Northern Italy - where to go?


Nov 11th, 2015, 08:12 AM
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Northern Italy - where to go?

Hello! My husband and I are traveling to Italy in January. It'll be our first time in Europe so we are very excited.

We're flying in/out of Milan, so for now we're thinking of doing this:

Sunday- arrive Italy @ 8am. take train to Bologna. Spend a few hours there, then train to Florence.
Monday - Florence
Tuesday - Florence
Wednesday - leave Florence
Thursday - ?
Friday - ?
Saturday - ?
Sunday - fly out from Milan

We're not sure what other cities to visit in between, and hoping we can get some suggestions!

We're thinking of bypassing Venice, because we heard it's very touristy.
We love good food, beautiful/quaint towns to explore, and not very into museums/historical places.
We like to just walk around and explore new cities/towns, and was wondering if anyone could suggest appropriate northern Italy cities to fill up the rest of our itinerary.

We're also thinking of doing a one-day tour from Milan to Cinque Terre at some point as well - any advice regarding this?

Thank you so much!!!
jdventures is offline  
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Nov 11th, 2015, 08:37 AM
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Bologna is worth more than a few hours:

and it can be used as a base for day trip to places like Ferrara and Ravenna.
Michael is online now  
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Nov 11th, 2015, 08:37 AM
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and I forgot: Florence is no less touristy than Venice, and visually I would take Venice over Florence.
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Nov 11th, 2015, 08:39 AM
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Sundays in Bologna are not very interesting so you might as well go straight to Florence. If you want to see Bologna, visit it on your way back north.

It is really a very long train trip from Milan or Florence to le Cinque Terre (3 hours one way or more), so unless you are very early risers, during the short daylight hours, you'll get no more than a glimpse of the scenery. If you do decide to go, make sure that you know that the weather is sunny on the coast before you make the trip. Check the morning before you get on the train.

After Florence, you might enjoy relocating to Verona, a beautiful small Italian city in its own right, but also with good train connections to other beautiful towns -- Mantova, Trento, Vicenza, Padova and Venice. At that time of year, it pays to flexible because of the weather, and if you don't feel like going on a day trip, there is also lots to do in Verona.

Or you could relocate to Bologna, and visit Ferrara, Parma and Modena and eat lots of cheese and pasta.

Have you also heard that Florence is very touristy? Because if you haven't, it is. You might want to go anyway, but Florence is usually a big favourite with people who love seeing historic churches and visiting museums.
sandralist is offline  
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Nov 11th, 2015, 08:47 AM
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January, short days, coolish maybe rain.

Arrive Milan, travel on to first visit, great idea. Not sure Bologna is a good first short stop. I might look at say Bergamo high town as an interesting first stop and stay the night.

Venice and Florence will be busy but not as much as around Christmas and New year or high summer. So I'd look at

Bergamo one night (and a hint of jet lag)
Venice three of nights (day trip to Padua)
Way across to Florence for 2 nights
Back to Milan for one night and the flight home

Now only do this is the renaisance is of any interest to you. If not swop Florence for Bologna
bilboburgler is offline  
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Nov 11th, 2015, 08:56 AM
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I agree that Venice is a much nicer city than Florence. And fifty meters away from the usual tourist spots, it's amazingly quiet. It'll be even more so in January.
On the route to Milan Vicenza is an interesting place. And a good base for nearby Padua (Padova) and Verona.
But you really should start with one full day in Bologna.
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Nov 11th, 2015, 09:59 AM
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A couple of notes:

Monday is a really bad day in Florence since both the Uffizi and the Accademia are closed

Florence is just as touristy as Venice - and Venice is an incredible, charming and wondrous city that no one should miss. (I think that people who don't like it are probably ones who are there only for a day trip when the city is packed with other daytrippers)

I would flip your itinerary and Venice first and then Florence when everything is open

You might also want to do one or two of the large hill towns from Florence to get a different perspective - I would start with Siena.

I would not do the CT in January - since the main purpose is to hike the cliffs paths which can be closed due to rain or bad weather - even if you like hiking in January
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Nov 11th, 2015, 11:06 AM
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If you are not interested in visiting museums, it really doesn't matter if you arrive in Florence on a day when the major museums are closed.

For what it is worth, I think Florence is the more beautiful city than Venice (which doesn't seem to be calling to you anyway) and I am hardly alone in thinking that. Florence also has the better food and wine.
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Nov 11th, 2015, 12:29 PM
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Given that you said, "not very into museums/historical places." I would skip Florence. What is it about Florence that made you pick it int he first place?

I think some of the suggestions above are good ones. Base in Bologna and go to Ravenna for the mosaics, visit Ferrara, Parma and Modena. Stay in either Verona or Vicenza and vist the other as well as Padua & Mantova.
yestravel is offline  
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Nov 11th, 2015, 03:38 PM
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And not too far from Mantua (Mantova) you'll find the 16th century planned city of Sabbioneta. A small gem.
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Nov 18th, 2015, 03:21 AM
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Bologna, Bergamo, Verona, Genoa, Venice are cities you can consider visiting on your trip to Northern Italy.
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Nov 25th, 2015, 07:49 AM
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When you take the train to Bologna, will you have enough time to go or lunch? If so, then I suggest you take advantage of it, Bologna is home to some of the best Italian cuisine. If you're pressed for time, make sure you get a gelato, or try the pistachio coffee.

What do you intend to do in Florence? On Mondays, museums are usually closed so if you plan to do this, better move it to Tuesday to be sure. You can make a quick trip to Sienna or rent a fiat and go to the chianti region, if you love wine or simply want to see a picturesque view, then you'll love this!

You can go to Cinque Terre on Wednesday and stay there for a couple of days. It's UNESCO World Heritage Site so I'd suggest you take your time and really enjoy it. Alternatively, you can go to Venice and stay at least overnight, it's a lovely city and always worth a visit. Turin is also a good option, it's less touristy and less crowded by Milan but very, very beautiful. If you go to the small towns like Bra and Cuneo, you'll find yourself transported back in time.

Before you fly out of Milan, make sure you see the Duomo. It's a magnificent piece of art, you wouldn't want to miss it!

Hope this helps, and have fun in Italy!
yonderbound is offline  
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Nov 25th, 2015, 03:27 PM
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OP clearly didn't find her way back to this thread.
pariswat is offline  
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Nov 25th, 2015, 05:57 PM
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Good advice above. Visiting Northern Italy I would try for Milan, Bergamo, Verona, Venice. Side trip to Vicenza for architecture if interested.

If you do go to Bologna stay over a night-- there or maybe in Ravenna -- good prices, lovely passagiatta, excellent appertivi hour and dining. Bologna has wonderful food but IMO Ravenna is a good scale, walkable, etc. and has the world heritage mosaics around town.

On the Florence or Venice question I am very much in the Venice camp and particularly so if you stay overnight.
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