Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Food, Flowers, Folk Art, and Festivals in Northern Italy

Food, Flowers, Folk Art, and Festivals in Northern Italy

May 2nd, 2006, 10:56 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,204
Food, Flowers, Folk Art, and Festivals in Northern Italy

My husband and I are leaving for Italy in 2 weeks for a much planned and once cancelled and rebooked trip to the lakes (Maggiore, Como, and Garda), the Dolomites, Venice, and Milan. We planned this for our 35th anniversary a year ago and I'm thrilled we're able to finally return to Italy (this will be our third trip). I have been gathering info from the forum, other web sites, and books for well over a year, but realize that I have some last minute questions.

1)I love flowers, both cultivated and wild, and would enjoy suggestions for unusual sites for seeing them. A friend told me that she had seen orchids growing around Lake Maggiore, but couldn't remember any details. Does anyone know anything about this? Any other suggestions?

2)As an artist, I am always looking for art stores and opportunites to see and perhaps purchase folk art. I particularly collect animal folk art when I travel, and I realizzed that I am unfamiliar with the local art forms of the areas we are visiting.

3)Are there any local festivals in late May or early June?

4) Does anyone have special restaurants that they would be willing to share with us? My husband speaks Italian and we would be comfortable in restaurants frequented by the locals.

Thanks,

Margret

justretired is offline  
May 2nd, 2006, 11:35 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,801
It's possible you friend saw the orchids at Villa Pallavicino on Lago Maggiore. You can do a google search to get information. It is also possible they were spotted at the extensive gardens on Isola Madre in Lago Maggiore, or Isola Bella, also one of the Borromei islands that is easily reached by boat trip from Stresa or Baveno.

As for restaurants, on Lago di Como I highly recommend Il Crotto di Pino

http://www.varennaitaly.com/pino/

nessundorma is offline  
May 2nd, 2006, 12:47 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,204
Thanks, Nessundorma. We are spending 3 days at Auberge Verbania on Lake Maggiore, and I'll look for the orchids as I travel the lake. I notice you stayed at the Hotel Eremo Gaudio- we are staying there 3 nights. It looks glorious, and the il Crotto do Pino equally seems wonderful. We will certainly eat there. Any other hints or suggestions?

Thanks again,

-Margret
justretired is offline  
May 2nd, 2006, 01:17 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,801
There is a boat dock in Stresa that is at the bottom of the entrance to the cable car that climbs high up into the mountains above Maggiore. This dock is not the main boat stop, but there is a small casual restaurant right there called L'Idro Volante that is purely local. I had a couple of tasty, very inexpensive lunches and dinners there, and most of all I enjoyed relaxing over a drink lakeside and listening to the jazz they play. But be warned: This is not high-end dining.

From that boat stop, it's about a 15 minute walk into Stresa proper along the lakeside promenade, where there is another boat dock (the main one). So you can do the walk either way, knowing you'll be able to catch a boat at either end. It's good to know about this dock even if you don't eat at L'Idro Volante, because it's the shortest way to get across the lake from Albergo Verbano and Isola dei Pescatori.

The cable car is worth it if you are an avid hiker. Otherwise, you might prefer to amuse yourself otherwise. If it rains, you should probably just catch the train to Milano. It's about an hour's ride.

If you don't have a car on Lago di Como, it is nonetheless worth the inexpensive taxi fare to get to Il Crotto di Pino. The night I was there, I asked the owner, a wonderful man who speaks almost no English, if he could call us a taxi, and he drove us home himself. The restaurant is really just the sort of relaxed, rural lakeside grill for al fresco dining that Italians drive up to visit on a weekend.

I see you are also going to Lago di Garda. I was unable to get very far north on the lake because I didn't have a car and was only passing through for a night on my way to Verona, but I understand the northern towns have the most dramatic scenery. In the southern half, I enjoyed visiting Bardolino, which actually has some remarkably lovely churches. And the rest of the town is a kind of silly paradise for wine drinking and gelato eating, and perhaps a few good restaurants. If you are on the southern end without a car, however, I would think that taking the hydrofoil quite far north would be worth it.

I don't see Verona on your list, but if you are in the southern part of Garda, it's a marvelous town.

And since you are doing so much island hopping, I highly recommend including Torcello in the Venetian lagoon.

How long will you be in Milano?
nessundorma is offline  
May 2nd, 2006, 01:45 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,204
Nessundorma, we will have a car, but also plan on several hydrofoil and/or regular boat trips while visitng the lakes. I'm a little concerned that we will be "laked out," so I like your suggestion of just hopping a train and going to Milan, particularly if the rain continues. On the other hand, we love just walking around small towns, stopping for a cafe, shopping a bit, going in and out of churches and/or interesting buildings. We like not being in a hurry- that's why we decdied to stay at each lake for 3 days.

As an artist, I love to take lots of photos, but I rarely have had time to draw or paint while traveling. This time, I am hoping that the slower pace will give me some time to sketch and just absorb the beauty. We are not hikers, but enjoy lots of walking.

We will be staying at the southern end of Lake Grada and plan on visiting Verona from there. We'll also travel to the north part of the lake, which I gather is most beautiful.

We'll spend 3 nights in the Dolomites, before continuing to Venice (4 nights), where we've visited before. We went to Murano during our last trip to Venice, and it must have been a windy day, cause I got some sea-sickness. We are hoping to visit Torcello and Burano this time, and I'm a little concerned about getting sea-sick again. Although I'm not totally queazy, I cannot take any of the anti-nausea drugs or patches, and just the thought of a rough ride is a bit disconcerting. Can one find out the roughness of the lagoon in advance?

Unfortunately, we will only be in Milan for 2 nights. Any suggestions, anyone? I had thought we would reserve for a showing of the Last Supper, see the DiVinnci Museum, and maybe shop a bit. Not much time, so another trip...

Thanks again. I've gotten off subject, so if anyone has some thoughts on any of this or on my original topic, that would be appreciated,

-M
justretired is offline  
May 2nd, 2006, 04:06 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,801
I really don't know how to help you out with the trip to Torcello. I would think any calm day would mean a calm day on the lagoon, but I could be wrong.

For Milano, if you have time for another museum, I would suggest the Pinoteca Ambrosiana. With regard to the the Brera and the Sforzeca, I think it is best to do some research to decide about whether you want to visit and how much time you want to alot.

What I think you might find very interesting is a walk down the via Brera with all its art galleries. If the weather is nice, you can also enjoy its many outdoor bars and cafes, especially pre-dinner.

The food in Milano is often spectacular, so a little research in that area pays off as well.

Your plan to spend time drawing and enjoying the lakes sounds marvelous.
nessundorma is offline  
May 2nd, 2006, 04:13 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 6,507
If you drive up the east side of Lago di Garda, stop in Malcesine to walk around in the old town part----car-free cobblestone streets, winding passageways, and a nice old castle---very photogenic.

Where will you go in the Dolomites?
enzian is offline  
May 2nd, 2006, 04:55 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,204
Thanks, Nessun, for your tips on Milan. It seems that Milan is one of few places in Italy that gets luke warm or at least mixed reviews- still, after reading a lot on the forum, I'm sorry that I planned such a short visit to the city. Last year, my husband and I studied intensive French at a school in Roanne, about an hour from Lyon. I had heard that it was not an interesting city to visit, but we still used Lyon as a base to arrive and depart France. We found the city charming and filled with wonderful things to do, great shopping, and unusual food. I should have planned more time in Milan.

Tnaks, encien, for your tips on Lake Garda. Is it better to visit Malcesine by boat or by car?

In the Dolomites, we are staying at Hotel Uhrerhof in Pufels St Ulrich, not far from Castelerotto. Steve James ( from the forum) suggested the area as a good one to explore the region. We're arriving in the Dolomites during the US Memorial weekend, and we're hoping that the waether will be cooperative.
justretired is offline  
May 2nd, 2006, 04:57 PM
  #9  
PJK
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 397
Villa Taranto is a must for anyone who loves flowers. My husband and I spent our 30th anniversary at the Verbano on Isola Pescatori. I am sorry I don't have specific directions for Taranto, an incredible British garden, but if you will look in any guide book or maybe just search here, I think you will find necessary info. If not, let me know, and I will look it up for you. PJK
PJK is offline  
May 2nd, 2006, 06:09 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 922
Margret,
You are going to love Hotel Uhrerhof!!
Don't panic on the last couple of kilometers up the hill....the view will be worth it!!!
We are going to the Uhrerhof for our third visit......27th-30th May. We love ending our trips in this wonderful little inn.
I have a few photos of the little village on my webpage.
www.pbase.com/baileyzim/italia

Have a fantastic trip!!!!
Bailey is offline  
May 2nd, 2006, 06:10 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,801
justretired,

The nice thing about Milan is that it is a very convenient departure and entry point for Italy, so you can always arrange to come back if you like it and want to foot those big hotel bills. I like it best for night strolls and cocktails, and almost precisely because I don't feel the pressure to sightsee. But many people find it too much a Northern European capital than the romantic Italian dreamscape, and the highlights suffice.
nessundorma is offline  
May 2nd, 2006, 06:12 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,801
By the way, you can use this website to find out festivals:

http://www.initaly.com/regions/lombardy/calendar.htm
nessundorma is offline  
May 2nd, 2006, 06:13 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,801
I'm sorry. I meant to give you this one.

http://www.hostetler.net/italy/italy.cfm
nessundorma is offline  
May 2nd, 2006, 06:24 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 922
ps....Ask at Uhrerhof about the woodcaver that lives nearby....his work is superb!!
Bailey is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 10:51 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,204
Bailey, I'm so happy you liked hte Uhrerhof, and I wrote you an email to say hello since we are going at teh same time. Your photograhs are really stunning- I'd love to see more.

Nessundorma, thanks for festival links. Doen't look like there is much in the way of festivals when we are in the various places, but I'll ask when we arrive just to make sure.I think that the venetian lagoon might be rough even on a nice day- at least that's true for larger bodies of water. However, I supect that the people at the inn we're staying at will have knwledge of this- they usually do about the tides. Becasue Venice is a city so connected to the "water", I imagine I'll be able to find out this info once I'm there. In any case, I'm going to Burano and Torcello. As an artist, I can't wait to see these unique islands.

Unfortunately, our last full day in Mialn is on a Sunday- does anyone know what is open? Nessundoma, do you have any appropriate favorite restaurants? I'd love something special for our last night in Milan.

Thanks again, everyone.









justretired is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 11:00 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 6,507
About Malcesine---I would definitely go by boat! I don't know how long it takes from the south end of the lake, but I know they stop there. We met a German couple in a wine bar who said they come every year, stay in Malcesine, and take the boat to other towns along the lake. Sounds like great fun, but we were there for hiking, and did not have time for a lake jaunt.

The drive up from the lower end of the lake is fairly scenic but crowded, due in part to the amusement park (Gardaland) along the way. The boat would avoid that.
enzian is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 12:31 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,801
Alas, I don't have a good Sunday night restaurant reccomendation, since the one I generally recommend to you is closed on Sunday (I Borromei) and I have a habit of eating sushi in Milano (http://www.parcosushi.it/).

But in general I recommend that people first pick a hotel and eat somewhere nice close to their hotel, especially since they probably have to get up early to catch a flight.

If you want to take the Malpensa Express train to the airport, here is a boutique hotel near the departure point for the train and The Last Supper:

http://tinyurl.com/mluyx

I've always wanted to stay there, but it is always booked. Very popular.

But I have very happily stayed at the super business modern UNA Cusani in the same neighborhood, and the Hotel Palazzo Delle Stelline, which has a rich exterior and a quite boring interior. These hotels often have good rates through Holiday City.

Any of these hotels can direct you to an excellent restaurant if you tell them your price range and that you would like something a bit chic (or traidtional, or even sushi!).


buono viaggio
nessundorma is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 12:33 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,801
Actually, this is a better link for the Locanda Leonardo:

http://www.anticalocandaleonardo.com/en/index.htm
nessundorma is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 01:22 PM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,204
Ha! We're staying at the Locanda Leonardo in Milan. Nessun, I'll let you know how it is in a trip report when we return. We will bw going to MPX for a 11 ish flight, so it's nice to know that we will be near the train station. How long is the train ride and do we need to leave the usual 3 hours before the flight? I'll check with the hotel about restaurants as suggested.

justretired is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 02:01 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,801
The Malpensa Xprss is about 40 minutes, so I would leave your hotel 3 hours before the flight. The walk from your hotel to Cadorna station is about 10-15 minutes, and taxis are worth it if you are burdened by luggage.

I look forward to hearing about Locanda Leonardo. There are lots of lovely restaurants in that area. It's nice to walk on the via Dante at the cocktail hour.

nessundorma is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:32 AM.