How to structure this trip?

Old Oct 31st, 2014, 12:33 PM
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How to structure this trip?

8 full days, but will try to extend if necessary to 13-14 full days, but this is not guaranteed.
Itinerary includes Milan (Como), Venice, Portofino, Trieste.
We are looking to fly into Genoa, but might have to fly into Milan and fly out of Venice. We really want to go to Portofino and Trieste, and have been to Venice before so don't want to spend much time there and we just want to take a day trip to Como. Can anyone suggest an itinerary for either 8 days or 8+ days?
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Old Oct 31st, 2014, 01:43 PM
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Como is a short day trip from Milan but a longish one from Venice - I did Trieste as a day trip from Venice and loved it - totally surprised by the rehabbed old town of wooden buildings high above a very active port - but a day trip was enough.

Yes fly into Milan and you can go to Como right from the airport by train with one change of trains - no need to go into Milano Centrale.

Portofino is an outlier here and IMO of being there a few times it is the biggest tourist mob scene anywhere - elbow to elbow during tourist season - took all its romance away - if you have 13-14 days OK - go to a place like Santa Marghera Ligure (sp?) a few miles from Portofino and IMO stay there like we did - a really nice half normal town - can day trip from there to the Cinque Terre as well if you have not been there.

Then go back via Genoa and Milan to Venice.

Are you going by train or car? If going mainly to cities and places like Portrofino where car access can be dicey due to crowding (take boats or buses or walk there from S M Ligure however). If driving just beware that large swathes of city centers in Italy are off-limits to private vehicles, parking can be expensive and hard to find - you cannot leave anything of value in a parked car in cities or on autoroute rest stops, etc.

To get a fix on Italian trains check out these IMO informative sites: www.trenitalia.com - the State-run railway system with nifty discounts if you book far enough in advance to get those limited in number discounted seats and then are unchangeable nonrefundable I think but you can save a lot over walk up fares (always possible to get on trains IME even on short notice - other neat sites: www.seat61.com - great info on discounted tickets; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

On Lake Como you can buy a boat pass to go anywhere for the day or longer on the lake - no need for a car there either.
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Old Oct 31st, 2014, 01:45 PM
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well, if you've travelled to Italy before, you'll know that you need to allow quite a long time to get between places, not so long from Genoa to Portofino, but it's over 2 hours from Milan to Portofino, and milan to Trieste is about 4 hours. And i'm not clear where you want to be when you do your day trip to Como - it's a bit too far from Portofino for a day, but I didn't get the impression that you really wanted to go to Milan so there's no point in just staying there to do a day trip to Como.

your obvious route is Genoa/Milan, Portofino, Trieste; even if you just did that, it's going to take the whole 8 days by the time you factor in travel time and your day trips, and you'll only have a day or two in each place. If you want to see more while you're there, you'll need to extend your trip or drop the no of places.

And you don't say if you are planning to drive or go by train.
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Old Oct 31st, 2014, 01:55 PM
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Your two most important destinations are quite some distance apart, and neither of them would allow a day trip to Como. To spend a day in Como, you'd have to spend two nights in that area, and it would make more sense to spend those two nights on the lake itself rather than commuting from some place you have no desire to visit.

It would take you 4 hours or more to get to Portofino from Malpensa airport by train, a trip that usually requires at least three different trains. I suppose you should head straight there when you arrive. Then you could go to Lake Como, and spend at least one night there, and the next night in Milan.

Alitalia has direct flights to Trieste from Milan's Linate airport, which would cut some time from what would otherwise be a very long train trip. Then you would have to return to Venice for your last night before the flight out.

If you'll have 8 nights total in Italy, this would leave you 5 nights to split between Portofino and Trieste. It seems to me that the long trip from one to the other wouldn't be worth it if you spent only two nights in one of these places.

Since Portofino and Trieste are your two most important stops, I would suggest skipping Lake Como unless you can manage more than 8 nights in Italy.
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Old Nov 1st, 2014, 07:00 AM
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Thanks! We were considering Portofino as a day trip from Milan originally, but it seems impossible and too long to travel. We are getting free accommodation in Milan so we want to stay there for the day trip to Como and we might stay an extra day to see Milan. How are the crowds in Portofino in May?

If we're lucky to get a good flight to Genoa we will travel from there to Portofino or Camogli to stay, then to Milan to stay, then to Venice to stay and depart from Venice and do day trips to Como and Trieste (and Portofino, if we stay in Camogli). Is a day trip to Trieste sufficient? We wanted to spend more time there since we've already been to Venice, but if we can do that + the islands in Venice take longer to cover, we'll stay in Venice to cover what we missed.
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Old Nov 1st, 2014, 08:06 AM
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DVJMM - I don't think that you can get all this into 8 days, and 15 will be a stretch.

rather than trying to do a day trip to Trieste, why not fly there from Milan, stay a couple of nights, and then end your trip in Venice.

in 14 days you could do this"

Day 1 - fly into Genoa. travel to Portofino. Stay 4 nights
Day 5 - train to Milan. Stay 3 nights [one day Milan, one day Como]
Day 8 - fly to Trieste - stay 2 nights.
Day 10 - train to Venice - stay 4 nights
Day 14 - fly home.

of course you can play around with the nights a bit, but it enables you to see all that you have mentioned.
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Old Nov 1st, 2014, 09:39 AM
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If you fly into Genoa I'd say stay in Camogli (or Rapallo) and do Portofino as a day trip. I must be very lucky cause there were no crowds at all when I was there (mid July). But while it's a gorgeous place when seen from the castle, the town itself was not all that interesting to wander around, was super expensive, and there just isn't that much there. Worth a day trip if staying in Camogli or Rapallo (especially if you do it by boat) but why is it you want to stay there? I really love Rapallo, Camogli, Santa Margherita and slightly further south, Portovenere. And of course the CT villages are right there.

In Milan, is there someone you are visiting or is it just a free place to stay. Cause if you are doing it just to save money, you should really consider just finding an inexpensive hotel in Como. If you have time though, I'd include a day in Milan itself to see the Duomo, etc.

And why are you going to Trieste? If you are visiting someone or have some special reason that's one thing, but if not then I could suggest quite a few cities closer to your other destinations that are more interesting.

If I only had 8 days, I'd spend most of it on the coast and the rest in Como/Milan, but then we don't know how/why you decided on Trieste.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2014, 08:51 AM
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How are the crowds in Portofino in May?>

Probably on a week day much less and perhaps the place could actually be enjoyable - I was there in late September and it was a mob scene then but don't think May is so crowded - in any way I would consider the Cinque Terre as awesome as Portofino - Vernazza for example to me is about as neat as Portofino and a lot closer to Milan. A day in the 5 Terre would be my choice over a look at tiny Portofino.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2014, 12:39 PM
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We are visiting someone in Milan, but we just want to see Trieste and Portofino, no special reasons like visiting friends. We don't know when we can get the chance to see Trieste because it's so far away from other destinations in Italy except Venice and I won't be doing a trip exclusive to that region anytime soon but I am open to other destinations closer to Milan and Portofino. We've already been to the Cinque Terre before and liked it, but don't think it's worth another visit when there is more places to still see.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2014, 02:32 PM
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If you have been to le Cinque Terrre and don't think it is worth another visit, I doubt you will find Portofino worth the trouble to get there. One of the strong features of the Italian Riviera is that that coastal towns so strongly resemble each other, each pretty much built around the exact same plan and having the exact same food. They generally just differ in size, and the other differences between them are not easy to discern as a brief day trip. The main reason le Cinque Terre grew into a mega-tourist destination is that Rick Steves' suggested it as an alternative to Portofino, which is just as tiny as Vernazza but which is crowded with tourists and expensive souvenir stores.

Trieste, however, is really quite an unusual Italian city with its own character and appearance, and even distinctive food that is immediately grasped. The major historic and artistic sights in Trieste are not hard to conquer in a day, although such a brief visit obviously doesn't give you much chance to understand the complexity of Trieste, historically or now.

If you finally conclude you ought to skip something in this trip, I suggest you make it skip Portofino. Consider giving more than one day to Trieste. If you don't like it, you can always leave early and spend extra time in Venice.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2014, 02:37 PM
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I forgot you wanted suggested itineraries.

Were it me, I would fly into Trieste and work my way back to Milan to fly out.

If I had not choice but to fly into Milan and out of Venice, I would immediately go to Lago di Como, then Milan, then Trieste, then Venice.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2014, 11:47 AM
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Trieste, however, is really quite an unusual Italian city with its own character and appearance, and even distinctive food that is immediately grasped>

right away in the train station cafe we say Austrian type coffee more served than Italian style coffee. Even the coffee mugs looked Austrian - Trieste was Austrian for a long time and yes as sandralist says the Austrian/Germanic bent spills over.

Trieste BTW is pronounced something like 'tree-es-tuh' I found after arriving!
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Old Nov 5th, 2014, 05:12 AM
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You can get Austrian style coffee in many parts of Trieste but one of the many peculiarities of Triestini culture is that much of its coffee tradition was developed by immigrants from Napoli. And while it is true that Austrian "ownership" of Trieste left a huge mark on the city, it is also to still see its Roman underpinnings, its Venetian architecture and find the influences of a great many Balkan countries and orthodox catholicism in the city (which also has Italy most beautiful historic synagogue and a lot of Armenians and Ukrainians as well).

People probably misunderstand the famous association of Trieste with the phrase "the meaning of nowhere" in that the city really is a refuge for people who need space to create their own identity. It doesn't refer to any lack of distinction or character on the part of Trieste. It just means it finally became unhinged from the nationalisms that came to define (and destroy) other "wheres".

http://www.theguardian.com/books/200...el.travelbooks

I find it to be one of Italy's most beguiling cities, full of unique contemporary ideas, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, delicious food with the most variety of anywhere in Italy. It really is a unique European destination.
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Old Nov 6th, 2014, 08:02 PM
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Thank you! Actually, we didn't consider flying into or out of Trieste's airport, and that might be a better idea than flying out of Venice. Are those airports difficult to get to by public transportation? In past trips to Europe, I've always managed using trains/buses to arrive and depart at airports, but had to use a taxi in Rome because of the early flight time. We don't mind spending for one, but it would also help if we weren't spending a lot of time having to get to the city center, because in past trips I've managed to that really quickly.

If we were going for only 8 days, we might just do a day trip from Venice to Trieste, although we would prefer staying. People we know in Milan have managed a day trip to Portofino from there by driving, but I think it would be too much of a hassle for us and we would prefer the train. This is what our 8 day itinerary is looking like, please let me know if you think it is too rushed.

Day 0: Arrive in Trieste. Stay the night.
Day 1: Trieste. Stay the night.
Day 2: Venice, we aren't sure what to do specifically on this day because we've covered interests on past trips. Stay the night.
Day 3: Murano, Burano and Torcello. Stay the night. Is this possible in a day?
Day 4: Travel to Milan, spend time with friends. Stay the night.
Day 5: Milan. Stay the night.
Day 6: Day trip to Como. Night in Milan.
Day 7: Travel to Portofino/Camogli and stay the night.
Day 8: Portofino...we would have to leave the latest we can in the evening to stay at an airport hotel in Milan to fly out the next morning, because there is a good chance our flight will be an early one.
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Old Nov 7th, 2014, 03:45 AM
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You must visit Portofino, Rapallo, Cinque terre and Portovenere.
There's a fantastic hotel Grand Hotel Bristol in Rapallo with a fantastic view to Portofino.
This places, Florence, Rome and Como are the most beautiful and elegant places by far!
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Old Nov 7th, 2014, 04:06 AM
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Unless I had an unlimited budget I wouldn't stay in Portofino. It's a small village in a small cove that's famous for being famous, costs a fortune to stay or eat in and it tends to get mobbed when there are cruise ships calling, otherwise it's not too bad. Having said that, I've been a couple of times and don't find it "romantic" or a "must see". It's as nice as any other village in a cove. We've been when staying in Santa Margherita Ligure and you can walk between the two in half an hour or so, or take the local bus. It has much better access to Portofino than Camogli.

SML has a good number of hotels, lots of places to eat and a nice walk along the seafront plus a really Italian feel to its town centre and most importantly a railway station that can get you back to the airport very easily.

If you must go to Portofino, prepare to be underwhelmed, but SML is a great spot. Try the Metropole Hotel.

http://www.metropole.it/index.php?&id=&lang=en
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Old Nov 7th, 2014, 04:07 AM
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I've never used it, but I am fairly certain there is a regular airport bus to Trieste. The airport is well west of the city.

It is certainly possible to see all 3 lagoon islands in a single day, but you might want to see Murano on day 2, since it is quite close to Venice proper.

There is no train station in Portofino, so it would be better to stay in Camogli. You can take boats from there to Portofino.

It would be best of course to fly out of Genova airport rather than go back to Milan. If you go back to Milan, there is little advantage to staying at an airport hotel.

What might make more sense is to save your trip to Lago di Como for the end of your stay, and get a taxi transfer to the airport in the morning, from Lago di Como. So then your trip would be Trieste>Venice>Milan>Camogli>Lago di Como>fly home
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Old Nov 7th, 2014, 04:13 AM
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I see that Rubicand and I were typing at the same time. Santa Margherita Ligure is convenient for Portofino and has a train station. I prefer either Camogli or Rapallo over Santa Margherita Ligure, but that's neither here nor there. If you are looking for a village, Camogli is that. Santa Margherita is a boutique yacht marina with a livelier evening scene. Rapallo is old-school Riviera, a bit of faded lux and just a busier place (it has more year-round residents and solid commercial life, not just holiday making). A taxi ride from any of those towns to the Genova airport is usually less than 100e and worth it.
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Old Nov 7th, 2014, 09:47 AM
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I find it to be one of Italy's most beguiling cities,>

Yes Trieste was to me too - for a spell after WW2 it is an autonomous place with its own borders, etc. a protectorate I believe.
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Old Nov 7th, 2014, 10:32 AM
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I won't address the whole trip -- you already have plenty of advice.

As for Milan/Como: You can take the train out of Milan to Varenna (1 hour and cheap) and use that town as your base for the day. The ferry goes to all points on the lake from Varenna, and there's the hydrofoil from there, too. Varenna is a nice town -- lots of lakefront restaurants and the Villa Monastero, which is worth a visit.

I like Milan and think you could easily spend a couple days there. Take the elevator to the top of the Duomo. If you want to see the Last Supper, get tix in advance. Some tour companies combine the LS with tours of other attractions, such as Sforza Castle (just OK, IMHO) and La Scala.
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