Northern Italy Itinerary Feedback

Jan 7th, 2009, 11:25 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 10
Northern Italy Itinerary Feedback

I've been enjoying reading these forums while planning a two week trip to Northern Italy for the first two weeks of April and would love any input/feedback you may have about the itinerary we've put together. We are a family of 3 with an 8 yr old daughter. We will not have a car and are on a relatively tight budget. Summary -
5 nights Venice
3 nights Ortisei
5 nights Menaggio
1 night Milan or Milan airport

Day 1 - arrive in Milan mid morning and train to Venice. We are renting an apt there with another family for 5 nights. All of the adults have been before but are excited to share Venice with the kids. Any ideas? We will definitely do a day out to Murano and Burano which the adults haven't done before. Any good cheap/local eateries that have been discovered?

Bassano Del Grappa is on a list of possible day trips if we tire of Venice (is that possible?) How hard should we try to get there? Is there anything there that will capture the attention of kids the way Venice will?

From Venice, the 3 of us will train to Balzano and bus to Ortesei. I tried several recommended hotels for Castelrotto, as I think we'd prefer the smaller town feel, but since this is the very end of the season many places are already closed so I figured safer in a larger city. We found, but havent' booked, a reasonable B&B right in town

My husband wanted to do Swiss Alps but it was a bit of a trek, so this is a compromise to get the mountain time in. We aren't skiers but would love to get up a tram or two if they are still running - no guarantees I've been told given the time of year we are coming.

From Ortesei, we'll have a long day travel to get to Menaggio where we've rented an apt on the lake for 5 nights. We've stayed in Varenna before, but again, because of the season, thought we'd have more options if we stayed in a slightly larger town and did day trips to the sleepier ones.

We want to do a day trip to Lugano and my daughter wants to see the villa where Star Wars was filmed. We will be there during Good Friday, Easter, and Easter Monday. Anyone been there this time of year? I've found Lugano has lots of festivities including a cruise on the lake with the easter bunny, but nothing specific on Como.

The last night we'll either spend in Milan or at a Milan Malpensa airport to minimize rushing in the morning (our flight leaves at 10:30am). If we stay out by the airport, I'd at least like to put our bags in a locker in Milan for 4-5 hrs and explore the city before heading out. Any suggestions for hotels near the airport or station?


travelbugs3 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 02:14 PM
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This sounds like a great trip. I think you have planned very well. I have no further comment other than- have fun!
zoecat is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 03:53 PM
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I love the trip and will be doing something similar in Sep/Oct this year, However, we will have a car for our week between Venice and Bellagio---you should consider a car in the Dolomites and as far as Como. It will save you a ton of hassle with trains/busses. You can rent for 4 days and not break the bank--it may be even with alternative transport costs for 3 of you.
My major comment is to anticipate the weather that time of year--it will be cold in the Dolomites and chilly on Como. We had snow at Como one year in mid-April. I actually feel that Ortisei is a better option for you than Castelrotto---more to do wihtout a car.
Consider that car--it will make your life easier.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 05:00 PM
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Sounds like a really nice trip. I don't think taking a day from Venice to see Bassano is worth it. Bassano was a nice town, but didn't knock my socks off and 5 days is not a lot of time to really see Venice.
At MXP we stayed at Novotel Milano Malpensa Airport and got a great rate over the internet on their web site last year. We plan to stay there again this year on the last night of our trip, also to Northern Italy and got a 79 euro rate on Orbitz.
yestravel is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 05:03 PM
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I can only comment on the "Dolomite" part of of your trip.
That said, I have to go with what "bobthenavigator" suggested. A car makes seeing the Dolomites so much easier. Also, Ortisei would be better than Castelrotto in my opinion, as April can be "quiet" and Ortisei has more options as far as accomodations, restaurants, etc. than Castelrotto. Whether using a car or bus, the three towns of Val Gardena... Ortisei, St. Christina and Selva are just 5 minutes drive from one to the next, so that expands your choices even further.
I looked at the Aurelia and it seems like a good choice as it's situated right in Ortisei. As for "substituting" the Dolomites for the Swiss Alps... the Dolomites are simply spectacular!

If you are interested in a car (you could pick up and return in Bolzano) we can recommend They are very helpful and you can call their toll free # to get a quote.

Hope this helps.

pja1 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 05:23 PM
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You should have plenty to keep yourselves occupied in Venice. I'd skip Bassano del Grappa.

When you go to Murano and Burano add Torcello. Very different than the other islands and very peaceful.

If you haven't done it already, I very much suggest getting up early and seeing the Rialto market being set up. the real market not the stuff close to the bridge. Very fascinating to see all the fruits, vegies and seafood.

When you travel to Murano go early enough to see the glass blowing demos. My kids enjoyed that. Most furnaces shut down before noon.

notbob is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 08:30 PM
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I think this is a rock-solid well-planned itinerary.

Having said that... I have been a fan of Bassano del Grappa since our too short overnight stay there almost ten years ago.

I also like Trento (only day-tripped there one afternoon in 2001).

I think you _could_ deduct one night from Venice.

Best wishes,


rex is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 08:49 PM
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Thanks so much for all the quick feedback!

I had a feeling Bossano may not be worth the trip, but since I read so many people sing its praises, I just wanted to be sure.

Thanks for the heads up about the glass blowers demos being in the AM as we were sure the kids would enjoy that. We'll add the third island in the afternoon then.

I am devouring "City of Fallen Angels" by John Berendt. Every time I've gone to Venice I've wondered about Venetians and what it's like to really live there. I loved his chapter on the glass blowing family and it made me want to visit Murano even more!

As for the car, I will look into the cost and run it by the family, but for us (esp our daughter) public transit is part of the adventure. Sadly, I think she was more excited at age 5 to ride the bus in Yosemite valley than to actually be IN Yosemite. It also means some time for the 3 of us to relax and play cards, and picnic on the train as a family etc. which we can't do when driving.

As for the Dolomites, if all we see of them is what we can see from the Val Gardena towns via the bus and whatever lift or two we find open, I think we'd be okay with that. If we have a car, we might be tempted to try to fit in a long drive and see it all. Will we get a good enough taste relaxing for 2 days in the Val Gardena or are you suggesting we might feel confined?

Thanks for the heads up/reminder about the weather. It'll be hard as we are light packers, but we're planning on bringing lots of layers along with hats, gloves and scarves in hopes of staying warm enough.

Thanks again,
travelbugs3 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 01:50 AM
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Hi Erin -

'Will we get a good enough taste relaxing for 2 days in the Val Gardena ...'

Yes, definitely! You certainly won't feel confined - there's more than enough to do in 2 days

The lifts are open until 14 April, so no problem there. Val Gardena has some of the best lifts in the Dolomites (- though they're not cheap, unfortunately).

The Aurelia is close to the centre of Ortisei - so is convenient. Another budget option is Garni Villa Park (- where I stay).

If you do decide to get a car, the ideal IMO would be to rent it in Venice and drive (- via Cortina) to Ortisei. Spectacular drive ...

Is your flight already booked? If not, why not fly into Venice instead?

Hope this helps ...


Steve_James is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 12:04 PM
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Flight is already booked and we'll be penalized heavily if we change it. We booked with frequent flier miles in a hurry without our itinerary fully mapped out because dates were disappearing quickly - otherwise we usually choose open jaws.

Another point against getting the car (for us) I just thought of as I envisioned that beautiful drive through Cortina is that our daughter tends to get car sick, especially on winding roads. (Whereas she's done fine on a 5 hour train ride and the bus ride winding up to Hearst Castle).

I found a great rate at the Novotel Milano Malpensa Airport for our last night, so thanks for that tip yestravel!
travelbugs3 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 01:17 PM
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The other route to Ortisei takes you via Autostrada to Verona and up past Bolzano to exit for Val Gardena. That avoids the twisty roads and gets you there faster. It is all fast highways and you can stop in Verona or Trento or Bolzano enroute.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 01:47 PM
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travelbugs3 - be sure to sign up for the hotel shuttle to MXP for your departure flt as soon as you check in at the hotel. I had read about the problem of small vans being used and many of the shuttles being filled necessitating getting to MXP way earlier than needed. Have a great trip -- we'll be leaving for N. Italy about when u return from your trip.
yestravel is offline  

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