Italy - Po Delta with optional Venice extension
Great birding at one of Europe's most important National Parks, followed by the option of visiting Venice.
Po Delta trip only £895 Single Supplement: £110
Leader: Kevin Shaw
Come birding with Heatherlea in the Po Delta, site of one of Europe’s most important national parks. In spring good birding features a range of resident and migrant species, and we spend three full days here. Book the Venice extension and spend three nights in this wonderful city. We drive to Venice on Wednesday, just two hours away, and enjoy the timeless wonder. We use good hotels in both venues, and with three nights in Venice you have the opportunity to explore the city at leisure. A unique two-centre experience combining absorbing birding with a real cultural delight!
Day 1 Saturday 5 April - Day 4 Tuesday 8 April
We fly to Bologna or Forli and within an hour's drive are at our first hotel, ready to go birding! Birds of this vast wetland include Black-necked Grebe, Pygmy Cormorant, Purple, Night and Squacco Heron, Great White, Cattle and Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Great Flamingo, Bittern, Little Bittern, Marsh Harrier, lots of waders perhaps including Marsh, Green and Wood Sandpiper, Avocet, Kentish Plover, Little Stint and Whimbrel, a variety of gulls and terns, Wryneck, Black Redstart, Cetti’s, Fan-tailed, Great Reed and Sardinian Warbler, Firecrest, Penduline Tit, Red-backed, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrike, italiae House Sparrow and Serin. Just as rewarding will be our hunt for migrants, which might include Spotted Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, White Stork, and Black Stork.
Other possible birds include migrating Caspian and Lesser Crested Tern, Bee-eater and Marsh Sandpiper, waterbirds including Bittern, Little Bittern, Mediterranean and Slender-billed Gull, and of course the delightful Pygmy Cormorant. Other excitement in previous holidays include an Adder swallowing a large Marsh Frog before our eyes, good views of Coypu and a cracking female Kingfisher twenty feet from us for several minutes.
On this leg of the holiday we may be joined by our friend and top local birder Menotti Passarella. 'What Menotti doesn't know about the birds ............ of the Po Delta isn't worth knowing' Bob Scott, 'Where to go birdwatching in the Po Delta'. We are always guaranteed fascinating birding with Menotti, plus access to some places not normally open to the public.
We are able to cover all the major places at a leisurely pace but without wasting time - after all we only have three days here, we want to go to Venice too!
Day 5 Wednesday 9 April
For guests not choosing the Venice extension, we transfer you to Bologna Airport for your flight back to London
Day 5 - Day 7 OPTIONAL VENICE EXTENSION Wednesday 9 April - Friday 11 April
Venice is only 110 km from our first hotel, so we can transfer in around two hours. With three days here, you will have plenty of time to explore. On arrival we will issue waterbus (vaporetti) tickets so you can get around freely, and take you down the Grand Canal to your hotel. In Venice you can stay with Kevin, who knows the city and will be on hand throughout, use the vaporetti to explore the lagoon and Grand Canal, or visit the Peggy Guggenheim, Accademia or Modern Art museums. An introductory tour with Kevin will begin at the Doge’s Palace adjacent to St Mark’s Square and again take you along the Grand Canal to the fresh food markets and the Rialto Bridge. You can explore with Kevin or enjoy the city at your leisure. You may wish to see St Mark’s Basilica, the Doges’ Palace with its poignant Bridge of Sighs, or just enjoy the feel of Venice as you wander through ancient, narrow streets past shops bursting with Murano Glass, carnival masks, and artists’ supplies. We use a good hotel for three nights in a quiet part of the city - a two centre experience with a difference!
A few notes about Venice from Kevin
Venice is a wonderful place, but it helps to have a little knowledge to get the most from your visit. Here are a few things you should know.
- Get euros before you arrive; currency exchange rates in Venice are very poor.
- We will arrive by road and immediately buy tickets for three days unlimited travel on the waterbuses, or vaporetti. We validate tickets the first time we use them, after this you should keep your ticket handy in case an inspector wants to see it. Don’t lose the ticket!
- We will board our first waterbus at the railway station, and enter Venice in style! We will need to walk a few hundred metres if disembarking at San Marco, less if disembarking at San Zaccaria, it depends which waterbuses are running that day.
- Located behind St. Mark's Square, in a peaceful Calle overlooking St Mark's Basin, our Hotel occupies premises once used as a studio by Alessandro Vittoria, one of the most important 16th-century Venetian sculptors. Close to the hotel is the Chiesa della Pietà, where for many years Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) one of the greatest composers of the Italian Baroque, taught and played.
- Once we are settled, we will take an orientation walk featuring many of the treasures of Venice, helping you find your way around a few key places and – most important! – the route back to your Hotel. We will also enjoy our first journey along the breathtaking Canale Grande to our hotel.
- Most of the major tourist sights are within a few hundred yards of your Hotel. You are only a few minutes' walk from St Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace and the Bridge of Sighs.
- There are many places to eat, from streetside cafes to good osteria, trattoria and restaurants. Kevin will show you a few good places, but virtually everyone in Venice speaks English, so you should feel safe everywhere.
- If you are worried about price in eating establishments, look out for three ‘extras’ which can be charged. These are:
- ‘IVA’, a compulsory tax which may or may not be in the quoted price.
- ‘coperta’ or cover charge, usually a couple of euros. This can be slipped onto the bill at the end of your meal, though waiters are happy to inform you in advance if you ask.
- ‘servicio’ or service charge, often 10% or more – worth asking whether this is included before you order.
- In most cafes and bars it is cheaper to eat or drink standing up rather than sitting down. You will notice many people drinking expresso or eating panaderies whilst standing, (Italians have a sweet tooth!), then it’s ‘ciao’ and away they go.
- The area immediately around St Mark’s Square (San Marco) is much more expensive than the back streets. It is worth a walk to get away from the throng and appreciate a more traditional place at a realistic price.
- Your waterbus ticket is a real asset – you can go up and down the Grand Canal, round the outside of the city, across the lagoon to the Lido or visit the glass blowing factories and shops of Murano. This is a great way to see Venice and also to give your feet a rest!
- Beware free trips to glass blowing factories, which you may be offered at any time. These are similar to time-share offers where you may be pressurised into buying once taken to the factory. Better to explore yourself via the waterbus.
- If you want to enjoy a concert or anything special please ask and we will be delighted to help. Tickets can be bought directly from our hotel.
Day 8 Saturday 12 April
We should have another morning at leisure in Venice before transferring to the airport and flying home.
Price includes scheduled flights from London, airport taxes, ground transfers, comfortable en-suite hotel accommodation on full-board basis in Po Delta area, en-suite hotel accommodation on B&B basis in Venice (if choosing this extension), waterbus pass, incidental tips, and the services of Leader Kevin Shaw.
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