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Jul 21, 2010 10:58 AM

Arggggh! Everything closed Aug. 6-14

I am so frustrated. I've spent hours on this board writing down notes and restaurants that all of you terrific CH'ers have recommended in Italy. I've emailed and called at least 9 restaurants to find they are all closed during the week we will be there, Aug. 6-14. So, maybe you can help this way.

Can you recommend any restaurants to go to the week we are there in Milan, Bologna and Venice? I am so disappointed we won't be able to visit the ones that keep coming up by all of you, so do you know any that are open???

I know it's a bad time to visit as much is closed, but it's the only week we can go this year.

Thanks so much...hungry!

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  1. If you understand some Italian, go to (registration required but free). Then go to Ristoranti, enter the name of the city - Milano, Bologna, Venezia - and click on Apertura agosto. You will get the restaurants that are (supposedly) open in August. Gambero Rosso is the most authoritative Italian restaurant guide, but unlike the pope, it is not infallible.

    6 Replies
    1. re: zerlina

      You make me wish I can speak Italian. Unfortunately I don't except for polite sayings, phrases, words. Does the site translate to English?

      1. re: synergy

        have you tried using google translate?

        1. re: jen kalb

          its possible to sign on (and work through the sign in pages of the site on the english side or using google translate. The English language content seems not to be identical with the Italian (as is so often the case) when you choose the English option.

          But zerlina, I have tried multiple times to find a way to look at their restaurant info over the last few months and have failed. Maybe its something that flash is needed for (I dont have it) but I just dont see where in the site this is available Can you suggest where this is?

          1. re: jen kalb

            in the upper, horizontal navigation bar (right under the big red gambero rosso logo), click on food (4th item from the left) and then on the new navi-bar that appears underneath it, click ristoranti, 2nd item). That brings you to the research mask. Which is not too reliable, by the way, but it is a start!

            1. re: vinoroma

              thanks, did it. the second toolbar is hardly visible but once I found it it worked well. The pages wil translate once you get there, unlike the home page, altho I always find the translation of the restaurant names amusing and annoying. Still doesnt answer WHEN in august however which I imagine is the big question for folks.ViaMichelin has more precise info for the restuarants it selects in the top bracket, but there is no substitute for a call or email.

      2. re: zerlina

        I will also be traveling to Florence this week and tried out the website you suggested.... I couldn't quite figure it out. I heard so sostanza might be closed that week, does anyone know if that is the case?

      3. What types of restaurants are you looking for in Venice? budget, ambience, days of the week. Which ones in Venice have you contacted. Hopefully I can help there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PBSF

          We are looking for trattoria type places...we tried a few that were mentioned in a recent Venice post...Il Ridotto and a couple of other places (sorry, don't have the notes with me now)

        2. sorry to report that I was in Bologna during this period last summer and it was a veritable ghost town. Even the tourist information people had trouble coming up with a good place to eat that was open. We resorted to Eataly, returned to Osteria Dell'Orsa (reliable, inexpensive student-y place), and chose a random open place that was empty... because the town was so deserted they were delighted to see us and gave us a very nice meal: it was on Via de' Falegnami or Via san Giuseppe... sorry that I don't have that detail.

          Even the markets were on skeleton operations. Some of the gelato shops were still open, which was a massive relief. If your travel plans aren't firm, I would advise staying outside the crematorium that is Bologna in August and setting up camp in surrounding countryside, in a hotel or agriturismo with a pool and a good dining room. If that isn't possible, at least you are prepared for the slow-down (which I wasn't, even though I heard it would be slow) and won't be devastated on arrival.

          7 Replies
          1. re: sinjawns

            My husband and I will be in Rome for three days before boarding the Princess Ruby for a cruise. Are we also going to have trouble finding places to eat? Can anyone help with suggestions as to what might be open? We are staying at the Cicerone Hotel, on the west side of the Tiber near the Vatican. We can take mass transit and are good walkers as well. I have been reading online and restaurants are usually mentioned by neighborhood, which I am not familiar with at all. I think we are in the Pratti. Help is greatly appreciated.

            1. re: Hilary

              have you looked at the answers to your prior queries? there were quite a number I think Click on your name at the bottom of your post and you will be able to get back to those answers.

            2. re: sinjawns

              Even gelato shops were closed!!!???? I was planning on gorging on gelato! Oh sinjawns, I'm getting discouraged.

              1. re: synergy

                I know it is discouraging. Having been through the wringer last summer I wouldn't choose to travel to Italy in August again... unless, like you, it was my only option, in which case I would jump despite the inconvenience. There are so many other lovely things to make it worthwhile.

                Keep in mind that I can only speak for Bologna (and Florence...); I don't know what goes on in Venice and Milan at that time. And while many gelato shops are closed in Bologna, not ALL of them will be. You will get your fill, but perhaps not the variety you were hoping to try.

                The other optimistic bit of news I can offer is that I was in Bologna towards the end of your time; perhaps you will arrive before everyone heads out on holiday.

                One more thought... if you have the flexibility, and since you are in the north anyway, why not skip Bologna this time around and head towards Val Gardena (Ortisei), where everything will be open to accommodate the influx of Italian tourists getting away from the city heat. The area is beyond spectacular; food a combo of Austrian/German and Italian. Really great wines and cheeses. Trick is to get a room at this late stage...

                Sincere best wishes on your trip; we look forward to a report.

                1. re: sinjawns

                  Thanks so much for your kind encouragement. We usually go to Italy, or anywhere in Europe, right after the Labor Day holiday. This year, in my spouse's company, they all have to take a forced vacation week in Aug., so that's when we planned this trip.

                  Well, I LOVE to eat, and won't go hungry no matter what, that's for sure. :-)

                  1. re: sinjawns

                    WHAAAAAAT!? My husband is taking me to Amalfi, Aug 9-18. Will I be in a similar fix? Any suggestions along this coastal area? (we will have a car)

                    1. re: gret

                      Good heavens, no! Everything on the Amalfi Coast will be open and doing roaring business. Restaurants are only closed in the cities that people escape from in August to go to places like the Amalfi Coast.

              2. Some additional thoughts for future travelers who search for information about Bologna in August:

                We just spent two nights there, August 13 and 14. Bologna really is something of a ghost town then, and a tricky one at that -- restaurants and shops of all types close for overlapping periods of two or three or four weeks starting in mid-July and ending, mostly, the last week in August or the first week in September. It looked like many of the places we wanted to try will reopen Aug. 23 or 24. (We also spent an afternoon in Parma, whose city center seems to operate under a similar schedule.)

                To find dinner one evening, we walked by or called at least 10 restaurants (many of the ones listed on the boards here) until we found a place that was open. Those closed included Anna Maria, Caminetto d'Oro, Diana, Drogheria Della Rosa, Meloncello, La Mura Osteria and several others.

                Also closed was Antica Aguzzeria del Cavallo, which is said to be an impressive cooking equipment shop on Via Drapperie. It looked substantial in size, which is all we could tell behind its solid pull-down gate and a "Chiuso per ferie" sign.

                So where did we eat? We went to Osteria dell'Orsa for a light dinner one evening, and I understand the mixed reactions here. It didn't seem touristy at all, maybe because most tourists with a choice don't visit Bologna in mid-August. The often-mentioned tagliatelli with Bolognese sauce was good, but the pasta was a little less al dente than we would have expected. The ragu, though delicious, tasted very similar to the Marcella Hazan recipe I've been making for a decade but a little less bright -- which was affirming though a bit disappointing. (Which is to say, you go to Bologna, you sorta want the bolognese sauce to be a revelation.) And we had a salad of funghi, mozzarella and greens that was just so-so. The prices, as mentioned elsewhere on the board, are extraordinarily low.

                The second night, we went to Ristorante Alice, at Via Massimo d'Azeglio 65, and had a very pleasant meal. Their interesting, mostly-vegetable antipasto arrives several plates at a time, variously featuring ceci beans, baby onions, eggplant, mortadella, potato croquettes, cabbage and several others, and ends with a cheese to be drizzled with fig jam or onion jam or honey. Our primi were a mushroom risotto that was creamy and had just the right bite, and a homemade maccheroni with a delicious sauce of sausage and basil. By that time we were too full for the secondi. With three quartinos of decent house wine (two flat, one frizzanti), the bill was under 70 euros.

                Another positive note: many of the terrific food shops on Via Drapperie and Via Pescherie were open, including the iconic A.F. Tamburini with its cafeteria-style lunch service, and simply going into one of them and breathing can be a heady and satisfying experience. And the architecture of Bologna is wonderful, despite a plague of graffiti that recalls New York in the seventies.

                1. Hey was your holiday and what did you eat?

                  Very helpful post Brainsprint.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sinjawns

                    Will report back over the weekend, Sinjawns. Gotta look back at notes and I'm swamped with work since I came back. Not many notable places...went to a couple recommended by some SlowTravelers that were good in Bologna. Nothing special in Venice or Milan. Went to 1 FANTASTIC gelato place (out of 5) in Milan. More to come...

                    1. re: synergy

                      looking forward to hearing about it ALL good and disappointing. when you get a chance.