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8 night Northern Italy Holiday

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Aug 13th, 2014, 07:34 AM
  #1
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8 night Northern Italy Holiday

Hello,

My boyfriend and I are traveling from NYC to Milan in three weeks (we have 8 nights total in Italy). Our current plan is to grab the rental car and head to Lake Garda for 2 nights, then Venice for 2 nights, then drive down to Cortona for 3 nights. Due to our early Flight back from Milan, we were thinking of staying our last eve in Milan (wish to avoid the 4 hr drive back the morning of our departure). That mentioned: I assume there's a better idea for an itinerary.

Perhaps we should first drive to the Tuscany area (do you recommend Cortona), then Venice and wrap up in Lake Garda. We can stay in three hotels vs four as we'd plan to drive back in the am of our flight vs stay in Milan the eve before. Is Lake Garda too aggressive of a drive for a 1pm flight (drop the car off about 9:45am). Any thoughts on this?

Also, I used airbnb.com and had a great experience in the US. Though we have hotels scheduled in Italy; I wonder if I should scrap that and save a lot of money (perhaps) on using a hosts place via the airbnb.com service. Any thoughts/guidance?
Many thanks!
Cheers,
Paula
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Aug 13th, 2014, 07:59 AM
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Why did you decide on Garda? Not a bad decision at all, just curious about that decision.

re Tuscany: what parts? Doing Florence or Siena or more countryside.

Venice: that will be two days/nights when all that car is good for is being parked.
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Aug 13th, 2014, 08:32 AM
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If it were my trip, I would choose between Lake Garda and a town in Tuscany, not do both. For me, one full day in Venice wouldn't be long enough. I would definitely spend the last night in Milan or near Malpensa.

What time do you arrive at Malpensa? You could train immediately to Venice, rent the car as you're leaving, and return it at Malpensa. There may be a surcharge for the one-way rental, but you wouldn't be paying the overnight parking charges in Venice.

Wherever you decide to go with the car, you need to familiarize yourselves with the ZTLs (limited traffic zones) instituted by cities and towns of all sizes throughout Italy. If you drive into a zone (even by mistake), you will likely receive an expensive ticket in the mail after you get home. You'll also need International Driver Permits for each driver.
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Aug 13th, 2014, 08:56 AM
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Cortona is nice enough and if already booked I'd go with it, I just think there are nicer cities but at this late date they may be full. Still do walk to the top of the place and visit the church almost on the top with the sad story. Maybe do a drive out to Siena one day. It does get hot and tourist buses can be hell on the back roads so I suggest get up early or stay late in any town you visit. For siena park down at the bottom in a municipal car park and take an escalator to the top (no such luck in Cortona)

You know the car is no use in Venice right?
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Aug 13th, 2014, 10:36 AM
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If you can rearrange things, I'd do Venice first and pick up the rental car when leaving. The car is worse than useless in Venice.

Two nites in Venice is at least one too few--two nites means one full day. When you get there, you'll wish you had planned to stay longer. Never been to Cortona, but it looks quite a bit south from your other destinations. A day trip to Siena from there would be a good fit.

I would not book with airbnb at this time; too many risks to justify the savings. If you've found places you like, then keep them.

I'd stay (and have stayed) near Malpensa for the nite prior to your flight home, and I'd recommend doing that. There is little worse in travel (aside from being robbed or assaulted) than feeling anxiety about having to drive a long distance for a departing flight and worrying about traffic, car return, etc.
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Aug 14th, 2014, 06:25 AM
  #6
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Hello,

Thank you for all the responses. It's much appreciated!

We chose Lake Garda as we've heard the lakes were lovely. We wanted to spend some time in Venice (I now realize we should have changed when we go there as the car will be a waste and need to pay to park it for 2 days/ 2 nights), then 3 nights in Tuscany as we want to experience the country.

I'm feeling a bit disappointed that I did not find your forum sooner as the trip may not be as smooth as I hoped.

Also, it is a legal requirement to get an International Driver's License for the week rental?

Many thanks!
Cheers,
Paula
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Aug 14th, 2014, 06:33 AM
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Yes, you need an IDP, required by law. They are very simple to get in the US, if that's where you are. Just go to Triple AAA. If you are elsewhere, you can get them online on a rush basis.

You can probably call your rental company and rearrange the car pickup. Upon arrival in Milan, take the train directly to Venice. Pick up the car there to drive to Cortona -- although personally I would probably take the train to Florence and pick up the car at the airport and drive to location in Chianti and visit Cortona as a day trip from there.

You will have a long drive back to Lago di Garda. I am not sure it is really worth it. Consider dropping off the car in Florence and taking the train to Lago Maggiore (Stresa) for the finale. From Stresa, you can get a bus to Malpensa for your flight home.
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Aug 14th, 2014, 06:36 AM
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(If you actually live in NYC or work there then you can find an AAA office in the lower west 60s in Manhattan (google for exact address) and it usually takes less than half an hour to get the IDP. Bring your passport and your driver's license and $25 or so. I can't remember the exact fee.)
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Aug 14th, 2014, 06:37 AM
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According to the US Embassy in Italy ,http://italy.usembassy.gov/acs/general-driving.html

you will need an International Driving Permit. You can get them at AAA. We sometimes do and sometimes don't get them. Because they don't cost much, we will get them this year (for France) and probably next time we go to Italy. I've read conflicting reports about inability to pick up a rental car without them, and don't think it's worth taking a chance.

Buon viaggio!
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Aug 14th, 2014, 10:30 AM
  #10
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Thank you everyone! I greatly appreciate it!
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Aug 14th, 2014, 10:54 AM
  #11
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Great news! The AAA office in NYC is open on Sat. Cost is $15 for the IDP. Thank you!

Regarding travel. I could cancel the hotels and use airbnb.com to find locals apts or homes they rent out. I'll check into that.

I agree....(and thank you) It does make sense for us to fly into Milan (tickets are non refundable, so that is a firm plan) then train it to Venice for 2.5 days and 2 nights, then rent the car from Piazzale Roma (Venice) and drive to Sirmione, Lake Garda for 2.5 days/2 nights...then drive to Siena or Cortona (for the Tuscany portion of the trip)...I'm open to other town ideas, esp if I change the hotels and use airbnb.com

Lastly, for the final eve - we will stay near Milan (close to the airport). Is the airport close to the city and commutable via taxi or shuttle? Should we stay in the city or better to be near the airport for an early afternoon flight?

Cheers,
Paula
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Aug 14th, 2014, 11:19 AM
  #12
 
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With a mid-day departing flight, I would rather spend the last night IN Milan than near the airport. I've visited Milan several times but wouldn't attempt to return the car IN the city. I would drop the car somewhere else and take the train in. How that might work for you depends on where you end up going in Tuscany.

Public trans (trains or bus) are easy and cheap from the city center to Malpensa. The trains depart from both Milano Centrale and Milano Nord Cadorna stations. The bus departs only from the Milano Centrale station.

For short stays, I personally wouldn't pick apartments or similar rentals where I'd have to make specific arrangements and times to pick up and return keys. Any confusion or misunderstandings or problems with the rental would mean lost time. I'd stay in hotels.
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Aug 15th, 2014, 11:40 AM
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Malpensa is a long way from Central Milano. But if you have an early afternoon flight, I'd stay in Milano so you can add another nite and some of the next day to your vacation.

Concur with Jean about apartments, particularly airbnb. Don't risk spoiling your vacation to save a few bucks. Use tripadvisor.com to find hotels or real B & Bs and book through booking.com.
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Aug 15th, 2014, 04:59 PM
  #14
 
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If you are leaving Malpensa in the morning, staying near the airport isn't a bad idea. Last thing you need on your last day is a hassle with luggage on a train from town or a problem even getting to the airport. As noted, Milan central isn't that close to Malpensa. There are several decent and cheap hotels near Malpensa.

We stayed at First Hotel. It was about a mile or less to MXP and had free shuttle service. After checking in, I left my wife at the hotel, drove our rental car to the airport dropoff, and took the hotel shuttle back to the hotel. Then we could enjoy a pleasant evening in Milan without worrying about our morning flight.
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Aug 15th, 2014, 05:08 PM
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It's true that Malpensa isn't geographically close to the city center; however, trains from Milano Nord Cadorna to Malpensa take just 29 minutes and from Centrale 45-50 minutes. Departures from both stations are frequent. The bus from Centrale (also frequent departures) is supposed to take less than an hour, but traffic can cause minor delays.

You can search train timetables here, using Italian spellings (Milano Centrale, Milano Nord Cadorna, Malpensa Aeroporto).

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...0080a3e90aRCRD
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