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Thoughts on Milan and Lake Maggiore, Oct 2021

Thoughts on Milan and Lake Maggiore, Oct 2021

Old Aug 27th, 2021, 10:29 AM
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Thoughts on Milan and Lake Maggiore, Oct 2021

The wife and I are planning a late October trip to Italy. It's a bit last minute but with work being chaotic, it's the only time we can go. I've been wanting to explore the northwest shore of Lake Maggiore for some time now. Flying in and out of Milan seems to be the most convenient and the prices and itineraries look great. So here is what we are thinking.

Arrive in Milan on a Monday and spend 1 night there.
Tuesday through Friday nights will most likely be spent in Cannobio. While there, we would like to relax and just take some drives to other lake side towns to see which ones we prefer. We definitely want to go see Isola Bella for a few hours. I think we can easily fill up the week in that area. Maybe drive into Switzerland for a bit.
Saturday morning we will drive back to Milan and spend our last night there.

So now on to the questions.
1) any "must do's" in the Cannobio area?
2) any COVID complications if we decide to drive into Switzerland for a day?
3) Milan. Which area to stay in and what to do??? This is the biggest question and most important question. Normally we would pick a different city but due to airfare and location to Cannobio, it's the best option.

About us. Early 40's and in good health. Up for just about anything but prefer "off the beaten path" options when possible. Avid cyclists and hikers so pretty adventurous. With lodging, we prefer locally owned inn's over hotels as they tend to lead to better stories.

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Old Aug 31st, 2021, 01:42 PM
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A few years ago we flew into Milan on the way to the Cinque Terre, and stayed one night. We stayed near the Duomo, and were able to fit in a three hour walking tour, which included the Last Supper and La Scala . Well worth it. Be warned that while our tour also touted we would see the Duomo, we never went inside. If we had know that, we would have visited the inside on our own.

And many years ago we flew out of Milan, and chose to spend our last night in Stresa, on Lake Maggiore. It's very close to the airport, so we didn't have to go into Milan at all. We drove from Lake Como to Stresa, and had lunch in Switzerland on the way. The Borromean islands are gorgeous.

Have a great trip. We're going to Italy last minute, too, in September (after having to cancel a different trip.)
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Old Sep 1st, 2021, 07:06 AM
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Thanks Hax. this definitely helps. After countless trips to many countries, it still took me reading your response to actually place the airport on the map, . Not sure how I missed that one. It's definitely closer to Lake Maggiore than the city center, which is great. Enjoy your trip and hopefully it is free of COVID issues. We had to cancel one to Spain in April of 2020 that is now scheduled for February of 2022. COVID is REALLY starting to take the fun out of travelling.

Stressa was on my list of towns to visit as we really want to check out Isola Bella. I'm not sure how the gardens will look in late October but I'm sure it will be nice either way. Arona looks like it might be a decent spot for the last night as well seeing as it's only 35 to 40 minutes from MXP.
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Old Sep 1st, 2021, 06:38 PM
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I suggest that you don't split your time in Milan but have all your time there before your flight home. On arrival you could take the Alibus service directly to Stresa (or another town on the lake) or hire a car and drive from the airport. Malpensa airport is at some distance from central Milan so it's a similar journey time to lake Maggiore as to the city centre (and probably closer tbh if you consider the journey to your hotel).

The ferries on lake Maggiore are slow but very relaxing and a great way to travel. Bus and rail in the area are also fine. A car might be useful if you plan to get into more rural areas for hiking.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2021, 11:17 AM
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Thanks @dreamon for the tips, they are appreciated. I will pass on the long ferry rides then and maybe take a short one across the lake from Cannobio and not venture south. I think we might end up skipping Milan this time. We love history and architecture and dislike crowds so we are always fighting that battle. Now that COVID is here, we find it easier to just skip crowds all together.

Arona looks like a decent pick for something within 30 minutes of MXP. In the end, we will probably leave the last night open and see what happens. We found a nice little studio in Cannobio and will stay there 6 of the 7 nights.

What are the mountain villages like in the Cannobio region? We will have a car and would like to drive to some of them to see what they are all about and do a bit of hiking. I'm assuming most of the mountain villages will be safe but I've never explored in that area. Just want to make sure I won't be stepping on the wrong toes while I'm there.

Thanks again
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Old Sep 2nd, 2021, 06:03 PM
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I preferred Isola Madre to Isola Bella. The gardens are wilder and more extensive. At least try to see both, there was a combo ticket when I was there.
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 09:35 AM
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Lake Maggiore is very close to Malpensa airport and will be very quiet (if not deserted) in October.
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 10:53 AM
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We loved Milan. Spent three nights in 2018 (could have spent a fourth). Check out Chapters Two to Four of my 2018 Trip report (link below). Lots of photos, and some good ideas on places to see. Be sure and try to arrange a visit (book online before you go) to the Duomo and its amazing rooftop (photo below). Also, Brera district has some really good dining options (trip report includes one of them)


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Old Sep 16th, 2021, 03:35 AM
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Originally Posted by neckervd View Post
Lake Maggiore is very close to Malpensa airport and will be very quiet (if not deserted) in October.
As long as it isn't shutdown, we are okay with deserted. Having some restaurants open would be nice though.

We live next to Acadia National Park in the US. Between early May and early November, it is all but deserted as well. A lot of the shops and restaurants close down for the winter / non-tourist season. We prefer this time of year as there's still enough dining options open and it feels like we have the park to ourselves. Acadia gets so congested in the summer with folks from NYC and Boston, that we tend to stay away.

For this trip, we really do want to relax and not feel like we have to do the typical tourist things. We would rather just do what the locals do and explore the surrounding area buy car and foot. There will be more trips in the future when COVID isn't such an issue that we can hit up the cities and other typical popular spots.
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Old Sep 17th, 2021, 01:49 PM
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Once when landing at MXP, we drove to the east side of Lake Maggiore and stayed in nearby Ranco which we enjoyed. We stayed at Il Sole di Ranco, right on the . waterfront. Highly recommend Ranco and itís proximity to MXP is a huge plus.
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