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2 Months Dolmites, Emilia Romagna Area, Tuscany and finally Calabria

2 Months Dolmites, Emilia Romagna Area, Tuscany and finally Calabria

Old Jan 16th, 2024, 12:10 PM
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2 Months Dolmites, Emilia Romagna Area, Tuscany and finally Calabria

I would like any suggestions in planning this trip. We love country settings and are not big city people. We enjoy hiking, small towns, beautiful scenery, great food and wine. We like to be off the beaten path whenever possible. Our plan is to arrive in Milan, rent a car and drive to the Dolmites where we plan on spending 7 days. We will then drop our car off and take the train to Venice. We will spend two nights in Venice then take the train to Bologna where we plan on spending 10 days. We are undecided whether we should book a place to stay in Bologna and then take day trips to the surrounding area or do it the other way around. We would prefer staying in apartments so we can go to the markets and we can cook most of our meals. After Bologna we plan on spending two weeks in Tuscany. We want to go to the Cinque Terre for 4 nights and we are not sure whether we should go before Tuscany or after Tuscany. Our final destination is Calabria. We would really appreciate any help on getting there. We have plenty of time so we could drive down the coast going to Naples, then the Amalfi Coast but I'm concerned about crowds since our vacation dates are June 9 - July 30th. We are very open to suggestions and look forward to any input.
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Old Jan 16th, 2024, 04:14 PM
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Welcome, dominicklio3732. My only comment is to try to add another day to Venice IF you are interested in the concept of everything by boat, scuolae, art and houses rising out of the mist.

Oh, a second, in my TR below, please see the towns we visit from Bologna.... a great base.
Turin, Spoleto, Bologna and Bellagio TR
Bologna starts at post #11.

Last edited by TDudette; Jan 16th, 2024 at 04:19 PM.
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Old Jan 16th, 2024, 04:52 PM
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Not to be picky but to be accurate, you have approx. 7 weeks in Italy, not 2 months... although perhaps your dates are flexible.

"Our plan is to arrive in Milan, rent a car and drive to the Dolomites..."

Is that immediately after a transAtlantic flight?? If so, I'd argue against that idea. It's easily a 4-5 hour drive on less than a full night's sleep, in a different time zone, in a foreign country, etc.etc. Also, if you pick up a car at Malpensa and return it in, say, Bolzano or Verona, you'll incur a one-way rental surcharge. Alternatively, you could train from Malpensa to Bolzano, rent the car, and make a relatively short drive to your final destination. Return the car in Bolzano and train to Venice.

Have you been to Venice before? Two nights is only one full day. It will be extremely crowded, so I'd wonder if it's worth the effort... although Venice must be visited once in a lifetime.

If you plan to do your Emilia Romagna touring by public transportation, it's hard to beat Bologna and the hub-and-spoke travel options. But it depends on where you planned to go on your day trips. Ten days is a long time in one place, and perhaps you can find another town that would also work well for your excursions and then split the nights between the two places.

You'll want a car for 2 weeks in Tuscany, so you need to figure out where you'll pick it up and return it. If you haven't driven in Italy before you need to learn about ZTLs (zona traffico limitato) which are areas in the historical centers of nearly every Italian town where you cannot drive most hours of the day, most days of the week. If you drive into the zone at the wrong time, even by accident, you will likely get a ticket in the mail after you get home.

Whether you visit the Cinque Terre before or after Tuscany might depend on where/when you can get hotel reservations, where you pickup/return the car in Tuscany, etc. It will be a bit of a detour from the rest of your itinerary no matter the order.

You don't really want a car for your time on the Amalfi Coast. Traffic in the entire area is very bad, parking is tough, and your access to driving the coast road will probably be limited. (There has been a traffic reduction scheme in place for the past two years; even numbered license plates on even numbered days, odd on odd.) The bus and ferry system is quite comprehensive.

Where in Calabria? You can train from Naples or Salerno to Cosenza, Catanzaro, Lamezia Terme... Lots of car rental offices in Lamezia Terme.

Where are you flying home from? Have you booked any hotels yet? Lots of summer destinations book up very early.
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Old Jan 16th, 2024, 07:22 PM
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Good info so far, and I strongly agree that you should add at least one more night, and preferably two, to Venice.
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Old Jan 17th, 2024, 04:46 AM
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I suppose you know that you don't necessarily have to land at Milan Malpensa if you want to go to the Dolomites.
For places like Ortisei, the train journey time from Milan Malpensa airport, Munich airport or Venice airport would be about the same.
The local airports of Innsbruck and Verona are closer, of course. Cortina d'Ampezzo is closer to Vence than to any other airport.
But wherever you land, it would be a very bad idea to go on by car after a overnight flight. It would just be too dangerous.
So, rent your car at your first destination, if you really need one (public transport in the Province of Bolzano/Bozen is excellent).

You write "We like to be off the beaten path" ant then you plan to visit 5Terre, Venice and Amalfi Coast.That's not forbidden, but you will not be alone there, of course.
Whether youi come from Bologna or Florence or wherever, you must pass through North-Western Tuscany in order to reach 5Terre.

Bologna: as above. For day trips to Modena - Parma, Cremona - Mantova, Ferrara, Faenza - Ravenna, etc. you best stay ckose to Bologna railway station if you want to do them by public transport or between the city center and a motorway access if you will have a car. In the latter case, you could also do 5Terrre between Bologna and Tuscany: Bologna - Cisa motorway - La Spezia - hotel in 5Terre - La Spezia - Viareggio/Lucca/Pisa.......

In the case you should like small Islands, you could also check Giglio Island (Southern Tuscany), Ponza Island and Ventotene Island (to reach by catamaran from both Rome (Anzio port) and Naples..

Last edited by neckervd; Jan 17th, 2024 at 04:49 AM.
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Old Jan 17th, 2024, 04:57 AM
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June to the end of July... any chance you can move it earlier? Gonna be busy.

I'm interested in why you want to visit so many high crowd areas. Italy is full of lovely places and yet you want to go to nice places with loads of people, heat etc.

Bologna is a good train hub site but then so are many of the smaller places around Padova for example
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 04:14 PM
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We did Dolomites last year, 2 weeks. Based half time in Dobbiaco ( highly recommend, great location, free parking, bus to sites, not crowded) and just outside Ortesei, which was also nice. To everyone talking about flights…I stat adjusting my body clock by getting up at 4 am eastern time. On flight, I take an Ambien and sleep.When I wake up, I have a strong coffee and feel good. We flew to Venice and drove from there. O way back, we did a day visit to Verona and took late afternoon flight. I recommend doing the Dolomites in June before the glut of tourists hits. It will still be busy,but doable.
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