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Help me bookend our Bologna stay in December

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Apr 20th, 2017, 08:24 AM
  #1
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Help me bookend our Bologna stay in December

We have just booked Casa Letizia in Bologna for Dec. 21-29. We plan to enjoy Christmas there (we get our kids and grandkids on alternate years, so this is our Thanksgiving year), take a few of the obvious day trips, etc. I am pretty sure I will be able to add on another day or two if we decide to do that, but for now that seems like a good amount of time.

We are aiming for a total of about 18 nights, can go higher if necessary. One option we are toying with is flying into Milan and out of Venice (or vice versa) with 3-5 nights in each place. Then train for travel into and out of Bologna.

I am a bit overwhelmed by all the advice and options on lodging in Venice. I have taken many notes from the forum but would appreciate any advice on place to stay for us. I am leaning towards a B&B/hotel rather than an apt., but am open. I am also finding that some of the places that have been recommended here may be closed. Like Al Ponte Mocenigo, and some hotel whose name escapes me but that begins with a W and was recommended on a thread.

We are in our mid-late 60s, walk a LOT, travel with just carry-ons and like to use public transportation. Ease of arrival and departure is as important for us as proximity to the sites, because we walk so much that it doesn't matter to add on a few more minutes for our touring days. But avoiding the hassle of long trips from and to the train staion and/or airport is a benefit.

Are there other cities you would recommend for our two "stay put" segments?
Any good lodging recs for the places I'm toying with?

I got so much good help here with the Sicily trip we took last fall, and it did make us realize that our whirlwind travel of Italy from our youths needed to be replaced with a slower, more detailed enjoyment of some of these amazing places. Many thanks!
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Apr 20th, 2017, 01:06 PM
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I would highly recommend Torino as a place to enjoy before heading to Bologna. It's got oodles to enjoy indoors & will be at its sparkling best in the days before Xmas. It's very easy to get there from Milan with a fast train, and then it's very easy to get a fast train to take you to Bologna after that. The alternative suggestion would be Verona, but I think Torino is better in winter, with great hot chocolate, loads of warming cafes, and a vareity of museums. On clear days you will have spectacular views of the snow-capped Alps from the top of the Mole Antonella.

If you end in Venice, be sure to book a place outside of the areas of the city most liable to flood if there's a storm. Generally speaking, that would be the area between the Rialto Bridge & the train station -- which will also help if you want to take day trips by train. Apart from the risk of tidal flooding, which you can work around in terms of sightseeing, the post-Xmas days are a great time to be in Venice because crowds are so minimal.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 01:12 PM
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If you enjoy Xmas lights, Turin does one of the most amazing light spectacles around for the entire Xmas season, and it does it every year

http://www.turinitalyguide.com/christmas-in-turin/
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Apr 21st, 2017, 08:23 AM
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Thanks frencharmoire, can you recommend some places to stay in the area of Venice that you recommend?

Maybe Torino would be a better first stop than Milan, I will look into it! We are leaning towards going to Venice for the last four or five nights, so landing in Milan, taking a train to Torino and then on to Bologna would work well. Many thanks.
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Apr 21st, 2017, 08:25 AM
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p.s. those pictures remind me a LOT of Christmas decorations in Madrid. They must have the same supplier.
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Apr 23rd, 2017, 03:57 PM
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You should look on booking.com to see what's available in Venice for your dates in your budget and read user reviews for places that appeal to you. Two things I would look for reading reviews for Venice lodgings at that time of year: Rooms that are reported to be comfortably heated, plus a cheerful, helpful staff.

Booking.com allows you to look at a map to see exactly where a hotel is located, so if you stick to studying places in the "upper half" of Venice, on either side of the river, you should be fine when it comes to avoid high-water problems going to and from your hotel.

I've never seen the Christmas lights in Madrid or Torino, but the displays in Torino are overseen by a local arts organization.
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Apr 24th, 2017, 12:41 PM
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Incredibly jealous you will be in Bologna at Christmas...I was there end of November last year, and it was already gearing up wonderfully for the holiday. Enjoy!

I stayed at Hotel San Cassiano Ca Favretto in Venice near San Stae, and it was a nice little place with good breakfast offered. A few minute walk from the San Stae vaporetto stop, and the breakfast room and bar both look over the Grand Canal. It was a nice, quiet place to stay with the nicest bathrooms I encountered in Italy (big shower/tubs!).

Venice was also very lovely approaching the holidays. I hope you have a wonderful trip!
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Apr 24th, 2017, 02:03 PM
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sounds like a great trip, lreynolds, I'm jealous already. I almost got to Bologna this year but sadly life has intervened so i'll have to wait for your TR! As for Venice the area round san Stae would be a good base I think - close enough to the centre to be convenient, far enough away from the madness that can be San Marco to be civilised.
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Apr 24th, 2017, 02:36 PM
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Thanks for the help. Funny you should both mention San Stae, because I have just been in conversation with Al Ponte Mocenigo and am about to book them for 5 nights. Looks like we can just take a vaporetto for a few stops when we arrive at the train station. Getting to the airport for a 6:20 am flight home is another matter altogether, but I'll figure that out later.

We decided to spend three nights in Milan on our way in. This will give us a chance to see the cathedral, the city in its holiday glory, the Basilica San Ambroggio (I have a weak spot for Romanesque) and maybe Sforza. I am on the fence for the Last Supper. Seems like a good way to get over jet lag. I am thinking of the Hotel Berna, mainly because it is a stone's throw from both the train station (where we will leave from) and the airport bus stop (where we will arrive). It also seems to be in a good neighborhood. I don't mind having a mile or so to walk to the main historic core because I love walking, just not with suitcases when I arrive or leave!

I will soon start pouring through restaurant recommendations, but if anyone has a special recommendation, happy to get it. We will have Christmas dinner in Bologna and New Years in Venice.

And I'm still sorting out the day trips we want to take from Bologna. So far, Ravenna is top on the list and I'm just having a hard time finding others that jump out. Lots of really nice places to go in an hour on the train, so hard to decide!
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