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Northern Italy

A couple of questions here, including itinerary help. Arriving Sept. 9th, 12-14 days in N. Italy

We are flying in to Venice and plan to spend 2 days there. Then I think we will take a train to Verona, spend one night and rent a car (yes, we can drive a manual transmission & will update our international driver's license, & research road signs & road rules) for the remainder of your time in Italy. We plan to go to Bolzano and haven't figured things out from there yet. We'll fly out of Milan on 9/21 or 9/21.

What interests us: the Dolomites, Lake Guarda? and Como, art, small communities and "of the normal tourist route" places. Interesting experiences: wineries, cheese making....

  1. Itinerary suggestions, including a suggested length of stay? I expect we need 2 days in Bolzano.
  2. Airbnb stays, small hotels, homestays?
  3. Wineries, small local restaurants...?
  4. Last question. Is it worth experiencing a thermal bath in N. Italy?


Posted by
3746 posts

Hi, how many nights total do you have in Italy? That will help all of us give you a better idea of an itinerary & number of nights.

Flying into Venice is fine. Since you will have a part of your first day and the second somewhat jet-lagged, I would recommend staying at least another night in Venice. Be sure your hotel is on the islands and not the mainland.

Verona is wonderful. Any chance you’re there during the opera season - a unique experience to attend it at the Roman Arena? One day is pretty short for this location, too. (And I travel at a quick pace.)

Check out quaint Ortesei near Bolzano to see if you would rather stay there.

Posted by
6375 posts

Yes, what time of year is your trip, and how many days do you have total?

Posted by
489 posts

Hello roxannweger:

I am traveling to the Dolomites. If you decide to go there, let's brainstorm.

I agree with Jean that your destination choices will depend on how much time you have.

Posted by
540 posts

"research road signs & road rules"

We arrange our cars by calling up Autoeurope [toll free]; get zero-deductible collision, which covers any damage to the body of the vehicle.

With respect to the departure from MXP [Milan], if it's in the afternoon you would stay downtown on the last night, be at Milano Centrale the next morning 4 hours before your flight to catch the train to the airport. You mention Lake Como. Varenna is 2 hours from MXP, so that is also a possibility but with some risk if you miss the train,

AM departure [which I would prefer] it's expedient to overnight at a MXP hotel, not needing to arrive until dinner time. The Villa Malpensa is 15 minutes away and has a very good restaurant.

As to nights, 9/9 to 9/21 [?] you have 12 nights; 3 in Venice [good suggestion], 1 Milan/MXP and 8 left. Eight nights could be split; or with 2 hotel changes that’s 3, 3 and 2.

Orteisi vs Bolzano another good suggestion.

Posted by
540 posts

If your flights are not booked, I would compare the price difference of a MXP round trip, seeing how Venice is 4 hours from the airport by train and Verona 3; both with one change downtown.

Posted by
295 posts

we're going also in Sept. ... Venice ending in Rome .. 3 nights in Venice a stones throw to Piazza Roma (transportation hub) then direct train to Bolzano if their schedule fits ours .. otherwise transfer at Veronna to Bolzano (has the highest quality of living in Italy) while there have your hotel or apartment obtain Bozen Cards for each of you ... free public transportation in the region.. bus.. train.. Dolomite lifts ... museums etc. (see Otzi the Iceman 5000yrs. old) local language is German & Italian like their cuisine... also Bardolino on lake Garda has a 5 day winefest at the end of the month on the shoreline/promenade a must see ending with fireworks on the lake... we'll be there 5 days before we train/bus south.. we always use public transportation .... enjoy your visit ... stay longer .. you'll be glad u did.

Posted by
241 posts

I’m traveling from Venice to Milan right now. When I leave Verona tomorrow I’m doing:

Desenzano/Sirmione: 1 night
Riva del Garda: 2 nights
Bergamo: 1 night
Stresa: 2 nights
Varenna: 2 nights

Staying at the MXP hotel my last night so I don’t have to rush to catch my AM flight back to the US. I’m staying at a mix of Airbnb’s and hotels (used depending on which was cheaper.

Posted by
2122 posts

If you are departing from MXP in the early morning, do not stay close to Milano Centrale. Find an hotel/BnB close to Milano Cadorna station. Your last dinner in Italy will be nicer and the train trip to the airport will be shorter.

There are two or three speed traps on the causeway between Venice mainland and the Islands. There is a 5 km/h leeway: if the sign says that the speed limit is 70 (or 50) and you drive at 76 kms per hour (or 56) you'll be fined three times in a row. No mercy.

Same all over Italy, the maniacs who drive faster know where the speed traps are. Those who seem to ignore the Tutor System on motorways are going to exit (or take a break) before the second camera, so they overspeed. Do not do the same, keep the right and let idiots run.

Posted by
791 posts

Since you'll have a car, you might consider Bassano del Grappa, north of Vicenza.

Posted by
17 posts

We're also planning to be in N. Italy in September, although not until the end of the month. We'll be staying in Varenna for a few nights before wrapping up the trip in Milan where we'll fly home from on 10/1. I'm curious to know the impact of the recent storms/flooding to the towns along the lake. Does anyone know if most businesses are still open? @Bill - it looks like you'll be in that area in a few days. I'll be curious to know what your experience is.


Posted by
48 posts

Just returned from northern Italy, including Bolzano and the Alpe di Siusi. If the Alpe is on your list (and it should be,) a few things worth being aware of:
- We found Bolzano to be a big meh. Could have been we were there on a hot, busy day, but for us it was skippable.
- If you have your own car, you cannot drive up to the Alpe after 9AM. Also, read on...
- The trip from Bolzano to the Alpe is not nothing, and I applaud the tenacity of anyone who thinks it's a doable day trip. We did the bus/cable car combo to get up to Compaccio. The bus was beyond crowded (standing room only, laps, etc.) and many prospective passengers were left back at the bus station having to wait for the next ride.
- The ride to where you get off for the cable car is 30-40 minutes of switchback mountain road, and the walk from the bus stop up to the cable car station is steep and a challenge with bags, even for the able-bodied.
- The cable car is a 15 minute relaxing ride on a ski gondola.
- Once you arrive at the top (Compaccio) you're in the Alpe's largest sort-of-town (there really are only a couple) where you can catch buses.

Despite the challenge of getting here, it is AMAZING. We stayed 3 nights at the Adler Lodge and it was beyond spectacular. Any longer and we would've been bored. Any shorter and we would have missed some incredible experiences. On the return trip we decided to take a car/taxi from our hotel in the Alpe to the Bolzano train station. It was about 45-50 minutes and, believe it or not, worth the 110 euros we paid. It's probably over an hour going Bolzano-Alpe given the roads.

Also, YES to Verona! Roberto Mazzi winery and its B&B just outside Verona is lovely. La Piazzetta restaurant around the corner from Il Bugiardo in Verona was a nice find.

Hope this helps.

Posted by
14 posts

I would totally skip Bolzano and just get a place in one of the 3 towns in the Val Gardena. It's so much easier to base yourself there. We just stayed at Garni Le Chalet in S. Cristina and it was the perfect base for hiking and exploring the area. Bolzano, while a fine town, is not the Dolomites.

For your last night I would recommend the Hotel Villa Malpensa. It is a 4 minute drive from the airport (someone earlier said 15 minutes. I guess so if you walked). It has a nice pool area to relax at before your morning flight.

Also second the suggestion of the opera in Verona. It is probably one of the coolest things you can do in all of Italy. And Verona is a great town.