we want to go back to Italy and have done Venice, Rome, Florence, Pisa, and a brief drive through part of Tuscany. We’ve been to Naples and Capri. Where should we go? Why? Not wine-centric.
We really enjoyed Sicily including Messina, Taormina, Campania, and of course Mt. Etna. There are many small villages in the mountains that have some of the best small restaurants you will ever find. And of course, there is wine and spirits.
We are doing Amalfi this summer and trying to figure out if I can get to Castelmezzano. If I could move anywhere, it would be Bolzano.
Alan, I started a very similar thread last year and there were a TON of great recommendations. If only there were a search function on this board . . . .
Next up imo after that list of cities would be; Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino and Cinqua Terra. Also the lake district.
The Veneto is lovely if you like Palladian villas.
Sardinia is unlike the rest of Italy - it still shows it’s Carthage roots. While the Costa Smerelda is gorgeous (and super pricey), Cagliari is interesting, affordable and some of the best seafood ever.
Mmmm . . . not wine-centric? What other things have appealed to you in your previous travels to Italy and elsewhere? What makes for a good trip for you? What are some of your other interests? Might lead us to some suggestions for you.
Dolomites. Cortina, val gardena etc etc. There’s a reason it’s a world heritage site. Breathtaking scenery, incredible food (and wine!), great hiking/biking and lots more besides. Could easily combine with lake garda or como.
Anything in particular that would make the trip perfect for you? e.g.
- Historic or vibrant city vs. attractive coastal / rural scenery?
- warmer or cooler?
- Any activities that appeal e.g. walking, cycling, train journeys, opera or other events etc?
- Any airports that make a convenient entry/exit point for you?
- Somewhere comfortable with tourists, or do you seek well off the tourist trail / opportunity to speak the language
- Anywhere you have in mind that could be paired with another location to give an intriguing balance?
- Anything else that might turn a good holiday into a great one?
- North or South (it’s not at all a precise divide, but those that seek vibrant / exuberant locations might head south, whilst those seeking more well-to-do locations might head north. Don’t get too hung up on the perceived divide, but people can often gravitate to one or the other)
I have a very odd choice of book to turn to for inspiration in Italy. Fred Plotkin’s Italy for the gourmet traveler is ostensibly aimed at food highlights, but I think other books do that better / more comprehensively. However it’s his engaging writing style and his ability to give a fine overview of what appeals about a place/region that I appreciate. Flicking through the pages of the book has helped shape many a trip to Italy. So in addition to any suggestions here, I’d recommend getting hold of a copy of that book from library or bookshop.
Anyway, let us have whatever thoughts you have about what you’re looking for and hopefully we can give some tailored suggestions.
Lake Como. Amazing place. You won’t be disappointed.
Alba during the white truffle season Oct.- Dec. Stop in Turin on the way. Some excellent Egyptian artifacts.
The answer to this is the same answer I’d give you if the question where “Where should I go in Europe?” or “Where should I go on earth?”: the Amalfi Coast. Specifically Positano or Ravello. It’s a magical corner of the world and I can’t think of anywhere (save perhaps Japan) I’d rather return.
Beyond that, Como and Piedmont are strong options.
Are you still reading this?
Have we all wasted our time on this thread?
I am very happy to post suggestions for people wanting to have a really great Italian holiday, but as you’ve not posted on this thread since the original post, I get the impression you’ve just wasted our time. I hope that is not true.
I’m going to piggyback on this thread since some good folks are helping out. We are going for our first time Sept 6-16th. Right now this is the schedule. Interested in thoughts/comments and if we are biting off too much. I want some wine focus but it is not a wine centric trip. We want to see has much of the country as possible but still not be rushed and try and do too much. Thoughts on this itinerary:
We land in Florence the morning of the 6th(Saturday). We’re staying in Florence only until Sunday around noon. Take the train to Turn then car to Serralunga. We’re staying at Il Boscareto for 3 nights and 2 full days. I’m planning on 2 tastings the first day and 1 or 2 on the 2nd day. We have a good list of restaurants from the board and want to leave enough time to walk the area at each visit with lunch in between.
Wednesday morning we leave to meet friends on the coast in Santa Margherita. We’ll explore the coast and head down to Bibbona where we are staying 2 nights to taste in Bolgheri and explore the coast and surrounding towns.
Friday- Visit Montalcino for tasting and exploring on the way to Pienza. We are staying the final 3 nights here.
Saturday and Sunday- Montepulciano- we will probably taste on Saturday and leave Sunday open.
Monday afternoon- fly home from Florence
I have thought as an alternative to not go to Piedmont and instead stay in Florence until Monday then explore our way up to Santa Margherita ?? I do love Barolo though and have always wanted to visit. This will be the best chance though as our next trip will be to the Almafi coast. Appreciate all thoughts/comments
My view is that there is too much travel time and too little time to see what you’d want to see / take in the culture of where you are. That said I definitely lean towards Slow Travel mindset (and post on the Slow Europe travel forum).
Does Florence appeal? It does for huge numbers (though not everyone likes the tourist throng). It feels very light especially if you land with jet lag.
I’m assuming flights are set in stone, so I won’t suggest an open-jaw ticket combining Turin arrival and Florence exit. That would have made the Turin/Langhe option more natural, though I still would have suggested ignoring Turin (my favourite city) and driving straight to Serralunga to get over jet lag in a rural setting. Anyway let’s assume that can’t be changed, but whatever Turin does not work for you on this trip (and deserves much longer - you might unfairly hate it if it’s treated as little more than transit)
Is the meeting friends in Santa Margherita a definite? If it is it gives you better justification for Serralunga. Much as it’s a long drive on arrival (and an overnight recovery at a nice agriturismo might be needed), I’d consider driving straight to Serralunga, giving it an extra day to allow for jet lag, from there to Santa M. di L to meet the friends, then choose a single Tuscan base, being either a nice agriturismo in easy reach of Florence, or Montepulciano (it is good and most prefer it as an experience to Montalcino).
As an alternative 10 full days is a good time to get a feel for Tuscany and just Tuscany (we did similar with 14 a few years ago, taking in Montepulciano, Siena and Pisa). If there isn’t enough to appeal, then you’re not looking hard enough . I’d be looking for 2 locations that allow me to explore different aspects, but maybe tacking Florence as a finishing location for 2-3 days to make the final trip to the airport easier. However Montepulciano + Florence would be perfectly enjoyable.
I hope this helps. My over-arching suggestion is ‘less is more’.
Fred - I thought I was a “fast traveler/visitor” until I read your itinerary. Other than peering out car windows, I don’t see how you “see” Italy in that itinerary. And, while you say its not “wine focused”, it sure reads like you are hurrying past an amazing country and history to get to some tastings. I truly hope this doesn’t come off as harsh…but my take is your itinerary is “your itinerary” that meets what you are looking for (as it should)…so I find it hard to make suggestions from that “base”. But, its the internet, so I’ll try anyways
To begin, I was startled (and confused) to hear of anyone planning to arrive in Florence and depart the next morning. Its one of the most significant historical cities in the western world after-all. And I love Santa Margherita, but the “joy” of it is spending a few days in a hotel in the town and taking Ferries to Portofino and Cinqua Terra for the day and doing nothing but relaxing in the town another other day.
Italy is just so dense with, well, everything; history, art of all types, architecture, religious sites, food, wine, culture, landscapes…for 10 days (which usually means 8 nights given travel to/from Italy), I usually say something like “pick one of these combos”:
- Rome/Florence combo
- Venice, Lake District combo
- Florence/Santa Margherita (with a day in Cinqua Terra and a quick look at the tower in Pisa if that interests you as you go past on the way from Florence to SML)
- Piedmonte and the Lake District
- Florence and Tuscany
But, that’s not going to thrill everyone. Perhaps the wine tasting seeker foremost…
Loved your post Dave, and I particularly want to reinforce the idea of combos, be that two locations that allow for a compare and contrast, or just two very different experiences (Venice + Lakes). I must admit that if the flights are set in stone, then Florence & Tuscan countryside is a very sensible pairing.
Some combos we’ve done in the past:
Ravello & Lipari (Sicilia)
Ravello & Pogerola (a simple bus to Amalfi and back out again, but it was a good combo)
Ferrara & Puglia (an odd combo, but allowed us to try out the night train)
Ferrara & Forlì (the latter one of the few disappointments of lesser seen Italy, yet still we found a great restaurant and enjoyed an evening devoted to street music)
Various combos of Torino, Ghemme, Langhe & nearby countryside - quite a few times.
Bologna, Ferrara & Reggio nell’Emilia (3 different perspectives on Emilia Romagna)
Montepulciano, Siena & Pisa (as above but for Toscana)
Bologna, Mezzane di Sotto (Verona) & Lago Molveno (city, countryside and Mountains - a super combo)
Bologna, Trento and Lago Molveno (revisiting places we enjoyed, but adding Trento in as we’d enjoyed a day trip there)
I do spend a lot of time considering the travel time, trying to keep transfers to a minimum, or rather between 2-4 hours, as this tends to work well as chucking out time at the previous place + 3 hours tends to be about when we can check into the new place (though many will allow you to drop bags off if the room/apartment isn’t ready / leave bags for a couple of hours before heading off.