Cinque Terra or Lake Como

Old Apr 20th, 2009, 10:47 AM
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Cinque Terra or Lake Como

Hi,

I'm flying into Rome in May and will be spending 4 days in the Tuscany region before towards Milan where we will be departing for and we have 3 days to either see Cinque Terra or Lake Como and was wondering if anyone could give us their opinions. We will be traveling with a 6 month old baby as well.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 10:52 AM
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Are you driving?
The CT is easier logistics.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 11:13 AM
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We will have a car the whole time.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 03:44 PM
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Look at Levanto---great beach and flat.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2009, 07:23 AM
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Lake Como is more "tranquil",,,,gorgeous and probably better with a baby (though you probably just strap her on her back or front and continue walking or hiking). This could be done in Cinque Terre. CT IS an exciting place...though in some of the towns you can't drive very close...or there is walking from a parking area. We stayed a couple of days in Levanto, took the train to the "5 towns"....lots of walking just to see the towns (and this is not hiking the upper trails)
You can drive to Como and on up to Bellagio----beautiful.
However: from Tuscany up to Milan and the airport, Cinque Terre might be easier,Logistically. as bob the navigator mentioned.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2009, 07:37 AM
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You don't say what part of the Tuscany region you are talking about. But even so, the "easier" logistics is really a question about two hours. It's not that big a country!

I live in Liguria and I almost didn't because the first time I saw Lago di Como, I tried to cancel the rest of my trip and just stay there. When the hotel where I was staying heard I was skipping Camogli in Liguria, they told me to go see it. And now I live here.

Forget about logistics. They are two completely different places. Do you want to be on a lake or do you want to be on the sea? How do you feel about crowds? How do you feel about pesto and anchovies, as oppose to polenta and cheese and lake fish?

I'm not a big fan of le Cinque Terre, because they have been so overtaken by foreign tourists. And with a baby and a car, I'd want someplace less mobbed. I would recommend you consider Camogli. Or Lerici (which has boat access to le Cinque Terre).

But the Lago di Como can be staggeringly beautiful and even elegant -- and it is certainly closer to Malpensa than I am.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2009, 12:14 PM
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Zeppole,

If we decided to go to Lake Como, in what area do you suggest we stay?
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Old Apr 22nd, 2009, 12:50 PM
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Not Zeppole, but for what's it's worth Varenna has some really
steeply canted stone pathways up from the water - with a baby
stroller that might be a challenge. On the other hand, Bellagio is flatter and does have a nice long walk through a
park setting to a villa (sorry, name escapes me). Having
said that, I like Varenna more than Bellagio.

Also agree that Levanto would be a good place to stay - again,
lots of places to stroll with a stroller and easy to access
the 5T.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2009, 01:55 PM
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Just came back and we stayed in Bellagio at Il Borgo Apartment. Not sure what you are looking for as far as accomodation but the apartment was nice, in the center of town. Room was very clean and modern. See reviews at TripAdvisor.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2009, 11:52 PM
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love2fun,

I think with a six-month old baby I'd rather be in Bellagio. I see other people on Fodor's frequently recommending La Limonera apartments, and they look really nice to me. Maybe they have parking.

Plus, Varenna is not an easy place to park, from what I've heard.

I saw another thread on Fodor's where someone was staying in this place, and if you have a car, it might be nice:

http://www.villatresjolie.com/

Most people with a car stay in Menaggio, because it is on the main road and affords day trips into Switzerland. I like the town, which attracts more Italian families and is generally not quite as touristy, precious and posh as Bellagio (and Varenna has become). It doesn't have the legendary views of Bellagio, but it's easy to get a boat to Bellagio. (Five minutes). I'm sorry I don't have a hotel recommedation, but I'm sure you can find one by searching fodor's or tripadvisor.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2009, 01:48 AM
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Having been to both places I prefer Lake Como. I found Cinque Terre very busy and crowded. AT Lake Como we stayed in Varenna at the Hotel du Lac and they had private parking which was easy, right at the hotel.

Having said that we are staying for a week at the beginning of June in Santa Margherita Liguria and thought we might give the CT another chance, it might not be so crowded at that time of year.

Zeppole - will be just as busy at that time? We were there in July last time.

Schnauzer
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Old Apr 23rd, 2009, 02:00 AM
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schnauzer,

It's really hard to answer because the economy appears to be really depressing foreign tourism, but in my experience, le Cinque Terre is always crowded. But when you get to Santa Margherita Ligure, pick up a trail map of the park of the Monte Portofino and enjoy a lot of hiking without the crowds. Also, take the train to Camogli, and a take a boat for lunch on Punta Chiappa, or San Fruttuoso. Just don't do it on a weekend. That's crowded.

Also take the train to Chiavari for a wonderful lunch or dinner at Luchin's -- which has the best farinata in the region. (Again, weekends get VERY busy.) And stroll around the charming historic center, and have a sweet at Caffe Defila.

Since you are going to be there for a week, I highly recommend that you obtain a copy of David Downie's guide to the food and wine of the Italian Riviera. It's a fantastic book. My one caveat is that he recommends a restaurant in Liguria called "Le Palme" which is certainly fine, but if you order pizza there (as I did) ask them to go easy on the cheese. I got too much on mine. I also recommend if you eat there that you don't sit right by the windows, tempting as it is, since there is a lot of motorcycle traffic.

One place I really enjoy in Santa Margherita Ligure is Pestarino's, where you might consider getting food to go and making yourself a picnic.

Other spots that are fun during the week: Zoagli, where you can walk the pretty cliffside walk and have a modest lunch at a seaside bistro that I believe is called Punta Stelle (it has the word "stelle" in it, I'm sure). And Sestri Levante, for octopus at Polpo Mario, or just an appertivo or gelato and a stroll. (The walk from the train station is not scenic, but the town has charm.) You can do that on a weekend, even though the town is mobbed. Just be sure to get a reservation if you want to eat at Polpo Mario.

Genova makes a nice weekend destination if it's sunny. (The town looks so gloomy in the rain.) I don't like the acquarium at all, but visiting the cathedral, the tiny old piazzas and the Strada Nuova is enjoyable. Again, David Downie's book will lead you to some great eats. The Cadogan guide to the Italian Riviera is worth the investment for a week's stay.

Have a great time!
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Old Apr 23rd, 2009, 02:02 AM
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typo alert, schnauzer. Le Palme is in Santa Margherita Ligure.

I also wanted to point out that if you take a boat from Camogli, you can reach Portofino and have a nice walk back to Santa Margherita Ligure (or another boat ride, or a bus ride).
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Old Apr 23rd, 2009, 02:04 AM
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Wow Zeppole, that was quick!!! Thanks so much for all that info. I have copied a trip report, for the minute I can't remember the lady's name but I know she had lunch with you. I gleaned a lot of info from that report as well about good lunching places.

I have tried to find a good guide for Liguria in Sydney, at present the only one I can find is the DK one which is fairly light on around the SM area. Is the Cadogan english? We are going to the UK for a couple of days before Italy so maybe I can pick that up whilst I am there.

Thanks again for such good info.

I liked your story about Lake Como and Liguria (the living bit)
Schnauzer
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Old Apr 23rd, 2009, 02:13 AM
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yes, that was ekscrunchy, who is now on a tour of Piemonte as we type.

We had lunch at La Cucina di Nonna Nina. If you like great food, this should definitely be on your eating list. Lunch is easier than dinner, unless you have your own car.

The way to get there is to take the bus from Santa Margherita Ligure to Ruta (10 mins) and hop onto the connecting bus to San Rocco. (3 minutes.) If you like to walk, it is a very pleasant 30 minute flat walk from Ruta to San Rocco, with gorgeous views of Camogli and the entire coast to France.

If you don't want a huge lunch, you can also eat very simply and nicely at Bar Pippi in San Rocco di Camogli, or get some takeout food from the bakery just beneath the church.

Instead of taking the bus back to Santa Margherita Ligure, it's more fun to walk down the staircases, either to Camogli, where you can take the train back, or to Punta Chiappa, where you can catch boats for either Camogli or Portofino. Just don't start out for Punta Chiappa after after 4pm, because the boats start to get scarce. After 4pm, walk to Camogli instead.

The Cadogan guide is in English. If you know where you are staying in the UK, it would even be worth it to have it sent to your hotel via Amazon.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2009, 02:19 AM
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ps, schnauzer, I'd offer to have lunch with you, except I'm not sure when I'm going to be here in June. I'm thinking I might need to be in the US for some of the time. But you'll have a great time without me, I'm sure!

If you've been unable to pick up David Downie's book in Australia, you might be able to find it once you get to Liguria.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2009, 02:33 AM
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love2fun,

Something else that I think needs to be said is that if you go to le Cinque Terre, you are probably going to have a very hard time protecting your baby from the sun, unless you choose very carefully where you go. The hillside towns are rugged, and without a lot of shade. The main pleasure people get out of going to these tiny, hard-to-get-in-and-out-of towns is hiking, boating and swimming, and the Ligurian sun can be fierce. REALLY fierce.

So places like Lerici have more bars, alleyways, and cafes, and with a car, you can go to other places much more easily (like shady Montemarcello) or take easy walks to other seaside towns.

By constrast, what most people enjoy doing on Lago di Como is visiting the gardens, which are shady.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2009, 10:17 AM
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Where should we stay in the Lake Como area or since we have a car it doesn't really matter?
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Old Apr 23rd, 2009, 10:23 AM
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You should do a little bit of internet research to see what appeals to you, but generally speaking, most people crowd into Bellagio, Varenna (thanks to Rick Steves) and Menaggio because it affords easy access to Bellagio, which has the legendary views.

But anyplace you stay on the lake will have a boat connection to Bellagio, and all the views disappear after sunset, so where you sleep doesn't matter all that much.

If you plan on doing day trips with your car, rather than just relaxing in one spot, you will find the towns along the west side of the lake the easiest for road travel.

Be sure wherever you book has parking, however.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2009, 10:45 AM
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With a car, I find Menaggio to be more convenient. Look at GH Menaggio or Hotel Dulac--the one in Menaggio--there are 3 on the lake.
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