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France and Italy 15 nights. Suggestions welcomed.

France and Italy 15 nights. Suggestions welcomed.

Old Jan 31st, 2015, 07:34 PM
  #1  
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France and Italy 15 nights. Suggestions welcomed.

we will arrive in Paris mid August, and spend six nights. Then:
Four nights in Avignon
Two nights in Lyon
Three nights in Turin
Two nights in Genoa
Four nights in Reggio Emilia

And then a while in Venice, which we know well. Nothing, other than Paris and Venice, is booked yet.

So we have 15 nights between Paris and Venice, and would be travelling by train. Interested in history, the Renaissance part of Lyon, the Egyptian museum in Turin, and Reggio looks like a nice small-ish town, where the Italian flag was devised.

Deliberately back tracking from Avignon to Lyon, as that works OK with trains.

Suggestions, experiences, "don't miss this", "avoid this", etc comments are welcomed.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Old Feb 1st, 2015, 12:54 AM
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I don't know what your interests are in visiting Emilia-Romagna, but be aware that it is likely to be extremely hot and muggy in Reggio nell'Emilia, and throughout the center of Emilia-Romagna, everywhere but the coast or the higher hills. Reggio nell'Emilia is an absolutely charming place with lovely architecture, but I would expect a great many things to be closed at that time. It is not a tourist town at all, and August 15 forward is classically the vacation period. Look at a map and see where the train station is located relative to the historic town centre. If you are planning on using Reggio nell'Emilia as a base for day trips, you will want to make sure you stay someplace that is an easy walk to and from the station.

Finally a lot of people would choose that area for 4 days because they are interested in the famous regional cheese, ham, fresh pasta and vinegar. Most food producers will have closed up for the summer. It is just too hot.

Sorry to sound so negative, because Reggio nell'Emilia and the general area is one of my favorites in Italy and it is a wonderful "off the beaten track" destintination that is also blessed with terrific train connections. If you really don't mind the muggy heat, then you have Parma, Modena and Bologna to enjoy fairly easily, and they have important cultural sights. But the combination of heat and closures may have a big impact on your enjoyment of the area depending on why you are going.

For an alternative suggestion, at that time of year, Bologna will be fairly quiet and more village-like in feeling, with most everybody gone, but still more will be open, and there will be some festive goings on in the central piazza, but most importantly, it has all those miles of portici to not only keep you out of the sun but also create mini-wind tunnels that create breeze. It has more things to do indoors in case you get a true heat wave, and from Bologna you can easily visit Ravenna at the seaside, for its fantastic mosaics and a bit of cool, plus Modena, Reggio nell'Emilia and Parma (and Ferrara).

But if you want a very sleepy town and don't care about food production, like I said, Reggio nell' Emilia is indeed a nice town and could be perfect for you if Emilia Romagna is what you want and you want a totally "authentic" experience of the local culture (albeit one that has probably headed for the beach!)
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Old Feb 1st, 2015, 06:55 AM
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another note that it will be hot and muggy, been there and did not like it
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Old Feb 1st, 2015, 06:11 PM
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Sounds like some light clothes will be needed, also a shady hat.

Maybe a parasol might not go astray, and thanks for your welcome advice.

The arcades of Bologna sound good ...
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Old Feb 1st, 2015, 06:17 PM
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Early July weather in Bologna was unbearable with high heat and humidity. It curtailed some of our planned activities.
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Old Feb 1st, 2015, 07:18 PM
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Yes, Bologna can also be unbearable to many during a heat wave, and there is never any predicting which 4 days of summer might deliver one in Italy. Sometime they hit in July, other times in August, or even September. Trying to avoid them by changing one's itinerary is problematic, because you don't know exactly where the worst of them will occur either. That said, extending your time in Torino and Genoa, and making Bologna a 2 nighter (with one of those being a day trip to Ravenna) might be something to consider. Or simply adding a night to Genoa and taking one from Emilia Romagna.

Wherever you go, booking only air conditoned lodgings is very important, also to keep mosquitoes out, especially in Emilia-Romagna, but the exist in Genoa too and I would think Torino.

Another note regarding Torino, which is that if you are passionate about Egyptian history and artifacts, you won't want to miss the Torino collection, but otherwise it is not in the same league as the Louvre's in Paris, nor is it the most interesting or unique offering of Torino. Unless you really don't like movies, Italy's national museum of cinema, in the iconic Mole Antonelliana is quite the marvel, and the Palazzo Madama is a fine work of architecture, with some lovely interior features. There is also more than one very important museum of modern and contemporary art in Torino.

If you stick to your present plan to spend only 2 nights in Genova, you'll probably only see the guidebook basics (and please avoid the aquarium!). If you add a day, consider the museums in the suburb of Nervi (about a 20 minute train ride) and perhaps after that go a bit further and have dinner in Camogli to see the summertime scene at its peak (where the MIlanesi and Torinesi and even some of the Genovesi having their summer fun. Make a reservation well in advance at La Rotonda. Have the pesto pasta and share a platter of grilled or fried fish. Or do it the other way around: lunch in Camogli, then the museums on the way back to Genova, plus a walk along the seaside there, and pick up a light dinner in Genova.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 04:08 AM
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Wanted to point out one more thing (which I may have written to you before), which is that Genova is the historic rival seaport to Venice, with much the same internal plan of confusing alleyways to defend against invaders, and with a long tradition of shipbuilding and seafaring, but not only did Genova defeat Venice militarily for rule of the seas, Genova is what Venice would have become had not the unification of Italy and the industrial revelution, and the "discovery" of America, not favored developing Genova rather than Venice as Italy's main industrial port. The long decline of Venice as a commercial seaport is what saved its beauty. It wasn't "worth" modernizing or deepenign its seaport, and the fact that it couldn't house a modern navy also spared it from being bombed in the 20th c.

So if you are interested in Venetian history, you might want to spend a little bit longer in Genova (where you'll be cooler anyway). not just sightseeing but experiencing the city. The everyday street life of Genova in its medieval core is probably closer to what Venice was like before it beame an attraction for aesthetes and tourist. And both cities, as rival centers of globalization and imperialsm, ended up with two very distinct and visible fates. You can look at Genova and see what might have been for Venice had just a few things gone differently in history.
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