We will be traveling to Italy again this summer and are looking to find some very quaint villages with a nice hotel to spend a night or two as we drive from Milano to Tuscany and the Luxury Hotel in Tuscany: Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa: Home then on to Bologna to stay at the Hotel in Bologna | AC Hotel Bologna . The route from Milano can either be through Genoa or Parma as we are open for ideas.
Any of you experienced Italy travel folks have thoughts where to stay on either of those routes to Genoa or Parma?
Thanks in advance for help, suggestions & comments.
Exciting stuff. I am not familiar with traveling the area between Milan, Genoa and Bologna, but if you have never visited Cinque Terra, I would absolutely recommend you take the Genoa route and visit it. Also, have you been to the medieval walled city of Lucca? It's a bit out of your way, but for sure worth a day trip if you can squeeze it in. I assume you've been to Pisa and visited it's matching cathedral, baptistry and (leaning) tower...
So wierd, I've been wrestling with this post, and thought it didn't like my pictures (wouldn't let me post). Now I realize that it is my internet links to Wikipedia (for Cinque Terra and Lucca). "Wiki" these two places and check them out.
Medieval wall surrounding Lucca
Message was edited by: pluto77
Okay, well we visited both Pisa and Lucca in one day trip from Rome Florence and were satisfied. Okay, well not totally satisfied.
In Pisa, we found the quaintest, cutest, off-the-beaten-path side street where we did lunch in a family owned restaurant (I think I can sort out the particulars if you're interested) and then found a neat pedestrian street where we ducked inside an espresso/chocolatier (or however you say it in Italian) place and then did the cathedral/baptistry/tower and were satisfied with Pisa.
We then moved on to Lucca, and we would've loved to have spent more time there, but I guess we felt the need to return to Florence for some reason. We should've stayed in Lucca until very late, because it's sooo lovely. Probably we were thinking that we would have wine with dinner and then we'd have the dilemna of drinking and driving, so opted to just head back to Florence when the sun started setting (and we may have had dinner reservations - can't remember; all of our dinner dining in Florence was excellent). We also lost a lot of time (about 2 hours) in Pisa due to a mishap, which stole time from Lucca. But I absolutely loved Lucca and am set on returning someday. I'll blog it and put up a photo album when I have more time.
Are you doing Bologna because of relatives or something? Because otherwise, my money would be on Tuscany: Greve in Chianti, San Gimignano, Siena, Montepulciano, and of course Lucca. Also Lake Bracciano, but that's getting closer to Rome, in which case you may as well do Orvieto. Also I've never been there, but Volterra, up not far from San Gimignano looks really neat. The truth is there is enough to experience to keep one returning many times over. It's hard to go wrong in Italy!
Huge thumbs up for Lucca. We absolutely loved that town. On my wife's birthday in 2011, the six of us dined at Osteria Baralla, just off the Piazza Anfiteatro. Osteria Baralla One of our best meals in Italy, and just alot of fun. Our hotel arranged our reservation. When we walked in, they opened a bottle of Prosecco and pours glasses for all of us. The food was fabulous, particularly the roasted wild boar. Their vino della casa, both rosso and bianca, were excellent.
Cafe di Simmo is a wonderful caffe/bakery and was Puccini's favorite.
Another great meal at Gli Orti di Via Elisa. http://www.ristorantegliorti.it/LENG/Z2/C9616-0/hhcm-Home.html
and Restorante Giglio, on the beautiful Piazza del Giglio. Sit outside if you can. Dusk to dark makes for a beautiful scene in this piazza. http://www.ristorantegiglio.com/templates/www.ristorantegiglio.com/static/
If you are heading to Cinque Terre, we dined here and have recommended it to a number of satisfied friends. It is in Monterossa, right near the beach. http://www.ristorante-belvedere.it/en/
Have driven from Milan to Genoa, (A9/E7) 87 Miles. Frankly, I am not much of "Fan" of Milan nor Genoa. The drive is pretty Ho-Hum, not much scenery, but it is Interstate and you can make good time.
If you are flying into Milan, I would instead drive North from the Milan Airport and stay a night around Lake Como! The Bellagio is a beautiful place anytime of the year!
Genoa to Pisa, 118 Miles, again Interstate. Nice road Other option, if you have time, have never been, or desire to go, go West 100 miles along the coast to Monte Carlo. The Marriott Cap d'Al is right on the water
Pisa to Florence, 51 Miles, never been to Pisa. My understanding it is a "One Stop" town to see the "Leaning Tower" and it's better to go by train. Day trip on train from somewhere else, is what you might be something to consider.
Milan to Bologna, 130 miles, never made this drive.
Get sensors for your car. That will help in "Tight" parking spots
GPS, (Make sure it's set in ENGLISH before leaving rental car location)
Take your own maps, they will be cheaper in the US.
Have the hotel park your car. The garages tend to be "Tiny"
Rent your car directly from the company you choose. It will save you vrs. getting the car thru your air carrier.
"IAHFLYR, please let me know if I can provide details on any of this. You are in for a wonderful holiday!
WOW, great info all, that's why I posted the question and Insiders came though with smashing success and ideas. Let me try and answer some of the questions.
pluto77, yep Bologna is for the ancestors and flying home from there however; I think we're pretty much deciding we'll just drive to the airport the night before and stay on at the airport hotel as there is much else to see other than Bologna. The Lucca idea is rapidly gaining in places we have to visit category after reading all of the posts here.
psudad, those are some wonderful links and certainly will be on our Lucca list, thank you so much, anyplace that has Prosecco ready for you is our kind of place. Between you and ssindc you guys are going to increase my weight and I'll have to buy new clothes over there.
ssindc, you seem to want me to eat my way around Italy, come to think of it, is there a better way other than to drink wine around Italy?
jerrycoin, we will be flying into MXP and driving to Bellagio, we love the lake and town so much that we have to return. I really like the idea of Monte Carlo, great tip and one I will check out today. As for the car, rent it from Avis at MXP, they are great and have always given us an upgrade, but I want to keep the smaller car just as long as it will go around 160 KPH. My smartphone map works great and I've already found the Renaissance Hotel we are staying at in Tuscany, even with directions so no worries there.....and Pisa, yes I think we must make the drive to see the tower and cathedrals. The Autostrada is fast and easy as you mention, it's the roads like we had along the Amalfi Coast that take the time to navigate otherwise adios'!!
And if you are in Bologna long enough for lunch or dinner, we had a fabulous lunch at Cucina tradizionale bolognese - Bologna - Ristorante Grassilli. It is in the historic part of town and was suggested by some locals. And if, by chance, they have the wild strawberries with ice cream and the balsamic syrup for dessert, get it. It was fabulous. Here are some pictures of the restaurant.
We absolutely love Italy. My wife and family are Italian and we have visited her family near Bologna several times. All of our time has been spent Rome and North - Assisi, Perugia, Siena, San Gimignano, Montepulchiano, Florence, Lake Trasimeno, Colle Val d'Elsa, Pisa, Lucca, Cinque Terra, Bologna, Montova, Modena, Ferrara, Padova, Venice, Sermioni (Lake Garda) and Milan. Love the hill towns, love the food and wine and people, history. Certainly love northern europe - Paris, Belgium, England/Scotland. Need to see more though. Looking at Ireland in 2015 and Paris again maybe in the fall or later next year.
Those pictures are just wonderful, thank you so much for posting them.
We also love Italy and my wife has Italian blood from the Bologna area as well, we could be family! They are Nanetti's, but it's been probably 100 years ago since some of them came to the U.S. We have enjoyed every trip to the homeland, the northern lakes, Belliago, Stresa, Venice even though our last time there we saw too many street vendors however; Prof has said they've cleaned that issue up some, and the last trip was the Amalfi Coast. We love the people, the food, wine and of the lovely landscape of the country.