My daughter wanted to go to Venice for the Bienalle and I wanted to see Italy. My partner has been to Italy so joined for the adventure. My daughter has traveled throughout Italy on her own as well so had some experience. We travel together often; Caribbean, Denmark, Spain, Sweden and beyond. We love boutique hotels and low key off the beaten path. We booked air on Air Canada Boston to Milan and Chicago Milan via Montreal. We booked in May and secured Premium Economy seats for 1100.00 We have found SAS and Iberia's PE flights were amazing so decided to try Air Canada. In short, never again.
Our plan was to visit friends who reside near Varese, see Milan, head to Bologna so my partner could go to Ducati and then to Venice for the Bienalle as my daughter is an art curator. We stayed at Aethos in Milan, Antica Casa Zucchini in Bologna and Caneletto Apartment in Venice with Truly Venice. We also stayed with friends near Varese.
Italo - Milan to Bologna - flawless
Trenitalia Bologna to Venice and Venice to Milan - flawless
Trenord Milan to Varese - a little hurried as we needed to change stations with minutes to spare but awesome
I booked our train tickets online. It took some navigating but went well and we loved our train experience. We preferred Italo for comfort, overall.
The three of us researched food on various blogs and social media accounts. We created a Google Map Doc and Spreadsheet to insure we had our trip planned plus allowing "go with the flow " opportunities. In all 3, we walked a lot. We averaged 20k steps a day. We drank cappuccino and ate coronets (croissants) standing up at bars in all three cities. This was the highlight of our trip, meeting locals, savoring amazing coffee and eating great treats. Every experience was better than the next. We ate light, lovely lunches and a lot of cicchetti. We had one pizza in Venice that was not memorable. We had a bad meal in Milan and also one in Venice, otherwise, we loved all our dining experiences.
Weather was amazing aside from our arrival day into Venice. We wore hats, scarves and light winter wear. We were always comfortable but felt a chill in Venice. The day we arrived into Venice it was pouring rain with howling winds. it was also close to a full moon. The streets were wet with puddles but no flooding. We noticed all locals wore regular shoes. The only covered boots and ponchos were tourists.
Milan was bustling. We stayed in Naviglio which was a bit too crowded and touristy for our taste. Our food highlights were Pasta Madre, Sabbia Di Oro and Loste Cafe. We did notice the high amount of smokers in Milan. It did not mar our experience, just an observation.
Bologna was busy but not crowded at all. We walked for hours and enjoyed the historic vibe. Sfoglia Rina was our favorite meal for amazing tortellini. My partner LOVED his tour of Ducati. He took an Uber and was there for 3+ hours. He highly recommends the tour for motorcycle enthusiasts. The pro racer Francesco (Pecco) Bagnaiawas there so that was an exciting opportunity for my partner.
Venice was a dream. I have lived in the Caribbean and traveled all over the islands and parts of the UK and Europe but Venice by far, touched my heart. There was one beautiful view after another. The crowds were low so navigating the city was comfortable. We had so many great experiences as far as dining and exploring. The Biennale was amazing. We went to a few pavilions at Arsenal and the main area. The Simone Leigh sculptures blew me away. We walked everywhere vs water taxis but used private water taxis to and from the train station to our flat in Castello.
My partner speaks a little Italian and I learned some basic phrases but otherwise, we had a fine time communicating and navigating in all 3 cities. It was a fast paced trip but one that I will long remember.