Assistance with Northern Italy Itinerary

Old Feb 19th, 2019, 05:38 AM
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Assistance with Northern Italy Itinerary

Hello all. We are in the initial stages of planning a trip to Northern Italy. This is our 4th trip to Italy, and want to go to places we have not seen yet. This includes Lake Como area and have been looking at additional places to add to that. We plan on spending about 12 days there, and will fly into/out of Milan. Current thinking (not necessarily in this order) is to spend 3-4 nights in each of Rapallo/Portofino (from what I've read, Rapallo is a good base and makes it easy to hit Santa Margherita and Portofino from there), Levanto (as base for spending some time in the towns of the CT), then to Lake Como (maybe mid-lake, Varenna/Bellagio), then back to Milan for 1 night before we fly back. We will likely rent a car for at least part of the trip to make it easier for those portions (from Milan down to Rapallo then back from Levanto to Lake Como area). So, initial version has us arriving in Milan, then driving to Rapallo for 3 nights, then to Levanto for 3 nights, then Lake Como area for 4 nights, then to Milan for 1 night. Could add 1 night to either Rapallo or Levanto, but this is general idea. I just wanted to see whether those of you with experience in this region thought this had the makings of a good plan. And this is for the first 2 weeks of September 2019.
Thank you, I really appreciate any feedback.
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Old Feb 19th, 2019, 05:58 AM
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Last fall, we spent 8 nights based in Rapallo. We had a car BUT we didn’t need it and rarely used it (we had it for a prior trip to Lake Orta and found it didn’t cost much more just to keep it for the time in Rapallo. We were able to visit most of the Italian Riviera from Genoa to CT. Perfect weather certainly helped us. We used only one base for that entire area and do not regret it one bit. Here is our trip report.

Trip Report: Part 2 of 2): Northern Italian Lakes & Cities (12 days October)

In 2017, we spent 12 days in northern lakes (Como, Iseo and Garda and three cities (Turin, Milan and Bergamo). We really liked Bergamo and mostly disliked Milan. We based in Varenna for three nights and felt that was perfect for Como, but again stunning weather helped. All of this was by rail and bus. Here is 2-part trip report, with the first part relating to Como:

Trip Report: Part 1 Northern Italian Lakes & Cities (12 days October)

Trip Report: Part 2 of 2): Northern Italian Lakes & Cities (12 days October)

Last edited by whitehall; Feb 19th, 2019 at 06:03 AM.
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Old Feb 19th, 2019, 07:00 AM
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Thank you!
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Old Feb 19th, 2019, 09:55 AM
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Is there a reason you are flying into Milan if your first base of operation is way south?
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Old Feb 19th, 2019, 05:41 PM
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Thanks, But I'm not sure under any stretch of the imagination could Rapallo be considered "way south" in Italy. It's about a 2.5 hour drive from Milan, which is the closest major airport. About the same distance as Florence but Milan is clearly much easier in terms of flights, as we can fly nonstop into Milan but Florence requires a stopover. Didn't really think it was so controversial to fly into and out of Milan for a trip to Northern Italy. Did you have a suggestion that makes more sense? I certainly can fly non-stop into Rome, but that really is "way south" so not sure that's helpful.
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Old Feb 19th, 2019, 05:58 PM
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I am not sure where you are coming from, but we often fly in and/or out of Milan when we are in northern Italy, simply because there is more service and cheaper flights to and from the US. That makes plenty of sense. I know from your posts in the past, when you planned to visit Florence, that you have looked into Pisa, Florence and Genoa airports. Ignore the gratuitous comments.
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Old Feb 19th, 2019, 06:01 PM
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Same question as StCirq. Also, most here would recommend against driving nearly 3 hours after landing from what is presumed to be an overnight flight. There are train journeys from Malpensa to Rapallo that take 3:45 hours with only one connection, and there are car rental offices in Rapallo.

But I'd be curious to know why you chose to drive this itinerary. You might want to compare the drive times between points to the lengths of train rides, keeping in mind that traveling by train means never having to find parking or be vigilant to avoid ZTLs.

I'd add the extra night to Milan. IMO, it's underrated.
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Old Feb 19th, 2019, 06:06 PM
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If you're getting your drive times from maps.google.com, you should add time to all estimates. IME, Google always underestimates.
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Old Feb 19th, 2019, 06:37 PM
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Thanks all. As for driving, I have no problem driving after an overnight flight. And have not decided on that for certain, but leaning that way. Some of it is easy by train, but we are definitely spending a few nights in Lake Como, and probably at the end of the trip, and if we are in CT area, that really is easier to drive. It also gives us the flexibility to take a day in each area and just see some of the off the beaten path areas. Have driven in Italy before, and while we have not kept a car for any length of time, using mostly trains instead, this itinerary made me think a car was an option to consider Again, not set on that, still in the beginning stages of planning.

As for flights, we are coming from NY, making it easy to get direct flights to Milan. In the past we have done connecting flights into Florence then out of Bologna, and those were easy, but for where we intend to go this time, Milan is clearly the best option--so many flights from NY to Milan, and much prefer non-stops.

Thanks again.
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