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12 day Northern Italy Itineray-HELP desperately needed!

Please help me figure out what to do:
We fly in out of Milan MXP this July, and I urgently need to confirm all hotels before they fill up.
We are extremely interested in all of the places in the itinerary including day trips from Bologna to Parma and Modena, as well as day trips from Verona to Mantova and Vicenzo.
We are also really fascinated by Torino.
Do we drop one city? Do we keep all of them?
Please help us decide between the cities listed Days 6, 7, 9, and also offer comments or point out problems that might arise from the way I planned it out:
Day 1- Milan
Day 2-Milan
Day 3-Lake Como sleeping in Varenna
Day 4-Lake Como sleeping in Varenna
Day 5- A Sunday-Day trip via Tirano aboard the Bernina Express to St. Moritz
sleeping in Varenna
Day 6: Leave Lake Como go to Torino or Verona
Day 7:sleep Torino or Verona
Day 8: sleep Torino or Verona
Day 9: sleep Verona or Bologna
Day 10: sleep Bologna
Day 11: sleep Bologna
Day 12: sleep in Hotel near airport to catch flight the next morning (any good suggestions?)

Posted by
17088 posts

Just a couple of thoughts:

What do you plan to do in Milan? I wonder whether it could be accomplished in transit later in the trip (storing bags at the station?) without having to spend two nights there. If you did this, you'd head to Varenna on your arrival day, buying the train tickets when you land in Milan.

Another possibility: Do you plan to do much in St. Moritz besides eat lunch? If not, could you check out of your Varenna hotel, take your bags with you, and go straight on to your next stop that same night?

Maybe neither of those is possible, but they'd make it easier for you to find time for all you want to do. I haven't been to all your hoped-for destinations, but I believe they are all good ones and would have a hard time choosing myself.

Posted by
3481 posts

If this is your first time to Italy, I would drop Milan and take the train immediately to Lake Como. Then take the train to Torino for a couple of days, and then take the train to Verona and finally at Bologna.

Day 1-3: Varenna
Day 4-5: Torino
Day 6-9: Verona and day trips; add Venice as a full-day day trip
Day 10-12: Bologna, day trips and fly home

The train transportation on these are fairly quick, so you can be at each new location (after having breakfast) by noon.

Posted by
3481 posts

One more thought to mention, Sunday transportation is usually spaced out more than weekdays or Saturdays and in some locations, it’s not reliable. I haven’t taken the train trip you’ve mentioned on the Sunday date.

I’ve been to all of your other locations. Have a great trip! Verona has operas in their Roman Arena which will affect availability and prices, but if there’s an opera while you’re there, don’t miss the experience!

Posted by
27 posts

In reply to ACRAVEN:
We were interested in Milan, but you're right about cutting the time there to add to the other places.
Regarding St. Moritz, we were more interested in the Bernina Express Train ride and the beautiful scenery, but would love to explore St. Moritz too.
I was thinking that the day will be too long after getting back to Varenna from that day trip and that we might feel too tired to take the train to Torino that same evening. But, it is a possibility since I'm sure the hotel in Varenna would keep our bags for us until we returned from that excursion, even if we checked out that morning.
So many possibilities to consider!

Posted by
27 posts

to answer JEAN:
It's our 2nd trip. The first was 10 days, 2 in Venice, 3 in Florence, 5 in Rome.
We don't want to drop Milan completely, but perhaps we should take the advice of ACRAVEN and cut a day

Posted by
27 posts

So, does everybody think we should keep all the cities?...besides Milan which everybody seems to think can go...

Posted by
27 posts

By the way, besides the airport hotel recommended by Joe, does anybody have other hotel recommendations for:
And, if you've been there more than once, did you stay at the same place both times? Or can you compare hotels for example:
Milan- Rosa Grand vs. Una Maison Milano vs. Hotel Cavour
Varenna- Hotel du Lac vs. Hotel Royal Victoria
Torino- Turin Palace Hotel vs. NH Collection Turin Piazza Carlina

Posted by
17088 posts

I don't think it would be practical to go back to Varenna to pick up your luggage and then head out to Verona or Torino on your Bernina Express Day; that would truly be a marathon. But there's good news: There seems to be a left-luggage office at St. Moritz that's open till 7 PM, 7 days a week. I don't know how to do links on my tablet, but if you Google for: left luggage st. moritz sbb, you should get a link to the SBB website with the information.

Posted by
508 posts

Sounds like you're into small towns on this trip, but I personally would allow at least a full day and night in Milan. I just returned last Wednesday from a two week solo trip to Italy, into Milan and out of Rome with three nights each in Venice and Florence in between. I purposely spent two nights in Milan because I wanted to see the Doumo and the Last Supper. I got my reservation for the LS the first day they were open for May and it was fabulous. The Doumo is simply spectacular inside and better way to describe it. If you give Milan a day or two go to the front right side of the Duomo and purchase the Fast Track ticket for 25 euros. It gets you a short line to the elevator to the terraces and roof, a must see, and the same elevator down to a special entrance into the church. Otherwise the lines into the church and to the top on a different elevator are long. Rick raves about it, but even his raves don't do it justice. There are no more online reservations for the Last Supper through the end of August, but there are tours of the old city that include it in them. Some are in Rick's Italy 2018 book. I found Milan to be easy to navigate and an unexpected pleasure, and both sites are on their Metro line (subway) and easy to reach. Of course, if you aren't interested in either of these sites skip Milan and go elsewhere.


Posted by
27 posts

We are very interested in these sights. Thanks for reminding me that I need to reserve the Last Supper ASAP, and for letting me know that there are no more spaces left. This means that I will have to book it included in a tour.
Would you mind sharing with me your hotel experiences in these 3 places? I visited all 3 last summer but wasn't 100% happy with my hotels.

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks for your feedback on the Eremo Gaudio Hotel. Good to know.

Posted by
307 posts

Milan might not be everyone's favorite as noted in this forum, but we like it. It took us three tries to finally see the LS and we used a re-seller (Viator). The tour which was lead by a very capable English speaker was more than we expected and when we finally got in to see the LS, she had prepared us as to what to look for, great background, etc. Well worth every $$.

We've stayed at Hotel Berna (seems to be a favorite here on the forum and their huge breakfast will keep you going for most of the day), Hotel Grand Duca di York (which was convenient to what we wanted to see and do), and the standard Sheraton at the Malpensa. Typical Sheraton, but if you have a really early flight, it's connected to the airport (walking) and also has easy access to Malpensa Express whether you are going to Milano Centrale or Milano Cadorna.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
3481 posts

Varenna - stayed with a RS tour. Our room was very noisy because the windows were faced towards the direction of the highway. I don’t remember the name of the hotel, but it was beautiful towards the water.

Torino - stayed at Hotel Townhouse 70. Excellent location, modern very large room and huge bathroom. This was a professional business type hotel. Breakfast was one of the best.

Verona - Hotel Aurora located on Piazza Erbe. We had the wonderful room with the balcony that looks over Piazza Erbe. Enjoyed having our breakfast on the terrace below our room that overlooked the piazza.

Bologna - stayed at Zanhotel Tre Vecchi - nothing wrong with this hotel but also nothing particularly memorable about it.

Posted by
396 posts

Hotels: Bologna: Hotel San Donato at via Zamboni 16. Have stayed here 3 times when in Bologna. Love the location....easy walk to piazza, San Petrino church, etc. I come in to the train and take a taxi to the hotel. Food is great in Bologna. Enjoy!
Verona: I always stay at Hotel Aurora on Piazza del erbe. Great location! Ask for room with view of the piazza.

Milan, in my opinion, is only a day trip, at best.

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks for all these great leads regarding the hotels.
I'm going to check availability and price.
By the way, has anybody stayed at Osteria della Pista in Varese which has a shuttle to the airport? It came up in an online search.

Posted by
27 posts

Regarding the hotel reservation, I need to firm up the dates
Please give your opinions on the order of the cities to sleep in:
Should I do
Plan A: or Plan B
1. Milan
2. Varenna
3. Torino 3. Verona
4. Verona 4. Bologna
5. Bologna 5. Torino
6. Milan near airport
Plan B

Posted by
17088 posts

I haven"t been to most of those places, but I can tell you how I would decide, assuming there's not a special event somewhere you're interested in seeing or avoiding: I'd check travel times on the Deutsche Bahn website to see whether there was a significant time difference (unlikely), and I'd look at a calendar to see whether I'd be hitting Torino during the week or over the weekend. It is a major business destination but gets little tourist traffic, so hotels might be significantly cheaper on weekend nights.

Posted by
27 posts

I just reserved at the Hotel Aurora! It looks great from the pics on the website

Posted by
27 posts

The nights of Plan A hit Torino on a Mon & Tues, plan B on a Fri and Sat.
I'm going to check rates now for Jean's Torino hotel: Townhouse 70 and Karren's Bologna hotel San Donato to see the availability and if rates are better in Torino for the weekend

Posted by
27 posts

Any other good hotel recommendations for my cities?
Quality, not dated, but under 300 Euro per night
Milan, Varenna, Torino, Verona, Bologna.

Posted by
27 posts

By the way, I was able to reserve Townhouse 8 for Torino, and Aurora for Verona.
But, I didn't take the non-refundable rate in case I need to change the dates again.
Really appreciate everyone's help.
You guys are pros!

Posted by
27 posts

Day 5-Day trip Day trip via Tirano aboard the Bernina Express to St. Moritz
sleeping in Varenna:
Spending the night in Varenna is expensive.
Can we check out of Varenna in the morning and take our bags with us on the Bernina Express?
Or check into another hotel in another town before heading out to St. Moritz??
What town would be best?
Then we could sleep there on the way back from St Moritz before we head on to the next city

Posted by
187 posts

Milan, Lancaster Hotel, good location, near tram stops, quiet, near dining, speak English,

Milan Airport, Moxy Hotel, reasonable across from terminal transfer stop. Very modern

Would stay in both again, in fact staying at Moxy this fall

Posted by
3481 posts

Glad to see your comments, Jeff. I’ll be staying at the Moxy when I fly out of Milan.

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks you two: Jean and Jeff. I'm going to check out both of these. I had actually seen one with good comments on Trip Advisor called Osteria della Pista in Varese with a free shuttle to the airport.
Btw, we decided just to stay the 3rd night in Varenna instead of worrying about baggage and switching to a new hotel after the day trip aboard the Bernina Express. For everyone to note:the "guy in seat 61" has amazing advice on train travel throughout the world including Europe with a whole section on the Bernina Express

Posted by
5899 posts

Bologna-Hotel Novecento, in a perfect central location. Nice hotel, and staff.
I don’t know how much time you will have in St-Moritz. A very short shuttle train ride away is charming Pontresina with it’s painted houses. St-Mortiz was disappointing, lots of concrete as we had warned.

Posted by
4 posts

We spent 1/2 day in Milan at Hotel Cavour. We actually thought Milan was charming, needed just a little more time there. Loved Hotel Cavour! Perfect location, very comfortable and wonderful breakfast! Milan has numerous lovely restaurants, Duomo di Milano, La Scala, and high end shopping (too expensive for me, but love to window shop). Milan is a very walk-able and scenic city. Enjoyed our stay....