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nicholas2win3710 Oct 6th, 2021 12:52 AM

Italy: Florence to Milan, thoughts and advice?

Iím trying to figure out my trip to Europe for the year end (end Nov to Dec) with my wife. We will be there for 14 nights, planning to do France (Paris) and then Italy. It will just be the two of us.

We just want to get thoughts and opinions on our itinerary thus far, especially for the Italy leg.

We fly into Paris, and plan to just eat/shop/do the usual touristy stuff.

For Italy, we want to explore the Northern part, and plan to fly into Florence, and drive our way up to Milan (where we will also fly out from).

Planning to do:
  • 5 nights Paris (including taking a plane to Florence on 6th day morning)
  • 4 nights Florence
  • 1 night Bologna (we will rent a car on the last morning to drive from Florence to Bologna)
  • 1 night Modena / Parma
  • 3 nights Milan (including day trips? Thinking of Lake Como)
About us:
We are foodies, and are mostly going there for the food, and some shopping (plus notable sites).

  1. Will there be lots to do in the smaller cities during winter? Like Lake Como/Modena, etc. Or will places be closed for the holidays?
  2. Iím really wondering how I should plan my trip after Florence as I head up into Milan. Another way is to just take train straight up and use Milan as a base. We donít want to rush around too much (especially all the travelling can get tiring as well ó although the convenience of throwing luggage into a car has its allure instead of lugging it to the train staton)
  3. If you have any must-dos in any of the cities, feel free to share. We've only been to Italy once/twice before.

Any advice would be useful.

Traveler_Nick Oct 6th, 2021 01:54 AM

You don't need a car. A car is slow and costly. Tolls,fuel and I guess for you the rental.

You are rushing.

Modena is a city and will be functioning just like any other. It's not a beach destination. Nor is it a ski locale. The places that will be dead are the summery destinations that get a surge with the beach season.

Rubicund Oct 6th, 2021 02:34 AM

If you are foodies, then I'd shave a night off Florence and add it to Bologna. The food there is excellent and not ridiculously priced. Use the trains in Italy, it's a great service and very quick between cities. Modena is OK for fans of balsamic vinegar or car enthusiasts but otherwise wouldn't merit an overnight. I'd add it on to Milan via train and just take it easy, rather than driving.

dreamon Oct 6th, 2021 03:50 AM

I agree that a car would not be a great choice for this itinerary. If you really don't want to change hotels so often, Bologna is easily visited from Florence for the day, and Parma from Bologna if you end up staying in Bologna. Depending on your plans for Florence, I would consider 3 nights Florence and 3 nights Bologna (with side trip). Alternatively, visit Bologna from Florence as a day trip by train and visit Parma from Milan (a longer journey than from Bologna but still possible).

Your plan sounds good but I like to get out of the cities, even in winter, so I would try to find a way to do that, either staying there or visiting for a day here and there. I haven't been to Lake Como in the winter but we did visit once when it was cloudy and foggy - still beautiful and quite atmospheric.

annw Oct 6th, 2021 07:52 AM

Milan in November was quite cool but lovelyóhot chestnut cart on the piazza del Duomo, sights to see and plenty of shopping. Have aperitivo or a meal at the rooftop cafe at la Rinascente store, next to the lit up Duomo.

Agree 100% about trains over cars. Pack as light as you can wearing the heavies and bringing an extra lightweight bag/sportsac for purchases.

Agree about Bologna as a destination for foodies, though we found wonderful cuisine throughout Emilia-Romagna. Preferred Ferrara to Modena; prefer Ravenna to any other town in the area.

TDudette Oct 6th, 2021 08:27 AM

Agree about shaving a day from Florence. Just stay in Bologna for 3 nights and let Modena be a day trip by train. Also a vote for Ravenna.

Jean Oct 6th, 2021 09:09 AM

At another time of year, I MIGHT think a car for a few days would be nice, but not at that time of year and not for the places you mention.

I won't comment on how much time to spend anywhere, as I don't know your interests... other than good food and shopping which are easily found in all of your destinations. I would focus on the other attractions in each place to figure out how much time you want to spend everywhere. IMO, in that regard, Florence wins hands down.

And, while I love the Lake Como area, I wouldn't spend a day there at that time of year unless the weather forecast was for a clear day, no rain, not too cold. As the ferries would be less frequent and sunset early, it would be difficult to make the most of a single day. FYI, a couple of months ago there were extraordinary floods causing huge landslides in some towns on the western shore. Cernobbio, Brienno, Laglio and Argegno got the worst of it. The lakeside road was closed in several places. If you decide to spend a day on the lake and any time on the western shore, I'd check on the recovery of places you'd want to visit.

I really dislike multiple one-night stays, so I would prefer to stay in fewer hotels and do a couple of day trips. The old hub and spoke travel plan.

maitaitom Oct 7th, 2021 12:32 PM

Another who votes for trains on this trip. You won't need to take a day trip from Milan. There is plenty for you to see there. Italy's most underrated city, in my opinion.

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