Northern Italy/Tuscany ideas

May 27th, 2015, 04:39 PM
  #1  
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Northern Italy/Tuscany ideas

Hi all,

As some of you know thanks to my many questions in recent months, I am travelling to Europe for the first time in July.

We are starting in Barcelona, before heading to San Sebastian, then to the Cote d'Azur and then across to the Cinque Terre (yes, a lot of beaches for this part of the trip!). We then will go across to Padua, with a day trip to Venice.

After that we have almost a week (six nights) where we haven't booked anything. I realise it is super high season but with five of my six week trip all planned down to the day, I wanted some freedom for surprises - especially as it's difficult to know from the other side of the world exactly what I may fall in love with, or wish I had done differently.

However, I thought it might be worth asking for views on what to do between Padua and Rome for the six nights. One idea I have is to grab a car and head up to the Dolomites for three nights and then go down to Verona/Lake Garda, before hopping on the the train to Rome.

Another idea would be to go from Padua to Milan and across to Lake Como (say Varrena) all via train, and then get the train to Rome.

Or we could go to Tuscany for the six nights and skip all those northern options. We have a lot of water views already, but the lakes look so stunning. On the other hand, I love the mountains and if I wasn't traveling with friends who don't love them as much as me I would spend half my trip in the alps (I think a Mont Blanc hike will be my next trip - or a cycling adventure!)

I realise this is all very subjective and all options will be beautiful, but I love the thoughts and ideas that come from this site so I thought it wouldn't hurt to ask.

Thanks,
RT
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May 27th, 2015, 07:20 PM
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Hello,

I havent read your other posts, so maybe you have explained why you wouldnt spend more time in Venice? IMO Venice deserves so much more than a day trip from Padua. Also, no time in Florence/ Tuscany?
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May 27th, 2015, 08:17 PM
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Hi cruiseluv,

It's just a matter of trying to balance all that I would love to see with the time I have. Venice wasn't on my must do list (for this trip anyway - however I am happy to be going.) The way we have our schedule at the moment means after our two nights in Padua, we have no accommodation booked on the nights of July 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27. So if we decide we want more time in Venice/Padua we can, pending accommodation of course.

In terms of Tuscany, I mentioned above that this is one option we are considering.

We can't do all of these things but I definitely want to see some countryside/maybe mountains too as we have a lot of beaches and my last three places are all major cities (which I am extremely excited to be going to) being Rome, Paris and London.
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May 28th, 2015, 04:05 PM
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And now, after a conversation last night looking at a map, we have thrown in the idea of Slovenia!

Not sure we will actually do that, but perhaps we could get a fast ferry from Venice and stay for a day or two, come back and head down to Tuscany for three or four nights and then go on to Rome, where are booked in from July 28.

My heart is saying the Dolomites should be experienced however and why not see more of Italy and really allow its beauty to soak into my soul?

Ahh the options are endless!
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May 28th, 2015, 04:48 PM
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If you have never seen the Dolomiti, they are a unique global natural phenomenon of extraordinary, staggering beauty, and there is only a short window during the year when you have optimal weather -- and that is July. Your heart and your head can get into sync on this one. Going to the Dolomiti is just an incomparable thrill. I have been to almost every single beauty spot in Italy (no kidding), and the Dolomiti are awe-inspiring.

So do indeed let more of Italy's beauty soak into your soul there. It has its own unique culture, as does the Trentino between the Dolomiti and Lago di Garda, so you can enjoy the amazing variety of Italy too.
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May 28th, 2015, 04:59 PM
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Thanks you sandralist!

Perhaps we will hire a car out of Padova and head on up somewhere in the Dolomiti for three nights, then come down to the Trentino or Garda or Verona. That means missing Tuscany but I cannot do it all!
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May 28th, 2015, 07:14 PM
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You could do 3 nights in the Dolomiti and then 3 nights in the Piemonte region. I've heard it called Tuscany without the tourists. The scenery is beautiful, the food is wonderful, and of course the wine is the best.
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May 28th, 2015, 07:53 PM
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Thanks Suki. When I looked though it appears like I'd be backtracking a bit. I will be going to Padova after Cinque Terre, so it might not make a lot of sense to backtrack like that, whereas Tuscany seems a bit more direct and en route to Rome?
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May 29th, 2015, 01:26 AM
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Much as I like Slovenia I'd rather go to the Dolomites especially if you get the weather for it. Slovenia has some fine walking and lake Bled, which is good but very "controlled nature".
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May 29th, 2015, 04:45 AM
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Almost every restauarant of interest in Piemonte will be closed in July, and your chances of very humid, unpleasantly hot weather in that region is very high. Piemonte has its fans -- mainly food & wine travelers -- but scenically and culturally, it doesn't have as much to offer as other areas of Italy.

The Trentino is simply marvelous for scenery, and lots of quirky cultural twists and wonderful wine and food. Unfortunately, it is next to impossible to find detailed information about it, either in guidebooks or online. This might help you plan an itinerary.

http://www.visittrentino.it/en

If you would like something of the feel of Tuscany plus Piemonte, in terms of outstanding food and wine and pretty vinyards in rolling hills, but that is near to the Dolomiti, then you can also consider the Cormons area of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, which is with easy reach of Padova and the Dolomiti.

http://www.bunkycooks.com/2012/08/tr...eens-fritatta/

http://www.chefbikeski.com/?p=1883
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May 29th, 2015, 05:04 PM
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Thanks sandralist and bilboburger.

Do you think three nights each in Dolomiti and Trentino areas will be ok? We only have six nights and will spend much of the day of July 22 travelling I guess, along with the 28th, when we go to Rome.

Should we book a car now or will it be ok to get one when we are there? Ideally we wouldn't nedd one but I think this area will be easier with one?
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May 29th, 2015, 07:10 PM
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Ahh, just looked at your links sandralist and obviously I was mistaken - Trentino is in the Dolomiti. I think it may take a bit too long to go from Padova to Friuli-Venezia and then up to the Dolomiti and back down to Rome, given we have just six days to do all this. Going straight from Trentino to Rome will be a seven hour day in itself, while if we broke it up and went Trentino and then had a few days at either Verona or Lake Garda, we would save ourselves travel time and end up with only a three hour train ride to Rome.
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May 30th, 2015, 05:27 AM
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I think you should book the car in advance. You are departing from a very popular place for renting a car at the height of the tourist season.

I think it is six of one, half a dozen of the other drive-time-wise whether you combine the Dolomiti & Lago di Garda, or the Dolomiti & Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. You could pick up a car in Padova, visit the Dolomiti national park, drive to Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, then drive to Venice to drop off the car and take the fast train to Rome. Or you could go the other way, through the Dolomiti national park toward Lago di Garda, and drop off the car (in Verona or Milan or Trento), and take the train down to Rome. Really just depends on what you want to do and see for that six days. One thing to know is that Lago di Garda and Verona are likely to have peak tourism in July, but you can work around that and avoid the worst crowd spots with a little research.

Technically, the Trentino really refers to an area that is outside the boundaries of the Dolomiti national park, but it is technical point. But if you want to see the best of the Dolomiti, make sure you visit at least part of the national park itself (as opposed to, say, the Brenta Dolomiti which are east of Trento).
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May 30th, 2015, 10:13 PM
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Thanks sandralist. We will definitely book a car. I think we will head into the Dolomiti, via Trentino for a look and find a village/town that we like, where we can easily access a hike and find food etc, and which has accommodation left at this busy time!

If Lago di Gardo/Verona are booked out then we may take that opportunity to find a small town somewhere we would never have thought to go. That's a benefit of the unplanned I guess.
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May 31st, 2015, 04:51 AM
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Once you get even a bit removed from the immediate banks and water of Lago di Garda you can usually find a lot of charming accommodation, and often at a fraction of the price. Booking.com can be incredibly useful if you are roadtripping without advance acommodations.

Be sure you understand where the most scenic area of the Dolomiti is, which is the extensive area between Cortina d'Ampezzo and Bolzano, and areas immediately north of there (from Covara upwards to Austria, known as the Alto Adige). It is a lot of territory, and it is all beautiful, so you don't have to be super-particular about where to stay, but you do need to be within the Dolimiti park/range itself, and not outlying, on the periphery. Hope that's clear!
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May 31st, 2015, 08:00 AM
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PS: When you are in Padova, consult with locals about optimal routes into the Dolomiti. They might have some good tips about places to stop for lunch or roads to avoid for reasons of traffic or just slow-going mountain passes without much reward.
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May 31st, 2015, 05:27 PM
  #17  
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Thanks so much sandralist

I have booked accommodation in Padova through Airbnb and our host has so far been exceptionally helpful so I am sure he will have some good tips.

Cars are already looking expensive so I hope that we have not left it too late!
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Jun 1st, 2015, 04:10 AM
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Actually sandralist it appears Brunico is in the vicinity of the area you day is the most stunning? A colleague of mine is Italian and he recommended Brunico as the best place to stay. He said it is not as expensive as Cortina d'Ampezzo and not as crowded, and we should be able to get accommodation without booking until a few days ahead ..?
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Jun 1st, 2015, 05:10 AM
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Brunico is outside of the Dolomiti range and if you want to see the best of the Dolomiti and go for hikes in the most scenic places, you will need to drive a half hour or more to get there from Brunico, which is actually a small city. Also, Brunico is at the far northernmost point of that region if you are coming from Padova. You can take a very scenic route to get there, but you will be doing a lot of demanding, tiring driving all in one day if you make Brunico your base. It is rather frustrating to drive through this spectacular scenery and feel you haven't got time to stop and take it in because you are booked in a hotel miles and miles away.

Cortina d'Ampezzo is indeed quite expensive, but you don't have to stay in that town. There are many smaller towns and there are also marvelous farms and lodges located right in the gorgeous mountains, all of which have restaurants. It is very typical for people visiting to book "half-board" so they can eat dinner at the hotel after their hikes (or skiing).

One thing you can do is use booking.com to book an accomodation with an excellent cancellation policy. If you know you are leaving Padova on a certain day and will be heading for the Dolomiti, book ahead. If it turns out for some reason you discover mid-trip that you need to skip the Dolomiti, you can cancel -- or if you see a better deal later on, you can cancel our first reservation and book something else.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 03:00 PM
  #20  
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Great idea sandralist! Thanks, I will look into that option.
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