Reading time: 3 min.
January 2019, Bologna to Venice&Murano, Italy
Ok, winter, enough is enough.
After weeks of staying at home, indulging in comfort food, drinking tea and hot chocolate, hearing frozen trees cracking at night, we cannot take it anymore. I officially declare war to snow, ice and multiple layers of clothes. What a better excuse to buy plane tickets for a sunny destination? 😀
Mmmm…a Bologna to Venice day trip sounds promising.
The plan for our spontaneous winter day trip is simple: set camp in Bologna and travel by train to whatever destination we feel like on the spot. No matter the city, we will surely escape the tourist crowds invading Italy on summer season. It worked perfectly with Rome last winter.
Looking for some great day trips from Bologna? It’s hard to imagine having the map in mind, but from Bologna you can reach Venice, Verona, Milan or Florence in less than 1.5 hours by express train.
“Bella Italia”, here we come!
Although Bologna is often seen more as a base for Italy trips, it definitely deserves at least one day.
The moment we arrive, it looks like the weather is not much different than in Bucharest. But the snow is missing, so we’ll consider that a good sign. We take a short tour of our cozy rented apartment, get rid of backpacks, and go out exploring. A walk to Piazza Maggiore and finding a nice place to eat are the only things on the to-do list for today.
Bologna’s historic centre boasts 35 km of covered sidewalks: the city has certainly well deserved to be known as the city of the Porticos.
Each step to the main square reveals a hidden treasure. The pincio gardens, called the Montagnola Park, were created on the model of the great Parisian metropolitan gardens of Napoleon’s time.
The University of Bologna is acknowledged as the oldest university in the world, founded in 1088. Back then, lectures were given in private homes.
Reaching the beautiful Neptune square and Fountain means we’ve done enough for today.
But as the pouring rain takes us by surprise, we find shelter inside the Archaeological Civic Museum of Bologna, among Egyptian statues and sarcophagi dating 3000 years ago.
Later at night, we pass by The two towers.
Garisenda and Asinelli are built in the XI century, when the foremost Bolognese families competed with one another for the tallest tower as a sign of power. Asinelli, the biggest one, is 97 meters tall and has 498 steps. There is a superstition among university students, that forbids climbing atop until after graduation. As a result, the unofficial part of the graduation ceremony involves finally conquering the tower.
It’s too late for a visit, but we keep this in mind for the last evening.
The next morning we’re at the Central Station of Bologna, the land of choice in terms of Italian destinations. Out of nowhere, the sun is shining on a perfectly blue sky, with no sign of cloud disturbance.
Tickets in hand, we jump in the next express train. The next minute, without even noticing, we’re running full speed to “The city of mirages”.
How to reach Venice from Bologna
Bologna Centrale -> Venezia Santa Lucia, speed train L’Italo: train tickets between 13-30 EUR/pers/1 way, travel time ~1.5 h
The second we arrive in Venice, we enter a universe of water canals, bridges, Gothic architecture, colorful glass, masks, all revived by an energy i have never felt before.
Venice is built on an archipelago of 118 islands formed in a shallow lagoon, connected by more than 400 bridges. In the old centre, the canals serve the function of roads, and almost every form of transport is on water or foot.
Often named “City of Canals”, “Serenissima”, “Queen of the Adriatic”, “City of Water”, “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges”, “The Floating City”, Venice is truly one-of-a-kind, and it deserves a place on any Italy itinerary.
From the train station, we head to the famous Piazza San Marco, climb St. Mark’s Campanile (Bell Tower) and keep contemplating the incredible views over the city.
We make another stop at the splendid Doge’s Palace and take a seat on the concrete stairs, just watching the spectacle of gondolas floating on water.
Let’s run to Murano now!
When we realize what time it is, we rush like crazy through Venice’s addicting maze of streets and canals for about 30 minutes, until the ferry dock comes into sight.
If there is a funny thing that can only happen in Venice, picture a bunch of travelers with their phones in hand, Google.maps on, following the directions on the app, until they reach a dead end in water. They all turn back at the same time, try the next street and so on, until a bridge would come along.
How to reach Murano from Venice
Venice Fondamente Nove –> Murano, vaporetto no. 4.1/4.2/12, tickets 10 USD/pers/roundtrip, travel time ~10 min
10 minutes on the boat and we land on Murano, the colorful island famous for artisanal glass.
Just have a walk, take part of a glass-making demonstration and inhale the fresh air, away from the city crowds.
And because the best day trips include having a cozy base to come back to, we return to Venice by ferry and jump in the train to Bologna.
What a better way to end our holiday, than conquering the Asinelli tower of Bologna at sunset? 🙂
- A visit to Bologna must include a food tour around Mercato di Mezzo, near Piazza Maggiore.
- No breakfast should start without the mortadella Bologna.
- Do not miss the lasagna, passatelli and zuppa imperial on the first course.
- Tortellini is the signature dish of Bologna.
- Another renowned dish is Tagliatelle alla Bolognese.
Places we tried and we can recommend:
- Il bar del cuore for panini and hot chocolate, 7:30 AM – 8:30 PM
- Scrambler Ducati food factory for scrambled burgers, 12–2:30 PM & 7 PM–10:30 PM
- Osteria dell’Orsa for traditional pasta, 12:15–11 PM
- Donatello for a sophisticated dinner, 12–2:30 PM & 7 PM–10 PM
Where to stay in Bologna
If you’re planning day trips, it would be best to have the Central Station nearby. We rented an apartment at Bologna Suite, and couldn’t have wished for a better place.
Happy travels and stay safe!