Italy 2000-Lakes Region

Old Oct 16th, 1999, 04:03 PM
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Italy 2000-Lakes Region

Ok Fodorites--

Back from my trip to Rome, Florence and Tuscany and thinking about next year--Since I fell in love with Italy(is there anyone who doesn't?), I am ignoring the Jubilee warnings and thinking about touring the lake regions of Northern Italy (Como,Bellagio,etc.).

I am planning to stay for about 2 weeks--here's my preliminary thoughts-

Milan 2-3 Days
Lake Region 8 days (hiking)
Venice 2 Days

I'd like your recommendations about 'mustsees'in Milan and Venice since my time will be limited--I am an 'art freak' and have been known to 'shop til I drop'--so those recommendations are priority --as for accommodations and restaurants--I'll search here and come back with questions--Also,I have been toying with the idea of just spending all of my time in the lake region and just enjoying the countryside which I found so wonderful in Tuscany rather than racing through cities just because I will be in the vicinity--so your thoughts on this would be most appreciated.

Also, when is the best time(mild temps, flowers in bloom,etc.).. May, late June for the lakes region?

Mille Grazie Fodorites!
Old Oct 16th, 1999, 04:14 PM
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We just returned from Italy. Spent 3 days in Bellagio. Fantastic weather. Learned how to use the ferries and then had to leave. I think you could do better spending less time in Milan and more in Venice. We did four nights in Venice a few years ago and two nights this trip. Three nights there would be about right. You would want to end trip in Como or lakes area as it is close to Milan airport. We found a nice hotel in Venice, the Al Gambero, from this site. Godd location, recently remodeled and about $125 per night for double with breakfast. Stayed at Belvedere in Bellagio. Another nice selection and great views of the lake. Any other questions as you plan, email me.
Old Oct 16th, 1999, 04:27 PM
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Talk about service!! Thanks Bob! I will probably fly into Milan(best options for direct flights) and get over the lag there, but I will consider more time in Venice--reading here I am a little concerned--what if I am one of those people who hate Venice??? It seems that there is no gray in Venice--one either loves or hates it--what did you enjoy in Venice?
Old Oct 16th, 1999, 06:19 PM
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How will you be getting around, trains or car?
Itinerary choices are numerous among lakes Orta, Maggiore, Como, Lugano and Garda. They all have their unique personalities and attractions. If you enjoy hiking and you'll be in the region for a couple weeks, any interest in heading over the border to Zermatt, or north of Venice into the Dolomite region?
Old Oct 17th, 1999, 03:10 PM
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I am thinking trains. I am waiting fpr my guide books to arrive so I can really study the lakes region and see whether or not this is feasible--Como,Maggiore,Bellagio and Lugano are definites--any other recommendations?

I definitely would like hear about the Dolomites and Zermatt--perhaps I can begin my trip by traveling to Zermatt--let me know your thoughts--thanks! cheryl
Old Oct 18th, 1999, 12:28 PM
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Cheryl: It is true that Venice tends to be a love-it-or-hate-it experience; but (1) I think lots more people love it than hate it, and (2) I don't know anyone who loves Milan; people either hate it or don't mind it as much as everyone else. I would spend one or two days in Milan if you have to, maximum. Three nights minimum in Venice (4 would be better). If you hate Venice (and I truly can't imagine hating Venice, especially if you're an art lover), either ditch it and make an impromptu trip somewhere else, or stay there for the sake of seeing the art and architecture and maybe it'll grow on you.

P.S. Lugano is really beautiful, but when I was there, as much as I enjoyed it I still felt that there was something missing somehow, and upon further reflection I have decided that what it lacks is Italy. I know that's terrible, but I can't help it.
Old Oct 18th, 1999, 01:03 PM
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Cheryl, The region of Como, Lugano, Orta
and Maggiore will deserve at least 5 days if not more. You would need a car to do it well. This itinerary fits well
with the Swiss Alps. I would consider
starting or ending in Zurich and taking
at least 3 days to do the Bernese Oberland--perhaps staying in either
Wengen or Grindelwald to experience some
of the best hiking and scenery anywhere.

Old Oct 18th, 1999, 01:34 PM
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Cheryl; Spend your time in the lakes region. In September of '95 my wife and I loaded our bikes on AA for our flight to Malpensa. On arrival, loaded our gear on the bikes and rode out of the airport to Stresa on Lake Maggiore. 2 days in Stresa and on to Locarno. Day trips from Locarno, Domodosolla and a cable car to Cimetta. From Locarno to the Ticino region of Suisse to Giornico, to Bellinzona to Ponte Tresa on Lake Lugano (wine festival!! dancing in the street). Next, Como, sweat out a room because a textile convention is in town, score a room. Ferry from Como to Bellagio (a novelty, senior Americans on bikes in Bellagio) and on to Varenna. Too many people read Rick Steves so we stayed at the Villa Cipressi, very nice. Ferry across the lake to Menaggio, cable car up from Pigra and 2 hours down by bike. Train back to Malpensa, pick up car and head to the Dolomites.
Old Oct 18th, 1999, 02:01 PM
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Hi Cheryl,
for what its worth, some of us do find the "grey area" in Venice. I neither loved it or hated it. We spent 3 nights there this past September. I'm very glad I went, because it is someplace I always wanted to see. But I wasn't enchanted with it, as I hoped I would be. It was too crowded, and too full of tourists, and too full of tacky shops, (there were nice shops too, but an awful lot of tourist crud). But the sights in Venice were great. I really loved the Accademia museum, maybe more than the Uffizi. Since you are an art freak, this is definitely a must see. I also enjoyed the Peggy Guggenheim collection. And the Byzantine style of the San Marco Basilica is really something else.

I think you can fit Venice in with your lakes itinerary nicely. I doubt that you would hate it. After all, its mostly about expecations. If your expectations are realistic (don't expect magic, be happy if it happens) you'll have a good time no matter what.

Old Oct 18th, 1999, 04:19 PM
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Maybe it's time for me to go into my I-don't-think-Milan-is-as-godawful-as-people-say spiel again. It's not on my list of favorite places, but if you truly are an art freatk, there are things worth seeing there, beyond the Duomo, the Galleria, and the Last Supper. Museums: the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, the Brera, the Castello Sforzesca, and the Poldi-Pezzoli, which is small and charming. Churches: Sant'Ambrogio, and a couple of other reasonably interesting ones -- e.g., San Satiro has a neat trompe l'oeil "apse." I'm sorry that I wasn't yet an opera fan the last time I was in Milan, or I would have gone to the La Scala Museum. The city certainly doesn't fit people's idea of idyllic Italy, though it does have a few picturesque corners, but Italy is a varied place and built in varied periods, and you could argue that, as the current economic center of the country, Milan is just as "real" as anywhere else in Italy.
Old Oct 19th, 1999, 05:20 AM
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Hi Cheryl:

If you're an art lover you can't hate Venice. In addition to the Accademia, there's the Frari and the Scuola di San Rocco (Titian and Tintoretto), the Correr Museum, the Guggenheim...and then of course, there's the totally unique architecture, the incredible vistas around any corner..Give it at least 3 days. I also agree with KT about Milan. I find it an appealing place--but there's not comparison with Venice as far as the richness of art and architecture are concerned.
That said, I actually think you're trying to cram too much in, and should just lay back and do a lakes/hiking trip as described by some of the other posters. Forget about the cities for this trip. Plan another trip for Venice, Verona, Vicenza, Padua etc.
Have fun!!
Old Oct 20th, 1999, 04:10 PM
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Mille grazie all!!

Great info--I spent last night browsing my guide books during that heartbreaking Mets loss--ah well, dreaming of Italy will get me over it!

First--I see now that it is impossible to say the one will visit the lakes, Milan, Venice and as Bob indicated do it well.

What about Verona, Bologna,Padua and on and on? So I think that as Carol has suggested I must choose to either tour the lakes(hike and kick back) and enjoy a little art in Milan or perhaps plan a trip that will allow me to see the cities and towns that would be missed if I just tried to see Venice and the lakes region. I will refine and as always check back with you. (thank you for the discussion of Venice and yes, I think I would ultimately like to spend more time there).

This is a question is for Bob the Navigator--I probably will be traveling solo and have come to rely on trains--it appears that trains and ferries service the lakes region pretty well--could you give me insight on the preference for a car?

Once again, your insight is invaluable-thanks! c
Old Oct 21st, 1999, 06:18 AM
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Cheryl, If I understand your question,
you want to know why you need a car.
You may not if you merely do the Lake
Como and Lugano area. You can train to
either Como or Varenna and spend perhaps
2 days at Bellagio et al. From there, you can ferry to Mennagio and catch the
local bus to Lugano--about an hour trip.
However, the western lakes area is every
bit as nice and also deserving of at least 2 days. I would stay in Stresa and
day trip to Lago Orta--a real gem-- and
also read about the Val Versasca north
of Locarno. If you are into nature and
hiking this place is spectacular. It is
a cultural phenom as well---you feel as
if you have gone back 500 years.
So, to see all of the Lake region you
really need a car. You can get to Stresa
by train also but that means going back
thru Milan. People tend to get localized
when they discuss " the Italian Lakes".
It really is 3 seperate destinations, the third being Lake Garda, and each one
deserves about 3 days. Hope this helps.
Old Oct 21st, 1999, 03:43 PM
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this is exactly what I was looking for--it became apparent to me as I read and looked at a map that in some instances I wouldn't be able to get from place to place easily--the books I have been reading are Cadogan and the Blue Guide--the Blue breaks the area down by location(town) while Cadogan breaks down by region Como/Orta/Garda--are there any other books you would suggest?

How easy is it to pick up a car outside of Milan--my preliminary thought is that I would take a train from Milan to Como and hike that area (Varenna,Bellagio,etc.) with a group and then pick up a car and tour another week on my own--seeing Orta,Stresa
a car and the other areas you suggested with a drop off in Milan--how feasible is this? If you don't think this will work I might start in Milan with a car and travel back to Milan after seeing the areas you have suggested in the western lakes area and then go on to como with a group--let me know what you think--thanks cheryl
Old Oct 25th, 1999, 05:09 PM
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Bob the Navigator

bringing this to the top so you might help me out!


Best place to rent a car? Milan? or is it possible to rent in the Lakes region?

Do you have a favorite guide book for this area? I have the Blue Guide and Cadogan--any other suggestions?

Mille grazie!

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