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Northern Italy Itinerary -- comments and advice please

Northern Italy Itinerary -- comments and advice please

Feb 20th, 2006, 10:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 437
Northern Italy Itinerary -- comments and advice please

Thanks to many of the postings here, as well as other research, i think we have our itinerary set for northern italy June 23-July 11.
Please feel free to critique or commend, or give specific advice.
Nothing is cast in stone and some is still up in the air.
Pick up car at Malpensa and drive to:
Piedmont - 4 nights, probably villa sampaguita right outside Asti.
Cinque Terre/Levanto -- 6 nights, for hiking CT and day trips (still figuring out where to stay -- probably Levanto for proximity to CT, parking and ease of leaving for day trips, as well as less touristy and more for money)
Lake Orta 3 nights -- this is completely because of advice here! Probably Hotel Orta with terrace, although concerned about heat. Is it worth it for half-board? Just how "down and out" is it? Any particular room to ask for? We purposely designed itinerary to be here during the week rather than weekend.
Drop car in Milan. Take train to Varenna. (seems like we can save 3 days of car rental and don't need a car in Varenna and the drive from Orta to Varenna around the lakes didn't seem worth it.)
Varenna 3 nights -- hopefully Albergo Du Lac, since it has a/c and rave reviews.
Train to Milan and 2 nights (including opera) at whatever hotel near duomo I can get good rate. Already got 129 euro quote from 4-star hotel since it's weekend rate with no fairs.
So, will look forward to hearing all your comments!

Thanks again for all the input -- past, present and future as i'm sure i will have more questions as summer approaches.
alison is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 12:31 AM
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Hi alison: IMO, 7 days/6 nights in the Cinque Terre seems like too much for that area. I would cut off some days there and add them to your Milan visit. Milan is a great city with lots to see and do and only giving yourselves 2 days there isn't doing it justice! Maybe cut the CT down to 3 days total, then add the other days to Milan?

Once in the CT, you won't need your rental car as you can travel from town to town via the local trains, boats, or even hike between them. For this reason, I would turn back in your rental car as it will not be used (if you are able to). Parking is hard to come by in the CT and you pay a premium if there is a spot available. I find train travel in and out of the area to be very convenient.
Huitres is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 02:34 AM
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I also think 6 nights in CT/Levanto is too long.

It is pretty and it can be relaxing if you can avoid the crowds, but there isn't much else to do except hike, eat (and CT is not noted as the dining capital of Italy), and look at pretty scenery. I love to hike and look at pretty scenery, but not the same hikes and pretty scenery for 6 or 7 days.

If it's just because you need a week to chill out because of life stresses or some such, then you could probably find a place closer to home that would be much less expensive and easier to get to.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 08:12 AM
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I should have explained. we want not only to hike CT, but to make day trips to lucca/pisa, genoa, carrara, portofino and bay of poets. the 6 nights means five full days and it seems between exploring the CT and taking it easy and doing those day trips we will have more than enough to occupy ourselves for 5 full days there. that's also why we want a car and are thinking of levanto as a base. does this still sound like too long?
alison is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 02:14 PM
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No then, if using the CT as your base to go up to Genoa (1 hour north) or to Lucca (1 hour SE), Portovenere/Lerici/Golfo di Poeti (accessible via 30 min train to La Spezia or the 5Terre boats), than that makes sense. It just seemed that 6 nights alone in the CT is/was too much.
I still think you should add 1 more day at least to see what Milano has to offer. Maybe cut off another day from your other destinations to add to it?

Please note that while making the CT your base, you can get to all the places you've mentioned without a car very easily, I do it all the time. There are trains that go to those cities and the stations are often just across the street or in the middle of town for easy access.
Huitres is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 07:24 PM
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Huitres and others, thanks so much for your advice. we are planning to get to milan early in the day on Sunday, see the last supper and other museums that are closed monday, go to La Scala that night and have all day monday for duomo, shopping and wandering. Still aren't set with specific place to stay in Levanto or at a place in CT easy to get in and out with car. (at our age, we are willing to splurge for convenience of a car.) any suggestions? also, if albergo du lac and albergo milano can't accommodate us, any suggestions in varenna? appreciate your response.
I'm still hoping one of the Orta experts will comment on that portion of our trip!
thanks again.
alison is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 08:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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To alison...

I am flattered that you wrote to me... to comment on this itinerary. I barely know a fraction of the places you're going. I have minimally driven through the Piedmont on my way up over Col du Larche to reach the French Queyras.

I have never been to Cinque Terre/Levanto nor Lake Orta.

I know my way around Milan a little bit, and once spent 3 and a 1/2 days on Lake Como, which seemed about one-tenth of what I might have been able to enjoy.

I think that your itinerary seems great, but the advice of others will serve you as I can not.

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 07:58 AM
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Hi Alison,

Rather than stay in Levanto, I would stay in Santa Margherita Ligure. We stayed in SML for 3 nights and trained to hike the CT and took the boat over to Portofino another day. We would have loved to have one more day.

We did train through Levanto and it seemed liked a bigger more industrial town.
Dayle is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 04:39 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 373
Hi while in Orta we stayed at Hotel Elena. This was fine in Oct. but no air conditioning so I wouldn't stay there in summer. The Restaurant Elena which is down the street from Hotel Orta is Fantastic. The best risotto we had in Italy, and very reasonably priced. You can't miss it, it's the one with the line up. I recommend reservations so your not disappointed. We thought this restaurant was better than the one at Hotel Orta and prices were less. Orta is a very quaint town, take the ferry out to the Island.
weasel is offline  

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