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Cinque Terre, Lakes District — how many nights?

Cinque Terre, Lakes District — how many nights?

Old Apr 21st, 2022, 06:52 AM
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Cinque Terre, Lakes District — how many nights?

Hello fellow travelers,

My boyfriend and I will be spending 10 days in Italy during the first two weeks of September. We have the following draft itinerary and I’m wondering if the allocation of nights for each place seems reasonable?

We’ll be arriving later in the evening the first night, thus the 4 nights in Cinque Terre with the idea that we’d use one of those days to take a day trip up to Sestri Levante, Santa Margherita, Portofino, and San Fruttoso. We’d spend the other days hiking, swimming, taking the ferry to explore the other towns, and relaxing.

We’re planning to rent a car after the Cinque Terre portion.

4 nights Cinque Terre (Monterosso)

2 nights near Parma / Bologna (we hear there’s a tortellini festival during the dates we’ll be there!)

2 nights Lake Maggiore —Stresa OR on Isola Bella or Isola Pescatore (if we have a car, is staying on the island advisable?)

2 nights Lake Como — Varenna

1 night Milan (the night before our flight)

I’m most excited about the lakes district and would like to see both Lake Como and Lake Maggiore if possible, but wondering if it would make sense to take a day from Cinque Terre and add to one of the lakes, or if two nights is sufficient at each?

Thanks for any recommendations!

dianne444 is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2022, 07:17 AM
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You mention staying near Bologna. Stay IN Bologna! Tortellini is Bologna’s famous dish.
On day trips from the Cinque Terre, make sure you visit Santa Margherita. We have stayed there twice and love it. Consider staying there too.You can take a boat ride from there to San Fruttoso.
On Lake Maggiore stay in Stresa or Ranco. Day trip to the islands.
Lake Como, we much prefer Bellagio, many more dining options and better ferry service, and have stayed there four times for up to two weeks.
Two nights really isn’t enough for either of the lakes or Bologna. Just a quick quick peek. If you decide on only one lake, pick Lake Como.
For the Cinque Terre, Monterosso is a good choice. We spent four nights, divided the whole trail ( it was 100% open then) into two days and another day took the ferry to and from Portovenere which we loved.

Last edited by HappyTrvlr; Apr 21st, 2022 at 07:27 AM.
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Old Apr 21st, 2022, 08:13 AM
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Thanks, HappyTrvlr! Good to know re: Bologna, Bellagio, how much time to spend...this is very helpful. So hard to choose among all these enticing places!!
dianne444 is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2022, 11:16 AM
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If you'll still have the car at Lake Como after Lake Maggiore, I'd stay in Menaggio. It's a bit closer than Bellagio or Varenna, a bit easier to drive to and into, and you'll have more choices of hotels that offer parking. Also, some of the most popular sights on Lake Como are on the same side of the lake as Menaggio.

Where will you pick up and drop off the car? Unless you have some things you want to see/do between points, I'm not sure having a car is beneficial in your itinerary. You can't drive into central Bologna, Parma, Bellagio or Menaggio. They all have a ZTL (limited traffic zone). Even tiny Varenna has an area you can't drive into, but I'm not sure about Stresa. If you're not familiar with ZTLs, here's some basic info:


Generally, IMO, five hotel stays in 11 nights is at least one too many with too much time lost in transit. (Driving Bologna to Stresa could take nearly 4 hours, some trains take 2.5 hours.) Two nights anywhere is only one full day. At the lakes, ferries are the best way to get around, but there's a limit to what you can see/do in a single day using ferries. I agree with HappyTrvlr about staying in rather than "near" Bologna, but if this was my trip I'd think about dropping one hotel change. You've stated a strong preference for the lakes, so I'd probably save Bologna/Parma for another trip. You could train from Monterosso to Rapallo to rent a car and then drive to Stresa. If you got an early start, you could reach Lake Maggiore in time for lunch.
Jean is offline  
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