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Which to Cut Islands in Venice Lagoon or day in Lake Garda or Mantova?

Which to Cut Islands in Venice Lagoon or day in Lake Garda or Mantova?

Old Apr 28th, 2021, 09:33 AM
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Which to Cut Islands in Venice Lagoon or day in Lake Garda or Mantova?

Hello again,

Trying to form an itinerary for next year to Northern Italy and with limited time of only two weeks total won't have time to do everything on my very long list. So if it were you and you had to cut something out of the itinerary would it be:

1. Spending a daytrip from Venice to Murano, Burano and Torcello?
2. A daytrip from Verona to Lake Garda?
3. A daytrip from Verona to Mantova? or
4. A daytrip or overnight to Padua?

Thanks in advance.

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Old Apr 28th, 2021, 04:26 PM
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What time of year?

I don't know that I'd attempt to visit Murano, Burano and Torcello in one day. Probably two out of three. If you're not particularly interested in glass and watching a glass-blowing demonstration, you could skip Murano. Depending on when you're going, Murano could be very crowded compared to the other two islands. For me, part of the allure of visiting the islands is the chance to get away from the Venice crowds, and I would start the day as early as possible.

What would you do on Lake Garda? Assuming you'd be using public transportation, a daytrip (even from nearby Verona) doesn't give much time for exploring, esp. if your sightseeing would include the northern end of the lake, Riva, Malcesine, Limone, etc. You'll need to study the ferry timetables for the time of your visit to see what you could accomplish. The website is currently only showing schedules through May 7, 2021. If you'll have a car, it takes several hours to drive the lakeshore road completely around the lake. In high season summer, it could take half a day. There is also bus service.

https://www.navigazionelaghi.it/risultati?lake=Garda

I like both Mantova and Padova, but I'd probably pick Padova.
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Old Apr 28th, 2021, 04:46 PM
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We are aiming for Spring of next year. For Lake Garda we would limit the day to the southern end and probably explore Sirmione. We probably won't have a car so that limits our travel around the lake unless we rent a car.

From reading the guidebooks it looks like a full day is required for Padova. Is the same true for Mantova if we visited both palaces--Ducale and Te? The town itself seems lovely to explore as well.

But we will also need time to explore Verona proper--some people see it in a few hours and leave but from what I am reading you can spend a couple of days just in Verona alone.

We would like to cover a lot of territory but with only two weeks time something has to give and I am not sure what at this point because the more I read about places the more I want to add and not subtract.

Currently we want to visit Venice, Verona, Bologna, and Milan and I am having a hard time deciding how many nights in each. We do want to visit Vicenza and Padua as daytrips and possibly Mantova too but there are only so many days.... Plus from Bologna we want to use that as a base for a daytrip to Ravenna. Ideally we would like to also see Ferrara but I am afraid that will have to wait for another time again for lack of days to explore it all. How many nights are needed for Bologna itself?

To see the major sites in Venice plus two of the islands do you need 3 nights or 4?

Thanks again in advance.
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Old Apr 28th, 2021, 06:01 PM
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I'm the wrong person to ask "how long does it take to see xyz." I ALWAYS wish I had more time... everywhere.

You may explore at a much faster pace than I do, but you have 14 days and list a total of 10 places (6 of which are day trips). I realize some are more wishful than determined, but it almost sounds like a guided tour itinerary. That may work for you, but it wouldn't for me. Especially if it's raining.

I suggest you plot out every day of your two weeks with all of your sightseeing plans. Include the travel times so that you have a true picture of how much time you have everywhere. For example, three nights only gives you two full days not impacted by travel.
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Old Apr 29th, 2021, 02:20 AM
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If you want to spend a day at Lake Garda, a car would be very helpful. Using the ferries takes too much time out of your short day. Take the train from Verona to Desenzano, as I don't think that there are car hire outlets in Peschiera del Garda and drive anti clockwise. Sirmione is the next place you'll come to from Desenzano and it's a small place. Even if you have lunch there, two or three hours is probably enough to walk round and go up to the Roman ruins.

Drive up to Bardolino which is a picturesque little place and maybe up to Garda. If you get into Desenzano by 10am, it should now be mid afternoon and if you want to get back to Verona for dinner it might be time to wander back. Once you've returned the car, Desenzano itself is worth a walk around. If you visit on a Tuesday, the large weekly market will be on and well worth a visit, but you'll need to visit it on the way out as it closes in the afternoon.
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Old Apr 29th, 2021, 07:02 AM
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In your shoes I'd do Burano/Torcello and skip Murano for the Venice segment.

For Padova will you get tickets to see the Scrovegni Chapel? I would save Ferrara for another tip; can't speak as to Mantova but personally loved seeing the architecture in Vicenza.

I've gone to Sirmione as an afternoon trip from a week in Verona; I was on my own that trip and took a taxi.

Definitely Ravenna, as you plan to do. It's not a bad place to overnight if you stay in the ancient center. Easy regional train ride from Bologna. In Bologna we liked Capello Rosso for a centrally located hotel.

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Old Apr 29th, 2021, 09:03 AM
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Another vote for Capello Rosso in Bologna. I thought the location was perfect, and the hotel is very comfortable. Our room was big by Italian standards, and the attached cafe/restaurant they utilized at that time for their breakfast service was so nice we had dinner there one rainy night.
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Old Apr 29th, 2021, 10:01 AM
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Thanks for the recommendations so far--keep them coming!

So given our preferences does it make sense to do 4 nights Venice, 5 nights Verona and 3 nights Bologna or split them evenly 4 nights each? How much time does it take to see Verona proper--not counting daytrips from there? Same with Bologna--how many nights to see Bologna proper not counting day trips?

Yes we will plan on getting tickets for the Scrovegni Chapel. I too am thinking we need to save Ferrara for another trip. Too many great places to see and not enough time. Also I keep reading the Venice is compact and very crowded most of the time so for a first time visitor do you recommend 3 nights or 4?
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Old Apr 29th, 2021, 12:45 PM
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No one can honestly tell you "how much time it takes to see xyz proper." You can run around any city in a few hours and see the piazze and the exteriors of buildings, take some pics, etc. It's going inside the buildings and museums, admiring church architecture/windows/art, exploring markets, etc., that takes time, and only you know what you want to see and what you're willing to skip.

On a rainy day, your sightseeing will likely slow down or change (stay inside buildings more than walk around outside). If it's raining on a travel day, the overall transit time might be longer than you anticipated.

If it sounds like I'm being snarky about this, it's not intended. You really do have to figure out for yourself how you want to divide your days/nights based on your sightseeing list and your priorities. We all travel differently and have our own interests and priorities. We have different tolerances for crowds and multiple sequential travel days.
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Old Apr 29th, 2021, 03:40 PM
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Hi Jean,

Yes I am aware that some people will just quickly look at something and say they have been there while others will take hours to really absorb the place and each person varies in their tastes. However, I am trying to gauge averages of time needed so then I can better assess.

For instance, when we were planning to go to London years ago I had inquired how much time was needed for the Tower of London and I remember Janisj giving a detailed response that if you plan on walking the walls, taking the walking tour and seeing the white tower etc. plan on at least 3 hours. That information was helpful. We ended up spending five hours there ourselves on the day.

Of course weather factors into things as well. No fun going to an outdoor park if its pouring and will probably want to seek an indoor activity. I agree crowds factor into things as well. On our trip to Florence the Piazza Signoria and the Piazza del Doumo were both so overwhelmed with cruise ship passengers that we didn't get near the Doumo on the day we planned to visit. We visited Museo dell'Opera delDuomo and also hid out in the Galileo museum instead. Both of which were practically empty and well worth the visit! We never did go to the inside of the Doumo--we did have a great view of the cupola of the Doumo from the top floor of the museum of the Duomo terrace and got to see the original baptistry doors without crowds inside the museum.

But what I am looking for is if on average people spent just a few hours glancing at some of the top sights in Verona or if they spent xx hours at Castelvecchio museum and the Arena or the Roman Theater etc.

Which of the museums and churches in Bologna did people enjoy the most and how much time did they spend there?

Did anyone visit Mantova? If so did they see both palaces or just one? Did they spend a whole day there or half day?

Same questions regarding the lagoon islands. I get the impression most people are not enamored by Murano because of the hard sell of the vendors after seeing the glass blowing demonstrations but the glass museum is worth a visit. Whereas people seem to like Burano and Torcello a lot more.

What are some people's favorite sites vs. sites they saw and felt disappointed after having visited in the North of Italy?
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Old Apr 29th, 2021, 04:10 PM
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I was underwhelmed with Lake Garda possibly because I LOVE Lake Como. I'd give southern Lake Garda a pass and spend time elsewhere. I also wasn't enamored with Milan. For me, it was just another big city. I love Verona and feel it needs at least 2 full days without side trips. There's a special vibe there and much to visit. I spent a week there some years ago using it as a base to also visit other towns. Verona after dark is marvelous. Another vote for a full day on the islands of Torcello and Burano (give Murano a pass). Not only is the trip out and back to the islands simply marvelous but the history and subtle beauty of Torcello is a must for me. The Crayola colored houses on Burano are a feast for the eyes. I would say you need at least 3 full days in Venice, 2 for the city and one for the islands. In 2019 I was there for 10 nights. If all goes well, I'll be back there for 3 weeks in September. I enjoy photography and just wandering so even 3 weeks won't be enough for me. BTW, do you have plans to visit Venice's ghetto and take the guided tour of the synagogues? That's a must for me each time I visit.
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Old Apr 29th, 2021, 05:02 PM
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We enjoyed the day trip to Padua with Scrovegni Chapel more than the day on the islands. We took the train and had reservations for the chapel. Spent a bit of time walking around the town. I was very excited about Murano,etc but the day wasn't as great as I expected. I agree that Burano and Torcello were more interesting than Murano. We enjoyed the Scaligero Castle on Lake Garda. I think part of your choices depends on what else you plan to do and what your interests are. Scrovegni Chapel is different from other churches, but we saw it toward the beginning of our trip. We might have liked it less at the end of our 3 weeks of seeing churches all over Italy. We liked Scaligero Castle, but there was a castle in Verona which might have been just as nice and you should consider it if you're going there. If you're in Verona during summer, the opera is a fantastic outdoor spectacle. We didn't go to Mantova.
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Old Apr 29th, 2021, 05:17 PM
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Will think about your other questions but one suggestion I'd make re: Venice is to get out early and late, avoiding moving around the city much in the middle of the day if the cruise passengers are back; that's what mostly contributes to the crush.

I go to Venice a week at a time, usually; but parsing out a 3-4 day visit, I'd take a day to get oriented. I'd take an early #1 vaporetto around the place (get a 3 day ticket); maybe also a quick trip over to Guidecca and perhaps the Lido if you like being on the water and seeing the views; if you're a walker I'd walk and walk, maybe visit the Rialto fish market (early). I'd consider a cicchetti walking/tasting tour; if I needed a break from pavement and people I might take a vap over to Sant' Elena /Arsenale. I'd have dinner in Cannareggio area and enjoy the passagiata/walking around, then stop in San Marco for evening music.

Another day could be the Peggy Guggenheim and the Accademia museums depending on your interests. Peggy G is an "easy" gallery experience (modern art) with a cool shop and cafe. Accademia more traditional. Of course the Basilica is remarkable and well worth a visit. If you are religious/observant you can get in the side door on the left for Mass; otherwise there will be a line. The other half of this day or another day could be the trip out to Burano/Torcello as alternative to the museum/church visits you decide to do.

A Ghetto tour was mentioned above; my suggestion to see a genuine Venetian craft is to request a (very small scale) tour of the Orsoni smalti/glass "factory" (it is quite small/scalable) to see where/how they make smalti, the gorgeous glass for mosaics that are shipped worldwide and adorn the Basilica. I've taken 4 mosaic classes there so am biased. It's in Cannareggio and not terribly far from the pedestrian way from the train station to the piazza, near Ponte de Guglie.

I realize you are trying to sort out # of days, but I'm sort of sketching things out to get a sense of what one would actually do with 3-4 days there, since so much of what I do is walk around, get an Aperol Spritz, ride the vaporetto, etc. though there are many sights (churches, shops, art, music, etc, ) to see.

Re: Bologna - some love it but I find a couple of days without day trips is enough for me. Ravenna as a day trip would be a good third day.
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Old Apr 29th, 2021, 05:24 PM
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We flew into Milan and spent one night there giving us time to go to the top of the cathedral and to see the Last Supper (get timed tickets through the offical website, not a tour company) We weren't interested in much else there. Then we picked up a car and drove to Lake Como, staying just outside Bellagio for 2 or 3 nights. It's beautiful around there. We dropped off the car at Venice, stopping at Lake Garda on the way. We spent 4 nights in Venice, which gave us time for Padua and the islands. We enjoyed the secret itinerary and clock tours. We only spent one night in Verona enroute to fly home out of Milan. It didn't look like you'd need 5 nights there. I think you should figure out what you want to do in places and plan your stays that way. Some people really like driving in the Dolomites. We didn't have time for that--after Venice we went to Pompeii, Rome, CInque Terra, Florence, and Tuscany.
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Old Apr 30th, 2021, 11:41 AM
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I agree with others who are saying you need to figure out what you want to see in each place to determine how long to stay. I have been to Venice twice, four nights each time, and never made it to any of the islands. There is so much to see. Most people do Ravenna as a day trip from Bologna, which is fine. I spent two nights there and am glad I did.

​​​​​​I would add that there is nothing wrong with seeing the Last Supper with a tour group if necessary. I was a day late trying to get a ticket from the official website (they opened up the sale for my date a day earlier than I expected), so they were sold out and I had no choice but to go with a tour group. The tour included two other places as well, and I enjoyed it. The guide was excellent and gave a lot of interesting information.
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Old Apr 30th, 2021, 04:08 PM
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OP EN, Burano all the way, mind you it is subjective. Maybe have a peek around Torcello then devote the lion's share to colourful Burano? Murano is not likely to be compelling for anyone who is not a glass-blowing fan (tip: ask whether that glass product was made in China---some are, apparently).

And now for something completely different: perhaps make time to linger some day on Giudecca, which has become a sort of 'Brooklyn' to Venice.
Have a great trip!
I am done. The long list & the short list
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Old Apr 30th, 2021, 05:50 PM
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I think it depends on how important it is to you to "see" everything in a given place. And of course everyone's definition of "see everything" is going to be different. If you are doing a "day trip" somewhere then you are limited to what you can see/do in that "day". Will it be "everything". Who knows. But can it be enjoyable? I have done day trips to Vicenza, Verona, Padua, Mantova, Ferrera, Sirmione, Ravenna (all the places you mention) and enjoyed ALL of them. And I subsequently went back (on other trips) to most of them both because I enjoyed them so much, and because I didn't see everything on the first trip (in some cases because of time, in other cases because something was closed). And do you "need" to see "all the major sites" in Venice (or anywhere) to have an enjoyable trip. Do you have to go to all the museums and churches in order to think you 'saw' someplace?

If I had two weeks and wanted to base in Venice, Verona, Bologna and Milan and do day trips this is what I'd do:

Venice 5 nights and do day trips to Padua, Vicenza and Burano. Venice is best early and late so getting out of town mid day for a day trip to somewhere else is great. Burano is a few hours at most, Padua and Vicenza each can take several hours in the middle of the day but still leave time at the 'best' time to be in Venice. That still leaves you with 2 and a half days in Venice itself.

Verona 3 nights with a day trip to Mantova and one to Sirmione. Again, in addition to the full day in just Verona, you have two extra evenings/afternoons after the day trips. Sirmione doesn't need to take a whole day. Take the train to Desanzano and the boat over to Sirmione, see the town and the castle, take the boat back and then the train. There's more to see in Mantova so that might be more of a full day.

Bologna 3 nights with a day trip to Ravenna and one to Ferrera.

Milan 2 nights. What is it you want out of your time in Milan? I actually like Milan but I didn't go there till I'd been to Italy about 5 times. The Duomo is magnificent but if you have no special interest in Milan I'd take a night from there and put it in which ever of the others is most interesting to you.

Here are my photos of all these places. https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/f739967755

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Old Apr 30th, 2021, 07:07 PM
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I would skip Murano, and visit Burano and Torcello. The app Che Bateo is handy, gives times and schedules for the vaporettos. Plug in departure and destination vap stops and you are presented with a timetable.
On Torcello, the campanile is really worth climbing. Outside it looks like a box, inside is the most beautiful arched brick structure, a staircase winding itself up the interior.

Give Venice five nights, maybe a trip to Padova which is only 25 minutes by train.
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Old Apr 30th, 2021, 07:27 PM
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Peter's talk of the campanile on Torcello reminds me -- best view in Venice, I was advised by Venetians, is from the Campanile of San Giorgio Maggiore, and I agree!
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 09:05 AM
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Thank you everyone--this information is really helpful.

"A Ghetto tour was mentioned above; my suggestion to see a genuine Venetian craft is to request a (very small scale) tour of the Orsoni smalti/glass "factory" (it is quite small/scalable) to see where/how they make smalti, the gorgeous glass for mosaics that are shipped worldwide and adorn the Basilica".
Annw--The Orsini Venezia 1888 tour sounds lovely. Thank you for this information. They seem to have limited hours--website says tours only first and last Wednesday of the month so not sure if our timing will allow a visit but seems like a very interesting experience. The campanile of San Giorgio Maggiore is on my list as well.

Yes we would like to take a ghetto tour.

Dee_Dee--what are you favorite places in Lake Como? Favorite villas?


Isabel-- also excellent suggestions. I agree a daytrip means you only get to select some highlights that most interest you and try to cover those in the day with the acknowledgement that one can't possibly see everything in such a short period of time. We only get a quick snapshot and as you said sometimes it gives you the impetus to return for further exploration at a hopefully future date.

As I read more about Milan there are so many interesting things to discover--the obvious ones such as the Doumo including the rooftops and the Last Supper at Chiesi Santa Maria dell Grazie and La Scala tour. However there is also
Santa Maria presso San Satiro with Bramante architecture, Sforza Castle, Church of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore (Sistine Chapel of Milan), Pinacotecca Brera, Ambrosiana library with Leonardo's drawings and Leonardo's vineyard across from Santa Maria dell Grazie. These places can fill multiple days all by themselves. The list grows but time doesn't.

To complicate things further, I am also reading about Turin (Torino) and its Baroque architecture which abounds in the city as well as some very interesting museums and Palazzos. Seriously need at least three weeks or a month to cover the Northern part of Italy properly and that is just to scratch the surface! In Turin there is the cinema museum, the Egyptian museum, the museum of the automobile and well as a few Savoy palaces in and around the city such as Palazzo Reale and Reggia di Venaria Reale. I re-read Maitaitom's days in Turin and it seems very appealing. There is much to discover in Piedmonte. But can't see how to possibly fit any of that in without as Jean says making a "bus tour" type of trip and without eliminating something else.






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