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Northern Italy

My husband and I will be traveling the first 2 weeks of May.
I'd like to do Milan and Lake Como. Other than that I am totally open.
I thought about Switzerland or Dolomites but the weather won't be great.
We will probably rent a car. Any suggestions for other places to check out? People suggest Bologna, Verona etc.
I also thought about 1 week in Italy and then Croatia for 1 week.
Thanks!

Posted by
5199 posts

Years ago my mom and I spent two weeks in Northern Italy and we enjoyed visiting Verona, Padua, Ravenna, Venice, and Varenna (Lake Como)
I wanted to visit Ferrara but we ran out of time.

Happy planning!

Posted by
7202 posts

Hi, I went to several cities in northern Italy in June: Stresa, Cremona, Parma, Bergamo, Mantova & Venice. Here’s my trip report in case some of these are interesting for you, too. You are fine renting a car. I’ve been to Italy seven times and always just take the trains since they’re easy and inexpensive. If you’re going to rent a car, do a search on “ZTL” on this forum, so you know how to avoid the expensive fines.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/trip-report-please-do-not-comment-until-i-change-the-title-filling-in-the-report-thanks

Posted by
8115 posts

Lake Como is less than an hour from Milan, as is Lugano, SZ. It would be a great starting point to travel into Switzerland.

But many people would head south to the Cinque Terre, Lucca, Florence, Venice and down to Rome. Those cities are just so important and well worth seeing. There are so many places to see in Italy that they can take your full 2 weeks. You can go from city to city by trains, but getting off the beaten path to see Tuscany is best done by renting a car.

Posted by
7311 posts

We’ve spent time in Bologna each of the past 2 years, and I’d like to go there for more time.

It’s been a few years, but we rented a car in Venice, took it into Slovenia and Croatia, then turned it back in in Venice. After a few Venice days, we flew home from there.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you.
We have already done Rome, Florence and Venice.
We may do 2 more days in Venice if we go to Croatia or to fly home.

Posted by
851 posts

Parma is delightful, as is Bologna. Lake Garda is wonderful as well.

Posted by
6005 posts

We spent 17 nights this past fall in northern Italy
Enjoyed Stresa, Bergamo, Bologna, Ravenna, Padova, Verona and Milan

No need for a car

We also enjoyed Santa Margherita Ligure last spring. really nice and almost no Americans

Posted by
72 posts

Hi, While it is a bit too early for the Dolomites, you can visit the Merano region, which is just to the west of the Dolomites and utterly gorgeous. This part of northern Italy has a unique blend of Alpine and Mediterranean microclimates, allowing vineyards, orchards and palm trees to thrive amid snow-capped mountains. If you enjoy hiking/walking, I highly recommend the Tappeiner Promenade above Merano. I also adore rambling along the "waalwegs" around the valley. These are centuries-old irrigation channels that run across the mountainsides through forests, vineyards and orchards not to mention near historic castles and chapels. By May everything will be in full bloom. One part of the Dolomites that is certainly easy to enjoy in May is Lago di Carezza, which is less than an hour from Merano. Have an amazing trip!

Posted by
56 posts

I visited ltaly in October/early November last year. Italy is one of my favorite countries. I've been lucky to have traveled quite a bit to areas north of Rome. During this last trip, I spend 6 nights in Bologna. I found it to be a lively city with wonderful sights and food. There are fine museums and shopping galore. One of the highlights was visiting the Anatomical Theater in the University of Bologna. I also saw an exhibit of art works from Pompeii in the Archeological Museum. Bologna is a town I definitely recommend. From there, it's easy to travel by train to other Emilia-Romagna towns (Parma, Modena and Ravenna). It is also only 35 minutes by train to Florence. In the Lake Como area, I stayed (years ago) in Bellagio. It's a charming town set on a promontory. it feels surreal being surrounded by the lake with vistas of the distant Swiss Alps. Ferries take you to the west or east shores where there are other small towns or lakeside villas open for tourists. It's a very relaxing ambiance. Varenna is another town on the eastern shore that's just off the main train line so maybe more convenient for accomodations. Further east from Milan, Verona is another pleasant town. There's an open-air Roman amphitheater where I watched an opera one night. You can also see the infamous Shakespeare's Juliet's balcony. Just recently I saw a clip on Padova and. personally, am considering visiting this university town myself in the Spring. So many choices. Buon viaggio!