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Village Italy Tour - Just signed up

We just signed up for the Village Italy tour departing on 4/22/19. This will by our sixth RS tour, and fifth trip to Italy (including the RS Sicily tour). We have not been to any of the places on the Village Italy tour except for Siena. In addition, we have not been to Venice. Our usual plan is to spend three weeks in Europe on each trip, so we will be looking for places to go before the tour. People who have been on the tour have said that they enjoyed some extra time in Padua before the tour starts.

After the tour we will probably not want to do much additional sightseeing. On the other hand, we do not like to rush home at the end of a tour, nor do we like leaving early in the morning to catch a flight home. On recent trips, we have flown to Dublin and stayed overnight in Dun Laoghaire before taking the afternoon flight from DUB home.

We signed up early because I have noticed that the tour sells out quickly.

Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

Posted by
6258 posts

I did this several years ago and it is fabulous!

I'd suggest at least 1 night in Padua before the tour starts. Frankly, if I were doing it again I'd do 2 nights so you have about 1.5 full days beforehand. I loved the Botanical Gardens (right near the hotel as I suspect you'll be staying at the Hotel Al Fagiano) and was not able to spend enough time here. I would also make a separate reservation for seeing the Scrovegni Chapel. You see it on the tour but it is SO amazing I wanted extra time there. You are restricted to about 30 minutes inside the chapel after a short time in a closed room - for dehumidifying I think.

Since you haven't been to Venice I'd do 4 nights there which gives you 3 full days plus your jet-lagged arrival day.

I spent one night extra in Orta and that was unnecessary and overkill. Really, you can see everything you didn't see on your arrival day in the AM, so a planned departure after lunch would be good. As transportation out of Orta is slightly difficult the guide will start ahead of time to get people organized. We were 3 traveling together so we wound up with another couple in a mini van to Milan which worked well. Our guide arranged taxis for those that wanted them to Milan and Malpensa airport and helped others ahead of time to purchase train tickets to other destinations as there is not a manned ticket station in Orta.

I spent 1 night in Milan and should have spent 2 so I could have gotten tickets to see The Last Supper.

When we started in Padova I went in to the Basilica of Saint Anthony and realized they had his relics there I sort of made that my theme for the trip. I tried to see all the various relics in the cities we visited. That may gross you out!

Do spend some fitness time on stairs or hills, depending on what's available where you live. There is a lot of climbing on this tour!

editing to add: About departure....this was the time I decided no more early flights for me either. Getting from Milan back to the Western US required a few stops and I left Milan Linate at 0600. I decided in the future I'd fly to AMS one afternoon and do at least one overnight there before a flight back to my SLC hub. Of course you may have better choices from CT than from the back of beyond, lol!!

Posted by
214 posts

A great choice for your next RS tour. We did this tour in 2007 and it has always been our favorite of the 10 we have done. In fact, we like it so well that we are doing it again this September. We spent extra days in Venice the first time and will be doing that again. We really enjoy just wandering around Venice. You were right to sign up early as it did fill up very quickly this year. We are going earlier than we would have liked because all the later tours were full.
Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
1550 posts

Adding to the chorus....not only will you enjoy the variety of this tour, but it does afford you an opportunity to easily add those extra days in Venice at the start (30 minute train trip from Venice to Padova) but also an additional couple of days in Milano at the conclusion of the tour. I know Milano doesn't get much love on this forum but it's one of my favorite cities in Italy. There is so much to see there and the airport is a "piece of cake" journey from the city. Not only can you book a time to view "The Last Supper" but where else would you be able to walk among the forest of spires at the top of a Duomo? It's quite an amazing experience! Have a great time-this is a tour I definitely would repeat in a heartbeat.

Posted by
807 posts

I second the recommendation to spend a day or two in Padua prior to the tour and possibly add on extra Venice days if you wish. I would second Pam’s advice that there is no need to stay an extra day in Orta afterwards. Besides the fact that there is really very little to see, transportation out of Orta is practically non existent except by expensive hired cars. Your tour guide will arrange to group people together to minimize costs. Take advantage of this arrangement and go to Milan. You can decide to stay there or use the many transportation options that Milan offers.

Enjoy your Village Italy tour. It is one of my favorites!

Posted by
2739 posts

We’ve stayed several nights in Verona, Padova and Venice and a night in Vicenza - all options for your pre-trip days. We like to fly into Venice, and there truly is no other city like it! We stayed at Hotel Ala last time, and it’s a great location and easy to find from the vaporetto stop. We even saw one of our former RS tour guides there! Give Venice at least three nights. Verona is another nice option for at least a day trip. We stayed 5 nights at Padova, but for your time, I would definitely prioritize Venice and then Verona over more time in Padova.

If you need an idea for a night after Lake Orta, we enjoyed Torino, an underrated city with lots to see.

Posted by
2923 posts

I did the Village Italy tour last summer. I sandwiched it directly between 5 nights in Venice and 2 nights in Milan. I rented an apartment in Venice and stayed at the Hotel Berna in Milan. That worked out well for me.

Beyond your question, do take a look at Jane from Sapulpa's Tour Report about our VI tour. It is detailed, it has lots of comments from others and it provides a very accurate picture of the tour.

Posted by
79 posts

I did this trip a couple years ago and loved it! Amazing villages and towns that are a bit difficult to get to, so the perfect tour itinerary for me.

We flew into Verona (we got a killer deal!) where we stayed for a night, then took the train to Venice for a few days before meeting our tour in Padua. Padua was lovely, but not my favorite. I felt like we had plenty of time there, including our free afternoon. I am glad we spent our extra time pre-tour in Verona and Venice.

Given the remote location of Lake Orta, it was very nice to be able to carpool into Milan with others. I would take advantage of that, and I agree with others above that Milan has a lot to offer for a couple days of decompression before moving on.

Posted by
523 posts

This is my favorite tour of all I have taken. So much so, that I have already reserved this tour Sept. 2019 to commemorate our 25th anniversary.

The last time we took this tour, we did not allow enough time for Milan. We always go one day early, to counteract jet lag. For our upcoming tour, I am planning to add 1-2 days in Milan. I am still in the planning stages, but am thinking we might return to Levanto, to spend a few days there before we head home.

Posted by
2773 posts

This was one of our favorite tours, out of 12 RS tours we have taken. As I recall, we went three days early, and spent the entire time in Padua. Definitely book the Scrovegni Chapel; it is wonderful. If you do choose to spend time in Padua, I highly recommend the Padova Pass. Saved us lots of money (we're museum junkies.)

After the tour, we headed straight to Milan, and spent four full days there. We loved it.

Spending a few days in Venice would be grand, as well, but I'd plan on at least three days there if I were you. That would give you plenty of time to rest up from your trip, and get off the beaten path in Venice.

Hi, Lo! Thanks for the plug!

Posted by
815 posts

Thanks to all for your responses. We will be able to spend some time in Milan since we are most likely flying into and out of that city. We will work in a visit to Venice, and will plan to arrive early in Padua.

Posted by
145 posts

We did the tour in May. We started out on our own with 3 nights in Varenna, 3 nights in Venice, and 1 extra night in Padua which we wish we would have spent somewhere else.

Posted by
10521 posts

I only saw the Scrovegni Chapel once, and sure wish I had booked two visits on two separate days. It's breathtaking.

"The vapporetto is a must do, but only once."

Not for me. I enjoyed taking various vaporetti both by day and by night. Particularly interesting was taking the ones that do not go on the Grand Canal - locals are actually riding them, and the later you get in the evening, the higher the percentage of locals becomes.

If the crush of tourist becomes too much, or if you you just want to see something less visited, take the vaporetto to San Michele, the cemetery island. It's most famous for the Protestant section, with several famous foreigners, but I was more interested in the other sections.

Posted by
815 posts

RS just added another departure date: April 20th.

Posted by
434 posts

This is a great tour. If you haven't been to Venice then by all means spent a few nights there. Just be prepared for the crowds. I was there three weeks ago and was shocked by how much more crowded it was than when I was there about 10 years ago. I would guess that April will have fewer crowds than I saw in early June.

lf you are spending multiple nights in Venice before the tour begins in Padua, I would make a point of visiting Murano, Burano and Torcello on one of the Venice days. Slightly less crowded on the outer islands. While in Venice, I would recommend Alessandro Schezzini's cichetti tour that starts in the early evening near Rialto Bridge. Alessando is very entertaining and you sample some cichetti and red wine while visiting three bars in the area. Google him if you are interested (also in Rick book). An extra pre-tour night in Padua would be good too.

As for departures, I would have liked another night in Orta, but had to get back. I had a mid morning flight out of Malpensa and shared a van with other tour members from the hotel to the airport. I think we left around 7:00 or 7:30.

Posted by
9 posts

We are booked on the Village Italy tour that ends in Lake Orta on Friday, September 7. I just found this forum and it has been very helpful.

Our flight from Malpensa is scheduled for Saturday, September 8 at 11 am. We are booked at the Holiday Inn Express at the airport for Friday night.

Our current plan is to leave Lake Orta on the 7th, check into our hotel, and take the subway into Milan arriving around noon or 1 pm. We would wander around Milan, have dinner, and return to our hotel.

We are also considering staying the extra night in Lake Orta and taking a taxi on Saturday around 7:30 am to the airport. While we would not get the opportunity to see Milan it also seems more relaxing and less stressful and give us a chance to explore more of Lake Orta.

The downside (for us) is the worry that we would have problems with the taxi on Saturday and miss our flight. A third option would be to spend the day in Lake Orta and take a taxi late that night after dinner to the airport hotel eliminating the early morning taxi trip to the airport on Saturday.

But in reading the comments it looks like most felt that there was no need to spend extra time in Lake Orta although there were one or two comments that an extra day would have been good. So now thinking we should just go ahead and leave on Friday with the rest of the group. But would appreciate any more comments and recommendations. Thanks for all of the help.

Jill

Posted by
6258 posts

I'm one that spent an extra night and would not recommend that again. If you want you could spend the morning in Orta which will give you time to walk the Sacra Monte, have lunch on the lakeside piazza and have a cab arranged to take you to the airport in the afternoon. There may be others in your group that will want to do the same. On this tour the guide started working on about Day 3 to discover everyone's departure plans then organized transport for those that wanted it so we went in groups in shared shuttles. It worked great.

If I, personally, were doing it again I'd probably take a morning taxi to my lodging, drop your bags and head in to Milan but my preference might not work for you.

Posted by
9 posts

Pam, thanks for your information - much appreciated. Still thinking about it but thinking your option to leave Lake Orta and stay in Milan probably is the way to go. Or to wait and leave around noon if that is what some others might do - I just hate to get up real early the day after the final dinner.

Jill

Posted by
733 posts

I took this tour several years ago; it was great. I spent 3 nights in Venice beforehand. I posted on the travel partners area here that I was on the specific tour and a couple from the tour met me in Venice where we spent the tours starting day together. That was fun. We took the train to Padua together and taxi to the hotel.

After the tour I spent 2-3 days in Milan and loved it. Toured the Cathedral including the rooftop, the opera house and a science museum with many da Vinci inventions.

I took the tour also in end of April, beginning of May. There were some very cool nights and rain so bring layers! Also had very warm days. Some hotels had turned off the heat; I did spend one night with my thick hoodie on and my part merino leggings!

Enjoy the tour. If Patricia (Trish) is your guide, you will have a blast.

Posted by
815 posts

Re: Post Tour

We are leaning toward having a leisurely breakfast, staying overnight in Milan, then beginning the journey home. As I mentioned in my first post, we typically fly to Dublin, stay overnight in Dun Laoghaire, then take the non-stop Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Bradley (Hartford), our home airport. The flight from Milan to Dublin leaves in the late morning, but from Linate (LIN) airport, not Malpensa (MXP). Linate is south of Milan, so it would be quite a distance from the last tour stop. Therefore, we would rather not try to fly out on the day the tour ends.

Posted by
733 posts

I did this tour a few years ago and loved it. I did spend 3 nights in Venice pre-tour and 2 nights or 3, in Milan post tour. Went up to the roof of the cathedral, toured the Opera house, went to a museum or 2, walked about.

Posted by
80 posts

Congrats on picking one of, if not the best RS tour in his portfolio! We did this last year and had such a fantastic time we returned this year for his Best of Scandinavia and are off to Eastern Europe next June. For our pretrip planning we stayed in Padua 3 night and had an wonderful time. If you going in early do try and stay the Hotel Al Fagiano. Let them know you will be part of the RS tour leaving on your date and ask if the can put you in a room where you don't have to move when the RS tour starts. We had the room on the 2nd floor with the balcony desk over looking the street and their parking lot. We had great afternoon snack times with our friends and along with great wine we purchased just around the corner. Watched a car rally that took place one evening while all the Maserati, Ferrari's, and even some Shelby Cobras toured by our hotel.

Do visit the botanical gardens they are close by. Also plan to get up a bit early and hit St. Anthony's Cathedral. It's a 5 minute walk from the hotel and we did not get to go inside as part of the RS tour. If your are in the Padua on a Sunday do visit the large flea market at the Prato della Valle. We had a great time walking around looking all the items the locals were selling. We took the train to Verona and arranged a private walking tour from RS guide book. Was a nice tour but not one I would repeat. The mobs at Romeo and Juliet balcony were to much and not worth the visit. We did ended our tour with 3 nights in Venice. Our friends started the tour in Venice, joined for our Verona tour then returned to Venice. If you do Venice I would say minimum of 4 nights so you can get out to the islands. Our tour guide Trina arranged our all post tour transportation and we shared a large mini van to Milan. Was a couple of hours max. We then took the train to Venice and but bus back to the Venice airport for our flight home.

Posted by
815 posts

Update: Transportation to and from Italy

The Village Italy starts near Venice and ends near Milan, so originally I was trying to find flights to Italy. I just figured out another solution. We have Delta miles through our AMEX card, but not enough to obtain two tickets. The AMEX card offers a pay with miles option which allows for the application of available miles to the cost of the tickets. The catch is that the pay with miles option can only be used for Delta operated flights (not when all are some of the the legs are on partner airlines - e.g. Air France, Alitalia, KLM). Furthermore, you need to have 15,000 mikes in your Skymiles account in order to use the pay with mikes option. I booked non-stop flights for five days before the tour starts from Boston to Paris at a net cost of $146 a ticket including the application of 70,000 miles at $0.01 per mile. The full cash price of this ticket is $492 (including checked baggage and seat selection). There is also a basic economy fare for $331 round trip.

From Paris we will be able to get air tickets to Milan or Venice before the tour. After the tour, we can fly from Milan to Paris on the afternoon of the tour's last day. The flight from Paris to Boston leaves two days after the end of the tour. We enjoy Paris, and will have another opportunity to stay at our favorite spot - The Hotel des Grandes Ecoles.

Posted by
6258 posts

Bob!! That sounds wonderful! What an awesome price plus Paris!

When I did VI, I was coming off the Best of Paris so took EasyJet from CDG to Venice. That was my first experience with a European LCC and it worked really well. I paid for a seat and checked baggage. If you are not doing Venice for a few days I ~think~ there is a bus direct from the airport to Padua.

A departure flight from Milan to Paris may leave from Linate Airport rather than Malpensa, so check both for your return fights. Linate is on the east side of Milan so if further from Orta San Giulio and will be a bit more cumbersome to reach.

Posted by
810 posts

Our first RS tour was Village Italy. Still at the top of our list (with Eastern Europe) We were hooked and have taken 6 more tours.

We flew into Venice from Denver, through Munich, I think. Spent 3 nights in Venice (it was our 2nd time there) and loved every minute. About staying in Orta. We stayed all day in Orta and so did another couple. We were ready to go but the flights were made. We took a taxi by ourselves to a hotel closer to the Malpensa. Expensive.
Then had to taxi to the Malpensa in the morning. Not my best planning. We really felt like we didn't need the extra time in Orta.

Whatever you all decide I know you'll enjoy the tour and hope you have a Great Trip! Lisa Anderson was our guide and she's a big part of why we got hooked on the RS tours!

Mimi

Posted by
9 posts

We are back from our Village Italy tour. In the end we decided to stick with our original plan to leave Lake Orta the day the tour ended. We took a cab (with our guide and others from our tour) to the Milan train station. We asked to leave as late as possible so we did not have to get up too early and our car left around 9:30. It is about 90 minutes to the train station. If you go directly to the airport it is only 45 minutes.

We checked our luggage at the train station - had to wait in line about 30 minutes and think it cost us about 6 euro for five or six hours.

We then walked into Milan just window shopping along the way and finally ended up at the Duomo. We got tickets and walked inside and up to the terraces. Now, you don't just walk in. First you have to get a ticket to get a ticket. Then get in line - we waited in line almost an hour to get in. It was about 2 pm before we got our tickets. If I had realized the line would have been so long we might have tried to get to the Duomo sooner. We took the subway back to the train station and then took a bus to the airport. Thee are several bus companies that make the 30 minute trip and it cost around 8 euro each. From airport we caught a shuttle to the Holiday Inn Express. Nice restaurant close by and made it easy to get to airport next morning for our trip.

Thanks to all for their suggestions. One couple on our tour did spend extra days in Lake Orta but rest left right away. We could have found something to do in Lake Orta had we stayed the extra day but personally think it better to spend the day in Milan or just fly home that day.

Posted by
2773 posts

Jill1349, good point about how long it takes to get into the Duomo in Milan. Here's a tip: buy your tickets at the Duomo Museum, just to the right of the Duomo (as you face it.) Lines there are either short or nonexistent. And if you have time, the Duomo Museum is well worth seeing. They've updated and enlarged, and now include information in English about the exhibits.

Posted by
815 posts

Jill 1349-

Did the taxi that took you to the train station also give you the option of stopping at Malpensa airport?

Posted by
6258 posts

"Did the taxi that took you to the train station also give you the option of stopping at Malpensa airport?"

Bob, in my experience, the tour members who were headed to the airport took taxis together and the ones that went in to Central Milan took different taxis together. None went both places as Malpensa is a diversion off the main highway.

Posted by
9 posts

Bob, Pam is correct. Your tour guide will collect information from the group regarding flight times, etc. and arrange the taxi based on whether you want to go to the airport (and the time) or to the train station in Milan. As mentioned it is closer to go to the airport then it is to go into Milan and the train station from Lake Orta. In fact our guide made the comment that it would actually be closer to get to the airport (Malpensa) from Lake Orta then getting there from the center of Milan.

Jill

Posted by
6258 posts

I'll just add one more thing about the taxi. There were 5 of us leaving last (my brother, SIL and I along with another couple) and we were sharing a taxi. After discussing we realized we were all going to the same hotel in Milan so we had the taxi driver drop us there instead of the station. Worked out great!

Posted by
815 posts

Thanks for the additional information.

Bob

Posted by
829 posts

I'm always in favor in finding a way to be in Paris. Added it to my Switzerland trip for May/June next year.

Posted by
815 posts

Update as of 12/7/18:

In September I booked round trip tickets on Delta - Boston to Paris using miles.

Today I booked an Air France flight from Paris to Venice later on our arrival day. We will be staying in Padua (probably at the tour hotel). While in Padua, we will take a day trip to Venice and possibly Verona.

After the tour, we are staying for one night in Milan, then flying Air France to Paris CDG. We will probably stay at the Paris airport for one night, since our flight home leaves fairly early the next day.

Posted by
6258 posts

Sounds great! I'm pretty sure there is a bus from the Venice airport direct to Padua for an easy transfer.

Posted by
2773 posts

Pam's right; there's a bus from the airport that goes directly to Padova. However, Rick's book said you can buy tickets on the bus; no, at least not last year when we were there. There's a ticket desk inside the airport, right by the bus stop. Get your ticket there.

The bus will drop you off at the Padova bus/train station. If you get a Padova Pass (which I recommend) you can pick it up there at the station. Among other benefits, the pass will let you ride public transportation for free. There's a tram that goes down to the San Antonio Church, a short walk from the tour hotel.

If you haven't chosen a hotel yet, may I recommend the Al Santo? It's right by the church, and an easy walk to the tour hotel. It's cheaper, and we found the staff more helpful. Not that there was anything wrong with the tour hotel...

Posted by
815 posts

Jane-

Thanks for the information on the hotel in Padua. i will check it out.