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Need suggestions for traveling out of Milan, Italy to other cities

Need suggestions for traveling out of Milan, Italy to other cities

Old Dec 4th, 2012, 07:25 PM
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Need suggestions for traveling out of Milan, Italy to other cities

My dad, 80+ years old, has always wanted to travel northern Italy. His wish is to fly into Milan, then in no particular order, go to Como, Chivasso, Ottone Piacenze, Lucca, Pisa, and Cinqueterra. Our group consists of a total of 5 people.

My first question is: Since we have heard that driving ourselves out of Milan is crazy and dangerous(Is that true??) does anyone have a suggestion how we could get around? I think trains are out because we won't have transportation once we get to our destinations. Does anyone have knowledge of a company/tour guide we could take with us? We know of one person and we are looking for other options as he isn't very close. Maybe there is a solution we haven't thought of yet.???

2nd question: We'd like to stay in Lucca, and then 1 or 2 other of the above towns (not Milan). Then we plan on taking day trips to the closest towns/cities. Does anyone have suggestions for nice , but not too expensive, hotels in any of the other towns?

3rd: Are we totally crazy? Any helpful hints for this trip would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Dec 4th, 2012, 07:37 PM
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You would need a van for five people.

Milan's airport is not really in Milan (about an hour from the center) so I don't see picking up a car there as a problem if you don't plan to actually visit Milan.

I can't imagine really needing a tour guide in any of the towns you listed.

If you stay in Lucca, you can train to Pisa (about 20 minutes)for a few euro. You can also train to Florence in about an hour (or bus).

>>>Does anyone have suggestions for nice , but not too expensive, hotels
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Old Dec 4th, 2012, 07:42 PM
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How many days do you have not impacted by arriving and departing flights?

Will you fly in and out of Milan?

Will you spend any time in Milan or head immediately to your first destination?

Does your dad want to go only to the town of Como, or does he want to see Lake Como?

What time of year?

How is your dad's mobility?
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Old Dec 4th, 2012, 08:42 PM
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Thanks for the responses. The guide is more for the driving & navigating Italian roads. Are they pretty simple to follow once you are out of the big city? My dad can walk some but some of the towns are not on the train routes so we'd have to arrange for a car in each place if we don't rent a car. Thanks for the heads up about Pisa to Lucca. We have a place to stay in Lucca, recommended by some good friends. So we could take the train for a day trip to Pisa. Hotels - I have no idea what hotels go for in Italy, so talking US dollars about $90 - $120 a night/per room??? I don't know what that would get us.
We have not set flights ye. we are gathering info on the ground travel before we finalize the plane. We'd like to go to the town of Como. Mid to end of May. My dad can walk some but he will get tired if he has to hurry for a train.

Thanks again for all your questions and information. I really appreciate it!!
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Old Dec 4th, 2012, 10:05 PM
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Still unclear whether you intend to spend any time IN Milan.

I also don't think you need a driver/guide for any of this.

The only town on your list without train service is Ottone, but driving the entire itinerary would likely be faster overall than taking trains and easier for your dad than climbing up/down train stairs and walking long station platforms. But, as kybourbon points out, you'll need a large vehicle for 5 people plus luggage. And, depending on what you want to do/see in each destination, having a car won't necessarily be advantageous and could be disadvantageous. You don't want to be doing much driving (if any) within the towns (where it's even permissible).

I hope you can fly into Milan and out of Pisa and will have at least two weeks for this trip (more days if you're going into Milan). As you plot your days, keep in mind that moving from hotel to hotel will take at least half a day and probably longer on the days you move to and from Ottone. Your hotel budget is tight but probably doable on average at the higher end of your range. Investigate overnight parking fees everywhere which will add to your daily expenses.
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Old Dec 5th, 2012, 03:59 AM
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we will not spend any time in Milan. the trip is about nine days in Italy,not including flight days.We were hoping to stay at hotels in about three towns and take day trips to the smaller towns. We have a nice hotel in Lucca. Hotel Como looks nice in Como.The dollar range can go up some.As i said, i dont have any idea how much hotels or bed and breakfasts are in those area.Parking fees...are those in addition to whatever a hotel might charge?

Are there toll roads?
Thanks again for all your help!!
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Old Dec 5th, 2012, 06:49 AM
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Few hotels have parking - unless out in the countryside. But they can usually refer you to a local garage for parking - expect $25 to $30 per night.

Your lodging budget is very low - but you don;t say how many rooms you are looking for - obviously you can;t put 5 adults in one room.

I think a car makes the most sense - easiest for your dad - but the center of many towns are pedestrian only - so you need to park on the outskirts and take a bus or shuttle or taxi into the town.

Separately, you are trying to see an awful lot of places in very few days - this would be tiring for 20 somethings - never mind for an octagenerian who doesn't walk a lot.
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Old Dec 5th, 2012, 07:20 AM
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I don't think you can see your list from only 3 destinations. The driving times between are too long.

Como to Chivasso is 1.5-2 hours
Chivasso to Ottone is 2.5-3 hours
Chivasso to somewhere on the CT is 2+ hours
CT to Lucca is about 1.5 hours

If you keep everything on your list, you'll be on the move every other day. I'm not sure you'll have time for the day trip Lucca-Pisa.

Yes, there are toll roads in several parts of your itinerary. Yes, you will encounter public parking fees (as you would when driving in almost any town anywhere), but I was referring more to overnight charges at hotels.

The Hotel Como is not close to the main tourist sights of the town and is more than a mile from the lake. A quick look on Google Streetview does not show any restaurants in the immediate area of the hotel. I would keep looking.

http://www.venere.com/italy/como/
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Old Dec 5th, 2012, 08:01 AM
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Just to toss something out there, how about this:

Fly to Milan, train to Como, stay 3 nights, pick up a van at some point.

Drive to Chivasso in the morning, have lunch, walk around; press on to Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre, 3 nights. Day trip to Ottone. Drop off the van at some point.

Then train to Lucca 3 nights, day trip to Pisa. Fly home from Pisa or Florence.

You won't have to worry about city traffic and the highway driving is mostly fine. The toll roads have signs with the toll amount so language is not a problem (if that worries you) -- just don't drive through the transponder auto-pay booths (forget the Italian for Ez-pass).
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Old Dec 5th, 2012, 09:23 AM
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>>>His wish is to fly into Milan, then in no particular order, go to Como, Chivasso, Ottone Piacenze, Lucca, Pisa, and Cinqueterra. >>The only town on your list without train service is Ottone
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Old Dec 5th, 2012, 10:39 AM
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After having driven for about 30,000 miles in Italy over the years. It may be a generalisation but I would regard Milanese drivers to be the best behaved in Italy. The traffic on the Autostrada in all directions can be shocking. Try to traverse Milan during the rush hour and a 10 minute journey can become a 90 minute long haul due to volumes.

Look at Piacenza, beautiful little city.

The Autostrada away from cities are usually fairly empty and make for very easy driving, they are all usually tolled and the tolls are increasing annually to fund the failing economy. Ten years ago we drove from Manchester, England to Siena. The total tolls were less than £15.

Last October, Milan to Venice was around 8 euros in tolls, one way.
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Old Dec 5th, 2012, 01:58 PM
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Hi jpete

I know where Ottone is. One of my best friends is named Ottone!

The easiest way to get to Ottone is from the area just south of Genoa, so you should make that one of your bases. You could probably even find a taxi driver to take you. It would be crazy to take the bus from Piacenza!

Nine days may not be enough for your itinerary, but this is the logical way to do it:

Fly into Pisa, rest up, and see Lucca by train as a day trip.

Take the train to le Cinque Terre. (It is very steep, so you better stay in Levanto instead).

Take the train to Rapallo or Camogli. You should be able to find a taxi driver to take you Ottone for the day, or you can rent a car in Rapallo. It is not an easy drive to Ottone. It is on very steep narrow roads. If you rent a car, you must not try to do it in the rain. A taxi driver can, but you shouldn't try.

From Rapallo or Camogli, you can take a train to Chivasso, but you will need to switch in Torino.

From Chivasso, you can take a train to Varenna on Lago di Como, but you need to change in Milan. (These train switches are not hard and there is a half hour usually between them. The train stations are flat.)

Hire a car to take you all to Malpensa airport to fly home.

But it would probably be easier on your dad if you rented a car in Rapallo and drove to Chivasso and Lago di Como. Because that is a 2 hour drive.

Like I said, only 9 days is a really short time to make that many stops

Pisa/Lucca 2 nights
le Cinque Terre 1 night
Rapallo 2 nights
Chivasso 2 night
Lago di Como 2 nights
Fly home

It would be better if you could get more nights. There are nice hotels everywhere. Don't get attached to a hotel. Pick places to sleep because it makes it easy for your father to see his wish list is my advice.

Good luck! I have traveled with people in their 80s and they can be very strong. But you need to carry their luggage for them, and they probably will not want to always eat dinner with you. It can be best to pick a hotel with a restaurant so they can just have some simple food and go rest.
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Old Dec 5th, 2012, 02:08 PM
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Oops -- I made it sound like it was just 2 hours driving total after you rent a car in Rapallo. It is 2 hours from Rapallo to Chivasso. It is two hours from Chivasso to Lago di Como. Stay in Menaggio if you drive there.

Now that I think of it, in some ways your trip after Pisa could be done entirely by car, and I especially would recommend that if your Dad has any trouble taking big steps up or down to get on a train or off it. Those are very steep steps in some stations. It is still better if you fly into Pisa and get some rest before renting a car. So sleep there and see Lucca by train. But you could rent the car in Pisa and drive to Levanto and Rapallo. Get a hotel with parking in both places. I still recommend having a driver take you to Ottone though. It will be worth it I think. You can look on Google satellite at the road.
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Old Dec 5th, 2012, 02:42 PM
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Does your father want to go to the town of Como or to Lake Como? Most visitors prefer to stay midlake (Menaggio/Bellagio/Varenna) where it's more scenic and use ferries to get around.

Depending on how limited your father is, you may need to do a lot of research to find places that suit him: hotels with elevators, towns with flat centers, etc. In particular the Cinque Terre have few flat places and are not easily accessed by car. The 5 towns are connected by train and boat; the road mostly runs inland. You pay to park and then climb down into the town. And climb back up when you leave.

You might want to read a recent trip report by an admirable woman with limited walking ability, who nevertheless travelled around Italy by herself: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ling-woman.cfm. She did a great deal of research ahead of time.

And, given, that your father will probably want to include rest time each day, you may need to lengthen your trip or cut the number of destinations. 6 places in 9 days is too much.
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Old Dec 6th, 2012, 12:57 AM
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Hi again jpete,

I thought of another way you could do your trip, but it would still be hard to do in 9 nights

Fly to Milan, get a private car transfer to Lago di Como

Leaving Lago di Como, take the ferry to the town of Como and rent a car to drive to Chivasso OR have a private driver take you to Linate Airport if that is the only place you can rent a van to drive to Chivasso.

From Chivasso, drive to Piacenza. From Piacenza, it is a bit easier to drive yourselves to Ottone for a day trip. But I still might prefer to have a taxi driver, especially on a weekend when a lot of motorcyclists ride that road, and definitely if it is raining.

From Piacenza, drive to Lucca and use Lucca as a base to see le Cinque Terre and Pisa.

Fly home from Pisa

So that would be

Arrive Milan, Lago di Como 2 nights
Chivasso 1 night
Piacenza 2 nights
Lucca 4 nights

If everybody was 22 years old, no problem. But it would be better to have more nights for your Dad.

By the way, my mother went to Italy when she was 84 and she didn't need to include rest time every day. She wasn't limited. She was just 84. Most of the places you are going are flat, except for le Cinque Terre, so that is way I said you should stay in Levanto or Lucca, to avoid the problems Mimar is worrying about. From Levanto you can take a boat to le Cinque Terre on a nice day, or a 5-minute train ride.

If you use a hotel web searcher like booking.com you can limit your search to hotels with elevators or you can search for "handicap accessible" or "wheelchair accessible" because then you are certain to get the ground floor. If your trip isn't until next May you have plenty of time to plan for that. But if you can get more travel days, it will still be better. Or if your father can skip some destinations, easier. My mother is planning another trip for April. It makes her happy to have something exciting to look forward to, and I don't think she'd be healthier or safer sitting at home feeling old and gloomy. Hope you can make yours work out for your Dad.
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Old Dec 6th, 2012, 03:30 PM
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Here's an active website you could e-mail to ask questions about Ottone

http://www.piacenzantica.it/page.php?6

If you were willing to spend some nights in Milan, in a hotel near the train station, you could make this itinerary work, and perhaps it would be easier than moving around a lot

Arrive in Milan, sleep in Milan
Day trip to Lago di Como by train, sleep in Milan
Day trip to Chivasso, sleep in Milan
Train to Piacenza, pre-arranged driver to Ottone, sleep in Ottone (Albergo Nazionale)
Taxi to Piacenza (after lunch), rent car in Piacenza, drive to Lucca, sleep in Lucca
Spend day in Lucca, sleep in Lucca
Day trip to le Cinque Terre (park in Levanto), sleep in Lucca
drive to Pisa, visit Tower, sleep in Pisa airport hotel
Taxi to airport, fly home

Still would be better with more days. You might be able to contact that website to help arrange for taxis in Piacenza and Ottone. If not, it would be worth getting a travel consultant to help you with that portion of the trip and other bookings. My recommendation is Idyllic Italy. She goes the distance.

http://www.idyllicitaly.com/

Hope that helps.
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Old Dec 6th, 2012, 06:01 PM
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Thanks to all! This has given us a lot of ideas and we will make some changes to our plans. Thanks Again. Happy Holidays!!
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 05:35 AM
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Thank you for that endorsement, eurotravelplan.
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 05:53 AM
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Driver based in Como..www.davideguerrera.com a very reliable company, Milan to Lake Como and other locations in the area. We have used him twice.
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 06:13 AM
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Advertising isn't allowed on Fodor's.

>>>Arrive in Milan, sleep in Milan
Day trip to Lago di Como by train, sleep in Milan
Day trip to Chivasso, sleep in Milan>>It would be crazy to take the bus from Piacenza!
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