Help with Italy itinerary

Old Mar 22nd, 2015, 12:12 PM
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Help with Italy itinerary

Hi, My husband and I will be in Italy in mid September for 16 days excluding the days we are flying in and out. We will be flying into Rome and out of Milan.
This is the plan so far -
Rome - 4 nights
Florence - 3 nights
Venice - 3 nights
Milan - 2 nights.

This adds up to 12 nights. As this is a city-heavy itinerary, it would be nice if we could spend 3-4 nights in a non-city area. Which area would best fit in with our itinerary? Somewhere scenic - near mountains and water would be great. We enjoy hiking. Cinque Terre appears lovely but will it be too crowded in Sep? What are our other options?

Thanks!
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Old Mar 22nd, 2015, 01:28 PM
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from Venice you could pick up a car and drive to one of the lakes - nice in September and convenient for getting to Milan.

or drive up into the Dolomites - again, you could just drop down into Milan afterwards.

Riva del Garda at the northern end of Lake Garda has both - lakes and mountains - so you could start by looking there.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2015, 03:59 PM
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Thanks annhig. We would rather not drive - would these still be possibilities?
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Old Mar 22nd, 2015, 04:01 PM
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A car would be best to reach scenic areas. Lake Garda is near Venice and the Dolomites are north of Lake Garda. Or drive to Lake Como. All would work well.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2015, 04:49 PM
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Lago Maggiore is also a great place to visit for relaxing and not much more than an hour from the Milan airport. But I really think that you need a car to effectively explore these areas. The farther off the beaten track you want to be the less pubic transit there is (routes AND frequency).

Beautiful Borromean Isles to visit and then drive up the coast of the Lake into the beginning of Switz.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2015, 05:26 PM
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Providing you don't want to visit multiple out of the way places in one day, public transport in Italy is quite good for reaching smaller towns. Bus services to the smaller places is not always very frequent but often enough to visit one other town and come back again. Sometimes it requires a little more planning if services are sketchy. Timetables are generally all available online nowadays. There are also many smaller cities than the ones you are visiting which are on the train lines (e.g. Assisi, Perugia, Siena, Lucca, Vicenza, Bassano and a million others). I have visited much of Italy using trains and buses and enjoy being car free. I haven't visited the Dolomites but I'd be very surprised if there were not some services in the area.

You could pick one of the smaller Tuscan towns, between Rome and Florence; the area north east of Lucca (great for hiking); one of the Italian lakes. Happy to be more specific but it depends a bit on what you want to do. Sightsee, art, museums, hiking, vineyards? I think basing in one of the towns on Lake Como, Lugano or Maggiore, using feet, buses, trains and ferries would work well.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2015, 05:27 PM
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I certainly think one of the lakes is the most sensible addition to your itinerary. Varenna, mid lake on Lago di Como, is accessible by train. Lugano to Milan also. I'm sure there are many lake destination you can get to by train; on Garda, you can always take an excursion by boat to see the northern end of the lake, but the southern end is pretty too.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 01:33 AM
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You can get to Lake Garda from Venice (change at Verona) by train. They stop at Peschiera del Garda and Desenzano. Of the two, I think I'd choose Desenzano for a few days and you can use the ferries that criss-cross the lake to visit some of the other villages without needing a car.

You then take the train from Desenzano to Milan Centrale, it takes just over an hour and is under €20
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 03:13 AM
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for non-car travel, what Rubicund said. once you are at the lakeside, there are loads of boats waiting to help you explore the rest of the lake. to get to Riva will take all day, but slightly closer is Malcesine where you can get a cable car to the top of Monte Baldo.

there are also buses up and down the lake shores connecting the towns which might be useful - boat one way, bus the other.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 05:54 AM
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I think hiking in the Dolomites would be the most beautiful thing. If you are in Venice, you can catch the Cortina Express bus (at Venice Airport Marco Polo) and it drives you up to Cortina in an hour and half. There you can stay in Cortina and hike - but check out hiking routes etc first (I have not done the hiking, but definitely done the skiing). These mountains are breathtaking!

If you want to do the lakes, then yes, from Milan, can catch the train up to Varenna (along lake Como) and stay around the lake (transportation by ferry on the lake). Also very pretty. But transportation to get from Milan to the lake town of your choice is a little more fiddly than the first option for going from Venice to Dolomites.
Good luck!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 07:16 AM
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Milan-Varenna seems like a good idea. And if you stay in Varenna, that's a nice contrast to your big-city itinerary.

Another possibility: I know you said you'd prefer no automobile, but if you change your mind, there are some very nice wineries in the Vittorio-Veneto and Valdobbiadene areas, mostly producing prosecco. You'll need a car to get to them.

One I recommend highly is Alice Relais. Great rooms, family-run by very nice people.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 01:12 PM
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Vincenzo, I have considered visiting Conegliano from Venice and have wondered whether the local tourist office offers tours of the prosecco vineyards (and how much they would be - I have a limited budget). Walking the anello del prosecco also appeals but I haven't yet found transport links to the start/end of the walk. I don't want to drive. Do you know more about this? Is Conegliano itself an interesting town? It looks to be so from what I've seen on the internet.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 01:28 PM
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Sorry, I haven't been to Conegliano.

When I took vineyard tours, they were conducted by the owners for anyone who was staying onsite. There are private companies that offer tours of wineries in that region. I think Cellar Tours is one, but I don't know any of the details.

Another possibility: You could take a train from Venice into Vittorio-Veneto, which is a nice little town with some good restaurants and maybe stay one night at Alice Relais, which doesn't have an onsite restaurant, and get the owner's tour. You could take a taxi from V-V to the winery, or the owner might even pick you up in town. There are other wineries that do have onsite restaurants and tours, but you're still going to face the transportation issue, as most of them are rural and outside the towns.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 06:52 PM
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Another respondent recommended Lake Como. I second that, one of the most beautiful places on earth, and a very short and convenient trip from Milan. Lake Garda is nice too, though I have only seen that in passing. Como is more spectacular and romantic.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 11:12 PM
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Thanks, Vincenzo.
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 01:35 PM
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Thank you all. I will do some more research on all these wonderful suggestions
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