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Northern Italy and Tuscany

2 of us are headed to Italy for 6 weeks in Sept and Oct. I have mapped out the itinerary and have booked rooms etc. I am now looking at changes I want to make and maybe cut out a city to spend more time in Tuscany. I also would like to go to the Dolomites but cannot decide if we do Dolomites or Lake Como. This is our schedule: Would like advice on Northern Italy and if it would be better to spend more time in Tuscany (with a car) and skip Cinque Terre and instead go to Maremma and I sola de Giglio Island while staying in Tuscany.

Paris to Milan - flying in.
Milan to Venice but would like to go to the Dolomites - can we get there by train?
Venice to Rome
Rome to Sorrento
Sorrento to Almalfi
Almalfi to Florence
Florence to Tuscany
Tuscany to Cinque Terre
Back to Paris

We are staying anywhere from 3 - 5 days at each place.

Thank you.

Posted by
2617 posts

Could you add numbers of days to each stop? (I realize you say 3-5, but it helps to visualize a trip if that detail is explicit--for example, are you staying in Paris 3-5 days twice, that part is not clear?)

Notes about Cinque Terre versus coastal Tuscany: I vastly prefer the Maremma coast, but Giglio might be too quiet in October. If you don't mind that, no worries--just something to consider. In October, you can get rain in CT, which makes flexibility in your schedule a plus.

Posted by
7687 posts

No train to the Dolomites. Bus, car. Amazing
mountains! Culture is a mixture of Italian and Austrian. Consider staying in Ortisei at the wonderful family owned and run Hotel Grones. We drove there via Lake Garda.
Note: Florence is in Tuscany.
After several nights in Florence, rent a car and go to a Tuscan village or town. Stay there at least five nights. We usually stay a week.
It is better to calculate time by nights, not days.
Example: Three nights = 2 days
Your title for this post says Northern Italy and Tuscany which is a good focus. Then you add Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast which are in Southern Italy. We didn’t go south of Rome until our 8th trip to Italy and have seen a lot of the areas in the south including Sicily, Puglia, Sorrento. I suggest taking your nights given to the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento to the North of Italy itinerary. Then give the South of Italy more time on a future trip. You also had skipped Naples. Lots more to see in the south next trip!

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you for your replies.

Arriving in Paris Aug 31 - Sept 3
Milan Sept 3 - 6
Venice Sept 6-10
Rome Sept 10-16
Amalfi Praiano Sept 16-21
Sorrento 21-23 (visit Pompi Naples)
Florence Sept 23-28
Tuscany (Pienza) Sept 28-Oct 2
Cinque Terre Oct 2-6 take train back to Milan
Fly to Paris Oct 7 fly home 10th

Can we take the train from Milan to Verona and car, bus or taxi to Bolzano?

Posted by
2617 posts

Arriving in Paris Aug 31 - Sept 3 Milan Sept 3 - 6 Venice Sept 6-10
Rome Sept 10-16 Amalfi Praiano Sept 16-21 Sorrento 21-23 (visit
Pompi Naples) Florence Sept 23-28 Tuscany (Pienza) Sept 28-Oct 2
Cinque Terre Oct 2-6 take train back to Milan Fly to Paris Oct 7 fly
home 10th Can we take the train from Milan to Verona and car, bus or
taxi to Bolzano?

Thank you for adding that detail!
I am not familiar with the Dolomites, so I'll have to leave that to others. I think with the amount of time you have, the lakes would be a better fit than the mountains, but if you get the transport sorted, it could work for a brief peek.
Now that I see it is earlier in October, I would feel less nervous about rain in Cinque Terre (of course one never knows, but early October is less risky than mid to late October). I am pretty hard core about avoiding crowds, so I always support alternatives to Cinque Terre. If you get the urge to swap for Maremma, feel free to ask questions.

Posted by
1687 posts

You could take the train Verona to Bolzano, then other destination(s) by bus.

Posted by
10053 posts

As to the Dolomites and ease of access, Bolzano is an excellent jumping off point so yes, take the train there then go on to the Val Gardena where things are still open and active in Sept. (I recommend earlier rather than later in the month, though. By early October last year it was getting pretty quiet and some buses stopped running.)

We always take a taxi from Bolzano these days (about Euro 90 to Ortisei last year) but there is a bus. LMK if you seriously need a recommendation on a taxi company.

Don’t go if you don’t have at least 4 nights to spend. It’s a bit of a journey to get to and from and no one I’ve met ever said they wish they’d spent less time!

Posted by
28 posts

Thanks for all the great advice. I think I have it figured out less time in Milan and instead go to the Dolomites. Hotel Grones is sold out unfortunately but looks like there are a lot of other places. Beautiful area. We are also going to spend more time in Tuscany outside of Florence and visit Maremma instead of Cinque Terre. We have rented a B&B in Pienza out in the beautiful countryside and will rent a car. When I said northern Italy that was the only part of the trip I needed direction on. Rome and Amalfi Coast are set along with Florence. We will do some side trips out of those areas. There is never enough time but a trip back hopefully to finish the southern part of Italy. How about taking a ferry to I sola del Giglio? I am assuming if I extend our stay in the Tuscany area like Pienza we can travel to the Maremma area from there it appears to be a little over an hour drive. Thanks again!

Posted by
2617 posts

I would stay somewhere in the Maremma after Pienza. Ferries to Giglio leave from Porto Santo Stefano. Porto Ercole is cute, but I liked Orbetello because it was close to the mainland, so I could do day trips in either direction without so much driving. Google Maps says it is 15 minutes from Orbetello to Porto Santo Stefano, but I recall it feeling much longer--the road is very curvy.
There are plenty of options on the mainland as well--Pitigliano is gorgeous (be sure to check out the vie cave near Sovana/Sorano). Massa Marittima is charming. Many people go ga-ga over Saturnia hots prings, but it was too crowded for me. Maybe you could luck out in October.
If you were going to Cinque Terre for hiking, the hiking in Ucellina park is marvelous.

Posted by
38 posts

There’s a train to Bolzano and then a bus to Kastelruth. It looks like about 4 hr 30 minutes from Venice. We’re going there by train in October for 3 nights. See for info on what you might like to do. We plan to take the gondola and lifts up and walk / hike in the upper meadows if the weather is halfway nice. We’re also going to Lake Como and Lake Maggiore each for 3 nights. Trains from each place is not direct but at least I won’t have to drive and worry about parking.
I use Google maps to get an idea of what trains & buses to take but it’s too early to book. Check out Sudtirol Alto Adige bus pass for free train and bus transport in the Dolomite area if you’re staying in Kastelruth. Our hotel offers it as do most others.

Posted by
28 posts

We are planning to stay in Bolzano. There are a number of trains going from Milan to Bolzano each day. I think we need to switch trains in Verona . I need to do some more checking. But since we only have 2 full days in the Dolomites I thought we could base in Bolzano and take the Gondola and or bus to get further into the Dolomites. We to to Venice next via train. Thanks for all the information I will check it out. To an earlier post we are skipping Cinque and spending more time in the Tuscany area and we will plan on also going to the Maremma.