Dates traveled: Early to mid-May 2019
Length of trip: 15 nights on the ground in Italy
Flights: San Francisco to Venice (change in Newark); Milan to San Francisco (change in Newark)
Transportation between Cities: Trains - Second Class Seats
Average Hotel Cost Per Night for 20 nights: ~$95 for single rooms.
Itinerary and Hotels:
- Venice (3 nights) Hotel Malibran
- Ravenna (2) Casa Masoli
- Padua (2) Hotel Giotto
- Bolzano (3) Kolpinghaus Bolzano
- Verona (2) Hotel Sanmicheli
- Milan (3) side trip to Varenna Hotel B&B Hotel Milano Central
Station, Holiday Inn Express at the airport
Mode of Travel: Solo trip by train.
Luggage: 22” Eagle Creek Tarmac (checked) and daypack as a carry-on.
Weather: Mostly cloudy to rainy, about five days out of fifteen that would qualify as mostly sunny. Rain was only heavy enough to significantly hamper enjoyment on a couple of days and one evening.
Background: I have visited Italy multiple times among many Europe trips. The goal was to get beyond the “biggies” to discover other corners of Italy in the northern part of the country. I was also trying to visit places that might be somewhat less overrun with other tourists (Venice obviously is an exception), especially since May is high season. And go places with fewer blockbuster sights, to just enjoy being in Italy.
A big inspiration for this was Rick’s Padua-Verona-Ravenna video. Every place I visited except Venice was new to me. By the way, I am male and in my mid-fifties. Full disclosure: I am not a candidate for a Rick Steves tour because I can occasionally be a grump when I encounter an adverse travel experience. You’re going to have some of those when you get off the couch though.
This itinerary was very worthwhile and overall lived up to my expectations. It was a good call to get off the usual beaten path a bit. The sights were not as great as Rome or Florence but these are nice cities to visit. It was totally manageable in terms of tourist crowds, despite crowding in Venice and Milan. The train system in this part of Italy is great and cheap. My pace was just a little too fast, with too many two-night stays.
The splendor of the country lives up to its billing and it's worth the occasional exasperation. This was an urban itinerary and it did get a bit exhausting toward the end. As much as ZTLs are bad for anyone renting a car, they certainly make city centers in Italy more enjoyable on foot. Limited traffic also made hotel rooms quieter, even though I was not staying within the ZTL.