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Just booked flight 11 nt trip to Italy, into Pisa, out from Milan

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Oct 25th, 2016, 01:18 PM
  #1
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Just booked flight 11 nt trip to Italy, into Pisa, out from Milan

Just booked first trip back to Italy since 2001! This time all new territory for us. Any thoughts, comments, suggestions welcome.

Tentative plan is:
Day 1 arrive Pisa, spend a night - see leaning tower, explore Piazza dei Miracoli area.
Day 2 leave Pisa, drive to Lucca, spend 1 night (pick up car in Pisa or maybe at airport on day 1)
Day 3 leave Lucca, drive to CT. Thinking of staying in Manarola (know of good airbnb place), but this is up for grabs.
Day 4 CT
Day 5 leave CT, drive to Parma
Day 6-9 explore Parma and Emilia Romagna area. Take food tours, go to Ferrari factory. Visit Bologna, and maybe some other towns in area as well.
Day 10 leave Parma, drive to Milan. Get rid of car.
Day 11 explore Milan
Day 12 leave Milan and fly home.

We tend to be bang for the buck travelers. We like staying in small charming places whenever possible. Want to keep hotel budget average below $150/night (will go higher or lower as needed). Good location is key, and of course clean and quiet.

We are high energy, fairly efficient travelers (quick to settle into new places, etc). We also have no problem walking several miles a day to sight-see. We have driven in Italy twice before so can manage that.

Any tour/tour guide suggestions (especially for food), must eat restaurants (a little splurge is fine, but nothing over ~ $75pp, also 'local' places that aren't fancy welcome).
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Oct 25th, 2016, 02:48 PM
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You really do not need a car until after the CT - where cars are relegated to remote parking lots- Pisa S Rossore station is right by the Leaning Tower and it's about 20 mins to Lucca by frequent trains - to CT go back to Pisa and catch trains to any of the five towns.

Near the CT - take the shuttle train that serves all seaside towns to La Spezia or to Camogli and pick up your car.

But that would mean dealing with baggage on trains the first few days so if you have a ton car may be best. Don't leave anything of value exposed in a car- get a car with a trunk that locks and is separated from the rest of the vehicle.

Save a bundle as those are dirt-cheap regional trains and most of the time your car will be idle.
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Oct 25th, 2016, 03:32 PM
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Read this carefully, especially the part about ZTLs:

http://driventoit.blogspot.com.au/
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Oct 25th, 2016, 03:36 PM
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Relative to the above, dump the car in Parma and take a train to Milano, which will take about 1.5 hours or less.
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Oct 25th, 2016, 04:35 PM
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Thanks for the responses. PalenQ, I contemplated the train for parts, and am considering staying in Levanto which is a easy train ride from Pisa. Several friends suggested that town when visiting CT. I am also considering taking a the first night off Parma and staying in Ravenna (at that point we'd have a car), then driving to Parma and stopping at the ferrari museum in between. Also maybe just spend 2 nights in Pisa, and take the train to Lucca for the day or visa versa. I have to figure out those details.

RonZ, thanks for the link. I did read about those ZTLs and have hears stories about Italy parking tickets.

I know I am cramming in a lot, but we are pretty good travelers, and have handled similar trips before.
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Oct 25th, 2016, 06:10 PM
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if you want to see the Last Supper in Milan, buy a ticket as soon as possible. your entry is for 15 minutes only.

When visiting the Duomo (Cathedral) in Milan be sure to walk on the roof top. Purchase a ticket to take the elevator up and down to the roof level.

You don't need a car in Milan. There is a good subway system, buses and taxis, and transportation to the airport via train, bus or taxi.
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Oct 25th, 2016, 06:21 PM
  #7
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Good point Maxima. Will definitely look into that.
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Oct 25th, 2016, 07:08 PM
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If it were my trip, I'd only have the car for the time in/around Parma/Ravenna. I'd return the car in Parma and train to Milan.

In the greater Bologna areas, there are a few exotic car museums as well as the Ducati motorcycle factory and museum. The only true factory tours are offered by Pagani and Ducati. The Ferrari tour that says it takes you into the factory is just a bus ride down one street and views of the exteriors of buildings. No getting off the bus; no photos; maybe just a glimpse at a car being moved. If you want to see cars made by hand, go to Pagani.

http://www.pagani.com/en/huayra/default.aspx

I thought the Ferrari Museum in Maranello was just so-so, cramped and crowded with bus tours, but I enjoyed the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena a lot. There were more cars on display at the EFM, and better displayed, albeit not all are Ferraris. The EFM is within walking distance of the Modena train station, and there is shuttle service between the Modena train station, the EFM and the Ferrari Museum in Maranello.

http://museomodena.ferrari.com/
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Oct 26th, 2016, 08:45 AM
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Slightly revised plan, trying to minimize hotel changes and only have car for 1 day:

Day 1 arrive Pisa - take taxi or train (?) to Piazza del Miracoli area (will look for a hotel in that vicinity - good idea?). Tour Piazza area and leaning tower (should we go with a walking tour?)

Day 2 take day trip to Lucca by train. Possibly have dinner there.

Day 3 leave Pisa, train to CT. Thinking of staying in Manarola (know of good airbnb place near Trattoria dal Billy), but this is up for grabs.

Day 4 CT - visit towns

Day 5 leave CT, train to Parma. Explore Parma

Day 6 do food (and maybe wine) tour (private guide/driver - any recs?)

Day 7 Get car. Leave Parma. Drive to Bologna. Make a stop or 2 enroute, since only day with car (maybe Modena and/or auto museum and/or ??). Return car in evening.

Day 8 day trip by train to Ravenna. Possibly have dinner there.

Day 9 Explore Bologna (maybe a walking tour?)

Day 10 train to Milan in morning. Take afternoon tour with Last Supper viewing. (Tour recs that run on Sunday??)

Day 11 Explore Milan, maybe taking a walking tour of other sights (this is a Monday and it appears no Last Supper viewing, so that's why we'll do it Sunday afternoon) or a day trip (??)

Day 12 fly home.
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Oct 26th, 2016, 09:12 AM
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If you said when you were going, I missed it. I mention that because you'll want to book your tour to the Last Supper asap, especially since you have a such small window available in your itinerary.

There are tour companies in Milan that run tours to the LS, but I can't recommend one. Maybe someone else can. We booked our tour through Viator as part of a larger city tour.

Others might say you can book it cheaper yourself. Good luck with that, considering you don't know who the reputable tour companies are and Viator gives you the best shot at scoring a ticket for the day you have available.
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Oct 26th, 2016, 03:05 PM
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Most of those trains are regional trains you need no advance reservation on nor is that even possible - flat fare- just buy tickets as you go along.

For high-speed trains like Bologna to Milan check either Italo Treno (sp?) and www.trenitalia.com to book discounted but train-specific tickets far in advance to guarantee- you can always get on trains at full fare but you can save a lot by booking in stone early - check www.seat61.com for great info on discounted tickets and for general info www,ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.
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Oct 27th, 2016, 07:18 AM
  #12
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As far as Last Supper viewing, my Milan window is limited. We are arriving on a Sunday and leaving on Tuesday. Monday is a dark day so that leaves us with Sunday afternoon. I found a walking tour including LS viewing and best of city that has excellent reviews. They all seem to be similar in price and sights. Other tours I found were given in the morning which is not convenient for us as we'll be traveling from Bologna, and some only had tickets 2-3 months out. I know this part of my itinerary isn't changing so I booked it.
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