Northern Italy Short Trip Report

Jun 22nd, 2009, 12:44 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,120
We went into Sabionetta too, but missed a gelato place -- sounds like we didn't miss much. Our trips to Italy always turn into quests for gelato!
yestravel is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 08:11 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2004
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Oh our last morning and another fabulous breakfast and off to Fontenellata! We just didn't have time to do all of the local castles justice! Our hosts had a beautiful piece of furniture from an antique dealer in Fontenellata so off we went to look around and see one of the important castles of the area. I have to say that we were told of a great spa in the local vicinity of our BandB and so many castles and villages that we could have spent much longer there. However, our time was limited, so after F. we went on to Certoso di Pavia.

This came about because our Michelin Guide had this Certoso di Pavia rated 3 stars (along with Florence, Venice etc.) so we were intrigued. This is well worth a visit and home to a community of Cistercian monks. We latched on to a fabulous tour (donation expected at the end when the monk holds out his hand), and there is a fascinating story of the stolen Triptych. The tour was in Italian but we had our guide so followed along. Need I say we passed the exit to the Certosa so had to regroup but then again what else is new?? I hadn't read about this site before we left, but I highly recommend it.

On into Milan. We followed my map route and of course saw some street names and got excited and then others and wondered if we were really in the vicimity. After stopping at a bar (illegally parked) the bartender gave us directions to the hotel based on the bars situated along the way! And so back to the Hilton. We dropped off the bags after we had secured our room and off to return the car. There is a Europcar office right there but you had to make a special reservation to return the car to that spot, but no worries as the station was only a stone's throw away.

Well, the bread and cheese came out (mmmm) as we dressed for La Scala. We booked tickets on line (about 26 Euros each in the nose bleed section) and I think we were only able to get these as the opera was 'The Rake's Progress' in English with marginal reviews. Who cared?? We were there to experience La Scala which was packed out. We got the Metro and entered through the secondary entrance (the main entrance was for the higher paying populus) and how great it was!! We could hardly understand a word of the English, the subtitles were in Italian and it was in a modern setting but just to hear the locals loudly mandating the audience to be silent, and securing their standing positions well before the opera began, was so interesting. At the intermission the bar area was so resplendant and elegant that is was such an experience to be there. I hate to admit it but we did leave after intermission (with several souvenir programs) as we had an early start the next morning and were off to the station to confirm our tickets. The square was full of people and one more attempt as locating great gelato (not to be!) and off on the Metro.

We checked our tickets and the platform for our 7:25am tain to Basel and back to the hotel.
I might add that we were given great advice on this forum regarding Trenitalia tickets, and although we didn't book online, we were able to give our friends who were visiting Italy in March the code for discounted tickets and they bought our Milan to Basel (one way) tickets for 19 Euros each!!
Philbill is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 08:53 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 526
We left Italy for Switzerland (not at all impressed with Basel..expensive and the food left a lot to be desired; however, the breakfast [included] at the Hilton was fabulous). Roll mop herrings to lust after!!!!!!!!!!!

As this was an Italy report, I will not continue with the rest of our vacation which included Basel and Amsterdam (wall to wall tourists) and a river cruise down the Rhine.
Suffice it to say that we would return to Northern Italy in a heartbeat.

We felt that we could have spent more time in Emilia Romagna and certainly there are several other provinces in the vicinity which we never touched upon. From a personal point of view I would rank the 'Last Supper', La Scala and staying on the farm as highlights. Oh but then the mosaics in Ravenna and the murals in Dozza....well how can I pick and choose!?!?! Cinque Terre was also stunning, but the touristic atmosphere detracted from the scenery. Driving to the small villages and towns was wonderful. Next time I am strongly considering taking the train from Milan to a couple of cities and using local transportation for day trips. We used the trains in Holland, but thereagain the system there is unbelievably great.

I felt that staying in three locales was just fine, but 3 consecutive nights in each hotel would have been even better (the only place we had 3 nights was at the farm as the three nights in Milan were separated).

Two things I have to learn: how to pack lighter and how to not feel that we have to see everything there is to see. We get so caught up in our sightseeing that we sometimes don't take the time to 'stop and stare'. We established a 'back to the hotel by 5pm' rule a year or so ago, but we probably only made that deadline once or twice our whole trip! My husband is worse than I am as to not wanting to miss a thing, but some nights he went out walking the town while I stayed and vegged out in the room!!!!

Of our recent driving trips I would rank this up there with Andalusia and Provence.

I have to thank again all of the people who post on these forums, as their advice and help greatly enhance our travels.
Philbill is offline  
Jun 24th, 2009, 06:26 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,120
Really enjoyed reading your report. thanks for writing it. I'm ready 4 a 3rd trip to NItaly --so much to see and do, just love it.
yestravel is offline  
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