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Please review my itinerary for Northern Italy in May 2025

Please review my itinerary for Northern Italy in May 2025

Old Apr 16th, 2024, 05:47 PM
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Karen,
I have enjoyed talking back and forth especially about transportation to CT. You do such a great job with your research, I am sure your trip will inspire so many itineraries!
Our situation was different because we were on a 10 day trip so time was of the essence. We were coming from Varenna, so that involved 3 trains, and 6+ hours and ending on the CT Express. By driving and parking, we saved 3 hours and could enjoy an extra half day there. After being there in October, on the Express, we mostly experienced standing room only, some pushing on scenarios and such full trains, that you could not always get on your first option, not talking about with luggage. There was no supervision and no, "please go ahead, you were first." The train station in Manorola would have been an easy one, however.

But at the end of your trip you would be heading to La Spezia, on the same train, with your luggage, to pick up your car for Tuscany. Since we were travelling with another couple, the car costs were shared, and the train costs would have been x4, so the price was the same. We did love just zipping out of there and heading for Tuscany.

And during your 3 nights in CT, maybe to escape after lunch, to some of these less visited, alternative CT suggestions, could be a nice break.

I am so happy your are considering Val d'Orcia, such an unbelievable experience.
Thanks for continuing to inspire all of us!
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Old Apr 17th, 2024, 05:19 AM
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5Terre trains:
I really don't know what you are talking about.
I suppose you will go from Milan by Intercity train (seat reservation compulsory) to La Spezia and take then a regional train for the last 8 minutes.
For example: Milan dp 8.05- La Spezia ar 11.21. There you will change into Regional train 3265 which stands already there and which cannot be full as it has it's origine at La Spezia and will leave at 11.44 only.
If you would stay at Monterosso instead of Manarola, no train change would be necessary.
I suppose you know exactly which walks you want to do during your 2 1/2 days stay at Manaarola.
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Old Apr 17th, 2024, 05:43 AM
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A train ride from Milan to Bergamo costs 6 EUR/pax.

Parma is 50 min by train from Bologna, 45 min from Milan and 2 hrs from La Spezia/5Terre
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Old Apr 17th, 2024, 08:04 AM
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Hi, neckervd,
Karen and I had talked on another post where she inquired about our experience and why we made the decisions we did.
As, I said earlier on this post, their situation is different.

We were 2 couples coming from Varenna. So our route would have been, Varenna-Milan-(Sestre Levante or La Spezia)-Manorola, and it would have taken over 6 hours.
The cost for these train tickets would have been about $180 for 4, including the fare to then get to La Spezia to get our car. So for us that equaled the cost of the car for 2 more days, and gave us more time in Manarola. We also loved just zipping out of there and heading to Lucca.They might decide that the cost for just the 2 of them might not be worth it.

We had also been warned that you could stand on the train from Varenna to Milan Also, that even though we requested an automatic transmission car, the chances of one being there when we arrived to get it was greater in Milan than in La Spezia.

Is is true that La Spezia is an origination site for the train, But it is also where the cruisers when disembarking, get on to enjoy their day. We picked a time frame where our full day only had a few hundred cruisers arriving, but the afternoon we actually arrived, had close to 10,000 descending down from 2 mega ships.

They are coming from Milan, so the times are much shorter and your suggestion to maybe stay in Monterosso and take advantage of a nonstop train is a great one! It just depends what town calls to them.
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Old Apr 18th, 2024, 09:42 AM
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neckervd, thank you so much for all of the train information. Looks like we can visit Parma from either Milan or Bologna. I will check out Monterosso, too.

coral22, thanks again for explaining why you drove and the benefits and disadvantages. All this information helps a lot. We have time to decide what we will finally do. I can't imagine 10,000 cruiseline people descending all at once. I will research cruise ship schedules so that we can hopefully plan around that. It worked for us in Dubrovnik and Santorini.

Today I received my Micheline Green Guide for Tuscany which will be very helpful in planning that portion of the trip.
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Old Apr 18th, 2024, 11:50 AM
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https://www.cruisetimetables.com/las...e-may2025.html
La Spezia cruise port gets obviously more and more important (with up to 5 cruise ships per week).
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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by neckervd
https://www.cruisetimetables.com/las...e-may2025.html
La Spezia cruise port gets obviously more and more important (with up to 5 cruise ships per week).
neckervd, thank you for the cruise timetables link. I saved it to my desktop!
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Old May 14th, 2024, 01:19 PM
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Karen, can u keep us informed about which accommodations you choose. Thanks
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Old May 14th, 2024, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by uppsala30
Karen, can u keep us informed about which accommodations you choose. Thanks
Yes!
How long will your trip be?
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Old May 14th, 2024, 02:12 PM
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I think we will have 21 days. We cannot fly direct from California so we can either fly into Florence or - if needed- Rome. I would prefer not to have to go into Rome. Luckily I moved our miles into Air France/Flying Blue last month when they had a 25% bonus so we have plenty of miles to get back and forth. We could fly home from Milan.
So interesting that your son/or daughter went to school In Prague. What an education that must have been. I hope they liked it. Coincidentally my son in-law did his Junior year abroad also in Prague.
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Old May 14th, 2024, 05:26 PM
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I gotta dissent here: this itinerary has too many stops. 9 different places in 34 days is going to wear you down. I've been everywhere you've listed and indeed they are all great destinations (and I agree as well with the other posters that Genoa and Siena are unmissable). But the better strategy is to pick say 4-5 places to stay and use them as bases to see the others. Potential bases include:

Florence (for Bologna, Lucca, Siena, Volterra, San Gimi)
Manarola (Genoa, Lucca)
Venice (Verona, Ravenna)
Como
Dolomites

If you want to stick to the original plan, I'd say 4 nights in Milan and 4 nights in Bologna are too much. To see their sites, you really only need a full day in each. Milan is ... just not my thing. Bologna, by contrast, is architecturally very striking. It's also a young city, energetic, and the food is delicious. It's my favorite city in Italy. But you would have a couple days there where you've already seen everything and you might feel the time is redundant.

Last edited by RAR; May 14th, 2024 at 05:34 PM.
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Old May 15th, 2024, 08:53 AM
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Karen, count me in as someone for whom was not that taken with Lucca though to be fair we were only there for a few hours stopping on our way from Levanto in the Cinque Terre region to San Quirico in the Val d'Orcia where we stayed for a week several years ago. The Val d'Orcia region to me is the most beautiful area of Tuscany with Pienza and Montepulciano being a couple of our favourite towns. We visited La Foce which I found very moving having read Iris Origo's diary 'War in Val d'Orcia' which I highly recommend.
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Old May 15th, 2024, 09:03 AM
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One way to escape the crowds in the Cinque Terre is to stay at Hotel Porto Roca up on a bluff overlooking the sea just above Monterosso. We loved it there! Great dining too.
We enjoyed staying inside the walls at Lucca for four nights. We did not go outside the walls during our stay,such a magical place.

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Old May 16th, 2024, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by RAR
I gotta dissent here: this itinerary has too many stops. 9 different places in 34 days is going to wear you down. I've been everywhere you've listed and indeed they are all great destinations (and I agree as well with the other posters that Genoa and Siena are unmissable). But the better strategy is to pick say 4-5 places to stay and use them as bases to see the others. Potential bases include:

Florence (for Bologna, Lucca, Siena, Volterra, San Gimi)
Manarola (Genoa, Lucca)
Venice (Verona, Ravenna)
Como
Dolomites

If you want to stick to the original plan, I'd say 4 nights in Milan and 4 nights in Bologna are too much. To see their sites, you really only need a full day in each. Milan is ... just not my thing. Bologna, by contrast, is architecturally very striking. It's also a young city, energetic, and the food is delicious. It's my favorite city in Italy. But you would have a couple days there where you've already seen everything and you might feel the time is redundant.
Thank you for your comments and suggestions. My husband and I don't like to do a lot of daytrips. We actually find them tiring. And we have discovered that we really appreciate a place more when we stay overnight. For example, we appreciated Cordoba, Toledo, and Cesky Krumlov more when we stayed for a couple nights instead of visiting as daytrips. I have decreased Milan to 3 nights and that includes a daytrip to Bergamo. And we plan on visiting Ravenna for the day when we are in Bologna. So, depending on what time we arrive in Bologna, we will have 2 to 2.5 days for sightseeing in Bologna.
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Old May 16th, 2024, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Kiddo
Karen, count me in as someone for whom was not that taken with Lucca though to be fair we were only there for a few hours stopping on our way from Levanto in the Cinque Terre region to San Quirico in the Val d'Orcia where we stayed for a week several years ago. The Val d'Orcia region to me is the most beautiful area of Tuscany with Pienza and Montepulciano being a couple of our favourite towns. We visited La Foce which I found very moving having read Iris Origo's diary 'War in Val d'Orcia' which I highly recommend.
Thank you for your comments. I have made changes to my itinerary. We do plan on spending 3 nights in Siena, and plan on visiting Pienza, Montepulciano, San Gimignano and Volterra from Siena. We plan on spending 2 nights in Lucca. Our daughter and her family stayed there last year for 3 weeks. Their children are young, and they wanted to base in one place and take daytrips and just generally relax in Lucca. They loved Lucca especially the evening stroll on the walls in the evening.

Maybe later I will post my updated itinerary.

Thanks for the tip about War In Val d'Orcia. Will put it on my reading list!
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Old May 16th, 2024, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by HappyTrvlr
One way to escape the crowds in the Cinque Terre is to stay at Hotel Porto Roca up on a bluff overlooking the sea just above Monterosso. We loved it there! Great dining too.
We enjoyed staying inside the walls at Lucca for four nights. We did not go outside the walls during our stay,such a magical place.
HappyTrvlr, so happy to hear that you enjoyed your 4 nights in Lucca. It seems to get mixed reviews on this forum. Our daughter and her family loved their stay there last year. Lucca might just be one of those places where people should spend a couple nights (instead of visiting for the day) to really appreciate it. We felt that way about Toledo, Cordoba, and Cesky Krumlov. So much more enjoyable when you spend a few nights.
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Old May 16th, 2024, 07:54 AM
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Karen, I think we like to travel like you do.
When we were planning our Ireland trip, so much advice was to stay I one place and do day trips. When mapping that out, it included too much backtracking and time in the car. We enjoyed moving on and making progress. We also love, early mornings and evenings in locations without the crowds. We like to get an early start and hit a popular site first thing, get in a few more spots on our list, have a leisurely lunch, and go back to the room, especially if we are tired, or if it is hot or rainy. Later, we putter around the town again, have a nearby dinner and can walk home. I can't imagine many recent day visitors to CT have enjoyed it, we loved our mornings and evenings in Manorola.

If you are on day trips, you are far from your room and feel more obligated to stay and push on, especially if you have invested 2:30 hours in roundtrip driving. We don't pack that much so packing up isn't an issue, and we make sure our luggage is concealed at our stops.

I think Lucca is a great choice for you, especially with your daughter''s recommendation, but I think also staying in Siena is a lot more compatible with visiting the Val d'Orcia, which is gorgeous!
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Old May 16th, 2024, 01:53 PM
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Karen,
A. few thoughts….
I agree with a visit to Portovenere. We also have enjoyed staying in Santa Margherita Ligure.
Also, if you stay overnight at MXP, I recommend staying at Villa Malpensa which has an excellent dining room. Your last dinner in Italy would be excellent if you stay there, no airport food!
We really did enjoy our four nights in Lucca. Staying inside the walls made it special. However we didn’t care for the area outside the Lucca walls, some industrial towns.
We adore Siena and the Chianti villages and have stayed in that area four or five times.
We really like Milan! Great restaurants.It is more modern because it was bombed in WWII.
Your trip sounds wonderful, Karen.



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Old May 17th, 2024, 09:21 AM
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It sounds like a great trip. Enjoy!
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Old May 17th, 2024, 09:44 AM
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I too would drop night in Milan and add to Venice, recommend staying in Dorsoduro there, not near train station or Rialto, but below. We've been three times to the Hotel Alboretti near the Peggy G museum and Academia Bridge; at other end of GC is the Giudecca Canal w lovely walk along the Zattere for water taxis and restaurants not jammed. We avoid San Marco Square, having seen it on our first trip. If you want to celebrate in style, ferry over Giudecca Canal and walk down to Harry's Bar w beautiful views of GC. Pricey, but an eyeful, with complimentary boat shuttle back to San Marco.

Siena is a highlight of Tuscany in our minds, we skipped Pisa to visit Lucca which was much quieter but an "everyone's neighborhood" which we enjoyed.

Lovely hotel right on Lake Como at reasonable price is Hotel du Lac. Walk onto boats nearby, get room facing lake, and enjoy great bar downstairs too. Took boat and bus over to Lugano, but too much a city -- left quickly to enjoy more at Bellagio.
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