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Northern Italy Trip

Old Jan 2nd, 2018, 03:07 PM
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Northern Italy Trip

Planning a trip to Northern Italy in May for 12-13 days. The primary goal is to see the Lakes-Varenna, Bellagio, Lake Garda, with a possible trip to Tuscany and/or Cinque Terra.
Although we don't want to spend too much time running around, I wonder how much time we should spend in the Lake area?
Is it better to stay in one area and take ferry trips to the other towns for the day or stay in more than one lake town?
How much is there really to see/experience in each town?

How easy is it to get to Tuscany or CT from Lake Como?

Thank you for your tips!

TD
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Old Jan 2nd, 2018, 04:33 PM
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It's almost impossible to answer your questions without knowing which airports you are flying into and out of and how you plan to travel between points. Both lakes have train service to only a couple of towns, and if you do plan to travel by train, you should know that Lake Como to the CT takes 5 or more hours. Driving isn't much faster, and there can be parking challenges at both ends.


"Is it better to stay in one area and take ferry trips to the other towns for the day or stay in more than one lake town?
How much is there really to see/experience in each town?"

You need to do some research to find out what you want to do/see in each place. Then figure out where to stay. For the lakes, you should look at which towns have ferry service.

http://www.navigazionelaghi.it/eng/g_illago.html

http://www.navigazionelaghi.it/eng/c_illago.html
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Old Jan 2nd, 2018, 07:34 PM
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If it's relaxing u want spend at least 1 week at the lakes...if not 4 5 days is enough! There is a lot u can see around there. Milan, Turin, Udine is really pretty as well...don't forget Venice and also Genova is really really nice, from there u can easily check 5 terre and go down to Florence...
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Old Jan 3rd, 2018, 01:38 AM
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BTW: there are not only 2 lakes in the area, but 4 with regular boat service and at least half a dozen smaller one's.

But the main question is what you want to do there:
hiking, boat trips, botanical gardens, fun parks, lifts and railways to viewpoints, castles, churches, monasteries and museums (which kind?),day trips into the mountains, just dolce far niente.

Only if we know your interests and your rough itinerary (airports, as mentioned above, etc.) we can give serious advice.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2018, 08:23 AM
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I've been to all those lakes and always just took ferries everywhere I wanted.

CT-Lakes by train? Goes thru Genoa and Milan then to Varenna from Milan Central. Laken Garda by regional trains to Venice. Most of these are regional trains or could take only them and for these no pre-booking advised - flat dirt cheap fare - buy at stations. check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com for all about Italian trains.
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Old Jan 4th, 2018, 10:26 AM
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We haven't put together our trip report, but we spent 10 nights in Northern Italy and the lakes at the end of September and first couple of days of October. We had perfect weather then.

Our time was:
Torino (Turin): 2 nights but we opted for $2,000 Delta overbooking credits and spent only one night there.

Varenna for 3 nights, one day in Varenna incl. Castle Vezio hike/one day on ferries familiarizing ourselves with mid-lake (Menaggio/Bellagio)/ and one with trip to Como, passing Clooney house. We spent time both ferry days in Bellagio, making picnics thanks to the best deli anywhere, and visited Villa Melzi Gardens Bellagio and Villa Balbianello in Lenno. Lots of American tourists on Como.

Bergamo for 3 nights, great city, surprise of the trip. One day we took a bus to Lake Iseo, missed the ferry from Sarnico to Monte Isola and opted instead for a rental car and drove around a very quiet lake with several cute towns.

Lake Garda for 3 nights, stayed in Pescheira del Garda and spent 2 days on ferries. Malcesine/Monte Baldo and Limone the first day and then Sirmione, Garda and Bardolino the next. Few American tourists but many, many Germans.

We also spent two nights Milan, which disappointed, even though we had the best box at La Scala for an inexpensive off-season performance.

All of this was via rail and airbnb lodging.

So, you could spend 3 nights Lake Como and 3 nights Lake Garda and still have some time for Tuscany or Cinque Terre. Happy to expand on any of this.
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Old Jan 4th, 2018, 11:57 AM
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We spent 4 days on Lago Maggiore (a very easy train ride from Milano) in early November. We had near-hurricane conditions 3 days out of the 4, but one nice day to visit Isola Pescatore. Whatever the weather, it's a beautiful place.

We then rented a beautiful apartment in Milano for a week and loved every minute of it. I think Milan is one of those places people don't do much research on except for the Duomo, La Scala, shopping, etc. The city is chock full of charms and surprises that most people probably don't scout out. The Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia is astounding. Peck is maybe the most amazing food store I've ever set foot in.

I've been to Garda and found it way too touristy for my tastes,but that was in mid-summer (did not feel that way in Orta (my favorite) or Maggiore in high season). I've only slid through/past Como, and it's beautiful but can't really comment.
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Old Jan 4th, 2018, 12:39 PM
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Yes Lake Maggiore gets less attention from foreigners but I too had a sweet time based in Stresa and visiting the three Borromean Islands, each with different and neat attractions. And yes Stresa on main train line Milan to Switzerland.

Bellagio was about the worst tourist mobs I've seen anywhere except Portofino and Sirmione - small former fishing villages with little turf to absorp the zillions of day trippers. Nicest at night after all have departed so trip around the lake during day.
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Old Jan 4th, 2018, 02:36 PM
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I’m visiting this area in September thank you for this helpful information.
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Old Jan 5th, 2018, 01:42 PM
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earlier in September the better - rain can set in as autumn goes on. One trip we had in early October had about two weeks of rain or drizzle many days. Northern Italy that is.
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