Northern Italy road trip but where?

Aug 26th, 2017, 09:24 AM
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Northern Italy road trip but where?

Hello, I will be in Parma for the month of September. I have a car for a few days and was considering options for a road trip. I have been, or am going to, Modena, Bologne, Ravenna, Venice, Florence, Montepulciano so not considering these towns. We are early 60's and love small towns, good food, nature, history, culture, few less tourists, and people watching. I am considering the coast from La Spezia to Lucca via Massa, Viareggio and Pisa not including Cinque Terre due to crowds?. Or Lakes District but we already live in a Lake District? Or Verona, Vicenza, area? Too many lovely choices! Any feedback much appreciated. Thank you.
Lilyaylmer is offline  
Aug 26th, 2017, 09:59 AM
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If the weather is nice, consider a trip through the Lunigiana, just south of Parma, stopping in towns like Pontremoli & Fivizzano, then also take in some of the Italian Riviara. With a car, Lerici, Tellaro & Porovenere might be nicer targets than le Cinque Terre. The website A Path to Lunch has some good information about small towns in the Lunigiana.

If the weather is not so nice along the coast but dry inland, suggest Mantova, Carpi, Lodi Pavia, Crema & Cremona.

Also keep in mind that Immediately around Parma you have Bussetto, Torrechiara, Reggio 'nell Emilia. Fontenellato Salsamaggiore Terme, Castel'Arquato, Cortemaggiore, Piacenza -- you could actually spend all your time in the provinces of Parma & Piacenza and not get bored.

The other places you are mentioning in the Veneto are too far, I think, and you would be speeding past a huge amount of charm & interest to get to them. And yes, you will hit walls of crowds in the famous places, whereas yoo can be delighted to "disover" these other beautiful towns I've mentioned, filled with unique gems of one sort or another, and fascinating food.
massimop is offline  
Aug 26th, 2017, 10:12 AM
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The Lunigiana

this is old but good descriptions of Gulf of Poets (Lerici, Tellaro, etc)

Castle towns around Parma
massimop is offline  
Aug 26th, 2017, 11:38 AM
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Thank yo so much massimop, just what I was looking for. I will review and get planning. Cheers, Lily
Lilyaylmer is offline  
Aug 28th, 2017, 07:19 PM
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Hello, I have reviewed these sites and recommendations and made the following itinerary. DH wants to include Pisa.

From Parma to Lerica via Pontremoli and Vanazza Ligure and stay 2 nights to hike to villages and take boat to Provenere.

From Lerica to Lucca via Pisa for 1 night.

From Lucca return to Parma via Montecatina Terme and Pistoia.

Any feedback or suggestions would be most appreciated. Thank you!
Lilyaylmer is offline  
Aug 28th, 2017, 10:29 PM
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If you must see Pisa, [and why not, the Leaning Tower and the Baptistry are indubitably worth seeing] I suggest spending a night there, and arranging to arrive quite late in the day, and getting your first sight of the Campo Dei Miracoli at night time when it is beautifully illuminated and all the crowds have gone. Then go back early in the morning to tour the sights before [too many of] the tour buses turn up.

If you want to climb the tower, it's a good idea to book a time to do so - you can do so here:
annhig is offline  
Aug 28th, 2017, 11:24 PM
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You've got me stumped with "Vanazza Ligure". Do you mean "Vernazza" in le Cinque Terre? If so you, and you are arriving there after visiting both Pontremoli & Lerici, you will not also be able to hike that same day, and the next day I don't think it's not possible to both go hiking and take a boat to Portovenere in the same day, so check the boat schedules.

If you go to Montecatini Terme, be sure to take the funicular up to Montecatini Alto.

I might be tempted to do the itinerary something like this:

Parma>Pontremoli>Pisa overnight
Pistoia>Montecatini>Lucca overnight
Lerici/boat to Portovenere for lunch>Vernazza overnight
hike> return to Parma
massimop is offline  
Aug 29th, 2017, 07:30 AM
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Also will add this:

The town you've chosen fall into 2 separate categories: Half are all about "seeing an impressive tourist attraction" -- Pisa, Vernazza, Lucca -- while the others are mainly "charming towns to enjoy without many tourists" -- Pontremoli, Lerici, Pistoia, Montecatini (and Portovenere falls somewhat in between).

By packing so much in you run the risk of not quite "getting" why the charming towns were recommended to you & not being in any of them long enough to enjoy them.

The charming towns most fit the description you wrote in your first post: "small towns, good food, nature, history, culture, few less tourists, and people watching" By packing so much in you run the risk of not being in any of the charming towns long enough to enjoy their charm. If you spend nights In Pisa, Vernazza or Lucca it gets easier to appreciate their charming aspects apart from their tourist attractions -- but if you also want to see the tourist attractions in the town, it cuts pretty severely into the time you would have been spending enjoying the charming towns, which have lovely things to visit & views, but are more about "good food, nature, history, culture, few less touriss, people watching."
massimop is offline  
Aug 29th, 2017, 12:48 PM
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Sorry I meant Vezzano Ligure (see A Path to Lunch). Thank you Massimop for your feedback. Thank you also Annhig. We much prefer charming towns and slow travel and I see that I have packed in too much. I do have to include Pisa for DH but can take Lucca off and also Portovenere. Without Lucca and Portovenere, what would you suggest?
Parma to Pisa via Pontromoli and overnight in Pisa?
Pisa to Lerica?
Your feedback is very helpful and most appreciated. Thanks, Lily
Lilyaylmer is offline  
Aug 29th, 2017, 01:35 PM
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So you hsve 3 nights?

I might:

Day 1: Pontremoli for lunch, Pisa for overnight
Day 2: Montecatini Alto for lunch, Lerici for overnight
Day 3: Portovenere for lunch, Vezzano Ligure for overnight

If I am figuring that right, you have time after breakfast in Pisa to go into the buildings pf the Campo dei Miracoli (you need a reservation to climb the tower) before heading off to lunch (b 11.30am) to Monecatini Terme & take the funicular to Montecatini Alto for lunch in the piazza. There's not a lot to "see" in Montecatini Alto, so after lunch you could go back down & look at the 19h c. tiled spas. Leave b 4.45 & you can be in Lerici in time for cocktails.

The next morning you could hike above Lerici or take a boat (if it's not windy) to Portovenere for lunch. (you can drive if it is windy) take the boat or drive back to Lerici, then drive on to Vezzano Ligure. Hike, go to hilltowns, until you feel like heading back to Parma.

At the end, if you feel it, there is a town called Sarzana very near Vezzano Ligure. It was built in the same elliptical fashion as Lucca, so on the way to Vezzano Ligure, or before you leave the area to head back to Parma, if you are doing well on time, you could peak at the main oval piazza of Sarzana. They also make a special cake in Sarzana called "spongata" which you could take with you back to Parma if you get tired of eating sbrisolana.
massimop is offline  
Aug 29th, 2017, 01:39 PM
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To be clear, best to leave Pisa by 11.30am to get a parking space in Montecatini Terme & take the funicular up to "Alto" for in time for lunch. Also, the grand old tiled spas are in M. Terme
massimop is offline  
Apr 11th, 2018, 10:57 PM
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ttt. Great ideas here for my upcoming trip to the Piacenza area, thanks massimop.
Keren is offline  
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