Dolomites and Venice

Jul 31st, 2012, 08:29 PM
Original Poster
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Dolomites and Venice

My husband is wanting to visit Northern Italy, specifically the Dolomites and Venice end of September early October. He loves to drive, I prefer the trains. Should we fly to Milan and out of Venice? I also get altitude sickness so am concerned about visiting the Dolomites and being miserable Can we enjoy both a city visit to Venice and the Dolomites and Bologna over 14 days? Any suggestions would be welcome!
bbrier is offline  
Aug 1st, 2012, 12:48 AM
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Well if you want to stay close to sea level you have a host of glorious cities to visit in the Po valley, Bolgona, Parma, Ferrara, Mantua, Ravenna, Padua, Verona, Venice, Soave.

Most of these can be reached by trains (basically Venice to Bologna and take little trains to the others).

You could fly into Milan and even add Bergamo but the upper city.. No I guess I'm not sure what altitide sickness is and when it kicks in so you probably need to check heights on Wiki.

Other slightly high towns include Bolzano and T... no it escapes me but a quick look at google maps will advise.

I think I'd split it into 10 days touring the Po valley and up to Venice and then a fewer higher ones in the Dolomites, but is does depend on what you look on for a holiday, art, museums, food, people watching, bike riding.
bilboburgler is offline  
Aug 1st, 2012, 02:48 AM
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I think you will get altitude sickness on the Dolomites only on the highest mountaineous areas like the high altitude ski resorts (saying that we made a day visit to Madonna di Campiglio last December, and it did not affect my son, who does get altitude sickness when it is an extremely high mountain range with the narrow winding roads). You will be fine for sure if you base yourself near Bolzano or maybe Ortisei area, and Trento and do day trips from there.

Avoid at all costs Passo di Stelvio which gets you on the highest plateau on the Dolomites - the pass connects Italy with Switzerland, the plateau is really really high up a mountain range - the scenary of the surrounding snow-capped mountains is breath-taking, but not for the faint hearted, it is there that my son felt the altitude sickness. The reason is that in very high altitude oxygen levels lessen. But he was ok everywhere else we went. The roads are extremely good in the Dolomites, the mountains are huge, so the gradients are not sharp, like for example smaller mountains in the dolomites where the roads would be extremely narrow and winding.

I would base myself somewhere close to Bolzano, in a valley, and near Trento,and do day trips from there. If the weather is nice, you can very easily drive around the area in surrounding mountain roads, if it is bad weather, it would still be lovely to stay in the valleys with the wonderful mountain scenary around you, visiting surrounding towns, villages or cities.

I do think you have time to visit the 3 places you mention in 15 days. (Last December we visited the Dolomites, Rimini - close to Bologna, and Umbria arriving in Venice airport and flying out of Pisa airport) If your husband enjoys driving, like mine does, it should be no problem, especially since the threee regions you mention are all in the north of Italy and border each other.

There is an airport in Bologna - would it be possible to fly in or out of this airport? If so, you do not need to use Milan airport. They say the city of Bologna has the best cuisine of the whole of Italy). From Bologna you can do day visits to Rimini, Riccione, and so many towns along the coast of Emilia Romagna or even in a town of bordering Le Marche like in Pesaro, we had lunch there. It is lovely to walk along the promenades and also to visit the town centres of this area. You can do visits to the mosaics in Ravenna found in very ancient churches there (you can buy a day pass to visit all of them), the Italy in Miniature Park in Rimini, the Aquarium in Cattolica etc.

Then head to the Dolomites. Last December we stayed in a lovely brand new chalet style hotel called Casa Vigolana Natural Garni. It is located about just 10 kms or so from Trento, extremely close but at a distance enough to enjoy the lovely scenary of the Dolomites in the far background. It has extremely good rates and is very very easy to reach - no elevations. From there you can do visits to the city centre of Trento (we even drove twice in one day to the centre for some shopping, and then later in the evening for dinner) - 15 minutes or so drive and you are there, and maybe also do a day visit to the popular Madonna di Campiglio ski resort, or other skiing resorts that are in this region that are closer to Trento - there are plenty of them if you do not prefer a long drive. The route to Madonna di Campiglio is an easy drive, and easily done on a nice day for sure.

If you prefer to base yourself even closer to the city centre of Trento, we had dinner one evening at a hotel called Relais Villa Madruzzo. It is on a little hill on the outskirts of Trento - just a couple of kms away, also easy to reach. The view is lovely and the dinner was so delicious - so many locals were dining there. Maybe you might be interested in having a look at these two hotels. It is the type of hotel where you get excellent treatment at a relatively good rate - like a fine dining at an extremely good price. The restaurant looks so high class with chandeliers etc, it looks like a ballroom. Good deal for sure.

Then I would drive to Bolzano area (we drove around in that area in 2005) and base yourself there for a few days. In my opinion this area has the most beautiful majestic mountain scenary of the Dolomites and should not be missed. Again, if you experience bad weather, you can drive around in the surrounding lovely valley villages surrounding the moutains.

Lastly, drive to Venice, deposit car (you do not need it for your stay in Venice) spend some days in this lovely unique city, and take flight home from Venice airport. Alternatively you can start off from Venice and depart for home from Bologna if times and schedules of flight suit you more - makes no difference.

So if it were me I would divide the holiday as follows: (I have decided to start off your holiday from Venice as some Fodorites here say that many departure flights leave early in the morning, so check out times - alternatively, as I already mentioned, start off with Bologna, it makes no difference)

4 nights Venice

3 nights Bolzano area

3 nights Trento

4 nights Bologna

I would definitely prefer to drive than to take trains - nothing can compensate for driving around at your own leisure and the freedom you get at doing things at your own time as you please with a car parked at hotel. Take a GPS and map with you, do some research beforehand on the areas and you are fine. We have been hiring cars and driving around during holidays for so many years, and we would not do it any other way. No airport transfers to hotels, no waiting for trains and other means of transport etc, advantageous in every way.

If you need any help I would be more than glad to assist you.
Enjoy your planning!!!
Anna_Galea is offline  
Aug 1st, 2012, 02:51 AM
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Sorry in the second paragraph in the sentence before last I meant to write Tuscany not Dolomites
Anna_Galea is offline  
Aug 1st, 2012, 03:00 AM
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Something else came up on my mind - if your husband likes cars (like mine does) you might be interested in making a visit to the Ferrari Museum close to Modena, when you are in Bologna area (less than an hour's drive for sure), or else make a visit to this museum on your way to or from the Dolomites.
Anna_Galea is offline  
Aug 1st, 2012, 03:54 AM
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Huggy is offline  
Aug 1st, 2012, 06:07 AM
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We didn't have any altitude issues. The areas we hiked after getting off the funicular and gondolas were about the same altitude as Denver, nothing near altitude at Colorado's Beaver Creek or Vail for comparison.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Aug 6th, 2012, 11:07 AM
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Thank you Anna_Galea. Lots of great information. Planning a similar trip in April. Very useful information!
bgrand is offline  
Aug 6th, 2012, 12:49 PM
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While both the Bolzano and Trento areas are nice, neither are the best of the Dolomites IMHO. I would base in the Val Gardena. I like your trip---3 good destinations in 14 days is perfect.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Aug 9th, 2012, 01:28 AM
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bob - yes, Val Gardena definiately has best of mountain scenery. I thought OP might consider to base close to Bolzano, and do day trips driving around in the Dolomites, like Oritisei in Val Gardena, very easily done in a day trip.. And since OP mentioned that she also likes cities, maybe that would still give them plenty to do in case of bad weather - OP seems a bit wary of too high altitudes, so I thought she had better base herself close to nice cities, and tour around by car.

I personally like the city of Trento - as well as being a good area to do a day trip to `Madonna di Campiglio in the mountains - a popular ski resort - and other towns and villages of the Dolomites (again agree that more to the north has more breath-takibng scenery).you can also do a day trip to north Garda Lake, to Verona, Brescia, Bergamo etc.

I guess it all boils down to whether OP prefers to base the holiday in a city or town in the Dolomite region, , or in a village/town in the very heart of the mountains.
Anna_Galea is offline  
Aug 17th, 2012, 11:33 AM
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I would agree with bob on what he said about Val Badia. It truely is a special place. If you'd like have a lok at my phots of this area (Lavarella Spitze, Armentara Pastures, Sella) on . As far as altitude-Sickness is concerned: how high up do you live? Altitude sickness starts normally at around 1500m, some of the passes here are definitely higher than that, however there is always a way back down. So I’d say, unless your doctor reccomends you to avoid hights you would probably be a little unwell and possibly get a headache, but once you’re bach down in the valley again you should quickly be fine again. It would be a shame not to see the Dolomites, you’d miss a lot. As I said, have a look at my photos and/or visit my homepage on would agree with bob on what he said about Val Badia. It truely is a special place. If you'd like have a lok at my phots of this area on
Gerd is offline  
Aug 17th, 2012, 12:54 PM
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bbrier: why fly into Milano and out of Venezia.??
IMO, fly to Venezia do a 2-3 nights there( Get your Venice fix out of the way). head out to Cortina d'Ampezza,a must see; eat there and see town. i think it is around 1250m (4000ft) altitude, you should be ok with that.
cut over thru Val Gardenna (amazing as everyone says). head back over to Bolzano and overnighg there. if you are into wines you can head south into Valpolicella region (Amorone wines) overnight in the region or along the lake Garda. then if you are going to Bologna then a must is Verona and Mantova on the way. i personally would not overnight in Bologna, big city. i think you would get a better feel for the area in smaller towns. however , from any where in that general area surrounding Bologna , Tuscana is more then do-able. (2 hour drive) get a place between Firenze and Siena for a few night as a base, and head back a day early to Venezia for your last night before your flight.
UmoDiViaggio is offline  
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