Northern Italy 1 week HELP :)

Oct 28th, 2016, 07:26 AM
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Northern Italy 1 week HELP :)

We are traveling to Milan (due to a fabulous airline sale!!) for one week in mid March (11-17). We are a family of 5 (kids are 14, 17, 22) and don't want to kill ourselves by going to too many destinations, its a very short trip. (BTW got ATL to Milan for 432 a person!!)
How many days should we spend in Milan? What all is there to do?
We were thinking of going to Venice. How long to stay there?
Anyplace else we should see? Should we attempt a cross into Switzerland, a day in Florence, etc, etc?
We are active and like off the beaten path type activities plus normal tourist activities. Have a music obsessed son, so we will be looking for cool record stores wherever we go. Our middle daughter is into fashion, shopping, and theater. Our oldest will want to find a good bar/pub and mingle with the locals. My husband and I will just be happy to be in Italy and eating!!
Any suggestions and thoughts are appreciated. This was a spur of the moment decision due to the sale, so I want to go ahead and lock in my hotels/airbnb's!!
Thanks again!!
Begue70 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 07:33 AM
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Fashion brands in Milan are big, Venice needs a minimum of two nights and if they get into the whole boat thing 3 or 4.

Switzerland just gets expensive, the ski resorts in Italy are just as good and cheaper

Some of the best Eating is down by Bologna

Milan, certainly the duomo, the last supper etc will take up a day, the odder places, like the football stadium/cemetry would use another day, a day trip say to Bergamo another day. Milan is ok, just not great.

March may be too early it depends.
bilboburgler is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 07:55 AM
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First, how are you counting days? It makes a BIG difference for this type of short trip.

If March(11-17) means, fly out of ATL March 11, arrive in Milan March 12, fly back in the morning of March 17, you have 5 nights = 4 full days.

If March(11-17) means full days, such as arriving on March 10, flying home on March 18, then you have 7 full days, or a whopping 75% more time than the former.

If you flight home is early, that day is completely unusable for anything else, and you need to stay the last night in Milan. Keeping this in you mind.

If your trip is 5 nights, 4 full days, you can do one place outside Milan that is easily accessible from Milan. If you arrival plane lands early in the morning (not stated), you can take train straight to Venice, for example. In any case, you want to put all Milan in one piece at the end, unless your flight arrives very late into Milan.
greg is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 08:03 AM
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Torino bergamo lake Como are close.
Venice deserves min 2 full days. No upper limit. Milan one day. Max. Duomo. Galleria. And what else ?
I would not venture into CH.
WoinParis is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 11:41 AM
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Milan always gets short shrift on Fodors, I don't know why. There's a lot more there than the Duomo and Galleria. I've been there three or four times and would gladly return once a year. There are almost always great art shows there, the best music in Italy, good restaurants, the Brera Gallery, the Grande Naviglio (big canal) lined with bars and restaurants, the Sforzesca castle, some very old churches, other museums. It's really the cultural capital of Italy.

If your daughter likes fashion, she'll be in paradise there. Her older brother will surely like hanging out at the trendy bars along the Naviglio.
bvlenci is online now  
Oct 28th, 2016, 12:25 PM
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Which airline offered such a great price?
Byrd is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 01:04 PM
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The Ligurian coastline is very pretty! I love the area around Camogli/Santa Margherita Ligure.

The lakes are also a must see (and a daytrip to Switzerland is very doable - Lugano, Locarno and Bellinzona are nice places close to the Italian border)
elisgriffiths is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 02:22 PM
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Yes, we will arrive on the morning of the 12th, and we leave the morning of the 18th! messed my dates up!! It is quite short!!
Begue70 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 02:36 PM
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Thank you all for the advice!!
Byrd, It was a United Airlines sale that was targeting Delta hubs (had to depart from ATL, MSP, etc) but the actual flight is on Lufthansa. Tried to get some friends in on it, but it sold out that price in about 8 hours. You could fly into Milan, Rome, Paris, or Amsterdam. When we go to Rome, I don't want to be rushed and want more time, did Paris last year, and I want it to be warm if I ever get to go to Amsterdam. So, that left Milan! Going for spring break. I know it will be cold, but that was the only date during the sale we could do it. There were actually some days where the cost was $357, but not ones we could travel. I follow The Points Guy on Facebook and he posted it.
bvlenci, thank you for the ideas in Milan. I was getting worried about my choice!! Now, I'm not!!
bilboburgler, & Woinparis ya'll are right. Better to spend the extra time in Venice. I am very excited! What area do you think is best to stay in? Would like to give my two oldest (17 & 22, girls) the freedom to walk around in the evenings if they want (and they will want!).
elisgriffiths, maybe we should cross for a day trip, so my kids can add another country to their passport. That is important to my youngest (14)! Then we could just stay in our room in Milan and not pack and unpack so much! Maybe, do Milan, then Venice, then back to Milan airport hotel on Thursday night (check in late) do day trip to switzerland Friday, then fly out Saturday!
Begue70 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 03:34 PM
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You could certainly do a day trip to Lugano, in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. It's only a little over an hour by train. Lugano is a nice city on a pretty lake. A little further, another half an hour by train, Bellinzona has three castles, which might interest your kids. In a little less than two hours, you could be in Brig, which is maybe a little more what you would expect Switzerland to look like, and where German (or a Swiss German dialect) is spoken.
bvlenci is online now  
Oct 28th, 2016, 03:51 PM
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bvlenci, great idea! From all of the info everyone gave, I am thinking of this itinerary...

Arrive Milan on Sunday mid morning.
eat and walk around, see anything that is open.

Monday: Take a tour to hit the top spots
walk around, eat, check out nightlife in evening

Tuesday: Leave early for Venice on train, lunch in Venice
Wednesday: Venice
Thursday: leave late for Milan. check into hotel
Friday: Either do more of Milan OR (and most likely) take a day tour to Switzerland, or the one of the MANY gorgeous areas in Italy (Genoa, Portofino, CT, etc). I found many on, and although pricey, I think it is the only way to safely assure we get to where we need to be, see what we want to see, and get back in a timely fashion. BUT, we decided to not plan this day until the last minute, in case things change once we get to Italy.

Does that sound like a good plan?
Begue70 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 04:13 PM
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If you go by train from Milan to Switzerland, you really don't need a tour. There are direct trains leaving from Milan Central Station to Lugano, Bellinzona, and Brig. I think the point is just to see another country, not to do heavy sightseeing there.

We stopped in Lugano on our way back home (in Italy) after a visit to Switzerland. You could take a taxi to the lake, and really all we did was walk along the lake (a fairly long walk, partly through a large city park) and shop for chocolate for friends and relatives at home. I haven't been to Brig, but it's a pretty small town, and you could see it in a short time.

I would definitely not recommend a day tour to the Cinque Terre. There are dozens of tour buses unloading people in those tiny towns, and the result looks like this at times:

The only reasonable way to visit the Cinque Terre is to spend a few nights so you can enjoy it in the evening when the tour buses have left and in the morning before they arrive. During the day, you should hit the trails well above the towns to get out of the way of the hordes.
bvlenci is online now  
Oct 28th, 2016, 04:16 PM
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By the way, the international EC trains go to Switzerland. You can usually get very good discounts if you buy a month in advance. You can buy on the Trenitalia site:

Use the Italian names for Milano, Venezia, etc.
bvlenci is online now  
Oct 28th, 2016, 04:29 PM
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Upon arrival in Milan, you might take a train all the way to Venice. Yes, you may be tired, but there's a good chance your hotel in Milan would not be ready by midmorning, so sitting on a train for a few more hours might be fine. Then you can put all your time in Milan together at the end, with only one big travel day in the middle.

Sunday, Mar 12: Arrive Milan; train to Venice, arrive mid afternoon

Monday, Mar 13: Venice

Tuesday, Mar 14: Venice

Wednesday, Mar 15: train to Milan

Thursday, Mar 16: Milan

Friday, Mar 17: Milan or daytrip

Saturday, Mar 18: fly home
ellenem is online now  
Oct 28th, 2016, 04:41 PM
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I, like bvlenci, think that Milan has a lot to offer. I am actually returning next week as I only got a little taste of Milan on my last trip this past March.
jmb67 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 04:41 PM
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Ellenem, Great idea. Plus, my son and I are the bad travelers and get really tired with jet lag. The others can go and go!! hahaha That would give us a bit more time to rest and not deal with shorter business hours on Sunday.

Bvlenci, that picture is AWFUL!!! I am totally taking your advice!! Train to Switzerland, no tour, get another country under our belts and be relaxed, walk around! I honestly appreciate your idea and plan to follow it!!!
Begue70 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 04:49 PM
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jmb67, please let me know what you liked when you get back (restaurants, etc). That is why I will leave the "extra" day unplanned until the last minute. Just in case we need more time in Milan. Or being a family of 5, we could always split up if some want to stay and some want Switzerland!
Begue70 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 05:45 PM
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Last thing (well, maybe not!), Do y'all think we should do Airbnb on a channel in Venice or a hotel? Saw some nice deals that will fit our family (5) and give us two bathrooms (airbnb). I was planning hotels for Milan (I am an avid points collector and have some free stays) or do you think I should consider Airbnb there as well? A lot of times, we are forced to 3 hotel rooms!
Also, any restaurant, cafe, pub recommendations are appreciated! oh, and any shopping or Vinyl shopping.

We also have a Japan trip planned in June (cashed in our frequent flier miles) and they haven't been nearly as helpful in the Japan forum as here!! Like I said, this Italy thing was spur of the moment because of that airline sale!
Begue70 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 07:03 PM
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Airbnb or hotel is not a yes/no question. You need to look at pros and cons of each establishment. If you have not looked into Airbnb before, read carefully the terms that come with each place. They differ. Cancellation penalty, check-in/out time window, house rules, etc. Many people book Airbnb and realize later that there is a mismatch between when they are arriving until they can check-in. Unlike hotels, you cannot leave luggage at front until you can check-in or leave there after check-out until you leave town.

>>>my son and I are the bad travelers and get really tired with jet lag.

The recommendation to travel on, as noted by Ellenem, is counterintuitive to many for some reason. Many think, and other recommend without thinking through, that they want to take a rest upon arrival in the morning after a long trip. What is not considered is, just where do they think they can rest if the hotel is not ready? If they took a train, in this case to Venice, those seats are very comfortable and these trains are relatively safe since people cannot just hop on unless they have tickets. Being whisked to the next destination, while dozing off, is an efficient way to use the same time period for two purposes especially for a short trip like this.

>>> We also have a Japan trip planned in June.
I hope you can tolerate extreme humidity. It is the rain season in Japan. While you might be used to humid weather in ATL, it rains continuously in June in Japan. Your clothes and shoes get wet, yet, they don't dry due to high humidity. I have been to Japan on business trips, and it was miserable in June.
greg is offline  
Oct 28th, 2016, 07:34 PM
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Greg, thanks for all the advice. I think you and Ellenem are right and we will go straight to Venice. My son and I can sleep on the train, and the rest of the family can look out and enjoy the scenery or meet people.
I use Airbnb a lot in NYC, so I think I will use for Venice and not Milan. Found a fit a few moments ago. Guy had 90 5 star reviews. I never see anything that good!!

On Japan, again, we can only travel on school breaks. Growing up in the deep south (Louisiana & Mississippi) I am used to humidity, but I do HATE it. I am worried about the rain, but what can you do? If you have any advice on that or anything in Japan, I would LOVE to hear it. All I have done is purchase the airline tickets, in and out of Tokyo. If you have some favorite places, restaurants, tips, etc, please share!!
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