Modena, Italy or other charming town

Nov 13th, 2019, 01:35 PM
  #21  
 
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If I were spending a month without a car, one of my main considerations would be transportation. If you're not interested in many day trips, that wouldn't be as important.

Lucca is a nice, small, very liveable city, easily reached from Florence. Arezzo is another. I like Ferrara quite a lot. Bologna is one of my favorite Italian cities.

Any Italian city will have plenty of churches and bars (as we call our cafés). As for museums, very few small cities have major museums. Every city has a civic museum, where you will find historical artifacts, some works by local artists, religious articles from abandoned churches, and the like. Specifically, what sorts of museums interest you?

Every city has its gritty or scruffy areas, including Modena.

I absolutely love Rome and Milan, and you'll find world-class museums in both cities.
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Nov 13th, 2019, 03:09 PM
  #22  
 
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We loved Siracusa!
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Nov 13th, 2019, 08:47 PM
  #23  
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bvlenci Thank you! I'm probably overthinking this but it is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for us to come live in Europe for a month so I want to get it right.

KTtravel Yes, I've heard it's amazing! A friend recommended we stay there for the month (or somewhere in Sicily) and see my daughter there, forgetting Florence.

TDudette My DD will be studying in Florence with UCLA so I don't want to invade her space... This whole search started because my husband and I were going to spend a month in Aix en Provence or Nice, then travel to see my daughter in Florence when I realized how difficult it is to get from the South of France to Florence (2-leg flights or a long train ride.) So... I'm trying to change plans and find a lively town or smallish city in Italy that will make us visiting her easier. But yes, I would definitely stay in Florence if she wasn't there. haha

Verona sounds like it might be a good choice as it has a castle, bars, a market, that arena with events, some great art, is on a river and looks like a pretty town. Plus we could go to Venice one weekend and the Lake District one weekend, and Florence is a 2-hour train ride. Ravenna also looks pretty and a good size. Watching YouTube videos and reading blogs -- so many great suggestions here!
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Nov 14th, 2019, 12:41 AM
  #24  
 
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I agree that Verona is a very nice small city. I myself would prefer it to Modena.
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Nov 14th, 2019, 05:19 AM
  #25  
 
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Looking forward to reading what you finally do, Irice.

(I don't understand what being tagged means. Got an error trying to reply.)
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Nov 14th, 2019, 09:16 AM
  #26  
 
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If you are still considering Paris then I did already post about staying in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. It is almost all a pedestrian walking suburb with a quick RER ride into Paris Neuilly is also nice and even closer to Paris.
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Nov 14th, 2019, 10:44 AM
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And Boulogne-Billancourt.
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Nov 14th, 2019, 06:27 PM
  #28  
 
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Think about Venice, and there are heaps of areas that are mobbed by tourists. Maybe stay on Giudecca, a less touristed part of Venice.
We have spent about a year in Venice over seven or eight trips and never tire of the town. Train connections are good enough, two hours to Firenze, 1.5 hours to Verona, 3/4 to Padova.
In September, the Homo Faber exhibition is happening in Venice, and it is not to be missed.
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Nov 15th, 2019, 12:33 PM
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We have enjoyed Lucca, Siena, Panzano, Spello, Cortona and Bologna to name a few that would work well.
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Nov 16th, 2019, 12:18 AM
  #30  
 
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Originally Posted by HappyTrvlr View Post
We have enjoyed Lucca, Siena, Panzano, Spello, Cortona and Bologna to name a few that would work well.
Without a car, some of these, especially Panzano and Cortona, are not convenient for getting in and out. They might be fine for a few days, but I wouldn't want to spend a month in either town without a car.
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Nov 20th, 2019, 09:09 PM
  #31  
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annw Thanks for the tip on the Veneto.

I’ve looked into Verona and Padua. Both seems to have charming old towns and amazing sights making them both relevant. I like that Venice is close for weekends as is Lake Garda. My DD could come up from Florence to visit easily.

Are they both lively towns in September? is Verona overly Disney-ized... ? I don’t see myself going to Juliet’s balcony. I do love the palace, gardens and Roman collesium there. Accommodations in Verona seem pricier but not huge.
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Nov 20th, 2019, 09:32 PM
  #32  
 
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"Are they both lively towns in September?"

Italian towns of this size are always lively.

"Verona overly Disney-ized... ? I don’t see myself going to Juliet’s balcony."

No, not at all. In fact it's pretty much undervisited compared to the honeypots of Venice, Florence, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, San Gimi, etc.

Well, "Juliet's balcony" is worth a peek. Takes only 2 minutes(unless you want to queue for a selfie). That's the only place I'd call touristy in Verona, and let's face it most cities have this kind of sight, like the Bocca della verita in Rome, or the Manneken Pis in Brussels.

"I like that Venice is close for weekends as is Lake Garda. My DD could come up from Florence to visit easily."

Indeed, Verona is one of the most important hubs of the Italian railway network, with plenty of trains in all directions.
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Nov 20th, 2019, 09:43 PM
  #33  
 
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For sure Verona is lively in September -- and warm! -- I stayed there for a week once for a language class; I avoided the Juliet area the whole time! It's a small area just off one of the two main streets, easily avoided. there are two main piazzas -- the one in the pics by the Arena, and Piazza del Erbe, a large piazza with a number of cafes. There is expensive shopping along the two main streets. Once you area away from that area, along the river, across the bridges, you are away from the fuss. Train travel to other spots as noted is excellent, and to regions north, for that matter.

If at all possible I would try to attend an opera at the Arena for the spectacle alone, even if you aren't opera fans.

Padova I am less familiar with -- been there twice, love the Scrovegni frescoes and the University area including renaissance anatomy classroom and of course a huge basilica.

I haven't been there with a car but I understand the Veneto region would be a fabulous place to have one to see Palladio buildings in the area.
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Nov 20th, 2019, 11:24 PM
  #34  
 
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Verona is attractive and lively. I saw lots of tour groups during my stay in September 2017 but city center didn’t feel uncomfortably crowded. Verona, including photos, begins at post 45 in my trip report, Solo in Italia once again: Venice, Bologna (Ravenna), Ortisei, Bolzano, Verona
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Nov 21st, 2019, 08:23 AM
  #35  
 
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We spent 5 nights in Verona last year and it was lovely. We left just before the opera season began (unfortunately) so it was not as busy as it might have been... very easy to avoid the small cluster in front of "Juliet's balcony" so no problem there, and very easy connections to other places by train. We rented a car to go to Lake Garda.
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Nov 21st, 2019, 07:34 PM
  #36  
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Trophywife007 annw We, unfortunately, will arrive just as Opera Season ends in early September. I am hoping the arena might host other performances in September since it still is quite warm then. Does anyone know?

BDKR I am leaning toward Verona and it as a transportation hub is one of the reasons why. I like that both Lake Garda and Venice are within easy reach... and my DD can come up from Florence.

Peter_S_Aus Thanks for the note on Verona as I didn't have the Venetto on my radar. I feel more comfortable in France and only know Tuscany in Italy so a month in Verona or Padua is a stretch for me but..... it sounds like people love it!

HappyTrvlr Lucca and Siena both feel "safe" to me because I have been there and know what to expect. (I'm so bad at these decisions; thank God I love European history and research!)

Verona would open a new part of Italy to me and my husband. I was in Venice for one day in the mid-1980s.

bon_voyage I read that Piazza Bra was very touristy that I should find an apartment away from it. I also read that Piazza della Erb was where locals and university students congregate. Any truth to that? What is the ominous music that I have read about? And the tacky souvenir stalls?

isabel I went through your pictures again. You have amazing talent. They are all stunning -- making it very difficult for me to pick a town! I will look closer at Siena. Trieste seems pristine -- is that right? I love the architecture; is it different from what's in Verona or Padova? And Treviso and Vicenza look gorgeous -- prettier towns than Verona. I believe Rick Steves is pushing Treviso a bit now... Some of your photos of Vicenza - Ponte S Michele and Ponte Furo remind me a bit of Dean Village in Edinburgh. Not architecturally, but this peaceful, scenic apartment on a stream close to town. Just so charming!

Thank you all for your help. One reason I am so indecisive is that we spent a couple of weeks in Geneva in June 2017 and it was just dead. It is a gorgeous city, a beautiful old town, shopping, the lake, historic, plenty to see, but it was quiet and uninspiring. Very few people out and about other than tour groups coming through. Hence my over-thinking a town for a month.

I think Padua, Verona, Lucca and Siena all answer my quest for a graceful city that is a sight onto itself with vibrant cafe life during the month of September.


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Nov 21st, 2019, 10:44 PM
  #37  
 
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Irice, my stay is Verona was three nights in the historical center so my impressions are based on a relatively brief visit in a concentrated area. Two of the days were over a weekend when the Piazza delle Erbe was the site of a family-focused event. On the Monday, the souvenir stalls appeared, some produce as I recall but mostly tacky souvenirs. I have no memory of ominous music.
The souvenir stalls aside, the palaces and houses that ring the piazza are picturesque and have historical significance. In Bologna, I really felt the presence of the university students particularly in the cafes in the evenings. I didn’t notice a strong student presence in Verona while I was there. Verona did not feel “Disneyized” to me, rather, upmarket and prosperous.
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Nov 22nd, 2019, 03:49 AM
  #38  
 
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Verona is historically one of the most properous cities in Italy.

Trieste is over four hours by train from Florence, so it wouldn't be easy for your daughter to visit.
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Nov 22nd, 2019, 04:26 AM
  #39  
 
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"We, unfortunately, will arrive just as Opera Season ends in early September. I am hoping the arena might host other performances in September since it still is quite warm then. Does anyone know?"

You are correct about the opera "season" in 2020 ending at the end of the 1st week in September (I know because we'll be there for it) and if there are any happenings otherwise I've added a link for ticket sales you can take a look at.

https://www.geticket.it/en_us/locati...h/provincia/VR
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Nov 22nd, 2019, 07:11 AM
  #40  
 
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"One reason I am so indecisive is that we spent a couple of weeks in Geneva in June 2017 and it was just dead. It is a gorgeous city, a beautiful old town, shopping, the lake, historic, plenty to see, but it was quiet and uninspiring."

Well, that's Switzerland vs. Italy. 2 countries with a very different vibe.

9 pm in Switzerland. Swissman doesn't flush the toilet, because he doesn't want to disturb the neighbours with the noise.

9 pm in Italy. Mamma shouts out of the window to son that it's time to stop football, because the dinner is ready. (Or is she just sending a message on Whatsapp these days? Sigh, Italy is changing too!)

Last edited by BDKR; Nov 22nd, 2019 at 07:24 AM.
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