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KimiG and Mario travel back to Italy - The Lakes, Cinque Terre and?

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Feb 27th, 2010, 02:02 PM
  #1
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KimiG and Mario travel back to Italy - The Lakes, Cinque Terre and?

A dear friend of ours invited us to join them in a villa on Lake Como the last week of September 2010. We are so excited to have our first trip back to Europe without the Scholar and Lunatic Maximus since our 10th anniversary trip in 2002. We are going to fly in and out of Milan, arriving about 6 days before we join our friends. We traveled to Rome, Positano, Tuscany and Venice in 2007.

This is what I'm thinking regarding our schedule:

1 night Milan, see the Last Supper and if lucky get Opera tickets (I know, that's a lot for day one)

2 nights Vernazza - so excited about travleling to the Cinque Terre, hiking the five towns, perhaps take a boat out, just enjoy

Here is where my question comes in. I have two more nights before we join our friends on Lake Como. I'm a bit of (actually a lot) of a foodie and I'm so tempted so travel into Bologna for two nights and then circle back up the Lakes. Is that doable or insane? OR are we better off to just stay on the coast?

We usually rent a car while in Europe, but have heard travel to the Cinque Terre is better by train. We are cool with either.

Our last few trips to Europe have been heavy on museums, palaces, etc. This time, I think we will focus on romance, amazing scenery, food and the sweetness of doing nothing. Suggestions? I'll take them all.

Oh and I must, must take a cooking class in at least one location.

I am grateful in advance
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Feb 27th, 2010, 03:20 PM
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How about Parma instead? You have a lot of choices for cooking classes there, starting with the Accademia Barilla, but you can probably track down others (try Modena, too, or Bologna if you like). But Parma is a beautiful relaxing town, with a multi-layered history and cuisine (Parmagiano cheese, ham, Parma violets, Stendahl's the Charterhouse of Parma, Parma yellow everywhere, and pretty parks in a mainly car-free historic town:

Check Tripadvisor for accommodations

http://parma.arounder.com/

http://www.academiabarilla.com/produ...t-courses.aspx
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Feb 27th, 2010, 03:46 PM
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Yes, Parma would be nice, but I did not find it very relaxing and would not consider the scenery amazing. Although, I did find it similar to Bologna.

Another option- rent a car and head to a base in nearby Piedmont. The food and especially the wine are wonderful. Very relaxing. Beautiful scenery.

Or, train to another spot in Liguria- Camogli is lovely.

I don't think you need to travel all the way to Bologna for good food.
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Feb 27th, 2010, 04:47 PM
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If you want amazing food and a historic experience that is unique, look at the Palio d' Asti weeek at Villa Sampaguita in Piemonte. Here is my photo gallery from 2007.

BTW, it is always the 3rd week of Sep--looks like good timing.
http://www.slowphotos.com/photo/show...y.php?cat=4172
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Feb 28th, 2010, 06:57 AM
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In late September, I think you'll be okay renting a car for your entire visit if you like, but if you end up picking Bologna, a car would be a hinderance. I have a problem with animal racing as entertainment and don't like crowds, so the Palio wouldn't appeal to me.

The historic center of Parma is entirely pedestrianized (and beautiful) which is way I found it relaxing, despite it's lively shopping life (it's a very well-heeled town). With a car, you could stay in the nearby hills and Torrechiara, which would be just spectacular and romantic. The castle interiors are painted with honeymoon frescoes:

http://www.tavernadelcastello.it/eng/index.php

http://www.tavernadelcastello.it/ita...e.php?idpage=4

In town, the beauty spot to stay is right near the Duomo in the pedestrianized center:

http://www.palazzodallarosaprati.co.uk/

I think it will all depend on where the cooking class was.

Bologna really is ground zero for all things food, so staying there isn't a bad option either. Whether you prefer the food to Piemonte to that of Emilia-Romagna is of course a matter of taste. I'm with Fred Plotkin in feeling that antipasti, risotto and desserts shine in Piemonte, but Emiia-Romagna is the all-around winner, start to finish.

I live on the Italian Riviera and think it's better enjoyed staying in one location doing nothing rather than moving around. As a true foodie, you would do very well to invest in David Downie's up-to-date guide, Food and Wine of the Italian Riviera and Genoa -- especially if you choose to stay in le Cinque Terre, where mediocre tourist establishments far outnumber authentic eateries. Camogli does have better food, and you can train from there to le Cinque Terre if you want to see it. But if you want to hike it, you should stay in the towns themselves and get an early start to avoid the blistering sun on the trails.

Have fun deciding!
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Feb 28th, 2010, 07:02 AM
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PS: If you are in le Cinque Terre, you will need to travel the same distances and consume the same travel time whether you travel to Asti or Bologna, by train or by car. And from either place to the lakes. Parma is about an hour less travel, which is one reason I suggested it. Plus its got a plethora of cooking classes (try a google search for "parma cooking classes" to start.)
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Feb 28th, 2010, 12:02 PM
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You can do a cooking class at Il Caninetto in Varenna, whilst you are staying in Lake Como, so that gives you more time to enjoy the rest of it. Cinque Terre is quite close to Tuscany and the food there is simply amazing! The Cinque Terre is do-able by car, but would then involve a lo of walking up/down to the village each time. The train or boat are very easy.

I can see that you have already had lots of great suggestions, so I hope that you have a wonderful holiday and let me know if you need any info on Lake Como, as that's where I have lived & loved for the last 13 years. You may find my blog helpful to you http://lakecomoexpert.blogspot.com/ or www.lakecomoproperties.com
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Feb 28th, 2010, 01:42 PM
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Oh thank you. My mind is swimming with the possibilities and will run all of this by Mario. Now I wish I had another week (I always do).

Oh gosh - I love the idea of going to Asti - wish I could stay the entire week for the festival - maybe some day, but I may be able to be there for a few days and I looooove the idea of going on a truffle hunt! And I also love the idea of visiting Parma - thank you for the lovely suggestions. If I'm not able to make it to Asti, is it possible to do a truffle hunt near Parma? And yes, Mario would love the Barolo wineries. Great idea of doing the cooking class while in Lake Como - I will check that out. Thank you for the lovely websites!

Feel free to keep the suggestions coming .... also I am leaning toward staying at La Mala on the Cinque Terre, but I do like having a host at a hotel. I welcome other suggestions and I am deeply grateful and very excited!
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Feb 28th, 2010, 02:29 PM
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I am a foodie, and love both the Piedmont and Bologna, so can't really recommend one over the other. If you like Barolos, then let that make your decision and visit the Piedmont. When we visited that area, since one of our focuses was the wine, we stayed in one of the Barolo villages, Monforte d'Alba. (Check out Chowhound and eGullet for lots of foodie info on the Piedmont)

if it works out for your trip overall, taking a car to the Cinque Terre isn't that bad. We've done that each time. The last two times, we stayed Villa Steno, in Monterosso. That hotel has its own (small) parking area. But do try to spend more than one night in the Cinque Terre.
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Feb 28th, 2010, 03:02 PM
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I've stayed at la Mala and loved it, but the owners are not around much.

Here is a place I think would be a beautiful choice-

http://www.torrettas.com/
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Feb 28th, 2010, 06:28 PM
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And about the truffle hunts. I looked into it extensively when we were planning our Piemonte trip, because we were there at the very beginning of the season, in October. We did not go on one. My impression was that the "hunts" can be interesting and informative, but not so likely to be true truffle hunts. The likely locations of truffles are important to each truffle hunter, and I find it very difficult to imagine that they'd take people to the actual sites where they find truffles (the truffles might be planted beforehand). Also, you won't be there during truffle season. And another also, I don't think truffles are found in the area around Parma.
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Mar 1st, 2010, 08:59 AM
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With a car, you can go truffle hunting quite close by Parma.

http://wanderingitaly.com/blog/artic...emilia-romagna

I'm not sure when the season starts there.
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Mar 4th, 2010, 02:01 PM
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Thank you so much. I will report back and let you know what we decide!
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