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Help with Northern Italy Itinerary-CInque Terre, Milan, Lakes, Veneto, Dolomoites

Help with Northern Italy Itinerary-CInque Terre, Milan, Lakes, Veneto, Dolomoites

Jul 13th, 2019, 01:42 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 62
Help with Northern Italy Itinerary-CInque Terre, Milan, Lakes, Veneto, Dolomoites

I am a solo traveler and would like to go to northern Italy in mid-to-late September for 16-17 nights (plus one night on the plane). If I go, I need to make reservations pretty soon. I would like to visit: CInque Terre, Milan, Lakes Como and/or Maggiore, Dolomites, Veneto (Padua, Vicenza and Verona ... although there are some other smaller towns that also sound interesting). I've been doing some reading and sketched out the following very rough itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive at MXP. Take train to Cinque Terre. Overnight in Cinque Terre.
Days 2-3: Overnight in Cinque Terre.
Days 4-6: Take train to Milan and spend three nights in Milan.
Day 7: Rent a car and drive to Stresa. Visit the Borromeo Islands. Overnight in Stresa.
Days 8-9: Drive to Lake Como (e.g., Varenna). Cruise the lake and visit some of the villas.
Day 10; Leave early for Verona. Visit and stay overnight.
Days 11-13: Drive to Bolzano area and stay several nights. Hike and take pictures in nearby Dolomites.
Days 14-16: Drive to Padua. Possibly stop at some places en route (e.g., Trento, Bassano di Grappo). Tour Padua and Vicenza. Depending on flight times from Venice, I might stay the last night near the Venice airport.
Day 17: Return car to Venice airport and fly to US.

Once I make air reservations, I may need to do some rearranging to make sure I don't arrive somewhere on a day where everything is closed (e.g., I know that in many towns, a lot of sights are closed on Monday).

I have a few questions but I am also interested in any other feedback. The questions are:

1. Is three nights in the Cinque Terre too much? My main activity would be to hike between the villages (weather permitting) and visit some of them. That sounds more like one full day (and two nights ... not three).
2. I had originally thought about driving across the Dolomites from Bolzano to Cortina d'Ampezzo, and then head south toward Venice. However, it seems that most of the areas worth seeing are closer to Bolzano, so it might make more sense to stay there for a few nights and head south from Bolzano to Padua via Trento. Does this make sense, or would I regret not driving across the road to Cortina?
3. Is there anything I've short changed? Would it be worth spending an extra day? For example, it looks like there are some interesting things in Bergamo and Mantua. Should I add a day to stop in those places, could I fit them in to the existing itinerary, or are they not worth visiting?

By the way, I don't mind 1-night stays. I have also been to Venice before (for 5 days, in fact) so if I had time at the end of the trip I would probably want to explore someplace new. I also know that the Cinque Terre are kind of out of the way but I thought this would be the best chance to visit that area, since I have already been to Florence and Pisa, which are admittedly closer, and the rest of the Italian Riviera (e.g., Genoa) are not high on a list of future travels.

Thanks in advance for your help and expertise.

just_wandering is offline  
Jul 13th, 2019, 02:58 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 954
Just_wandering, I have visited four of the destinations mentioned in your working itinerary, the Cinque Terre, Verona, Bolzano, and the Dolomites. The Cinque Terre was some time ago and our base was Santa Marguerita Ligure from which we daytripped to the CT and also to Portofino. Would have liked to have visited Camogli and to have hiked some of the Portofino Peninsula but traveling as a family meant a slower pace and insufficient time for those. I wouldn’t travel all that way to only visit the Cinque Terre especially since all of the trails linking the villages have not reliably been open in recent years.
Bolzano is a charming small city and its museum featuring Ötzi the Iceman is an outstanding attraction. That said, the Dolomites offer superlative scenery and hiking and I would use a village in the Dolomites, rather than Bolzano, as a base for your time in the mountains. Here’s the link to my trip report for that area, Solo in Italia once again: Venice, Bologna (Ravenna), Ortisei, Bolzano, Verona.
bon_voyage is offline  
Jul 13th, 2019, 05:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,365
A few comments:

When you count days in a place, rather than nights, it's difficult for us (or at least me) to understand how long you intend to stay in each destination. And it's not clear if you have calculated how long it will take to travel from point to point. If you use Google Maps for driving estimates, you should add 10-15% to the travel time.

I count 8 hotels in a little over 2 weeks. That's too much moving around for me, but perhaps this is your usual travel pace. I myself would drop the Cinque Terre from this itinerary which is otherwise concentrated in the far north of Italy. I would want more than just an overnight in Stresa and more than one full day in Varenna.

You won't see the most dramatic Dolomite scenery from Bolzano. You say you would spend "several nights" there, but I count just three which would only give you two full days to explore a rather large, slow-speed-driving region.

If you stick to your general plan, I'd pick up the car on leaving Stresa and drop it on arrival in Padova. You'll have to find hotels with parking in Varenna and Verona. In Varenna, look at the Hotel du Lac. Verona has a ZTL, so for that single night you should look for lodging outside the zone.
Jean is online now  

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