Amsterdam -> Germany -> Italy?

My partner and I are in the beginning stages of planning our honeymoon and the two places we want to visit are Amsterdam and Italy (TBD where exactly – potentially Como, Florence, Rome…).

We both love riesling, so we were considering trying to work in a stop in a German wine region, ideally MSR. Ideally we’d travel by train, but understand that may not be possible…

Has anyone done a similar itinerary? Are we crazy for trying to work in Germany, and should we just focus on Amsterdam/Italy? Appreciate any advice or thoughts.

It depends how long you have. If it’s 2 weeks, then adding Germany in does feel crazy to me. If it’s 3 weeks or more, then it becomes more viable.

Amsterdam is a very interesting city. I find it a thought-provoking city, especially in the centre. In recent visits we’ve chosen to stay away from the centre in the more leafy suburbs beyond the Museum quarter, and like the more relaxed (and local) feel of this area. We’ll head into the city for a specific destination e.g. a specific restaurant, market, shop(s) - especially the 9 streets shopping, but we less enjoy ambling around the centre. Transport is excellent, but tourists often struggle with the shared use by cars, pedestrians & trams.

One benefit of Amsterdam, is it will give many options for direct flights into Italy. I like the idea of Como as a counterpoint to the busy city that Amsterdam is, and why I’d be less keen on pairing Amsterdam and Rome. It’s then worth giving some thought about what order. Como first ought to help get over jet lag quicker, as you’re out in the fresh air, but conversely I’d like the idea that after the busy city, we’d have some chill time near a lake.

I’ll throw in a wild card - Bolzano/Bolzen. In Italy, but with German influence and language very strong. The local white wines should very much appeal to a fan of riesling. Might it give you Italy and Germany, but in a single location?

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Never done AMS - Germany but it can be done. (We’ve only done AMS to France/Brussels/London/etc)

Looks like AMS to Cologne or Frankfurt is ~2:30 - 4:00 train ride.

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The very best Italian riesling I’ve ever had was actually from Oltrepo area. But yeah, Alto Adige is the area for riesling in Italy, tho it doesn’t hold a candle to Mosel at least, undeniably, by a fascination point of view. They’ve been probably more focused on Pinot Noir and becoming like a more budget alternative to Burgundy, I can feel they’re tryng to replicate the cru system with Mazzon while they don’t seem in a hurry to go after Mosel riesling. I like Weissburgunder from there also.

For flights I think you can try either Verona, Orio al Serio or Milan. I’de be surprised to see direct flights from schipol to Bozen.

If you fly on MXP you could actually avoid putting your feey in Milan, just take a small train to the beautyful town of Gallarate, hop on the beautyful Geneve - Venice train @ 11:37 AM, ride comfortably to Verona and then switch for Munich. That’s my preferred way to reach the Alto Adige!

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Is it doable? I’d say yes. Obviously whether it is practical depends on how much total time you have available, how much time you want to spend in each place and what is the destination in Italy. For instance, Amsterdam to Rome (about as long a ride as you can get) would normally be via high speed trains that stop at the Frankfurt Airport. Getting to the Mosel is about an hour to 90 minute drive from the Frankfurt airport. Then back to the Frankfurt airport for the final train ride south into Italy.

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Yes, it’s doable but will shorten the time you have for AMS and Italy. My question would be, what do you hope to get out of a visit to Germany/MSR? If you want to see the vineyards/general scenery and meet with winemakers that is one thing, if you are simply looking to drink German Riesling there will be enough opportunity in AMS and Italy.

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Time of year and duration will help people give you better advice.

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When I planned my first trip to Italy, I showed it to someone who studied in Italy and became a fan of Italian culture. He looked at the places I planned to visit and crossed 2/3 of them out with the comment “Italy isn’t Disney. You need to spend time in the places you visit and learn how to hang out like the natives.” Depending on the season, I would just pick a couple places to visit. The Amalfi Coast is the most romantic place we have visited in iIaly. If you are going in the summer or early fall then the lake country or Piemonte would be good to visit. IMHO Torino is one of the most under rated cities and close to lakes or Piemonte.

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Superb advice from the student

Amalfi Coast was my first destination in Italy, back in 1990. It’s a decent first option, as knowing the language isn’t essential or even required, but making an effort to learn a few key words is appreciated (here and elsewhere)

Over the years I’ve very much gravitated towards the less touristy, and with that comes a greater benefit of learning more of the language. Again not essential, as people manage the world over with pointing, holding fingers up and other body language, but it very much helps.

Torino is probably my favourite ‘big’ city in the world. We’ve visited enough times that I now know a good number of street names and the shops that are on them, and the (easy to grasp) layout is very familiar. Back in 1995 it wasn’t at all touristed, and indeed a local gentleman who helped us with directions offered genuine surprise that tourists had come to his city “like me going to Coventry” he said. It’s definitely got a higher profile now, through Salone del Gusto, Winter Olympics and the shroud going back on display that year. Still not what you’d call touristy, and even a functional city like Bologna feels more touristy.

For hanging out with the natives, I’d recommend finding the small festivals and events, as these often attract many more locals / other Italians, than overseas tourists, and even with the latter, you’ll find them more clued up / understanding of the culture.

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Tbh when I first joined this board and saw all this trip ideas I was thinking “why aren’t these guys making plans like 1 week for Rome-Como Lake-Venice-Florence-Naples-Bernina Express like every other yankee I’ve ever seen asking suggestion for travelling in Italy?”

Really impressed!

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I’m actually baffled that you like Torino so much. Mind me, it has great areas like every other city, but you’re in a really small club!

Whilst different people like different things, maybe being in that small club is one of the appeals (though it’s clear that its popularity has risen over the last two decades).

What I like? It’s eclectic for sure:

  • A very good open air and covered daily market at Piazza della Repubblica. Not all produce is good, but there are enough good stalls to excite, be it for mushrooms, cheese, hazelnuts and when the seasonal fruit and veg is good, however…
  • Primizie di Osvaldo on via San Quintino, 48 appears a modest little fruit and veg shop, but the quality is exceptional, better than I’ve experienced anywhere else.
  • Enoteche. It’s always been good here, though I still mourn the closing of Antica enoteca del Borgo on the other side of the river. Aperitivo has always been a passion here, and at times it’s been so silly that we’ve eaten brilliantly on rather too many tasty morsels, that we’ve ended up skipping the evening meal. In the early days, Grandi Bottiglie was a joy when they had the little shop on via Natale Palli in the northern suburbs. They’ve become more successful and to me less interesting, but chatting with them over 2-3 glasses of Ghemme remains a fond memory.
  • Kelemata. I told you this was quirky. Their arome e spezie range of deodorants are the ones I prefer over anything I can get here. They have a few shops in other places, but Torino and Bologna have been mainstays
  • Museums. Not especially an appeal normally, but there are some good unusual ones here e.g. Pietro Micca counter-mining tunnels and Museo delle Montagne over the river
  • Transport. Its a remarkable network of routes, with trams, buses, and now a metro line (meh!) and it’s something of a puzzle to work your way around it, but it does a fine job, and is reasonably priced.
  • Chocolate. Very much a regional speciality, but Odilla on via Fratelli Carle is a clear favourite. It has a calm, well-to-do feel, yet also I’ve found them really welcoming, often enjoying trying new chocolates out on the strange straniero.
  • Coffee shops. There’s some real history here, but its the least ostentatious one that has always felt homely to us - Al Bicerin in Piazza della Consolata. Whether outside is cold, hot, wet or dry, it always feels comforting to enter.
  • Something new. Every visit, we seem to lose a favourite place, be it a superb restaurant on Corso San Maurizio, through the enoteca mentioned above, or Bait del Formagg on via Lagrange, or the reducing in size of a great alimentari near the river, who did the most wonderful crostate, or a small yet interesting wine shop on via Garibaldi. Yet each time something new excites us, from a recent vegetarian restaurant discovery on via San Quintino, to a wonderful cheese shop in the covered market, to a rather good bakery in a central location, to a wonderful erboristeria near Al Bicerin. In a way it’s something of a Slow Travel mindset, of enjoying really getting to know a city, and its ebbs and flows.
  • A few restaurants have become long time favourites. Not Michelin aspiring places, but places where we’ve eaten well and felt relaxed there e.g. Taverna dell’Oca, Vitel Etonné and Tre Galli (though in truth I preferred it when it was very much a wine bar that also did food). We still hope that Piazza del Mestieri will give us an experience like our first 2-3 visits there, as it’s a wonderful venture (training kids who have difficult upbringings / backgrounds). It’s been more miss than hit in recent years, but we still want them to succeed.
  • Surrounding area. It’s been a great choice for part of a wider trip, where we can still keep transfers to a minimum. Examples include (of course) the Langhe, but also Cuneo (even more quirky appeal :roll_eyes:), Ghemme (what on earth do you see in this Ian… it’s flat and tarmac covered!!! :astonished: :rofl:), plus Bubbio (Oh now come on!! it’s a pimple on the map :crazy_face: :rofl:) :wink: Throw in Novara, the area around Asti and Alba, Ivrea and Aosta, and we’ve have some wonderful experiences in the region. Tortona is on our horizon when we get back into travelling, possibly linked into a return to Ghemme.
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I like your passion Ian!

I’d argue that Novara and Ghemme are closer to Milan than Torino but that’s minor.

I love the area of Cuneo beyond langhe!

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Yes, Ghemme and Novara remarkably close to Milano Malpensa and with the autostrada (A26) running so close for Ghemme, the agriturismo we like (Il Cavenago) is somewhere I’ve suggested to people flying in/out of there, as a more charming alternative to an airport hotel. Decent without food, but like so many agriturismi, the meals here are a real joy, and even reduced me to giggles once - courtesy of the Basil Risotto, which perhaps shouldn’t work as a dish, but was joyous.

I live in Amsterdam and fully back the suggestion to venture outside of the busy and quite frankly less inspiring center south/south-east of the central station.

I recommend strolling around the streets and canals of Jordaan, pop by a cafe or restaurant. Can be very romantic and many who do venture out a bit love it a lot more than the busy center… Noordermarkt has a quite nice street market if you happen to be there on a Saturday.

If you feel comfortable with biking, then that’s one of the greatest ways to get around and explore the city (public transport works well too).

A long weekend should be enough for Amsterdam (it’s a quite small city but with all the happenings of a larger city). if you into museums, keep in mind that most are closed on Mondays out of the holiday season.

I would personally skip Germany and give it a go another time. Places in Italy might depend a bit on the season but I would rather see more places in Italy while you are there rather then squeezing in Germany.

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