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Best day trips from Turin, Bologna, Cortona

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Sep 22nd, 2017, 01:43 PM
  #1
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Best day trips from Turin, Bologna, Cortona

I know I don't really have to make these decisions till we're in Italy but this is the pleasant part of trip planning for me.

We'll be in each of these three places 5 to 7 days. The Turin and Bologna day trips will be done by train and when we're in Cortona, we'll have a car. If we wanted to do two or maybe three day trips from each location, which would you think would be the most interesting, most charming, most whatever would draw you to that spot?

Here's what I'm considering so far but I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'd prefer something within a max 2-hour travel distance each way by car or rail. If you can add suggestions, that would be great. Also, if I've got the wrong day trip attached to the wrong town (that is, it would be better taken from one of the others) please correct me.

Turin: Verona, Asti, Alba, somewhere on Lake Como or Lake Maggoire (I'm leaning toward Asti or Alba -- which would you pick? Or would you do both on separate days?)

Bologna: Ferrara, Ravenna (for sure), Parma, Modena (for the Ferrari factory tour)

Cortona: (will have a car here) Orvieto (already planned as we're meeting friends there for the day), Perugia, Arezzo (we'll be picking up our car there and can spend a few hours there before driving to Cortona), Assisi, Gubbio, Siena (spent a terrible day there last time -- not Siena's fault but it was horribly crowded and hot; should we try again?)

If it helps, here are the places in the area that we've already visited: Venice, Montepulciano (stayed a week -- loved it!), Montalcino, Pienza, Florence and Siena (see above).

Many thanks in advance
gtg
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 01:50 PM
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Gubbio and the Bucket of Bolts!!!!!!!! Take out life insurance first and send photos to your loved ones before riding.

We also loved Assisi.

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Sep 22nd, 2017, 01:56 PM
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I had to google that, maitaitom, and YIKES! I'd probably find that fun and thrilling but I'm pretty sure I'd have a hard time getting my SO up in that. Is there another way to get up to Gubbio?

And thanks for the Assisi vote.
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 02:13 PM
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Gubbio and the Bucket of Bolts!!!!!!!! Take out life insurance first and send photos to your loved ones before riding.>

Been to Gubbio and should have had life insurance for other reasons - was windy and a large roof tile crashed at my feet! I'll have to Google Bucket of Bolts - never heard of it when I went long ago but a really nice old town.

Also did Todi - gussied up but nice hill town too. Lots of rich foreigners have villas nearby and lots of upscale shops, etc but still very nice.

Did you do the Certosa di Pavia? Can take bus right to it from Pavia - also a neat old town with lots of towers - though some fell down in earthquakes that plague the area.

Certosa ***Michelin site:

https://travelguide.michelin.com/eur...sian-monastery

http://www.milano24ore.net/cityinfo/...a_di_pavia.php

Monks brew up a potent liqueuer they sell on premises!

Bologna to San Marino is short enough and it's a picturesque place and novelty.
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 02:58 PM
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Todi? I've never seen it mentioned on any thread I've looked at but I'll certainly look it up. I don't mind looking at upscale shops -- looking is all I can afford!

I'll look up Pavia too as I've never heard of that one either.

San Marino is a possibility. I'd thought about it early on but somehow it fell out of my head (like so much these days).

Thanks Pal.
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 03:01 PM
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PQ...Here's our day at The Bucket Of Bolts...

http://travelswithmaitaitom.com/chap...ket-bolts-bad/

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Sep 22nd, 2017, 03:02 PM
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San Marino is a possibility. I'd thought about it early on but somehow it fell out of my head (like so much these days).>

there was a recent thread about San Marino - some really liked it -including me others did not because they could not overlook the tourist schlock in town center - Italians day trip in from nearby resorts to buy duty-free booze and tobacco and other sundries.

https://www.google.com/search?q=todi...w=1745&bih=863

Especially liked walking up to the three forts above the town center: https://www.google.com/search?q=san+...w=1745&bih=863
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 03:03 PM
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Hmmm...just checked this thread and San Marino seems to complicated to get to without a car. The travel without a car (train, bus, taxi) seems too time consuming.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rencesiena.cfm

It's falling out of my head again.
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 03:09 PM
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Turin: "hunting lodge" in Veneria Reale.
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 03:12 PM
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OMG, maitai! I've looked at your pictures and the B of B is OUT OF THE QUESTION! I have no fear of heights but I think I might have a fear of rickety! But looking at the pics, I realized I misunderstood -- I thought the B of B took you from the parking lot up to Gubbio (like the Cortona escalator) but I see now that it takes you ABOVE the town. If we didn't do that (and trust me, we won't), is Gubbio still a good town to visit?

And by the way, I remember reading that post before because of the diesel story which put the fear of God in me and now I have a list of questions to take to the car rental place.
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 03:13 PM
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thursdays, Veneria Reale is on my list (as per your TR, thank you very much) but is the hunting lodge something different?
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 03:56 PM
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Pavia would not be my choice for cities - not as nice overall as others on your list but is a good city to take a short look at if taking a bus to Certosa di Pavia - it has a train station also that is well away from the front of the walled off monastery - I walked what seemed like a few miles so if going bus from Pavia would be best.

Not sure how far Mantua is by train or bus but it is IMO a real gem with its palaces and lake - cerebral setting for nice anyway town.

https://www.google.com/search?q=mant...w=1745&bih=863
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 04:28 PM
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"is Gubbio still a good town to visit?"

We enjoyed Gubbio, but liked Assisi better. You could also get in a little Perugia that day, too (we spent 47 quality minutes in Perugia).

http://travelswithmaitaitom.com/chap...rt-stop-trevi/
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 05:03 PM
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@gtg - not really, Venaria Reale is the location. To my eyes the "hunting lodge" is a palace.
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 07:15 PM
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oh good, thursdays -- it's definitely on the to do list.

maitai, I had to laugh when I read the part about you driving into the square in Trevi. My SO and I came within about 10 feet of driving into a market in Florence. A very kind man walked us safely out. And I mean walked. He walked in front of our car till we got to safety. I'm pretty sure he walked because he was afraid to get in.

But guys, what about the towns I mentioned?
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 09:23 PM
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The "Ferrari factory tour" is in Marinello, half an hour from Modena. IMO, the tour is not worth the money or effort to get to Marinello. You're loaded on a bus and driven into the Ferrari factory compound. No getting off the bus, no taking photos, no seeing anything that relates to the actual manufacture of cars, and you may not even see any Ferraris at all while on the tour. All you get is a commentary about what's happening inside the buildings that you're driving past. If you're very, very lucky, when the bus passes the track you might catch a glimpse of a car being tested. However, you will see Ferraris in the streets of Marinello. There are vendors offering spins for a few minutes at ridiculous prices. And the
Ferrari factory museum is in Marinello. It houses many Ferraris, but IMO the displays are too cramped and crowded with tour bus groups.

In Modena, however, you can visit Enzo Ferrari's house, his original office and garage where some of the earliest Ferraris are on display, and a very good museum on the history of Italian auto racing. All about a 10-minute walk from the Modena train station.

https://musei.ferrari.com/en/modena

Torino to Verona by train is 2.5 hours each way...

Rather than a day in Perugia, I'd head to the smaller towns around and south of Lake Trasimeno.

In addition to Gubbio and Todi, I really like Bevagna.

As to options from Torino, I'd probably do the opposite. I'd stay elsewhere and day trip to Torino one day. I like the Alba/Bra area more than Asti. And I'd leave the lakes for another trip when you have time to do more than a drive-by.
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Sep 23rd, 2017, 01:42 AM
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For Turin, I would probably skip Asti unless you want to see the wine caves. Alba, up to you. The lakes are really not doable without a car. But also take a look a Venaria Reale, and if you are OK with not-your-not-much-talked-about-Italian-tourist-destination, I think it might be fairly simple to go to Saluzzo by train, and possibly Ovada, but I could be wrong . Consider Vercelli if you are a risotto fan & small art museum fan. You can google these destinations with a search phrase like "visit beautiful Ovada" and get lots of English language info and pictures.

Just so you know, Piemonte has one of the best tourist websites going, so that's a great resource for Turin and beyond.

For Bologna, all your choices are rewarding and there are many more. Be sure to note opening times of places you want to see in Parma. Many are only open in the mornings, and closed some days. If you feel like a glimpse of beautiful countryside and delicious food, check out Brisighella, but I think you need to start out fairly early to make it a workable day trip that includes lunch.

The Bologna Welcome website is also quite wonderful, and accurate about the opening times of sights. You will need restaurant reservations at this time of year in Bologna if you have a wish list.

Watch out for early October lockdowns in Assisi because of the feast of St Francis. Consider including Chiusi as an excursion from Cortona if you love history. It has an outstanding Etruscan museum.

Before you leave Arezzo in your rental car, swing by the Santuario of Santa Maria delle Grazie, to my eye one of the most beautiful & harmonious & affecting Renaissance structures in Tuscany. It's at the edge of town, in the direction of Cortona and away from any ZTLs, so it is quite easy to visit, with easy parking. The interior is small & touring the entire building takes less than 20 minutes.

http://arezzo.guidatoscana.it/en/are...ria/chiese.asp
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Sep 23rd, 2017, 01:56 AM
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Just checked the train hours and Ovada & Saluzzo are not doable (neither is Pavia) in under 2 hours, but Vercelli certainly is. (Venaria Reale is best by taxi or bus.)

http://www.visitacity.com/en/vercell...-2-hours-day-1
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Sep 23rd, 2017, 03:01 AM
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Many thanks for all of this -- new ideas and info on current ones, and especially the websites. We may skip the Ferrari factory. It's not that either one of us is particularly interested in Ferraris but I just thought it might be fun like the Guinness museum in Dublin. Sounds like it's not, though.
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Sep 23rd, 2017, 03:13 AM
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The Ferrari Factory tour available to the general public is not worth the visit (Ferrari owners do get to go inside and have an engaging tour as I understand) but the Ferrari Museum across the street from the factory IS worth a visit.
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