So, this trip of ours was partially a reschedule of a cancelled 2020 with some other spots added in.
The house in Manarola, I have had reserved since 12-19, pushing the dates out every year until we could finally travel. Yay for finally making it back to Italy.
We were doing a return trip to the Cinque Terre (originally there for two days about 20 years ago), so we decided our other stops would be new to us. We decided on Verona and Bologna.
Flights were easy, CLT to JFK to Milan. We had decided to only use the train system and not rent a car and found it very easy. For most train travel we used one of two apps, Trainline or Omio. Both were easy, they just handle the service charge slightly different. You set up your account ahead of time, add all your passenger info and it is just a few clicks to get your tickets on your phone. We did find that most stations had long lines to buy at the counter or even use the automated machines, so we decided early on not to stand in line. We did also use the automated machines and only issue we found was it asking us for a pin with our credit card (which we don’t have or know of), we were able to use our debit card or cash easily. Other funny thing was our tickets were probably checked about 10% of the time. We of course bought them anyway because the fines are steep but thought it interesting.
While our trip was going on we dubbed it the bread, meat and cheese tour (pasta and wine go without saying), but in Verona and Bologna we were in the middle of meat and cheese!
The train station was about 20-minute walk over the usual bumpy stony sidewalks and street (psa here to pack light!) Stayed here for two nights in an Airbnb close to the old city and within the big curve of the river. The lodging was nothing special, very spartan, so no special mention here.
The town was lovely, small streets to wander, good food and fancy shopping for those who like that. We walked over the famous bridge, Ponte Pietra. At the end of two days, we felt we had walked most of the city and still somehow did not visit any of the Romeo and Juliet tourist attractions.
We had booked ahead of time an e-bike and wine day at Tenuta Santa Maria Valverde. We were supposed to bike through vineyards with the owner, then drink wine at this small boutique winery. We had a rainy drizzly day and decided to take the owners offer for more wine and food and skip the bike.
Nicola was 6th generation at this vineyard, house and grounds were lovely as was the view. We needed to take public transportation out there and we got very detailed instructions from them about where to catch the bus, what time and where to get our tickets. They picked us up at the bus stop and drove us up the hill to their vineyard. We were in middle of the Valpolicella triangle, as well as Amarone. They were in the middle of harvest, but were taking a couple day break because of the rain. They had recently lost part of their crop due to “ice from the sky”. These damaged grapes could not be put in the drying crates. They let the grapes dry naturally above the old barn before making their Amarone. It ended up being a lovely day.
Because we were now bus experts, we got ourselves onto a bus to the train station for our quick ride to Bologna the next morning…