Notes on Venice, Siena and Bologna

While I hope that what I post here is useful to my countless readers (countlessly few), these are my notes and may not be of much interest to you, dear reader.


The Venice Card (

From the Rough Guide to Venice
A Venice Card, which comes in two forms and is valid for either one, three or seven days. The blue card gives unlimited ACTV access, the orange card gives ACTV and free access to museums covered by the Venice Museum card.

7-day Orange Card €76 (as of 2006). Available at the Alilaguna office and the Vela ticket office, at the Marco Polo airport.

The 7-day card is not cheap (about $100 US in 2006). However, the waterbus fare for one journey is €5 (2006), so the Venice Cards seem like a good deal, especially when you factor in the museum fees.

Museums covered by the Orance Card:

The Chorus Pass Card

Many of Venice's churches use admission fees to help with their maintenance and restoration. You can save money and avoid the hassle of buying individual tickets with the Chorus Pass, which costs only €9.00 nd lets you visit Venice churches that charge admission during a one-year period.

Since the price of an individual ticket is €2,50, you'll recoup the price of the pass if you visit four churches--and as a bonus, you'll get the free use of an audioguide (normally €0,50) during each visit.

You can buy the Chorus Pass at any of the participating churches and several other locations around town.
Europe for Visitors/Venice for Visitors

Context Travel, Venice

When I visited Rome in March of 2007 I went on a Context Travel tour of Ostia Antica, the ancient port city of Rome. The weather was cold, but the tour guide was wonderful. The guide is a professor at one of the local universities and had deep knowledge of Ostia Antica and life during the Roman Imperial era.

Context Travel also has tours in Venice. One of the most remarkable is a two hour tour after hours in the Basilica San Marco. This provides an opportunity to tour the Basilica without the crowds and learn about the remarkable art in the Basilica from an expert.

One of the tragedies of modern Italy is that professors and teachers can barely make enough money to survive. Some of them have taken jobs hosting tours. The Context Travel staff that I have met have been excellent. These are definitely tours people who have curiosity and deeper interest in Italy than just seeing the sights.

Alilaguna (waterbus from the Airport to Zattere)

From the Alilaguna timetable page

Fare from the Airport to Zattere: €11

Murano Museo12:4513:4514:4515:4516:4517:4518:45
Lido (S.M.E.)13:0714:0715:0716:0717:0718:0719:07
San Marco13:2514:2515:2516:2517:2518:2519:25

Pensione La Calcina
Dorsoduro 780
30123 Venezia, Italy
Tel: 041.520.64.66

Directions to La Calcina

ALILAGUNA boat from the Airport to the "Zattere" stop (last stop).
Disembark, turn right, and go straight for about 100 meters.
Time: about 1 hour and 40 minutes.

ACTV Waterbus from Zattere to Ferrovia (train station)

Line 52, 7 days a week, 9:13 AM arriving 9:30

L'Anice Stellato
Tel: +39 041 720 744
Address: Fondamenta de la Sensa, Cannaregio 3272
Notes: Closed Monday and Tuesday

Fish in Venice at a moderate cost - Eastern spices meld east and west. Tops on our list of Venice fish restaurants is L'Anice Stellato in the Cannaregio on Fondamente de la Sensa. Using spices more familiar on far Eastern menus (Anice Stellato means "star anice" a major component of five-spice powder), the chef manages to bring the flavors together in a way that brings home the idea that you're sitting upon the western edge of a major eastern trade route.

Wanting a taste of what the kitchen offered in the way of fish, we ordered a carefully prepared seafood chicchetti plate to start, featuring warm and cold seafood prepared in a variety of ways. The plate included both fish and shellfish. It was a good start.

The menu featured some interesting pastas, but the best is the main course fish dishes, including a slab of swordfish grilled rare then doused with a hot oil bath juniper and thyme to finish the cooking. The bronzino with sweet paprika sauce was also quite good.

Try the Cala Silente Vermentino di Sardegna (17 Euro) for a white wine that can stand up to the spices. Menu changes daily. Reservations strongly advised.

If you're in venice for a while, you might try snagging a table at the 40 Ladrini (40 big thieves) next door, order the crab gnocchi, a specialty of Venice, and then stroll over to the L'Anice Stellato and make a reservation for the next day. It worked for us.
From an vencie resturant review

Also well reviewed on Resturant Reviews and in the Fodor's guide

Waitrose Food Illustrated writes about Anice Stellato "A trip to this efficient, calm, local's restaurant is worth it for the walk along the edge of the Ghetto alone."


Residenza d'Epoca Palazzo Fani Mignanelli
Via Banchi di Sopra, 15
53100 Siena
Tel. +39+(0)577+283566

The hotel is on the 4th floor of a building and has a lift. The hotel is located on the main shopping street and just a few steps from the Piazza del Campo.

Walk from Montalcino to Sant'Antimo

Walk 19: Montalcino to Sant'Antimo from Walking and Eating in Tuscany and Umbria by James Lasdun and Pia Davis
Time: about 3 hours

As it turns out, Italy is a bit like California: it is the land of the automobile (or motocycle). The Eurostar trains in Italy are better than the Trains I've been on in the United States, but the regional trains are slow and prone to lateness. The bus system is also eccentric.

There are two bus stations in Siena. One is within walking distance of the city center. The other is located at the train station, a few kilometers outside of town. If you want to visit the hill towns around Siena, apprently the best way to do this is to rent a car. This is unfortunate, since you cannot drive a car in the Siena city center nor would you want to if you were allowed to (the city center is a maze of narrow streets).

The listing of bus times and routes here turned out to be optimistic. I eventually took a one day tour to Montalcino, although I can't really recommend this either, since the tour was of poor quality and expensive.

Trainspa (Siena and Siena area bus service)

Siena to Montalcino, Wednesday
Line: 114 A Time: 65 to 75 minutes

Leave SienaArrive Montalcino

Time: 61 to 90 minutes
Line: 114 R

Leave MontalcinoArrive Siena

La Peschiera Bus from Montalcino to Sant'Antimo (Castelnuovo dell'Abate)

Montalcino to Castelnuovo Abate
7.10 a.m. . from Monday to Saturday
1.45 p.m. . from Monday to Saturday
2.45 p.m. (school days)
4.00 p.m. (during school holidays season)
6.40 p.m. . from Monday to Saturday
Castelnuovo dell'Abate to Montalcino
6.15 a.m. from Monday to Friday
6.35 just on Saturday
7.45 a.m. from Monday to Saturday
2.25 p.m. . from Monday to Saturday
3.35 p.m. school days
6.10 p.m. . from Monday to Saturday

Note: Get ticket on the bus
Info: TEL. 0564 977778 or 0339 2353177

Sant'Antimo looks like a remarkable gothic church
Abbazia di Sant'Antimo (Abbey of Sant'Antimo) web page
Visits to the church (Weekdays)
10:15 AM to 12:30 PM
3:00 to 6:30 PM

Other towns around Siena


Hotel Porta San Mamolo
Vicolo del Falcone, 6/8
40124 Bologna
Tel +39 051 58 30 56

Hotel Porta San Mamolo is located in 400 meters from the Piazza Maggiore.

Casa Monica
Via San Rocco, 15
(39-051) 522 522

The New York Times Jason Horowitz writes: Delicious as they are, meat-packed tortelini can get heavy in the hot Bologna summer. A good option is a visit to Casa Monica, which has outside seating looking into a patch of garden, and lighter, less traditional fare. Try the carrot, ginger and toasted almond soup, and the baked ricotta.

Osterias and Pubs

New York Times: For those who prefer a more down-to-earth crowd, a stroll down Via del Pratello leads to lively pubs and osterias squeezed between mortadella, tortellini and cheese shops.

Library - Internet Cafe

New York Times: In the Sala Borsa, a multimedia library created, in part by Bologna's famed writer and thinker Umberto Eco, a paneled glass floor looks down on Roman ruins and an Internet cafe on the top floor offers 40 computers with Internet access for $2.50 (US?) per hour (or free if you sign up to use the library). Pizza Nettuno, 3 (39-051) 204 400

The channels of Bologna

Bologna, also beeing constructed in the middle of Padana plane, had a large port that allowed boat connections to the sea and with the nearby regions. The industry of the silk was a lot important and therefore the fluvial connections were fundamental for the commerce. Passing the time the port ( in Bologna there is Port Streat!) and its channels have lost more and more importance, are disappeared the loundresses, the flour mills that were found until 20 years ago in the first bolognese country. Now this net of channels is partially disappeared and those little that are still found in city have been covered, like in Via Riva di Reno. But the same channel that passes in this road re-appear just in the historical center of Bologna, passing under via Independenza and between two rows of houses, with its balconies and little windows. Walk around this zone difficultly you will notice it if not lend much attention. In Via Piella, entering in this road from via Augusto Righi, 20 meters ahead on the right you will find one small window in wood with next one historical plate. From this window you will be able to see the channel exactly as I have photographed it. Tried to imagine this zone with little palaces, the boats on the river full of products for the commerce!
Address: Via Piella, corner Via Augusto Righi
From Ludogatto's Bologna Web page on Virtual Tourist

Water Channels in Bologna

Bologna is rich of visible and 'invisible' channels. Seeing Bolonga nobody would imagine the complex net in the underground of Bologna. The Association 'Amici delle Acque' studies and preserves this great patrimony, organizes guided tours in various location over and under the ground. The association have a web site with all the next appointment, but this page is only in Italian. Telephon them to have info on the next tours. From the website: The sole purpose of the Association is to promote and develop awareness of the role which water has played in the history of the city of Bologna and its surrounding area, and of the underground waterways and hidden attractions which may be found there. How much? From 6 to 12 euros, depend on the type of tour.

Phone: 051.522401
Directions: Amici delle Acque Segreteria
Viale Pietramellara, 11
Telefono: 051.522401
Posted on Ludogatto's page, referenced above.

Unfortunately the Amici Delle Acque seem to have disappeared. Their web page is dead and I can't find any other references to them on the Web.

My main web page on Italy

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