Monday, June 27, 2022

Final Itinerary Change Eliminates Two Days in Venice

 Swapping Two Days in Venice for Two in Feltre


It may seem strange to some that we would eliminate 2 days in Venice to stay for 2 more days in Feltre, but since we've already been to Venice twice on previous trips and we will still stay in Venice on our first and last days of this trip, we opted to extend our stay in our beautiful already booked apartment in Feltre. We were lucky to be able to add two days to that reservation on Booking.com. We have already begun planning our day trips from Feltre; the first will be to the small town of Pedavena which was the home of my ancestors who emigrated to the US in about 1906. It is a very short bus ride from where we are staying. Looking forward to meeting some long-lost relatives there in both towns. Plus, we are looking to escape a bit from the crowds of tourists (like us) in Venice, and, to see a part of Italy we have only briefly touched upon in previous trips in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016. (photos are all from Google)

A Feltre street.
Treviso.

Feltre.


Bassano del Grappa with its 16th century bridge.
Belluno.


 
Pedavena.


We are also hoping to see the Dolomites (the Italian Alps) close-up.
After that, we plan on heading to Bassano del Grappa to sample the Italian spirit of Grappa that had its humble beginnings there. Famous writers Ernest Hemingway while an ambulance driver in WWI, Scott Fitzgerald and Dos Passos spent time in Bassano during and after WWI. We would also like to visit Belluno and Treviso if we have time. More to come on day trips, Trenitalia trains and stops along the way. Our fingers are crossed that this trip will be a reality in a more peaceful and healthy world.









Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Getting Back on Track

Buongiorno a tutti! We have been busily making plans again for our upcoming fall trip to Italy. Difficult decisions have been made concerning COVID and the war in Ukraine. Number one was to finally admit that we are going by booking our flights, as well as making additions to our itinerary, and managing our lodging reservations that were all made through Booking.com.

We have made a huge commitment to the trip by booking those Business Class tickets with Aer Lingus to fly in and out of Venice. This change from Milan or Florence and the price of the tickets for particular dates added 3 more days to our stay in Italy. Oh, darn! We scrutinized over where to spend the extra time as we considered more days in Venice, our first stop, or visiting another town or city where we had never been. For a while, we looked at Treviso nearby Venice, and Bari in southern Italy which would have required a Ryanair flight from Venice. In the end we chose Desenzano del Garda at Lake Garda where we could visit Sirmione, Bardolino and Limone sul Garda at Italy's largest lake. Made the lodging reservation today after some back and forth between Simione and Desenzano del Garda. This will also keep us close to the next stop on our itinerary - Verona which is just a 30 minute train ride away.

Desenzano del Garda (Italy Taveller photo)

Desenzano del Garda. (Italy Sights photo)

Map of Lake Garda. (From Dreamstime.com)

Since Flying into Venice on Aer Lingus gave us 3 extra days, we are now planning on a 26-day visit which is 9 more days than our past visits which averaged 17 days each. This will be a long vacation for us. But, since it may well be our final journey to Italy. We are splurging a bit and hoping for the best. 

Look for upcoming posts about our itinerary and day trips along the way. Our itinerary, the way it stands today:
1. Venice - 1 day
2. Desenzano del Garda - 3 days
3. Verona - 5 days
4. Feltre/Pedavena - 2 days
5. Venice - 2 days
6. Bologna -5 days
7. Cortona - 4 days
8. Florence - 3 days
9. Venice - 1 day

The added days in Desenzano del Garda required us to backtrack to Venice so we wouldn't have to change all of our lodging reservations (a small inconvenience) and instead of heading back to Milan from Florence to catch our return flight, we return to Venice again with a quick 2 hour train ride on the next to last day. Looking forward to each day!




Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Italy relaxes COVID-19 Restrictions as of May 1, 2022


Some indoor mask mandates in Italy have also ended, including those for indoor spaces. While masks are still required on public transportation, in cinemas, and in healthcare facilities and nursing homes, indoor mask mandates in supermarkets, workplaces, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and stores have been lifted. 


Still, public health officials highly recommend wearing masks in Italy for all indoor activities, and private companies can still require them. Since the virus is still circulating, Dr. Giovanni Rezza, who is in charge of prevention at the Italian Ministry of Health, said “we should keep up the vaccine campaign, including boosters, and keep up behavior inspired by prudence: wearing masks indoors or in crowded places or wherever there’s a risk of contagion.”


A COVID-19 notice board is seen in Galleria Alberto Sordi in Rome, Italy, May 1, 2022. Starting from May 1, people in Italy are no longer required to show green passes when entering bars, restaurants, health centers, gyms, night clubs and other places,

 People must continue to wear face masks on public transport and in some indoor venues until at least June 15.

Galleria Alberto Sordi in Rome.




For more news, information, and strategy, visit the Volatility Resources 

https://etfdb.com/volatility-resource-channel/italy-eases-covid-restrictions-ahead-of-tourist-season/

Tourists in Rome on May1, 2022.


Saturday, March 19, 2022

 Flight Search On Hold Due to Putin's War on Ukraine

It would seem frivolous to continue to search for the best flights now with war raging against the people of Ukraine. So for now, we're at a standstill. 




Monday, January 31, 2022

 Update on September 2022 Trip Planning

Still   Checking Flight   Tickets - May Change Destination Airport


Since we have flown into Italy twice to Florence and twice to Milan, we are open to starting our trip in another city. Our itinerary does allow us the flexibility of flying into airports in Bologna, Verona, Venice, Milan, or Florence. We liked Milan because of the ease and the economical transportation from the Linate Airport to the Milano Centrale train station (in 2016 the cost was about 8 euros each on the bus while a taxi was about 32 euros including tip).  Florence was also a convenient starting point. The first time, our self-catering apartment owner picked us up at the airport and made a stop on the way to the apartment at Piazzale Michelangelo to give us our first stunning view of the beautifulcity of Florence (Firenze). What an introduction!  The next time, there were 4 of us and we took a cab for about 28 euros. Usually, helpful information can be found on Tripadvisor and other travel forums, telling us exactly which number bus to take; where to get a taxi; precisely where to find the bus and how much the fare will be, give or take a euro or two.

Milano Centrale train station
 Florence from Piazalle Michelangelo (Viator photo)

Milano Linate Airport (LIN)





     We spend the first night in a hotel near the train station if possible. You can read where we stayed in Milan both times at the economical and safe Hotel Mythos which is a less than 5-minute walk to Milano Centrale train station and a number of good restaurants and coffee shops (bars). In Florence, each time, our first night was at the apartment we rented for 2 weeks.


Verona Villefranca Airport (VRN)
Florence Peretola Airport (FLR)
 
Verona Villefranca Airport (VRN)


     Possibly, more out comfort for a familiar routine, we chose to start this upcoming trip in Milan with a one-night stay before heading to Verona on a Freccia train the next day. Since we are taking our time (hopefully, not too much time) booking our flights, I've begun to explore starting in a different city. Our 2nd through 7th days will be spent in Verona, so why not see if prices to fly into that airport are comparable to what we're seeing for Milan. We can as easily spend our first night in a Verona hotel (if we are unable to book our apartment for a day sooner). We would also save about 60 euros for train tickets from Milan to Verona. Plus, we would start out fresh in our new city on day two. So far, the effort of checking flying into other cities has yielded less expensive flights into Venice than into Milan, with Verona being much the same as Milan. I'll be checking other alternatives soon., but it seems to be a no-brainer to fly into Verona (or Venice). Remember, flexibility.
Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE)


     If we do end up choosing another city, we might have a little longer train trip on our next to last day in order to fly home from where we started, but that might only add 1/2 hour or less to the train ride for about the same cost. Also, since all of our lodging reservations (made through Booking.com) have free cancelation up until about 10 days before arrival dates, we have the flexibility of tweaking those dates a bit.

Verona Porta Nuova Train Station



Saturday, January 22, 2022

Changes To Our September Itinerary


Verona.

Now that we have postponed our trip until September and added a new destination to our itinerary, it's time to update our plans here. Here's our new itinerary, even though we are considering a change from flying to Milan to flying to Verona or Venice:

  • Milan - 1 night 
  • Verona - 5 nights
  • Feltre/Pedavena - 2 nights (Where my grandparents emigrated from in 1906.)
  • Venice - 2 nights
  • Bologna - 5 nights
  • Cortona - 4 nights
  • Florence - 3 nights
  • Milan - 1 night
A total of 23 nights.

Pedavena.

     We still have to book our flights and our reserve train tickets for travel between cities. Since we are splurging for once on Business Class tickets (and due to COVID), we are having a more difficult time deciding on those tickets. We are considering flying on Aer Lingus which we like. They have a program that lets you bid on an upgrade on your tickets near your departure date. So, we would book Economy seats and then get an email from the airline offering a chance to make a bid on Business Class seats. Right now those Business Class tickets are about $5,900 for two. The best price we have seen so far is with TAP Portugal Airline at about $4,000 for two. These prices are long gone now that it's May 13, 2022. The price now at both airlines is closer to $6500 for 2.

Huge difference there. we are hesitant to act right now out of fear that we might decide it is still too iffy because of COVID. The tickets would be nonrefundable. We plan on booking the tickets in early June. We could pay several hundred dollars more on the tickets so we could get refunds, but, we just aren't there yet. I invite comments from anyone more experienced in booking Business Class tickets. We prefer not using Business Class ticket brokers, though, where we wouldn't know the airline until after we bought the tickets.

     As for the fast train tickets between major cities, we can't access those until Trenitalia updates their schedules/prices for September/October travel. These tickets, some at steep discounts, become available only a couple months ahead of time. For day trip trains, we just buy our tickets at the station for local/regional trains (usually, there are no reserved seats on these trains). Always remember to validate your tickets before boarding your train or your bus or you risk a hefty fine (which almost no explanation can get you out of).

Regional train ticket validation machine.
Milano Centrale train station.

Trenitalia ticket validation machine.

As for our lodging reservations, we have made a couple of changes since which postponed our trip from April '22 to September '22. If we do fly into Milan, we will try to reserve a room in the Charly Hotel as before but it's too far out to reserve there yet. This hotel is close and convenient to Milano Centrale train station. We plan on staying there for our first and last nights in Italy. We also changed our reservation in Cortona to a brighter, larger apartment than before. And, since we added Pedavena to our itinerary, we reserved a hotel room for two nights in the nearby town of Feltre which is a short bus ride to Pedavena. 

Stay tuned for the progress we are making as we get closer to our departure date of Sepember 16, 2022. Fingers crossed.