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Warren (Michigan)

Venice, Bologna, Florence, Siena

Tips for Must see and Must do's in these Italian Cities?

We are making our first trip to Italy.  Flying into Venice, and working our way to Bologna and then Florence.  This portion of our trip will be seven nights total. Trip is end of June 2015.  Group will be 2 - 54 yr olds,  my mother -  a youngish 79 and my 21 yr old son.

Open to any and all suggestions.  How to get around?

I'm thinking of train but hear decent things about train service.

What about cities slightly off the beaten track but might be considered "Must See".


9 Answers

top answer by
Gaia from Chicago

Hi Kevin,

Traveling around Italy with Trenitalia (the state owned train service) is very easy and all the cities you mentioned are connected with each other. You can either catch the Frecce (faster, but expensive) or local trains that take longer, are cheaper but sometimes over-crowded. 

When you go to Venice, don't sleep in the city (it is expensive) and if you have time catch a ferry to Burano: a little gem in the lagoon. 

Something different to do in Florence -after you have strolled around its unique center- includes going to the Parco delle Cascine- a big park not too far from downtown where a big open air market takes place.

On the other hand, Bologna is pretty small, but make sure to check out and its food.

In Siena, visit Piazza del Campo and then start walking around the narrow medieval streets to enjoy the view of the Tuscan hills.

I hope this helps a bit..

Safe travels! :) 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Venice (city)
  2. Burano (island)
  3. Florence (city)
  4. Parco delle Cascine (attraction)
  5. Bologna (city)
  6. Siena (attraction)
  7. Piazza del Campo (attraction)
7 thanks

answered by
Lawrence from New Hampshire

In Venice, I stayed at a converted monastery, the Domus Ciliota. It was located in a quiet neighborhood on the main island, and a quick walk to the Academia Bridge, the Gallerie dell'Accademia museum of art, and San Marco Square, where you can find both the Duomo di San Marco and a number of other attractions.The above photo was taken outside the balcony of St. Mark's Cathedral. Don't miss the adjacent Doge's Palace, which is a fabulously decorated tribute to Venice's version of Democracy. While there, cross the Bridge of Sighs to see the prison/dungeon just across a narrow canal.

You can see some unsurpassed works of art at the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, and one surprise was the grave of Claudio Monteverdi, the renowned Renaissance composer.

Venice transportation is either by foot or by vaporetti, the water taxis that run through the Grand Canal. One ride costs €7, and you could easily ride it several times each day. I strongly recommend getting a travel pass equivalent to the days you will be in the city.

Venice is best enjoyed when you allow yourself simply to wander. There are wondrous sites around every corner,art abounds in churches and galleries, and the food in the various restaurants and cafes is delightful.

If you or your family members are tech savvy, I also recommend the Rick Steves travel app for smart phones. You can plug the earphones in and hear a walking tour of San Marco Square, Basilica di San Marco, the Grand Canal, and the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. (There are also a number of walking tours available for Florence, too.)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Domus Ciliota (hotel)
  2. Gallerie dell'Accademia (attraction)
  3. San Marco Square (attraction)
  4. Doge's Palace (attraction)
  5. Bridge of Sighs (attraction)
  6. Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (attraction)
  7. Basilica di San Marco (attraction)
  8. Grand Canal (attraction)
5 thanks

answered by
Kim from San Francisco

Traveling with several different generations, you may be tempted to get a car, but ignore that feeling. I found traveling by car to be extremely difficult in Italy because all the road signs were in Italian of course. We paid a lot of parking a car overnight that we never used. The train is the only way to go. It is the easiest way to get around and you'll never regret the decision. Have a terrific time!

2 thanks

answered by
Veronica from Kungälv

Hi Kevin,

You should absolutely stay overnight in Venice. I was there for two nights and I am going back there for a week this fall I hope =). I felt so relaxed there - not a sound from cars or such, just a motorboat now and then. I recommend Alloggi Al Mercante which is a very nice hotel, next to the Grand Canal and 4 minutes walk from the Rialto Bridge.

Venice is bigger than you think and there's much to see if you just walk around. Something not to miss is the San Marco Square, take the elevator up in the bell tower for a stunning view over Venice. If you want to see Il Duomo (cathedral) I advice you to go online and fix a VIP-ticket for a few Euros, this way you don't have to stand in line.

Walk away from the typical tourist streets and mingle with the venetians, eat lunch and dinner where they eat. Taking a gondola ride is expensive, but if you want to do this, make sure to discuss the price first. 

If you live at the hotel I mentioned above, you only have a few minutes from the Pescheria market (fish market) by the Canal, which has been there since the 12th century. Next to it you can buy fruit and berries, do that and sit down by the Canal for a relaxing time in the sun. I liked to take late walks in the evening and bring my camera - there were no people around and all was still.

Should you go to the left from the hotel you come to a small campo (square) with a gelateria (my favorite flavors are lemon and green apple).

Have a nice trip and enjoy yourselves! =)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Venice (city)
  2. Alloggi Al Mercante (hotel)
  3. Grand Canal (attraction)
  4. Rialto Bridge (attraction)
  5. San Marco Square (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Sabrina from Portogruaro

Hi! I live near Venice and I adore this city :) I suggest to stay in Venice during the night.. It seems obvious but getting lost in Venice is the best thing you can do in that gorgeous city! Try to find Libreria Acqua Alta di Frizzo Luigi, it's an amazing book shop with cats, vintage books and little boats used as shelves.. I hope you will enjoy the trip :)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Libreria Acqua Alta di Frizzo Luigi (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Polly from Washington, DC

I agree with everything Gaia says except for the advice about where to stay in Venice. To get the most out of Venice, stay in the city overnight. It's a totally different experience when the day trippers go home.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Venice (city)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Veronica from Kungälv

I should add what I know of Bologna as well =). You should go to Piazza di Porta Ravegnana and the Two Towers. The tallest of these is the Asinelli (98 m) and on a fine day you will see far if you climb it =). The tower is leaning and the stairs are narrow, but it is worth it! I, myself, am afraid of heights but I was proud of myself (and shaking) when I got back down.

We stayed at a very nice hotel called Hotel Metropolitan, with a very friendly and helpful staff. It's a central hotel, not so far from Piazza Maggiore which is next to the Piazza del Nettuno. Right there you find the Palazzo del Podestà and the Whispering Gallery - stand in each corner under the statues of the saints and whisper something. The person in the opposite corner will hear what you say =).

Something else to see is the Biblioteca SalaBorsa where you can see - and take a guided tour - around the old Roman streets under the glass floor of the library.

Archiginnasio of Bologna is another site not to miss. Here the walls and ceiling are covered with heraldic shields, made by the students who went to this university. 

We had dinner at a place called Nicolás - the bruchetta was out of this world and the lasagna as well. 

On our last day we left the luggage in the hotel and took a short walk to Musei Civici to see the Medieval exhibition (I'm a sucker for history).

We travelled with Trenitalia between the cities, I booked the train tickets online before we left Sweden. The hotels were booked through, and the flights through

The best way to see the cities is to walk around and take things as they come along. Both Venice and Bologna are places I want to go back to, there are more things to see =). Bologna is a nice city where the things I've mentioned above is close to the city's center.

Enjoy your trip!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bologna (city)
  2. Piazza di Porta Ravegnana (attraction)
  3. Two Towers (attraction)
  4. Hotel Metropolitan (hotel)
  5. Piazza Maggiore (attraction)
  6. Piazza del Nettuno (attraction)
  7. Palazzo del Podestà (attraction)
  8. Biblioteca SalaBorsa (attraction)
  9. Archiginnasio of Bologna (attraction)
  10. Musei Civici (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Noel from The Big Island

There's a lot to see in the gorgeous city of Bologna from the major landmarks to those famous porticoes. I did a few blog posts on my travel site that you can check out, but here's the first impression of this lovely city.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bologna (city)

answered by
Bonnie from United States

Burano is a short boat ride from Venice and it's completely worth it. The town is colorful and charming. 

If you're looking for places to travel not too far away Bologna is wonderful. Everything you eat there will be amazing. We went on a tour: and it was definitely a highlight of the trip. The guides and producers were knowledgeable, friendly and the food was delicious.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Burano (island)
  2. Bologna (city)

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