Tuesday, November 22, 2022

First Time in Verona: Day One

We spent three wonderful days at City Hotel in Desenzano del Garda before leaving for five days in Verona.  Our Trenitalia,  "Me & You" train ($15/2) trip from Desenzano del Garda to the Verona Porta Nuova train station was only 20 minutes from start to finish. Quick and easy. Our train arrived on time, as is usual for Italian trains, in Verona at 9:28, but we couldn't check in to our apartment until 3:00. Not good planning on my part. I should have coordinated our Desenzano departure as late as possible to coincide with our check-in time in Verona. Live and learn. Sadly, I made this mistake more than once on this trip. It can't always be done due to early check-out times, but I'll do better next time.

After a bit of confusion about where to find the apartment keys (which were hidden in an odd place), we safely left our luggage at the apartment while it was being cleaned which allowed us to begin to explore Verona for the first time. During that time we had a light lunch outside at D3 Restaurant & Bar just off Piazza Bra. 

After lunch, we returned to our apartment, the Boutique Apartment Ca Monastero booked through and settled in for our 5-day stay. The apartment which was close to the center, Piazza Bra and the Arena di Verona, was just right for us and included a small balcony which we were able to use on the sunny days and pleasant evenings we enjoyed in Verona. You can read our apartment reviews at

Went out again and found a cosy osteria, Osteria del Cavaliere near the Arena where we enjoyed pasta suppers and wine. The small family restaurant had run out of several of its menu items (kind of strange, but it was open on Sunday)) so the choice was limited. Our meals were good, but the house wine, not so much. Got back to our apartment early in the evening. Looking forward to Day two in Verona.

The Arena di Verona


Piazza Bra, Verona

Boutique Apartment Ca Monastero, Verona

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

One Hectic Day in Venice, Then Off to Desanzano Del Garda


Sirmione on Lake Garda.

Our Aer Lingus flight landed in Venice from Dublin on time at 11:35 in the morning. From the airport, we found the ATVO bus to Venice proper out front. Before departure, we had already purchased our roundtrip tickets (36 euros/2, a savings of 4 euros) online. In another half hour, we were at Piazzale Roma in Venice, about a 25-minute walk to our apartment (if we didn't get a bit lost on the way). At that point, we were frustrated, tired and hungry trying to find our way. Still, with help from our apartment host, we eventually checked in and relaxed momentarily before going out to have lunch. All was well at that point. We walked around Venice for a couple of hours without getting too lost and went back to our apartment for a rest, before going out to dinner at Due Fratelli Ristorante. 

In the morning, after checkout time, we left our apartment and walked 15 minutes to the Santa Lucia train station to catch our 1:48 Trenitalia Frecciargento fast train to Desenzano Del Garda-Sirmione, which was a one hour and 33-minute trip. Once again, we had purchased our train tickets from Trenitalia online from home. we made the short walk to our hotel from the train station and began our 3 days in Desenzano Del Garda. On our first full day, we took the 20-minute ferry ride to Sirmione (10 euros round trip each). Well worth it for the views alone.


Debbie at Sirmione Scaligero Castle


Our Epic Trip To Italy 2022 - Venice and Desenzano Del Garda

 We're home now, but what a trip we had! Our longest visit to Italy: 27 days was exciting...and tiring. I'll start the story with some photos from the beginning, middle and ending.

Debbie in Venice in the ancient Jewish Ghetto.

Aer Lingus view.
Debbie at Santa Lucia Train Station when we arrived in Venice on September 14th
                                      Desenzano del Garda was the 2nd stop on our itinerary.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Getting Close to Our Departure Date

Just about 3 weeks until we leave on our 5th adventure in Italy. We're excited and a little nervous, as usual. Have we prepared thoroughly for everything? Have we checked all the boxes, especially our what-to-take list? This is a very important detail since we will be gone for about a month and are only packing one carry-on bag each (22 lbs). Also, is everything ready with our flights; rental cars to/from our airport; are all of our lodging reservations finalized; and, have we purchased our train tickets between the cities on our 8 stop itinerary?

Let's take a look at each of those details:

1. Flights: We booked our flights on Aer Lingus on May 23, 2022. We were fully committed to making this trip on that day.

2. Transportation to/from the airport: We reserved our rental cars at Enterprise for going to and from our airport (Logan in Boston). We found that this was less expensive than long-term parking.

3. Transportation while in Italy: To save a little money, we bought train tickets in advance of our trip through Trenitalia and Italotreno online. We will purchase train tickets for day trips at train stations. We're all set getting to the 8 destinations on our itinerary and will narrow down day trip choices when we're in Italy. Yesterday, we purchased our round-trip ATVO express bus tickets from Marco Polo Airport to Piazzale Roma in Venice. When we arrive at the airport, we can just walk out present our tickets, and get on the bus for the 20-25 minute ride into Venice proper. From Piazzale Roma, we have about a 15-minute walk to our rental apartment.

4. Where we'll stay: All of our lodgings have been booked on We will spend our first night in Venice before boarding the train to our hotel in Desenzano del Garda. The rest of our itinerary will take us to Venice, Verona, Feltre, Bologna, Cortona, and Florence. Several of the apartments are located in the ancient city centers, while one in particular (Donnaberarda in Cortona) offers spectacular views (Please, see photo).

Donnaberarda apartment setting. (Cortona)

Cortona view from Donnaberarda apartment.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Train tickets purchased.

Well, with our itinerary finalized and our lodging choices reserved, today we bought the remaining train tickets on Trenitalia (oh, and one on Italotreno) online. It's great seeing the exchange rate almost at par - the best it's ever been on our trips to Italy. We will still buy train tickets for most of our day trips while there, since we only use public transportation while in Italy (trains, buses and an occasional taxi).

Our first stop is on Aer Lingus (Boston to Dublin to Venice) at Marco Polo Airport in Venice. From there we take the short Express Bus ride into Venice proper to Piazzale Roma. Then we make a short walk to our first apartment rental. Next stop, the next day - Desenzano del Garda for 3 days. Photos, top to bottom - One is the Grand Canal passing in front of Santa Lucia Train Station, Venice. Two is the express bus from the Marco polo Airport to Venice Piazzale Roma. Three is Piazzale Rome. Four is the exterior of our first rental apartment in Venice. Five is a view of the waterfront in Desenzano del Garda.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

 Venice - Fall 2022

Day 1 -  Ca Venere Apartment Carnaregio

Calle dei Ormesini 1149/A Cannaregio, Venice (already paid 5/26)

+39 340 080 8439

Day 25-26 - Ca Venere Apartment Carnaregio

Calle dei Ormesini 1149/A Cannaregio, Venice

+39 340 080 8439

While in Venice, things to do:

Since we will be flying into Venice on Aer Lingus and staying just one night at the beginning and end of our trip, we won't have too much time there, but there will still be a chance to explore a bit more than we have on previous trips. Here are a few of the ideas we have for either the 1st or last days of this trip.

Burano - Skip, this time, or not

***Murano - Take Ferry Line 3 from Santa Lucia Train Station, 24 minutes, $16 RT each; or Ferry 12, 4.1, 4.2 from Fondamente Nove Stop, 10 minutes,$?

***Jewish ghetto - Ghetto Ebraico -  a 2-minute walk from our apartment! Self-guided tour with (GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities) app from the iTunes app store or Google Play

*Bridge of Sighs

Climb the Campanile

Harry’s Bar (inside this time) probably not…

***Aperitivo at Osteria All’Arco- Close to our apartment, 3 minutes from the Rialto Bridge

***Piazza San Marco to Chioggia:- Vaporetto Line 11 & Line 11 ferry 1:20 $16 each RT Small seaside town south of Venice. Or, we can take the long bus ride (no ferry) for about the same price and 2 hours. I think we can also take just the Line 11 Vaporetto water bus from Lido for a faster trip to Chioggia...

What to see there: 

Porta Garibaldi

Chioggia Duomo

Piazzetta Vigo

Three Museums

Fish Market

Sottomarina Beach

Excellent seafood restaurants (try Schie (fish) with or without polenta

Barry, Debbie and sister Moe, at Piazza San Marco, Venice in 2014.


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Lodging Information From Our Fall 2022 Trip

 All Lodging Was Booked Through

As of today, all of our lodging has been finalized for our upcoming Italian adventure. We chose, and are not compensated by, to reserve all of our self-catering apartments in Italy. Because we have used for several years including for our last trip to Italy in 2016, we receive a 10-15% discount on our bookings. Their "Free Cancelation" feature is very attractive and easy to use. There is almost no risk of losing money by reserving lodging through Almost all rentals on do not require a deposit or payment when you reserve. And, you can cancel easily if you've found more suitable accommodation for your needs (actually for any reason). You do have to be careful to check for "Free Cancelation" before you book because not all options for rooms, apartments, or villas include that feature. We have done that several times in preparation for our trip during the past year. When the COVID surge early in the year influenced us to change our trip from spring to fall, we had to either cancel all of our reservations or change the dates. The process was pretty simple on However, during that process, we did completely change a couple of apartments. Luckily, we had started planning early. We also added 3 days to our itinerary which became a slight challenge that resulted in a few longer train trips between cities/towns. All has worked out well, in spite of our changes.

Our total lodging expenditure for 26 nights in Italy will be $2856.00 not including local taxes that are paid separately in cash at the apartments. Those taxes range between $1 and $5 per night per person which for us will probably add about $150 to our total. Each apartment's rate will be charged to our credit card before we arrive in Italy unless we haven't reached the "Free Cancelation" by date. Some of our later reservations will be paid while we are already there. The average cost for our 2 BR apartments with kitchens and washers, patios, balconies, and free wifi is less than $110 per night. The most expensive is $137 a night in Florence. The least expensive is $92 in Feltre. Also, there were lower-priced apartments in Florence, as well.

I hope that this information gives you an idea of what is possible when planning your own trip to Italy. I mentioned that there are washers in the apartments which is important to us because we each bring just one carry-on bag; that means only about 3-4 days worth of clothing, so, being able to clean our clothes is very convenient. The first time we visited Italy in 2011, we carried 2 huge suitcases that we had to lug around on the trains which at best was a pain. We learned a huge lesson. Next up: ideas for day trips from the cities where we are staying. So many choices...

Here are the places we've reserved for fall 2022:

Venice - Ca' Venere Apartment (1st and last night):

Ca' Venere Apt. ExteriorVenice

Desenzano del Garda - Red & Blu Apartment:

Red & Blu BR, Desenzano del Garda

Verona - Boutique Apartment Ca' Monastero

Boutique Apartment Exterior, Verona

Feltre - La Maisonette Apartment

La Maisonette entrance hallway, Feltre

Bologna - Tilia Apartment

Tilia Apt. BR, Bologna

Cortona - Donnaberarda Apartment

Donnaberarda Terrace with view, Cortona

Florence - Greenhouse Apartment 

Greenhouse BR and Hallway,  Florence

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Italy and COVID Today


Helpful Information for Travelling to Italy Now

Last updated: 07/05/2022 - From The US Embassy and Consulates in Italy

*** As of 12:01 a.m. EDT June 12, 2022, the CDC order requiring all persons aged two and above to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States, is rescinded.  Starting at 12:01 a.m. EDT on June 12, 2022, the CDC will no longer order air passengers to show a negative COVID-19 test result, or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19, prior to boarding a flight to the United States.  Of note, CDC’s Order requiring proof of vaccination for non-U.S. citizen nonimmigrants to travel to the United States is still in effect.  For more information see Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers.

Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions 

Country-Specific Information:

  • Italy has confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its borders.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Italy due to COVID-19, indicating a high level of COVID-19 in the country and advising Americans to “avoid travel to Italy” if you are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. The Department of State’s Level 2 Travel Advisory recommends that Americans exercise increased caution due to terrorism. 
  • From May 1 until September 30, 2022, the use of more protective FFP2/KN95 masks is mandatory on all trains, ships and local public transportation (buses and metros) and inside all healthcare facilities.

COVID-19 Testing:

  • Are PCR and/or antigen tests available for U.S. citizens in Italy? Yes
  • If so, are test results reliably available within 72 hours? Yes
    • Please note that response times vary by testing location, the type of test taken, and the method of retrieving test results (i.e., in-person or via correspondence).
    • At present in Italy, antigen tests cost approximately $20, while PCR tests cost approximately $70.
  • Individuals who test positive in Italy will need to self-isolate between 7-21 days, depending on the specifics of the case. The self-isolation will occur at the traveler’s own expense.
  • For information on limited humanitarian exemptions, please review the following page:

COVID-19 Vaccine Information:

  • Has the government of Italy approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use? Yes
  • Are vaccines available in Italy for U.S. citizens to receive? Yes, but only for those U.S. citizens enrolled in the Italian national healthcare system.
  • Which vaccines are available in Italy? Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, AstraZeneca and Novavax.  In addition, the Sputnik V and Pfizer-BioNtech are available in the Republic of San Marino. However, regional health authorities will determine which vaccines are administered.
      • COVID-19 vaccinations are being distributed by the Government of Italy at a regional level.  According to the Italian Pharmaceutical Agency, the National Vaccination Plan guarantees that vaccinations will be available to all people present/resident in Italy, whether or not they have a valid Permit of Stay as long as they are registered with the Italian National Health Service.  Citizens will have to follow the instructions and schedule of their region of residence, and further information from each region is available at the following link:  For additional information on COVID-19 vaccination in Italy, please see the Italian National Institute of Health’s website.
  • Visit the FDA’s website to learn more about FDA-approved vaccines in the United States.
  • The United States Government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to private U.S. citizens overseas. Please follow host country developments and guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination.

Entry and Exit Requirements:

  • Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter? Yes
    • U.S. citizens may travel to Italy for any reason, including tourism.
    • The Government of Italy periodically updates travel restrictions based upon changing conditions, and all travelers should refer to current Italian health decrees when making travel plans.
    • English-language guidance on current entry and exit requirements is maintained on the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.
    • Regional governments in Italy may also impose restrictions on travelers from certain foreign countries, and travelers intending to travel or return to Italy are advised to check whether any new provisions have been introduced by their region of destination.
    • Starting from June 1, 2022, travelers to Italy will no longer be required to show the Green pass (i.e. Anti-COVID 19 vaccination certificate or recovery certificate, or a negative swab test) to enter Italy and are not subject to quarantine upon arrival to Italy if they do not possess the Green pass.
  • Is a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) required for entry? No
  • Are health screening procedures in place at airports and other ports of entry? No

Movement Restrictions

Quarantine Information:

  • Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine? In some instances
    • Individuals who test positive in Italy will need to self-isolate between 7-21 days, depending on the specifics of the case. The self-isolation will occur at the traveler’s own expense.

Transportation Options:

  • Are commercial flights operating? Yes
  • Is public transportation operating? Yes
    • Public transportation including airlines, trains, and buses continue to operate, but with reduced frequency.  Travelers should check carrier schedules for the latest updates and work directly with the carrier or travel agent to arrange or reschedule travel.  Travelers should be prepared for the possibility of additional travel restrictions to be implemented with little or no advance notice.
    • FFP2/KN95 masks are mandatory on all trains, ships and local public transportation (buses and metros).

Fines for Non- Compliance:

  • Italian police can impose monetary sanctions for non-compliance with Italian anti-COVID-19 measures regarding social distancing, movement restrictions and mask mandates.

Consular Operations:

  • What ACS services are being offered?
  • What visa services are being offered?
    • The entry of foreign nationals who were physically present within the Schengen Area, including Italy, within 14 days prior to their entry or attempted entry into the United States is suspended, per Presidential Proclamation 10143.  The U.S. Embassy and Consulates General in Italy are offering certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services, including limited appointments for individuals exempt from or who may qualify for a National Interest Exception to Presidential Proclamation 10143.  While the Embassy and Consulates aim to process cases as soon as practicable, there are likely to be increased wait times for completing such services due to substantial backlogs.  The MRV fee is valid and may be used to schedule an interview appointment in the country where it was purchased until December 31, 2021.  If you have an urgent matter and need to travel immediately, please follow the guidance provided at (+39) 06 9480 3777 to request an emergency appointment.  For further information, please visit U.S. Embassy Rome’s Visa webpage.
  • All individuals entering consular buildings must wear a face covering.

Local Resources: