Northern Italy second week of June 2013


Mar 13th, 2013, 08:19 AM
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Northern Italy second week of June 2013

We (two couples) are going to travel in Northern Italy June 08-22 this year. We have a route we want to take and places to see, dilemma is with hotel choices and car parking in some Italian cities we are not aware of. We would like to be as close as possible to city centres to park the car and explore on foot, it's not as easy as it seams, I've read post on TZL zones, but didn't find a lot about it.
Did any of you took this route by car?
San Marino
Cinque Terre
We think about staying in 2 - 3 different hotels/may be apartments and explore the area from there, i.e. Bologna, Cinque Terre area, Modena, to avoid changing hotels every day.
Can anybody suggest city hotel with walking distance to centre and attractions?
Thanks a lot for all the suggestions!
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Mar 13th, 2013, 08:46 AM
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Just a few words of caution you are trying to do a fair number of cities in say 14 days, or nights. That is a very rushed trip and you may enjoy it more by doing fewer.

Venice, you don't need a car here in fact they are banned (and water logged).
Florence has a TZL so do not drive in it.
Siena, not sure but only a crazy person (I know two who have taken a Mini up to the town hall) drives into town
San Marino, stands out as a waste of a day's visit, all they have is a small castle,a view and a stamp museum

If was doing this trip and I wanted to go to the city centre I would take the train, fast, clean, efficient and, more to the point, takes you to where you want to go though the Cinque Terre could be done better by bus.

Padova, in a car, "can we do it?" not sensibly but "yes you can"
bilboburgler is online now  
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Mar 13th, 2013, 08:54 AM
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You will need 4 hotels for that itineary, but I would drop San Marino. I would stay in Venice, Bologna, Florence and Lucca and day trip to some of the others. I would not get the car until you leave Florence--it will only be a hassle in the other locations.
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Mar 13th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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If you do a search for "ZTL" (not "TZL") you will find tons of posts on the subject. I agree with bob's suggestion - no need for a car until you leave Florence.
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Mar 13th, 2013, 09:45 AM
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While you are still in the planning phases, I just wanted to mention that we did have a car while in Bologna (our whole trip was Bologna/Lakes/Dolomites/Milan so we wanted the car to get from place to place). We stayed at the Hotel Metropolitan in Bologna which was a great location in the city center and just a few blocks from a parking garage that was very easy to use to get in/out of the city. We used the car while there to do some daytrips.

I agree with others - with 14 nights I would limit myself to 3, max. 4 hotel changes.
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Mar 13th, 2013, 10:09 AM
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Thank you all for suggestions, car is a go, we are driving from Poland with friends who own the car and prefer to drive instead of flying. We checked flights to Bologna and renting the car there, it's more expensive for 4 people and not as convenient as driving.
That's why I need to figure out the parking issue for the time we want to see places on foot.
Hotels: my plan was something close to Venice, park the car and take train to Venice -
next could be Bologna and see places within1.5 hour distance as day trips,
and the last one, somewhere close to Cinque Terre.
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Mar 13th, 2013, 01:08 PM
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I love Italy, but it will take you an entire day at each end to drive between countries. You'd be left with 13 full days to drive to/see 10-11 cities. Too much. At a minimum, drop the outliers Rimini and San Marino. As others have pointed out, several destinations are easy to see as day trips from main cities using public trans. Easier (and probably cheaper) than driving there yourself.

FYI, Padova, Rimini, Bologna, Florence, Siena, Arezzo and Pisa all have a ZTL. If you violate any zone, you'll receive a citation in the mail. A few of those traffic fines, plus all of your parking and petrol costs everywhere, may make those airfares from/to Poland begin to look attractive and give you the idea that driving is not more convenient. If you must drive, consider having a lovely holiday seeing only small towns without all of the trouble of avoiding ZTLs and constantly looking for parking.
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Mar 13th, 2013, 01:32 PM
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Jean, that doesn't sound promising. I guess I should go back to flights schedule and start everything again, square one, thanks anyway!
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Mar 13th, 2013, 03:32 PM
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Park the car in Mestre, there are many garages near the train station and I don't recall them being outrageously expensive. Pick either Venice or Padua for a hotel. From the Mestre train station Venice is a 10 minute train ride and Padua is about 20 minutes or so. I would suggest staying in Venice and doing a day trip to Padua, but if money is an issue then stay in Padua (much cheaper hotels) and do a few day trips into Venice. The trains between them (which go through Mestre) are very frequent and run late into the night. Three nights.

Then drive to Bologna. From there you could do a day trip (by train) to Modena, or I guess drive to San Marino for a day trip.
Two or three nights there.

Then drive somewhere around Florence if you can find a hotel with parking that would also allow you to take public transportation into the city. Or see if you can find a garage on the outskirts to leave the car for three or four days and take public transportation into the city to a hotel. From Florence you can easily do a day trip (by bus) to Siena, and another day (by train) to both Pisa and Lucca. Four nights.

Then drive to the CT for the last two nights. We stayed in Camogli and took the train to the CT towns. Our hotel in Camogli had parking. If you do a search you'll find suggestions of other places to stay (Monterossa) where you can park.

But I agree that's a very rushed trip and I'd probably skip some of the day trips. But if you just book the four hotels then you can decide on the day trips once you get there. But I would do most of the day trips by train rather than try to drive and park every single day.
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Mar 13th, 2013, 06:47 PM
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Just FYI, calculates the cost of petrol and tolls for your general itinerary (excluding Rimini and San Marino) at just under 600 euros. Inexpected detours or side trips not included.
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May 23rd, 2013, 07:25 PM
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It took us a while to make decision of where to go, finally done, so there it is:
We will drive from Krakow to Venice on 6th or 7th of June, may stop somewhere in Austra for the night or two, depends on when we leave Krakow. Our Italian adventure will start with Venice on June 8th.
We booked Hotel Villa Adele on Via P.E. Gelain, Marghera, Mestre for 3 nights, park the car there and take the train to Venice on 8, 9, 10th.
Venice sightseeing:
- St. Mark’s Basilica
- the Doge’s Palace
- Rialto Market
- Just walking the streets
- Murano Island??

June 11th drive to Florence, 3 nights at Hotel Jane on Via Orcagna, park the car and walk, taxi, bus to move around as needed.
Florence sightseeing:
- Uffizi
- Duomo and Baptistry
- Altrano district (artists)
- Academia Galery
- Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Vecchio
- shopping at The Market

June 14 drive to Rome, 5 nights at Hotel Pacific on Viale Delle Medaglie D'Oro, transportation the same as Florence. Stop in Siena on the way.
Rome sightseeing:
- Colosseum
- St.Peter's Basilica
- Vatican Museum an Sistine Chapel
- Roman Forum
- Trevi Fountain
- Spanish Steps
- Borgese Gallery and Gardens

June 19 drive to La Spezia, see Pisa, Lucca on the way there, 3 nights at Ghironi Hotel on Via Del Tino in La Spezia, park the car again and discover Cinque Terre on foot or by train.

June 22 or 23 drive back to Krakow.
Please suggest places to eat and see during our trip, I appreciate all your help.
We would like to see as much as we can, but we do not want to overdo every day, relaxing and people watching while sipping coffee or vino, is also on our agenda.
Thanks a lot!
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May 24th, 2013, 08:05 AM
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If you can change your Venice hotel from Mestre to Venice proper, do so by all means. Mestre is not attractive and having to take the train over to Venice each morning and back each night is a hassle and a waste of time. Plus, you miss out being in Venice the best parts of the day -- early morning and night. Follow Isabel's advice and just park your car there in a garage.

I probably wouldn't take time to go to Murano on a 3-night, first time Venice. In my opinion, it is not nearly as interesting as Venice itself. Burano, the lace island, is smaller and more charming, but I didn't even go there until my third visit to Venice.

You mention discovering the Cinque Terre on foot or by train, but I hope you realize that you can't get there on foot from La Spezia. You have to take a train first to one of the villages.

In Venice I would suggest a ride to the top of the Campanile either in Piazza San Marco or at San Giorgio Maggiore. I like the view from the one at San Giorgio Maggiore, as you can see all of Venice plus the Lagoon.

In Florence I would also suggest Santa Croce, the Medici Chapels (near the San Lorenzo market), Piazzale Michelangelo (beautiful view of Florence), the Bargello (if you like sculpture).

In Rome I would also suggest Capitoline Museums, San Giovanni in Laterano, San Clemente, Castel Sant'Angelo, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva...
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May 24th, 2013, 10:40 AM
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I agree with the advice to sleep in Venice proper. Just park your car in Mestre. There are plenty of public lots where you can leave the car for 3 days.

In La Spezia, you should sample farinata for dinner. There are a couple of famous places to try it in town that have been around a long time. Ask your hotel.

You should buy guidebooks for all the places you are going, or a general one for Italy since you are going to major tourist destinations. Whether or not you overdo is something that is under your control. You say you want to see as much as you can. Do that, and stop when it becomes more than you can. Places to sit down and have a glass of wine are not hidden in Italy. They are everywhere. If you sit down in front of a famous tourist attraction, you will pay more for the wine, so stop short of exhaustion so you have the energy to walk around the corner and sit down.

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May 24th, 2013, 02:25 PM
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Hotel Villa Adele on Via P.E. Gelain, Marghera, Mestre is in the modern low rise living area of Mestre, so there is the odd bar and restaurant in the area but not much more. If you cross the railway at the station or the bike path tunnel Mestre goes down hill but at least there are more restaurants outside the station, if you move to the station main door and head north you will see more pleasant restaurants and bars and this street continues to the old town. If I was doing what you are doing that is where I'd eat in Mestre.

You can catch the train into Venice proper or a bus (from outside the station door but to the east. I can't remember the price but we are talking maybe a Euro or two (and the ticket is reloadable with travel value) by bus and the bus also travels at night. Once you get out of the bus or the train at the Venice end you still need to walk a fair bit into the Lagoon to see the best bits (or catch a "Vap" or water bus). I'd look out for meal places by using Tripadvisor. In fact if you search TA using my name you will find a few places that might help.

Like the others I would prefer to stay in Venice proper, but if you cannot then at least on one morning go in super early and watch the city come alive. The population of Venice is pretty small say 50k and much of the working community travel in from Mestre so you will find yourself on the commute.


The city centre has a "no car zone" and if you infringe this rule you will get charged. There are not many places to park cars, but if you want a low cost car park the locals use, travel to the round about at Porta Romana. Go north through the Gate and in front of you is another weird sort of round about (look at street view if you need) go way around it to the left and pass under the barrier up against the wall. Park against the wall.


Be calm when driving in Rome.
bilboburgler is online now  
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May 24th, 2013, 03:26 PM
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In Florence, there is a public parking lot closer to your hotel (also outside the ZTL) in Via Campofiore near Piazza Leon Battista Alberti.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 05:40 PM
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Thank you very much for great tips! Couple of more questions, should I buy museum tickets ahead of time and what website should I use? What about day pass for transportation?
Again, many thanks!
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Jun 8th, 2013, 03:40 PM
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After 10 hours of drive, few stops for coffee, gas and some breaks, so total of 12 hrs we are in our hotel. The first dinner in Italy will be in Venice. Our drive from Poland was very smooth, great company, beautiful scenery, good highways. Our Italian adventure just began!
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