Winter in Bologna, Venice and Rome

Nov 5th, 2014, 01:44 PM
  #1  
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Winter in Bologna, Venice and Rome

I've been enjoying all the helpful hints and stories here and will now add my itinerary, and hopefully be able to contribute post-trip. I'd appreciate any thoughts or observations you might have.

I'll be traveling with my 24 y/o son, who is going to take a week-long course in Bologna, where we are flying in and out of. This will be the fourth trip to Italy for both of us, though he's never been to Venice and I've never been to Rome. We've been to Modena and smaller towns in Emilia Romagna, but never Bologna. We arrive in Bologna Dec. 30 and depart Jan. 12. I've reserved trains for Bologna to Venice and Rome.

Nights 1-3 Bologna. Hotel Metropolitan. Get to know the city. Eat a lot. Maybe a day trip to Ravenna. Will be there New Years Eve.

Nights 4-8 Venice, Hotel Canal Grande (Santa Croce).

Nights 9-10 Bologna. Son starts course, I make a day trip to Florence.

Nights 10-12 (on my own) Rome, Albergo del Senatore (near Pantheon)

Night 13 Bologna, then home.

My favorite thing to do in cities is walk, discover neighborhoods, people-watch, visit outdoor markets…After that I am mostly interested in art.
flwrjen is offline  
Nov 5th, 2014, 02:27 PM
  #2  
 
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First thing I'll say is to look up a current trip report from a couple who went to Rome and London because they were disappointed in their stay at Albergo del Senato. I don't recommend the hotel and since it is pricey, you might consider other hotels in the same neighborhood.

There is a pretty good trattoria near your hotel called La Baita (via Galleria 34) if you arrive tired and the weather is too cold to go far at night:

https://plus.google.com/111820126280...ut?gl=it&hl=en

https://it-it.facebook.com/ristopizzalabaita

Some of the best food is Bologna is directly out of its markets. Some great places to shop are Salumeria Bruno e Franco on the via Oberdan, Simoni (in the market quarter) and Melega. Put together a picnic and head over to Osteria del Sole. Buy a glass of wine and eat at one of the communal tables:

http://www.osteriadelsole.it

Otherwise, at that time of year, you will need to track down which places are open and make reservations fairly early. Some good places to try Bolognese food are Da Gianni and Giampi e Ciccio.

Interesting neighborhoods in Bologna that are not obvious are around Santo Stefano, the old Jewish Ghetto, the via Pratello and the area around the old Spanish college.

If you are interested in art, some great places to visit in Bologna are the Pinocoteca, the Oratorio of Santa Cecilia, the church of Santa Maria della Vita, the church of San Domenico (go all through it) and the upstairs rooms of the Palazzo Communale (which include the Morandi museum). The medieval museum is VERY MUCH worth going into for its stone carvings. If you have time for day trips, Ravenna is the most glorious destination for art, followed by Parma. Make sure you know what is open the day you plan to go to these places.

It will be extremely noisy in Bologna on NYE around the piazza Maggiore. Probably a concert.

Dress very warmly for Bologna. Although the portici are wonderful for keeping you dry, they also retain a lot of cold in winter and block the sun. It can feel like walking in a refrigerator. Knee boots and very warm socks, and a coat that goes below the knees are a great asset in addition to warm hat, gloves and excellent wool scarf.

Have a fun trip!
sandralist is offline  
Nov 5th, 2014, 02:28 PM
  #3  
 
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Sorry for being unclear -- the restaurant La Baita is in Bologna, near the Hotel Metropolian...
sandralist is offline  
Nov 5th, 2014, 03:18 PM
  #4  
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Thank you so much for the wonderfully specific tips on Bologna, Sandralist. Good to know of a trattoria near the hotel in Bologna. The positive of winter travel is no crowds, but the cold and early darkness are things I will have to plan for. I do plan on a day trip to Ravenna.

I got a good price at the Senatore and the reviews on Tripadvisor have been good, but I will look into it more.
flwrjen is offline  
Nov 5th, 2014, 06:38 PM
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For your short stay in Rome and given your interest in art, my guess is that you'll want to see the Vatican Museum and Borghese Gallery at a minimum. You'll need to make a reservation for Borghese and I would recommend a tour guide as understanding the best way to use the two hours you are allotted is key. I can recommend a guide for you that our family used last winter and really liked. However, every church and monument are works of art in and of themselves. You could do both Vatican and St Peter's in one day and Borghese, Pantheon and Trevi, perhaps another church or two the next.
cmeyer54 is offline  
Nov 5th, 2014, 07:05 PM
  #6  
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I'd love the name of your guide cmeyer54. I planned to reserve a tour of the Vatican Museums. I've seen a few recommendations here, but if anyone wants to chime in, please do. I hadn't planned a guide for the Borghese so I'm glad you mentioned it. I didn't realize that only two hours are allotted. The train from Bologna is only three hours so I'll have two full and two partial days in Rome.
flwrjen is offline  
Nov 6th, 2014, 02:29 AM
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I've nothing against guides, but the Galleria Borghese is not all that large. It is a two story villa, and while the villa is grand and lavish, it is nothing like the huge palatial museums of art like the Louvre or the Metropolitan or the Rijskmuseum. It is smaller than Vatican Museums or even comparable museums in Bologna or Venice. One of the reasons visits are timed to 2 hours is that this is ample time to see everything.

If you would like the added value of what a knowledgeable guide can offer beyond what you can find online in advance or have in a guidebook, that might be money well spent. But I wouldn't worry that you can't see everything in 2 hours without help.

And purely my subjective opinion, just one person talking, but given that you are going to Florence and the Vatican, and unless you have a very specific interest in Bernini sculpture, you might want to spend more time with ancient Rome than more Renaissance art. At a minimum, try reserving the Galleria Borghese ln the late afternoon when it will no longer be light outside, because you might want to spend the daylight hours seeing outdoor sights and neighborhoods.
sandralist is offline  
Nov 6th, 2014, 05:14 AM
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Great suggestion about booking the Borghese for late afternoon, Sandralist. I never would have thought of that, and early darkness really changes the way I would usually do things.

I'd love to hear music one (or more) nights of my trip--something simple--a local string quartet, for example, or church choir, in any of the cities. Do you think it's easy to find that kind of thing once I get there?
flwrjen is offline  
Nov 6th, 2014, 11:48 AM
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The Christmas holidays in Italy go on until Jan 6 so I think music concerts might be going on until then. Bologna is very proud of its long association with music, and there are often many free concerts or very inexpensive ones. If your son is taking a course there, he should get a student discount. The Bologna tourist office is conveniently located right in the piazza Maggiore and they usually know everything that is going on musically in town. The tourist office is right opposite the basilica, to the left if you have your back to the basilica, but right now that side of the piazza has some scaffolding concealing most of it, so don't give up. Just look a little harder.

By the way, the Trevi fountain in Rome is also under scaffolding, and I doubt it will be restored and uncovered by the end of the year. Your hotel should know, and don't waste your steps going if they tell you it is still under wraps.

Venice has all kinds of musical events going on throughout the year. There are a couple of online "magazines" for Venice -- I am sorry I have forgotten the names -- that usually have up to date listings. A lot of the music is very commercialized (people in antique costumes playing vivialdi etc) but there are also church concerts and choral groups.
sandralist is offline  
Nov 6th, 2014, 11:50 AM
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here's a link for Venice, but there are others as well, perhaps with more free events

http://www.musicinvenice.com
sandralist is offline  
Nov 6th, 2014, 01:43 PM
  #11  
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Great tips, Sandralist. I never would have thought to look for a tourist office. I read about some January 6th festivities, and I think that the holiday atmosphere will take away some of the sting of short days.
flwrjen is offline  
Nov 7th, 2014, 02:30 PM
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Below are my November pix from Bologna two years ago - - it was totally enchanting. I went back the following July and it was totally boring (abscence . In winter, since it gets dark so early the food lanes west of the Piazza are all lights, sights, flavors, hums and murmurs - - and the aperitivo bars bustle. Totally gorgeous.

That time of year: go for the lively centers, the lights, the warmth, the tastes, the tipples: where people gather.

BLQ in NOV: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dougla...7632060233870/
dfourh is offline  
Nov 7th, 2014, 04:51 PM
  #13  
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Fantastic pictures, dfourh, and it's good to hear that you had a good off-season experience. I will definitely be looking for those "lively centers".
flwrjen is offline  
Nov 7th, 2014, 05:27 PM
  #14  
 
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Had a great lunch at Da Gianni in Bologna this summer. Also a wonderful meal at Twinside, the more casual sister restaurant to Caminetto d'Oro. Also some great salad places, because it was July and I craved non-hot food. You won't be looking for that in December.

Have a wonderful time. This was my first trip to Bologna. Definitely not my last. I cannot recommend a day trip to Ravenna highly enough.

I was also in Rome again this summer, far from my first trip, but it was my first solo visit.
Leely2 is offline  
Nov 7th, 2014, 07:15 PM
  #15  
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Thanks for the tips Leely2--I've added them to my list! I am definitely going to Ravenna--sounds like a can't miss. It's wonderful how close Bologna is to so many cool places (and that it;s a train hub). We stayed in Castelvetro di Modena a few years ago, and went to Modena, but this will be my first time in Bologna.
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