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Need Italy suggestions for work trip in June

Need Italy suggestions for work trip in June

Old Apr 23rd, 2008, 08:37 PM
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Need Italy suggestions for work trip in June

Hi all, it seems like I am always doing things last minute and last year the folks on the Africa forum were wonderful. Now I hope I can get some help here.

I found out this afternoon that I won a trip from my company that will take me to Switzerland and end up in Cernobbio (Como), Italy in June. Since most of it is work related, I am wanting to stay in Italy 5 days to a week more.

Great. But problem is..I will be solo for that part of the trip and have to get my plane ticket tomorrow. I will probably use AA as it is the easiest from Dallas and I may be able to upgrade. So now I am at a loss for what to do for that week, and if it is feasable (easy enough without a car) to go from Milan to areas in Tuscany and then back to Milan to catch a plane out. If that is possible, then how much time should I allow. I don't want to spend all the time traveling. As this time is needed for recharging batteries, I don't want to be go go go the whole time.

To give you an idea of what my travel style is. I don't get like to spend all of my time at museums and historical sites, but don't mind some. I like more of the food, culture, and people of the places I go. Are trains easy and accessible. I would prefer not to rent a car, but if that seems best and most cost and time effective, I could be persuaded.

Any advice you all have would be great. By the way, I will be starting my time in Como on June 22.
godmother_lr is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2008, 06:11 AM
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I am moving this up, hoping for some help.

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Old Apr 24th, 2008, 06:20 AM
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Find a town or city you want to visit for a few days and fly back from the nearest airport from there. Florence and Pisa both have airports. You will likely have to make a connection.
vjpblovesitaly is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2008, 03:11 PM
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Thanks vjpblovesitaly,

After checking the airfares and such I will probably fly back out of Milan. (the costs have to be in line with what they would be paying for me if I wasn't staying).

I am just hoping that it is easy to take a train around for a few stops. Once I make it to one of the towns is it easy to get around without a car? Then taking a train back to Milan.

How many days would you allow to get a flavor of the area without breaking the bank?

godmother_lr is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2008, 04:14 PM
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You will already be at a relaxing place - Cernobbio. There is frequent boat service to the town of Como. You can take Milan's Metro area commuter rail from Como to Milan.

For a trip to Tuscany, train travel might take 4 & 1/2 hours to get to Florence. So your Tuscany trip needs four days including two travel days.

I would consider not leaving the Milan/Lakes Area. Bergamo is daytripable. If needed, Verona might be daytripable. You could also put Soglio and Lugano on the list of possible excursions.

You can get a flavor of Lake Como in three full days. The best resort town on the lake with train service is Varenna. Book any Lake Como rooms soon, the better value hotels fill up early. Considering yorur tight decision schedule, flying into and out of Milan is probably simplest.
Big_Red is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2008, 04:18 PM
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Parma is a short train ride from Milan. We found it to be an interesting city with wonderful food.
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Old Apr 24th, 2008, 04:21 PM
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There is a LOT to do in the Lake Como region, and much of it can be done on the ferry boats and the train (which runs the entire length of the eastern shore). I've been living in that area for several years; see http://www.beginningwithi.com/italy/.../lake_como.htm for the many things we've done there.
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Old Apr 24th, 2008, 04:24 PM
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If you had a car, I'd say to head right down to Tuscany for your recharging time.

But, as you won't have one, I would make the same kinds of suggestions that the other posters already have. Como area, though for whatever reason, the lakes region of Italy (except for Lugano) just hasn't clicked with me.

We were in Milan (business trip of hubby's) last year, and were surprised to find how much we liked the city. Between some time in Como and some time in Milan, you could easily have a wonderful week. You could daytrip to other places from Mila, as well.
Lexma90 is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2008, 07:16 PM
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It would certainly be simpler to stay north. But, if you do want to head south, I'd suggest staying in Florence. By the time you catch a train in Milan, travel to Florence, and get to your hotel...well, that's half a day at least.

From Florence you can take trips out into Tuscany. If you can stretch it to a full week it would be better. The problem is getting back to Milan to catch your plane. It usually means spending that last night in Milan because U.S. flights leave rather early.
JeanneB is offline  
Old Apr 25th, 2008, 06:30 AM
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Thanks to all of you.

I ended up booking the flight and have 8 days to play with. So here is my schedule so far.

June 15 arrive in Zurich. We will be in Switzerland for 2 or 3 days, then head to Cernobbio for a meeting that will be over on Sat, the 21. Hotel, activities and travel are set until Sun, 22, when others will leave from Milan.

Then I have until the 30th to play with when I leave Milan for the US. So, yea! 8 days. One co-worker, who is also going, may stay for a few extra days, so if Tuscany is too out of the way for her, we may stay up north. I will wait to see what she schedules today.

I do have some friends who now are Creme de Limoncello makers in the US, but are from an area around Pisa. I am going to see them in a few weeks when I get home, and they have mentioned me being able to hang out with some family members for I time, if I were to get to go.

I hope as I get more info you all will be willing to help.

godmother_lr is offline  
Old Apr 25th, 2008, 07:04 AM
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Sounds fabulous. With that much time you have wonderful choices. Agree you can't make many decisions until you know what co-worker is doing.

Let us know.
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Old Apr 25th, 2008, 07:20 AM
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Another thought is to head over to the coast: Cinque Terre, Santa Margherita Ligure/Portofino, Genoa. This is all reachable by train and some boat.
Mimar is offline  
Old Apr 25th, 2008, 03:42 PM
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OK, so I just found out that my co-worker's husband is going to be flying into Venice the day we are free to depart from work commitments. So she will be taking a train there that day. She has asked if I want to join them, but as I don't know him and this is their 1st time in Venice (granted I haven't been there either), I don't want to feel like a 3rd wheel.

Assuming they really don't mind me tagging along, with 8 days for my vacation, would going over to Venice and then trying to cross back over to Tuscany or CT, then back to Milan for departure be too much?

I have other specific questions if anyone would like to chime in.

1. Do you have a recommendation for a hotel by the Malpensa Airport with shuttle service? I found a list of them, from 90 euros on up. My first thought was to use all the hotel points I have and get a room at Marriott, Hyatt or Hilton for that last night, but the taxi ride to the airport is 80 euros from one of those. And for a 10 am flight, would mean a very early wake up.

2. I am sure there are many of you that have traveled solo through the area I am looking at, so any pointers about transportation? I would like to stay at some of the picturesque places I have seen, but read how out of the way they can be? If I can get to a place by train, then do you have recommendations for places you have stayed that I could get close to by bus or something?

3. If the answer is no to the above question, and I am used to driving all over the place in the US - many times in new cities- and don't get frustrated when lost, would I be crazy to rent a car on my own? And if renting is not too terribly different than renting in the states, which I do almost every week, then would renting it in Milan for the week be a better idea than public transportation?

4. Of course I will want to see some art, (I like sculpture best) but hate crowds. I know some of you might cringe, but I was the visitor to Paris that sat at the cafe outside of the Louvre drinking citron presse (sp) and flirting with the French witer while a traveling companion braved the crowd to hold her camera over her head so she could see the Mona Lisa when she developed her pics back home. Yes it was a while before the digital camera was affordable.
So if I go to Pisa and then to some of the towns around there for a while, would I see enough for a taste of the art of Italy, or do I need to go to Florence or Rome?

OK, enough questions for now. I will have plenty more, the more I research. Thanks in advance for the help.
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Old Apr 25th, 2008, 05:27 PM
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1. Personally, rather than stay at some possibly-dull airport hotel, I'd stay in Milan for that last night, then take an early-morning cab to the airport (that's what we did on our last trip). Yes, it will be kind of early, but all you're going to be doing that day is sitting on a plane - you can sleep then!

2. Some places can be out of the way and hard to get to; some aren't. Others have provided some good suggestions of destinations that are reasonably easy to get to. I haven't traveled solo in Europe, but when I travel (with DH), I tend to choose a car over the train. Partly because it provides more flexibility and can be more efficient (depending on the destination), and partly because having to get to a train station on time, and then heaven forbid if you have to change trains - that, to me, is stressful. Buses also stress me out. (Obviously, others have the opposite opinion!) On the other hand, a direct train trip between two cities is the best way to go, so that you don't have the rental car IN the city (where you won't need it).

3. I haven't rented a car traveling solo in Europe, but there's nothing crazy about doing that. If you get lost, you pull off the road to look at your map. Don't rent a car IN Milan; you won't need it in the city. And you could rent it from the airport, so you don't have to drive the car IN the city. If you want to go to Tuscay, then rent a car and GO - you'll love it!

4. There are ways to (more or less) avoid crowds in Florence or Rome. But if you really want a relaxing trip, with only some art, then do want you'll enjoy, and skip those cities this trip. I don't think, however, that Pisa will provide you with many opportunities to see art. For smaller, less-crowded cities where you can sit and people-watch, and enjoy some art, consider Milan, Bologna, Perugia, Siena. None of these will fill up your entire 8 days, though. (My favorite sculpture museums, though, are the Bargello in Florence and the Villa Borghese in Rome.)
Lexma90 is offline  
Old Apr 25th, 2008, 05:43 PM
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You could spend the last night in Milan and take the Malpensa Express train from Cadorna station to the airport. 6:57 a.m. train arrives Malpensa at 7:37 a.m. Walk to check-in is about 5 minutes. (Next train at 7:27 a.m., arrives 8:07 a.m.) Timetables for the Milano branch of LeNord trains:


LeNord also has service between the town of Como and downtown Milan (same Milano branch search).

Do you have a "challenging" hotel budget? That might help determine where you want to go. Finding good deals in Venice, Florence, Milan, etc., in late June might be tough.

Jean is offline  
Old Apr 25th, 2008, 05:52 PM
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Thanks Lexma and Jean.

My hotel budget isn't tight or loose, but if I can save money for the city hotels, then I can spend it other places with charm. And thanks for the train info. Since I posted last, I checked out the MXP website and saw that there was a station there. So I will probably do that. You are right about not really wanting to stay at a dull airport hotel.

I am just starting my research and now have a little time to work it out. My initial rush was a 1 day time frame from finding out I was going to purchasing a plane ticket and not knowing how much time to allow.

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Old Apr 25th, 2008, 10:41 PM
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I stayed at the King Hotel in Milan for 65 euros for the last night; it was perfectly adequate. I walked to the Malpensa express the next morning. I have a trip report on that. I'd leave your hotel by 7 am for a 10 am flight. The lines at Malpensa are huge. I loved my day trip to Bergamo to do the old town there. Yes, i think you can get everywhere by public transportation...trains and buses. it is easy and inexpensive. Be sure to try to get to my favorite museum in Milan, the Pinoteca Ambrosiana....it is walking distance to the duomo. Gorgeous architecture, small and manageable with beautiful art. really a fabulous experience.
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Old Apr 26th, 2008, 04:51 AM
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Assuming they really don't mind me tagging along, with 8 days for my vacation, would going over to Venice and then trying to cross back over to Tuscany or CT, then back to Milan for departure be too much?

I think it's tight. You have 7 nights at issue (last night in Milan is settled). I don't think it's worth traveling to/from Venice for only 2 nights. But if you add more to Venice it shortchanges your Tuscany/CT options. If you want to do Venice, then I would suggest Florence as your 2nd base (3 nights Venice, 4 Florence). You can do day trips out of Florence.

Alternatively, skip Venice . You then have 3 options (based on your stated preferences). All of these assume you return to Florence on the 8th day, train back to Milan.

1) Train to Florence, 3 nights... satisfy your art quest. Train to CT. Perhaps stay in Lucca 1 night, CT 3 nights.


2) Florence 2 or 3 nights. Rent a car and do Tuscany for 4 or 5 nights.


3) Train to Florence, pick up car and head straight to Tuscany for 7 nights. First 3 nights north (Chianti or San Gim areas). Then 4 nights in Val d'Orcia area. As for Florence, you could spend time there before picking up the car or do it as a day trip out of Tuscany.

My sister and I just rented a car and drove through Tuscany. You would be disadvantaged not having a navigator. But if you stay on the main roads, going from town to town, you'll be fine. Stay IN a town, not in the countryside so you don't have to drive after dinner. If you go this route, post a separate thread on traveling solo in Tuscany. You'll want to know the right maps, which towns, etc.
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Old Apr 26th, 2008, 06:49 AM
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I'd never discourage anyone from going to Venice. Would you be able to stay in the same hotel as your friends? Or do you want to? Maybe not.

Anyway a couple days in Venice, then the train back to Florence for 3 days, and finally a train to Milan to the last night before departure. Maybe do a day-trip from Florence to Siena or Fiesole -- both easy by bus.

No, you won't see the Tuscan countryside (except from the train and bus) nor the west coast, but the transportation is easy. And the sights are choice.

Mimar is offline  
Old Jun 3rd, 2008, 03:02 PM
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As I leave in less than 2 weeks, I have settled most of it, but still have one day to play with. I know that my decisions won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I think it will work for me. But I do appreciate comments and suggestions for things not to miss in the places that I will be in.

After a week of work that will be 3 days in Switzerland (Staefa and Murten) and then 4 days in Cernobbio, I will be on true vacation. The time in Venice will be with fun co-workers, but definitely NO WORK!

Sunday - Train to Venice
Mon - Venice
Tues - Venice
Wed - Venice to Modena
I picked the Emilia-Romagna area for food as it is the home for two of my top 10 food obsessions.
Thurs- Parmigiano-reggiano tour -
This may prove to be difficult without a car, but will try.
Friday - Visit to a balsamic vinegar producer.
Saturday - Leave Modena
But this is where I don't have a plan. Maybe I will want to see more of Bologna or head back up to the lakes area. I think I will just wait and see.
Sunday - end up in Milan to catch a plane out Monday morning.

For those of you that know Modena and Parma, any favorite places to hang out, see or eat?


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