Northern Italy - 10 days

Old Jun 14th, 2021, 12:00 PM
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Northern Italy - 10 days

Good afternoon,
I am going to a wedding in Lago d'Orta at the end of July and would love some suggestions of places to visit around the area. I will have a car and have roughly 9 days. I was thinking of driving to Cinque Terre, Barolo, Genoa, Liguria - any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!! (including hotels, wineries, restaurants)
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 12:07 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. We moved your thread from Tech Support to the Europe Forum and tagged it for Italy.
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 12:10 PM
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thank you!
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 07:12 PM
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Which airports are you flying in and out of? I'm guessing Malpensa at both ends. It sounds like you're not really spending any time at the lake(s)... Unless you've visited this area before, I would definitely spend a day separate from the wedding exploring Lake Maggiore and take the ferry to the islands.

The drive to the Cinque Terre would take more than 4 hours (and the same back to Malpensa), and I'm not crazy for Genoa, so those destinations would be off my list. I like the Piemonte Region and its wine. Easy choice for me. I prefer visiting wine tasting rooms in towns rather than touring wineries, but if wineries are your thing I suggest you join some wine tours so that you can actually drink the wine. DUI laws in Italy are very strict and penalties are high and can include incarceration.
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 09:31 PM
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I suggest Lago Maggiore. If you want, you can take the train from Stresa to Locarno and come back by ferry. A long day but enjoyable. Alternatively, there's quite a lot to enjoy on lake Maggiore.
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 05:41 AM
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Cinque Terre, Barolo, Genoa, Liguria

Of these Genova is basically a large mess around a very interesting central heaving ant-hill of an ancient city. Worth walking through and getting to know but in the same way that Marrakesh or Naples is. Liguria itself is long and thin and is really just a series of beach bays with a few nice gardens and the odd ancient city of which only a few are really worth a visit.

Barola, small but perfectly formed for only one thing. I might also look at Soave (the wine is terrible but the city is a good example and the wine you get in the Soave tasting rooms is pretty good because much of it is not traditional Soave). I might also look out for Amarone and some of the Valpolicelli to the south into the Po valley which are seldom exported and worth a try.

No mention of Venice, is it possible to come to northern Italy and not go to Venice?
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 07:38 AM
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Thank you Jean, appreciate your help! I am flying in and out of Milan- renting a car but thinking maybe to get rid of the car and take the train.
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 07:39 AM
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thank you!
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 08:00 AM
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For sure unless you understand ZTL you really don't want to drive yourself in cities.

Restricted traffic zones that restrict certain parts of a city to locals only. Use seat61.com to understand the train system and Trenitalia to get times, tickets etc. Note that stations must be spelt correctly. So Milan in Milano.
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 09:35 AM
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Thank you bilboburgler, I am starting to rethink driving-
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 11:54 AM
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Spend some days exploring Lake Maggiore, then to the nearby Piemonte region, Alba, Barolo, all favorites of ours. You can visit a small boutique winery near Alba: Pierrot Ronaldo in Madonna di Como. It is like Tuscany with fewer visitors; down to Liguria to Santa Margherita Ligure and/or Camogli for some time on the sea. We have combined all these areas.
I would not add extra time to Lake Orta.

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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 12:31 PM
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Thank you! Do you have any recommendations for hotels/B&Bs in Alba/Barolo area?
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 12:34 PM
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Welcome, sonjaalter4106. Unless you already know the lake area, I'd vote for exploring the area after the wedding. At some point ditch the rental and just train to the town of Como. Lots of ways to visit around Lake Como. From Como, you can easily train to Verona. A train ride from Verona to Venice was direct when hubs and I were there. Enjoy!

Last edited by TDudette; Jun 15th, 2021 at 12:38 PM.
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 12:57 PM
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I'm with Bilbo when it comes to the "if you are in northern Italy why aren't you going to Venice?" camp but I appreciate that you can't fit in everything and there are many lovely places to visit in and around the area of the wedding. I think that i would feel inclined to stay in the lakes for the majority of time and then finish the stay in Milan for a few days, rather than spending a relatively long time in a train to and from Venice which could be better spent elsewhere.
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 01:20 PM
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The Orta/Maggiore area and the Piemonte region are hard to explore without a car. The train ride from Lake Orta to, say, Asti or Bra would take at least 3.5 hours. There is no train service to Barolo. You might want to research bus timetables for the Asti/Barolo/Bra area before deciding where to stay. You could probably reach more places by bus from Asti than from the other two towns. rome2rio.com can be helpful but confirm everything with other sources.

It's likely you'll need to return to the Malpensa area the day/night before your departure. The train from Asti or Bra takes 3.5-4+ hours with 2-3 connections. Driving would take about 2.5 hours.
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 01:45 PM
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Just FYI, the train ride from Lake Orta to Venice would take at least 5 hours, but most options throughout the day take 6 or more hours. If you have to return to Malpensa, that train ride would take about 3.5 hours.

The Venice lovers love Venice, but there is much more to northern Italy than Venice. FWIW, this year I'd be avoiding all large cities everywhere, but that's me and my Covid-cautious-even-while-fully-vaccinated self. While on that subject, make sure you know the testing rules that are in place for the date you're flying home. Currently, you need proof of a negative test result within 3 days of boarding your flight home.
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Old Jun 16th, 2021, 05:50 AM
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Jean appreciate all your helpful information! We are skipping Venice and all the big cities. I think we are also going to keep our rental car so we don't have to be dependent on public transportation. I saw above someone mentioned the ZTL but we won't be in any cities besides flying out of Milan, and we are dropping off the car straight at the airport. If anyone has any wine tours that they recommend (since I heard driving to wineries is a no-no) or tours in Cinque Terre they recommend please advise. Appreciate this community!
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Old Jun 16th, 2021, 07:33 AM
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Be aware... Most cities, of any size, have a ZTL. Even in little Barolo. Look for the white sign with the red circle and, usually, the words zona traffico limitato and, sometimes, the enforcement hours written in the 24-hour clock style... for example, 08,00 - 20,00.

If this is your first time driving in Italy, the ZTLs can be intimidating and confusing. Our strategy: When approaching a town we want to visit, at the first 'P' for parking sign, we park and then orient ourselves in relation to the town center. Don't try to do that while driving or you'll very likely miss the ZTL sign. The lots are outside of the ZTL and most have a posted street map of the town. Carry coins for the parking ticket machines. In most cases, you leave the ticket visible on the dashboard of the car. A couple of times we've had to ask a local to help us figure out the machine, and everyone has been very kind.

And the worst that will happen is that you'll get a ticket in the mail long after you get home. Or not. We once drove straight through a little town, missing the ZTL sign until we noticed it while walking around. But I guess this little town didn't have cameras to record the violators, so we got lucky.
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Old Jun 16th, 2021, 07:46 AM
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Thank you! I've heard about the ZTLs I am researching before I leave but good pointers!
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Old Jun 18th, 2021, 10:00 AM
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We spent 5 days exploring the Langhe wine region of Piedmont in 2018 based at a lovely winery agriturismo, Fattorio San Giuliano, which was in the picture-perfect little hilltop village of Neive. By car, we visited the scenic towns of Alba, Barolo, La Morra, Barbaresco, and others, where we ate and drank the most incredible food and wine, while enjoying the beautiful landscapes and distant views of the mountains. Highly recommend this place for a stay in Piedmont - their pool is lovely, with gorgeous valley views, and wonderful to cool off in after returning from a warm afternoon outing.
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