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Final Details on Northern Italy Itinerary: Next Week!

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Hello all,

I have really enjoyed everyone's suggestions & now I have my own question. My husband and I have planned a very spontaneous trip to Northern Italy and we leave next week! We have reservations, but we're looking for final advice on day trips-- and trying to figure out how to get into the mountains.

We will be flying into Milan Linate and staying for 9 nights. We will have a small car, specifically with the goal of getting off the beaten path. We have been to Italy before together and had a wonderful trip (6 nights in Florence, 4 nights in Rome). I also studied for 4 months in Florence during college, so was able to see quite a bit of the country at that time.

We are in our early thirties, active and our travel priorities are eating delicious food, having time to take in a cappuccino, wandering around and getting a feel for a place, especially places that feel charming, and magical for 2 people used to the suburban US. We are also craving time in some real mountains & beautiful pinch-me scenery.

Here is our current itinerary:

Day 1: Milan Linate to Verona
Day 2: Verona
Day 3: Verona (day trip to Bologna)
Day 4: Verona
Day 5: Verona to Bergamo (overnight)
Day 6: Bergamo to Varenna
Day 7: Varenna (Varenna town & hike)
Day 8: Varenna (cross-lake ferry to Bellagio)
Day 9: Varenna
Day 10: Varenna to Milan Linate

So here's our dilema--We hoped we could get somewhere into the mountains from our base in Varenna, but have struggled to find an option that captures our imagination. Does anyone have any suggested day trips from either Varenna or Verona that would satisfy our mountain-lust?

We're actually still willing to change the itinerary (gasp!), if that is necessary to get us what we're looking for. As we have read more, we are drawn to Castelrotto/ Alpe di Suisi in the Dolomites, but realize this cannot be a day trip from Verona. We could shift the itinerary to add 2 nights in the Dolomites (and take out Bergamo and a night in Varenna), but are concerned we will be moving too fast to get to know any of the places.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Peace,
Megan

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