possibility of Acqua Alta.

I spent 7 nights in Bologna and used it as a base to travel the region. IMO, it would be a great place to spend a few days. Plus, the food is wonderful!
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Old Nov 29th, 2021, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Dee_Dee View Post
I do LOVE Venice but have only been there in the summer and September. I had never considered going in the winter. But, I recently met an Italian artist and gallery owner now living in the US. As we talked about the places I've visited, she said I should visit Venice in the winter. She said the city is so atmospheric, beautiful and uncrowded it's worth a visit despite the possibility of Acqua Alta.

I spent 7 nights in Bologna and used it as a base to travel the region. IMO, it would be a great place to spend a few days. Plus, the food is wonderful!
I've not been to either Venice or Bologna at Christmas or New Year but I have been to both in November and January and they can both be COLD I can tell you. Plus I have no idea what entertainments or public buildings will be open this year. Bologna has the advantage of over 100 museums to visit and the lovely porticos to walk beneath whereas the Venetian lagoon can accentuate the winter cold and there are relatively few places to visit to escape it so that's where people will go if the weather is bad. However the good news is that the awful acqua alta of earlier years is more or less a thing of the past as so far the MOSE flood defences which they activated just after the terrible storms and high water of November 2019 are working well.

However, despite my love of both these places, rather than subject myself to further plane journeys to different countries with all the uncertainties that brings I would stick to Spain and some of the excellent suggestions you've already had for extending your stay there.
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Old Nov 29th, 2021, 01:38 PM
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A little bit more about Jerez de la Frontera at Christmas--
Around now and up until Christmas Eve, the zambombas (outdoor flamenco parties in city squares, open to everyone) will be going on, making Jerez a very lively city, and it's fun to watch or even (try to) participate.

https://genuineandalusia.com/flamenc...rez-zambombas/
https://english.elpais.com/elpais/20...53_271989.html

And it's always fun to do some sherry sampling in the city's traditional sherry taverns, its tabancos.

https://www.decanter.com/wine-travel...-visit-452957/
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Old Nov 29th, 2021, 10:31 PM
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Venice is glorious at Christmas. You’ll miss the main crowds, which I think start around the 27th? One of my favorite Christmas destinations ever.

i will say I was sick in Venice, and it is a damp place at Christmas. I would probably not return during Covid simply because of that. The ferries were not much fun in the damp cold. But it helped that I stayed in a central location; I would definitely recommend doing that if you go. The best part of Venice at that time of year is to be able to explore all the nooks and crannies on foot, and then return to your comfortable hotel.
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Old Nov 30th, 2021, 07:04 AM
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Oh wow! THANK YOU for such helpful insights and suggestions. As much as we'd love to visit Venice and Emilia Romagna, it seems as though that should be a dedicated 8-10 day trip during November or December maybe next year.

So at the moment, Amontillado is winning over Aperol; i.e. we're leaning towards visiting Malaga (visit some museums on 23rd & 24th) and then planning on flying to Palma de Mallorca on 25th for 4 nights before flying to Madrid on Dec. 29. We've been to Jerez and Cordoba years ago, but leaning towards Malaga this time as we figured it'll have a bit more going on on Dec. 24 & 25, when smaller towns may be quiet/closed.
- Sevilla 5 nights with a day trip to Cadiz (lunch at El Faro). Any chance of catching the zambombas in Cadiz?
- Granada 2 nights with Maribel's recommended guide for Alhambra
- Malaga 2 nights or 3 if you all advise to. Hotel Miramar Dec. 23 - 25/26
- Palma de Mallorca 3/4 nights. Is there enough to see/do for 3-4 nights in Mallorca? Alternative is 3-4 days in Malaga and 2 in Mallorca. We're not beach people and it isn't beach season.
- Madrid 6 nights. NYE dinner at Lua and NYD lunch at Cadaques.
Cheers!
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Old Nov 30th, 2021, 12:15 PM
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Hi mdn,
Yeah, for the amontillado!
And you'll have much warmer weather in Cádiz and Málaga.
Málaga, the 2nd largest Andalusian city, is a better choice for Christmas as there will be more activity, and the lights on Calle Larios are truly awesome. I think you'll love the Gran Miramar.
As to more nights in Málaga or in Palma, I can't say. Palma is a lovely, atmospheric city that can be enjoyed without stepping foot on a beach. It just has a very different flavor (catalán) than the Andalusian cities. I've read great reviews of the new Can Bordoy Hotel in Palma.
But it will be warmer in Málaga.
https://www.abc-mallorca.com/the-christmas-guide/

As for the zambombas, In the city of Cádiz, according to the calendar, these are scheduled: only at the Plaza de la Candelaria on Dec. 21, at the Plaza Manolo Santander on the 22nd, and at Plaza de Jerez on Dec. 23. (some can last until the wee morning hours). But one has already been suspended in the city of Jerez due to worries about covid.

In Málaga on Dec. 23, when you'll be there, there is a zambomba theatre performance in the Teatro Cervantes, but it will be more of a "flamenco Christmas" show rather than a spontaneous zambomba.

https://www.guiaflama.com/festivales...idad-flamenca/

Last edited by Maribel; Nov 30th, 2021 at 12:56 PM.
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Old Nov 30th, 2021, 01:21 PM
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mdn, your plans sound good. My hesitation would be that I personally would prefer to not take two flights within a few days of each other. Have you considered Valencia or Salamanca?

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Old Nov 30th, 2021, 02:46 PM
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Just so you'll know the logistics--
Salamanca, as is true of most Castilla-León cities, can be very cold during the winter (I studied there) and isn't practical from Málaga, since it requires a train change at Atocha and would be a very long ride. There are also no flights from Málaga to Salamanca.

I've been to Valencia at Christmas time, and it's festive, with beautiful Christmas lights, but it can be more chilly, ime, not as warm as Málaga, (but one never knows these days).

To Valencia from Málaga by train:
By train from Málaga's María Zambrano station to Valencia's Joaquín Sorolla, although both are AVE stations, there isn't a daily, direct high-speed train. On the 25th or 26th you'd need to change trains at Atocha, requiring a 5 hr. 30 min. plus ride.

By air on Dec. 25 the only flight operating Málaga-Valencia requires a change in Madrid and takes 7 hr. 45 min. On the 26th, there is a direct flight, but leaving at 7:40 pm. But you would still have those 2 flights.
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Old Nov 30th, 2021, 02:58 PM
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Dreamon,
Would love to visit Valencia or Salamanca, but travel time from Malaga seems long. The other option I'm considering was what Maribel suggested: Seville then sherry triangle for two nights (21st-23rd), then Granada for 2 nights (23rd-25th) and finally 4 nights in Malaga when museums etc. will be open (25th - 29th, with some day trips to nearby towns). This would be optimal, but getting to Granada from the sherry triangle is complicated, isn't it? The train from Seville to Granada is 3 hours, but from the sherry triangle it would take a lot longer. Is there a good private car transfer option as that would likely be a 3 or 3:30 minute journey? Getting to Madrid from Malaga is easy.
Thanks.
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Old Nov 30th, 2021, 03:01 PM
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Maribel,
You read my mind! Our replies crossed paths.... but yes, Salamanca and Valencia will be saved for another day.
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Old Nov 30th, 2021, 03:10 PM
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mdn,
My Málaga dining favorites:

La Cosmopolita
The original restaurant by Dani Carnero in the center of Malaga at José Denís Belgrano 3, just a short walk from the Picasso Museum is our favorite place for sit down, non-tapas, dining in the city. Carnero, considered the city’s best chef, has trained with some of the country’s finest, including Adriá.
Signature dishes: shrimp tartare with roasted bone marrow (everyone’s favorite), tataki of red mullet, Iberian pork loin with mushrooms, truffle omelet. oxtail meatballs and for dessert, the wonderful Payoyo cheesecake or the panacotta. We haven't been to his new tasting menus only Restaurante Kaleja, but it won the "best creative dining" prize this year from Gurmé Málaga. Michelin recommended, with 1 Repsol sun.
https://lacosmopolita.es

Refectorium Catedral
At Calle Postigo de los Abades, 4, locals voted it the best seafood tapas in town (better, even, in our opinion that Los Mellizos). For dinner one can reserve one of the tables in the large, minimalist open space surrounding the bar or just stand with the locals outside right before 8:30 pm and rush to grab a seat at the bar. All of their fin fish and shellfish dishes are great and their ensaladilla rusa (Russian salad) topped with ali oli and tuna belly is considered one of the best in the entire south. Another excellent dish: the Tudela lettuce hearts with anchovies and tuna belly. Refectorium serves Joselito, Spain’s prestigious label of Iberian ham.
The Refectorium Malagueta is equally popular and is the one closest to the Gran Miramar.
https://elrefectorium.es/restaurante...rium-catedral/
https://elrefectorium.es/restaurante...ium-malagueta/

Taberna Uvedoble
This hugely popular-with-locals tapas bar has recently moved from Calle Císter to a larger space at Alcazabilla 1. Here chef Willy Orellana serves up traditional tapas but with a twist, available in tapas or larger portions, at exceptional prices (with really good value wine prices as well). Two of their stand out dishes are the prawn and scallop salad and the blue fin tuna tataki in a cauliflower sauce. Stand out dessert: the chocolate in 4 textures.
https://www.uvedobletaberna.com/en
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Old Nov 30th, 2021, 03:22 PM
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mdn,
For simplicity's sake, I would probably just concentrate on Andalucía, to keep nice and warm, to have more chance of sun and to keep to one (southern) theme and to avoid complicated flights or trains.

Yes, getting to Granada from the sherry triangle (Jerez) is complicated. That's why we go down there by train from Sevilla then pick up a rental car to move east. In Granada we dump our car upon arrival. A rental car in Granada is an albatross unless one stays up on the Alhambra hill, which I wouldn't do in winter. I remember that you had decided on the Palacio de Santa Paula Autograph downtown. The 5-star Casa Palacio María Luisa in Jerez could probably arrange a transfer service. I've arranged them from Granada to Sevilla but not from Jerez to Granada.

We've used Transfers Generalife, based in Granada.
https://transfergeneralife.com/en/services/

Last edited by Maribel; Nov 30th, 2021 at 03:26 PM.
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Old Nov 30th, 2021, 10:36 PM
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Could you go to Jerez/Cadiz first then back to Seville, then Granada then Malaga? When we visited we took the bus from Jerez to Ronda, stayed overnight (because we wanted to see the town) then caught the train to Granada. Where do you actually arrive in Spain? Is that Seville?
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Old Dec 1st, 2021, 06:51 AM
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<<Venice and Bologna is a city making world-famous food, wine, and art out of the opposite ends of the Mediterranean Sea, but how many people know what these incredible cities have in common? Bologna is famous for its Emilian cuisine. Venetians are best known for their simplicity and innovative lifestyle. They love to do business with the rest of Europe, but they also enjoy their leisurely pace in life.>>

I appreciate that
english may not be your first language but I think that our geography is the same and last time I looked, Venice and Bologna far from being at opposite ends of the Med, Venice is at the northern end of the Adriatic and Bologna is 150 kms south inland and a mere 80 kms from that same Adriatic Sea. And I really don't think that anyone would ever describe Venice or its inhabitants as being best known for their simplicity.
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