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And the winner is ...India? Egypt? no, Italy!


Nov 21st, 2017, 08:25 AM
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And the winner is ...India? Egypt? no, Italy!

Over the last few weeks some very patient people here bore with me while I tried to plan a trip to look forward to in February.

My initial thought was India, a place that I had always wanted to visit but in which DH had no interest, but I gradually came to the conclusion that for various reasons I was biting off rather more than I could chew at this stage, and after toying briefly with Egypt, seeing some cheap flights to Venice decided me that a return trip to an Italian language school was just what I needed. I have always enjoyed the schools I've attended in various parts of Italy, and it's a great way to make friends and as well as to learn a language, and to find out about a city and/or area; language schools generally organise tours of their town and surrounding places often for free or at very little extra cost.

Along with a couple of friends last year I did some research about schools in Bologna, and when I was unable to go earlier in the year, they went anyway, as "guinea pigs" :


They liked it a lot so it seemed to be the obvious choice for my trip. The best flights would give me a few nights in Venice before the course started [or Venice and ?] and Bologna is an easy train ride away from Venice which would make getting there and back very easy. It's also a terrific base for exploring Parma, Ferrara, Modena and Imola on ½ day trips, as well as for longer trips to Ravenna.

So why am I coming here for help when I've got it all sewn up?

The hotel I have found in Venice [a bit of a splurge but it's only for 4 nights and the accommodation found for me by the school is very cheap] is in Canareggio, an area I've never stayed in before, though I've been to Venice several times, including a week at a language school there. I have found that although Venice isn't very big, it is so "dense" that staying in a different area each time brings big dividends. Plus it's a short walk from the Alilaguna orange line stop and an easy walk to the station.

So firstly, does anyone know of a good tour of the Ghetto? I found a link to the jewish museum which does tours of the main synagogue but the fodors' guidebook of 2010 suggests that also includes tours of the rest of the ghetto and other synagogues - has anyone here done the tour?


[reading it again it does say "synagogues" so it may be what I'm looking for]

Secondly, I'm intending to spend a day on a trip to Padua to see the Scrovegni chapel and other sights. What I can't decide is whether to do this as a day trip and return to Venice in the evening, or to split my 4 days into 2, and spend 2 nights in Venice, then move to Padua, and spend one day there, and another possibly in Vicenza.

Finally, on the way back I have a flight out of Venice at 13.30, so I want to be there by 11.30. There are plenty of trains from Bologna to Venice Santa Lucia, but what is the easiest way to get to the airport from there? I could catch an early train to Venice and catch the alilaguna again, but has anyone ever caught a bus from the station at Mestre to the airport? it strikes me as being a lot easier, and might give me an extra hour in bed! Alternatively I could book a last night in Venice - my hotel has a single for one night for about €60. That would make getting back to the airport a doddle!

Of course anyone who has any tips for places see and where to eat in Canareggio, Bologna, Padua and other cities in the area please jump in. I have read a load of TRs [thanks to all who take the trouble to write them] and have printed off quite a lot of info to refer to later.

And thanks to all in advance for all and any help you can give me.
annhig is online now  
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Nov 21st, 2017, 08:51 AM
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Yep I've caught a bus from Mestre to the airport, it is dead easy and while I cannot remember exactly where from, the zone outside the station comes to mind. You can also catch a bus from the bus station from Venice proper.

Venzia bus map is pretty good. I know mr google would give me the right answer if i ask the right question,,,, but maybe this gives you an easy start https://quickvenice.com/transportation/buses.htm

Now I know I'll be told off for this, but a bit of Mestre is actually pretty nice if you get away from the train station.. there is an old section with Victorian shopping mall and old church towers etc and the bus goes right past it.
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Nov 21st, 2017, 09:05 AM
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I would do a day trip from Venice to Padua. The Chapel is walking distance from the train, which for us was around 5€ from Venice station.

I would get tickets on-line as you can pick your date and time rather than seeing what is available by just showing up. The entire visit is about 1 hour - 20minutes for the pre-movie and 20 minutes in the chapel. There is also a video downstairs past the bookshop. Another hour could be spent in the museum.

I would also highly recommend the BO tour at the university of Padua. It is 45 minutes and you can only purchase tickets on-site 15 minutes before or for a later tour either that morning or afternoon, depending on the day. Fascinating!
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Nov 21st, 2017, 09:10 AM
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I ate at 'Marco Polo' several times in Mestre - so if you are there early it is great. I ate each time fish (Seppia ?) and their white wine was very good.

Been 2 times to le bistrot de Venise .. in Venice. Very good, old recipies, slightly upscale.

Have fun !
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Nov 21st, 2017, 09:18 AM
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Ravenna. I wrote a trip report long ago and under a different screen name. Here's a relevant part:

"I am not going to describe the famous mosaics, other than to note that all are rewarding, and that the vivid greens and golds will astonish you. Pay separate admission at St. Appollinare in Classe, then buy a pass (7.50 €) at the first site you visit which will admit you to the other four. No ticket is required for the Arian Baptistry. San Vitale houses the grandest examples, the Mausoleum of Galla Placida the most intimate. One other piece of advice -- bring a small pair of binoculars. The detail is astounding, but will be largely lost to you without them. Mine were appropriated by a group of school children in St Appollinare Nuovo (“Nuovo” here refers to the 6th Century. Don’t confuse this with St Appollinare in Classe) and passed hand to hand until the alpha schoolgirl decided they had seen enough, and returned them to the poor foreigner standing bemusedly nearby."
Fra_Diavolo is online now  
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Nov 21st, 2017, 09:27 AM
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Can't you fly home from Bologna?
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Nov 21st, 2017, 09:41 AM
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Just what I needed, thanks, Bilbo. I was sure that there were buses from Mestre to the airport but when I did a google map "directions" it took me into Venice and then out again, which made no sense at all. That's a useful website too, so thanks for the link.

Thanks also for the ideas for Padua, gailscout. I wasn't sure what you meant by the BO tour but when I googled I discovered that it's the name of the Palazzo around which the University is based:


It is open on Friday afternoons which would fit in perfectly with seeing the Schrovegni chapel in the morning. Unfortunately by the time I get there in February, the evening visits to the chapel will have finished; I think that had they still be running, I would definitely have decided to stay in Padua:


Great tips, keep them coming!
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Nov 21st, 2017, 10:35 AM
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Can't you fly home from Bologna?>>

Not into Bristol in February, Nick, as they don't do that route then; anyway I prefer to avoid Ryanair if at all possible. Also it's easier for me to get the train to Venice and fly to Bristol than to fly from Bologna and land at ? Bristol is just under 3 hours' drive from us so reasonably easy for me, even when doing the trip solo.

thank you Fra for the description of the mosaics and the best way of getting tickets. I will put binoculars on my packing list.
annhig is online now  
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Nov 21st, 2017, 10:40 AM
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I've also done the reverse of your suggested itinerary: arrived at Marco Polo; took the local bus to Mestre station; took a train from Mestre to my first location; visited Venice at the end of the trip.

You could easily head directly to Bologna and put all your time in Venice together at the end.

You might even stop off in Padova on the way between Bologna and Venice.

The binoculars are key for Ravenna and other sites with detailed art on the ceilings. Whenever I use my very compact binoculars, stangers approach me and ask about them. I even had the man in the concession stand in Santa Prasedde in Roma come running from behind his counter to ask me about them. (Unfortunately they are no longer available.)
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Nov 21st, 2017, 10:56 AM
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ann, we stayed here last Christmas - loved it, and we thought it was really affordable at least at that time of year:

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Nov 21st, 2017, 12:58 PM
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Nice idea, ellenem, but the course runs from Monday to Friday, [i'm doing 2 weeks] and I arrive on a Wednesday and leave on a Friday, [to take advantage of the best flight times and prices] so much though I would have liked to put my holiday and Italian practising time at the end of the trip, it just doesn't work.

But I do have a nice pair of very small binoculars.

I also prefer the idea of doing a day trip to Padua; it's only 30 mins on the train from Venice, and I really like the idea of seeing Palazzo Bo, which has weird opening times and probably wouldn't work with getting to Bologna in day light, which would be nice.

Lovely looking place, St C, and very similar in price to the one I've found:


I know that San Marco will probably not be very busy in February before Carnvale starts but as I know I'm going to be using the train quite a lot, I prefer to be near enough to the station to be able to walk easily at the end of a day's sight-seeing.
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Nov 21st, 2017, 01:26 PM
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I did the synagogue tour the last time I was in Venice, but I don't remember whether there was a ghetto option.
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Nov 21st, 2017, 02:30 PM
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I'm a bit jealous just thinking about two weeks in Bologna and how close you will be to so many interesting places.

In any case, the bus to the airport stops just outside the Mestre station.

I always fall back on Hotel al Ponte Mocenigo as a favorite htoel, though not sure how it fits your budget. To me it is walkable from the train station, but also extremely close to a vaporetto/Alilaguna stop. I love that the Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio becomes my "neighborhood."
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Nov 21st, 2017, 03:29 PM
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I think you made a wise decision. We are huge India fans, but I think it would have been a bit much in your current situation.

You will be just fine in a lesser known part of Venice. I loved this book which offers many tips and walking tour of the lesser known parts of Venice.

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Nov 21st, 2017, 04:05 PM
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I find looking at the airport websites you find good transport info with links.


>>>Of course anyone who has any tips for places see and where to eat in Canareggio, Bologna, Padua and other cities in the area please jump in<<<

Have you been to Bologna before? Will your hotel be near the school?

>>>Bologna is an easy train ride away from Venice which would make getting there and back very easy. It's also a terrific base for exploring Parma, Ferrara, Modena and Imola on ½ day trips, as well as for longer trips to Ravenna. <<<

I wouldn't consider Ravenna as being much longer. You can find a regional train with no changes with about an hour travel time. Most of the historic area with mosaics is only a couple of blocks from the station.
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Nov 21st, 2017, 04:38 PM
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Ann, it sounds like you have homed in on the just-right trip. I was in Venice at the end of August and took the tour from the Jewish Museum. Our guide (who mentioned that he had previously toured Henry Kissinger and Ruth Bader Ginsberg) spoke about the history of the Ghetto as we visited three of the five synagogues. There was a short walk to the third synagogue but no tour of the ghetto as a whole. Well worthwhile. I went on to Bologna—loved the buzzy energy that all those students generated—with a day trip to Ravenna and those spectacular mosaics.
My best meal in Bologna was at Da Nella, veal scallopine with porcini mushrooms, and the best gelato of the trip was the amarena from the Cremeria Sette Chiese in the Piazza Santo Stefano.
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Nov 21st, 2017, 09:05 PM
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bon_voyage, you've been following in my footsteps--quite the role reversal, as I usually seem to follow in yours. I was in Venice in July.

annhig, the best meal I had in Venice this summer was in Cannaregio at Anice Stellato. I wandered in for lunch and there were just a few tables occupied. Wonderful, creative food, unhurried atmosphere, relaxed but refined service. I am a bit of a splurger when it comes to dining out, but this wasn't outrageously expensive.


It's been a few years since I was in Bologna, but I certainly ate well there too. Spero che ti diverta. Buon viaggio!
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Nov 22nd, 2017, 01:15 AM
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kyb - that's excellent, thanks. Loads of ATVO buses running between Mestre and the airport, just as I had thought. After all, if you are going straight from Venice airport to somewhere else in Italy by train, it's the obvious station to go to.


But it's far enough away to make an afternoon trip after school finishes [at 1pm] a bit of a stretch; by the time I've got to the station [a 30 minute walk] and got a train, I'd be lucky to be there by 3pm at the earliest. I think it's definitely a place to save for the weekend when i will have more time.


Never been to Bologna before, and my "hotel" is a room in an apartment found for me by the school. It probably won't be very luxurious, but I will have use of the kitchen and my hostess is said to be a very keen cook and "molto simpatica". One plus is its position half way between the school and the station which should be pretty convenient.

Very nice looking hotel, ellenem, but not so convenient for walking to and from the station I think, and my hotel is on the same alilaguna line - just the stop before. But I'll certainly consider it for my next stay! I agree that having your own small neighbourhood can make a trip very special.

julies - thanks for the support and the ref to the guidebook. I'll certainly give it a go - anything to cut down the weight of what I have to carry.

bon voyage - I found "your" restaurant - not that far away from where I'll be staying:


duly noted, thanks.

Ditto Anice Stellato, Leely. I like these out of the way places - in somewhere like Venice they are definitely worth seeing out. And thank you, and everyone else, for the encouragement.
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Nov 22nd, 2017, 01:29 AM
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Not by your hotel Annhig, but this was one of our favourite restaurants in Venice last Christmas:


I envy your time in Bologna, one of our favourite cities!
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Nov 22nd, 2017, 04:51 AM
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If you get tired of seafood I like this place:


Reservation recommended.
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