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11 days Northern Italy- late October and early November

11 days Northern Italy- late October and early November

May 27th, 2012, 07:18 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 315
11 days Northern Italy- late October and early November

We are beginning to nail down some specifics for our trip to Italy this fall (in and out of Milan) so I thought I'd run the itinerary past the experts. Please let me know if anything seems off...at this point, I've only determined the order and amount of time to allot to each stop so I am open to any and all suggestions. We are in our late 30's and travel mostly for wine, food, wine, sightseeing (museums, churches, etc), and wine. We are also interested in hiking. I think there will be at least 4 adults and maybe 8 adults (!), which may make logistics a bit complicated. Finally, I prefer cities and larger towns, but want a decent mix given I am trying to make a larger group happy.

Day 1- arrive Milan; recover from jet lag, try in advance for tickets to the Last Supper (overnight Milan)

Days 2-5- train to Rapallo; use as a base to visit the towns of the Riviera, hike the CT if the weather cooperates (4 nights Rapallo)

Day 6- train to Turin, overnight Turin

Days 7-10- pick up rental cars and tour Piedmont (4 nights Piedmont, base TBD)

Day 11- drop rental cars and train back to Milan/Milan airport area; stay overnight somewhere that makes a morning flight home feasible

Day 12- fly home

Thoughts? I'm guessing one of the suggestions would be to drop the night in Turin, but for some reason it's on my radar. We have not included a day trip from Milan to one of the lakes- is that a mistake even though we will be traveling during the off season (or close to it)? Finally, this group hiked (part of) the Inca Trail to Macchu Pichu last year, so I think we can handle the hikes along the coast- am I being too confident?
alg is offline  
May 27th, 2012, 07:34 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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The hiking in le Cinque Terre will not be difficult for your group. I can't comment on the rest of your itinerary as I don't know that area well enough. Check out Fred Plotkin's "Italy for the Gourmet Traveler" for the best advice on food and wine. He focuses on the best genuine regional food and wine experiences, not necessarily the "must see" high end places. He also has stuff on the Internet.
charnees is offline  
May 27th, 2012, 10:51 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 141
You will be in Northern Italy during the heart of the truffle season. If you are any sort of foodie, you are in for a real treat. You pay a supplement to have black truffles shaved on your food. Even if you don't eat the truffles, just walking into a restaurant, you are overwhelmed by the aroma of the truffles. There is a big truffle fest in Alba in October so you might check on the dates for that. There are touristy truffle hunts but check with your hotelier and see if he can arrange for you to go on a real truffle hunt (not staged). We went on one with the hunter, his dog, and an guy who explained what was going on (because the hunter had to be keeping an eye on the dog all the time). It was a great experience. We stayed in Sinio at Castello di Sinio which was a great place to use for a base for wine tasting. Our hosts helped arrange private wine tastings and the truffle hunt for us as well.
cavergirl is offline  
May 27th, 2012, 11:45 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
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Would you consider renting a car throughout your vacation? It would make things so much easier for you to visit towns and villages. You are not going in peak tourist season, so you should not have problems with driving. Many hotels etc in Cinque Terre would even be closed down. Personally, I also prefer to travel off the tourist season, as we hate extra long queues or traffic everywhere. You would also be saving time catching trains and buses.

The Italian lakes are lovely, so breathtakingly beautiful. I have been there years and years ago, and it is on my toplist at the moment. I still recall having dinner at a lakeside restaurant on Lake Maggiore with a magnificent view of Isola Bella, really really lovely. Lake Como is just as beautiful.

If you really want to visit that region, maybe you can stay at least nights in Milan, and go to Lake Maggiore or Como for a day. It would be even easier if you have a rented car.

I would skip sleeping in Turin yes, as you would not have time to see much of the city since you have to allow travel time to reach it, settle down in hotel etc, and I would not know if it would be worth the hassle for just one night, but if want to visit this city you can do a day trip to Turin when you are in Piedmont in the vicinity.

If you do prefer to rent a car in Piedmont, not necessarily in Turin and skip staying overnight in Turin, you can use that one night saved and add it to Milan. That way, you would have your vacation less strenuous as you would have lessened your one-night stays.

Since you would have a rented car I would certainly consider dropping off car at Milan airport and not dropping it off at Turin and then have to take train. What time are you leaving in the morning? Check what times the booking offices open so that you would have time to return your car. Alternately, deposit your car the evening prior to departure at the rental office at airport, and sleep at an airport hotel or B&B in Malpensa. Many offer shuttle service, sometimes even free, to airport.
Anna_Galea is offline  
May 27th, 2012, 11:47 PM
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Sorry - in the third paragraph I left the 2 out - I meant 2 nights in Milan
Anna_Galea is offline  
May 28th, 2012, 06:13 AM
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Here is a great place to stay near Asti to enjoy the best of the Piemonte wines and cuisine. I would day trip into Turin from here. Tim is a big help to tour the local wineries.

bobthenavigator is offline  
May 28th, 2012, 07:11 AM
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Thanks so much for the responses...a few follow-up questions.

If we add a night to Milan to day trip to Lake Maggiore it will be a Sunday; is it worth the trip on a Sunday? We once spent a Sunday in Bologna and virtually everything was closed.

We can certainly rent a car the whole time, but my understanding of the towns on the Riviera is that they are easily accessible by train...is a car better?

If we drop the night in Turin, it seems that we would effectively lose a day in Piedmont traveling from Rapallo to Piedmont. That would give us 3 full days in Piedmont, which doesn't sound like enough.

Our flight home is at 10:30 am, which I assume means we should be at the airport at 8:30 am.

Bob and cavegirl- I will look into both your accommodation suggestions, thanks!
alg is offline  
May 28th, 2012, 08:30 AM
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Now that I think about it, maybe we should head straight to Rapallo when we arrive and tack Milan on the end. That would give us:

4 nights Rapallo (3 full days)
5 nights Piedmont (4 full days which could include three wine tasting and one day trip to Turin)
2 nights Milan (half day to see the Last Supper and a day trip to Lake Maggiore- only issue is the lake trip would be in the beginning on November so restaurants and shops might be closed for the season?)

If we are short changing one of the legs we could add a night somewhere by leaving the US a day earlier. Or use the extra night to stop 2 nights in Milan at the beginning and then 1 night at the end to be near the airport:

2 nights Milan - includes half day for the Last Supper and daytrip to Lake Maggiore on a non-Sunday
4 nights Rapallo (3 full days)
5 nights Piedmont (4 full days including three wine tasting and one day trip to Turin)
1 night Milan/Milan airport area for morning flight home

OR (so many options...) we could put the Rapallo portion last and fly home from Pisa. But that would mean the Riviera in November.
alg is offline  
May 28th, 2012, 09:27 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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You will absolutely have to have a car in Piemonte. The Barolo region consists of 12 hill towns and while you might be able to catch a bus or something it would be totally hit or miss and you would not see them all. When we did our trip we had a similar itinerary. We spent 2 nights in Milan then went to Lake Maggiore for a few days before heading to Piemonte where we spent about 6 or 7 nights. Do not book a hotel in Milan the last night as the airport is a good hour + from the city. You will need to stay near the airport. My suggestion is to do all your time in Milan at the beginning preferably without a car. Take a bus or taxi from the airport. The traffic and design of Milan streets is a nightmare. Their steet signage is such that the road name changes every few blocks and they have all these one way streets so all very hard to navigate (and I am a good navigator). We should have taken a taxi into Milan because in addition to the traffic, we were charged by the hotel for parking and the car never left the lot. Pick up your car before you leave Milan when you are ready to leave.

We flew out of Torino and it worked well because we drove in from Piemonte in the morning (about 2 hours) for our flight (but it was later in the morning than yours).

In planning the trip, I ran into the issue that Anna_Galea mentioned - things were closed for the season. I wanted to go into the mountains but it was between seasons (after summer but before ski season) and there were virtually no hotels openend so just be sure you will have somewhere to stay no matter where you decide to go.

Back to the truffles, be sure and go to the big market in Alba (think it is on Saturday). Even if the truffle festival is over, there is a separate area where people sell their truffles. Very interesting to see. You need to go there early in the day because it is really crowded but well worth planning around it to go there.
cavergirl is offline  
May 30th, 2012, 08:20 AM
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Interesting...we could fly home from Torino via CDG. I would like to buy plane tickets this week and get some hotel reservations lined up. How does this sound?

Day 1: arrive Milan, overnight in Milan
Day 2-5: 4 nights Rapallo
Day 6-10- 5 nights Piedmont area
Day 11- overnight Torino
Day 12- fly home

Here are my current questions-

Is it that much better to rent a car for the Rapallo portion? I know we'll need one for Piedmont, but thought the towns along the coast were easily accessible by train or bus.

Are we making a mistake visting Rapallo at the end of October? I noted that my first choice hotel appears to shut down for the season on 10/26 so I'm wondering what else might be closed.
alg is offline  
May 31st, 2012, 04:55 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 527
I have not yet been to CT, but I made quite some reasearch last year on as we were thinking of visiting the area in September, but changed plans - still on one of my toplists in Italy. I noticed when researching that quite a few hotels and restaurants closed after mid September. But of course you do also find hotels or B&Bs that open all year. This applies in many other regions in Italy (and other countries for sure), like in Rimini, Amalfi Coast etc. Rimini was literally dead when we went last December, but there were still a few hotels that opened.

So you do have to accept the fact that you will be travelling out of the tourist season, and that quite a few hotels, restaurants etc would not find it viable to keep open, maybe just for a couple of bookings. But not having to be part of the tourist trap is what makes me want to travel out of tourist season. If you are looking for quiet walks, lovely scenary, and visiting surrounding towns and villages, in CT, Lombardy and the Italian Lakes, it should not pose much of a problem, in fact it might prove to be an advantage, like less traffic if you are driving etc, less queues to enter churches, museums etc.

Of course, the weather would be probably nicer in the peak Summer season with maybe the probability of less rainy days, but you can never be guaranteed that there would not be heavy rainful anywhere anytime, as what happened last year in CT. But unfortunately this (and other natural disasters) might happen anytime and anywhere. I was so shocked yesterday to hear on the news that there was yet another earthquake in Emilia Romagna, we were there, extremely close to the villages last December.

Yes, as cavegirl said, driving in the very centre of Milan might be a nightmare, just as it would be if you had to drive in Florence etc, we drove in Milan, though not in its very very core, but if you are not used to it, I would not suggest it. You can pick up hired car at Malpensa airport and drive to a hotel with parking facilities that is not too central but still close enough. then take a taxi, or arrange transport to Last Supper. The next day you can easily do a day trip (they are close to Milan) to one of the lakes, a short drive away. You can spend the whole day driving around the lake, taking in the views and stopping for lunch somewhere.

Many villages and towns are more easily accessible by car. Also it would be nice to hire car and go driving around Piedmont, CT, and Italian/French riviera coast, stopping wherever you wish.

I would then spend 4 nights in Rapallo and 5 nights in Piedmont - maybe staying last night close to airport in Turin to drop off car the next day - or drop it off the evening before you depart. Or else leave Rapallo for last and see if you can take flight back from Genoa, or Nice or Pisa and spend last night close to airport there since flight is quite early in the morning. (google map your preferred destinations and check which are the easiest and shortest routes)

So more or less this would be how you planned it, just adding an extra night in Milan on beginning of journey.
Anna_Galea is offline  

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