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a VirtualTourist member


northern italy in two weeks


I will be travelling with my fiance for two weeks to Italy at the beginning of June 2013 and we would like to know other people's opinion about our potential trip.

We will be arriving and leaving from Rome by plane, and planning on travelling by train in Italy. Having already been to Rome and Venice, we would like to visit some new destinations and focus on sightseeing with fewer crowds and enjoying good food.

We'd like to spend a couple of days in Rome, then head over to Bologna for two days, Mandova for two days, then Verona (trying to catch an opera showing during the opera festival) for 2 days. From Verona, either Venice or Milan then the other, each for a couple of days.

Are we missing any interesting sights and/or places where there might be good food not to be missed?

We do not want to be rushed, so are trying to limit ourselves to only a few cities. We are wondering whether we can fit in a day at Cinque Terre as well, but it appears to be out of the way, and we are afraid of losing too much time in transit?

Thanks for your input, it is greatly appreciated!

11 Answers

answered by
Mary Smith from Leicester

Looks like a good plan, but you may perhaps find Verona rather crowded with visitors (especially as there's the opera festival on). I certainly found it to be so, even without any festival. Can I suggest Padova, which is a truly lovely town, as an alternative or additional option in that general area?

A daytrip to the CT from e.g. Verona is simply not feasible: you are looking at 5+ hours and more than one change of train. From Milan, you are still looking at at least 3.5 hours each way. But you might well consider stopping in the CT for a couple of days on your way back to Rome...maybe basing yourselves in La Spezia and using the cheap, frequent local trains to visit the CT villages (not all the hiking trail is open, even if that is what you wished to do).

You can check out train times, details and fares in English on the official Italian railway website (don't use is only a ticketing agency, does not list all departures and charges admin fees on tickets):

Data for your dates won't yet be uploaded but just check for the same day of the week next week. Neither times nor fares will change much, if at all, before June.

You could, for example, do Rome>Bologna>Milan>Padova/Verona>CT> Rome quite comfortably in two weeks.

Once you have decided on your itinerary it will be worth checking Trenitalia for the cheap advance fares which are on offer for the fastest trains (Freccia and IC) on some routes/dates/departures. These can be very cheap indeed, but are limited in availability and do tie you to a specific departure date and time.

Otherwise, just bu your tickets from the station on the day or travel or a day or so in advance if you prefer. Ticket machines have English language options and are easy to use. They accept cash and give change but will only take cards with chip & PIN.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Giessendam

Last summer I've been to Tuscany for a short round trip by train, visiting Bologna, Florence, Siena and Pisa. Honestly Bologna was the least interesting in my opinion and one day would be enough for some sightseeing. Florence is crowded, so probably not what you're looking for. Siena is very nice too. It's also touristic, but less than Florence and definitely worthwhile, but I don't know how easily you can reach it when coming from Rome by train.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Richardson

heh heh, in a way, this is difficult to want fewer crowds, but you still want to see things...well, the crowds are where there are things to see ;-)

However, fortunately, there are things to see all over Italy, so you can easily get away from the crowds if you have a sense of adventure. For example, in Bologna, you are on the Via Emila, the ancient Roman road that ran from Milan (I think) to Rimini. What else is on the Emilia? Well, Modena, Reggio nell'Emilia, Parma, Piacenza, and Cremona (just off the road), each an interesting place to visit for different reasons...but none of them are the tourist magnets that Bologna and Milan are.

Indeed, several years ago, we were in Parma in November, and we were practically the only tourists in town, from what I could see. And you want to eat well? Hey, this is the home of the best ham and second best cheese in Italy (OK, I prefer peccorino romano from Lazio ).

In the other direction, you can go to Ravenna, the capital of the Western Roman Empire in the 6th century, and the home to a large amount of Byzantine art, unlike anywhere else in Italy. A lovely place that's very flat and amenable to bicycles (which you may still be able to get for free at the tourist office - I'd have to check). Yes, there are tourists here, but not so many, and you have room to spread out.

Oh, and don't forget Ferrara and Padova and a bunch of other places nearby...since you eat well everywhere in Italy, it's easy to get away from the crowds with a little effort ;-)


answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

Hi - I'm a bit curious why you don't have Florence on this list as you don't appear to have been there yet?

IMHO, I would skip a return trip to Venice (which will be just as crowded) this time and substitute Florence as it's a remarkable city which should be seen at least once. :O)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Richardson

heh heh, if they want to avoid crowds, Florence is the #1 place to avoid...tons of people, and not much area to move around in ;-) Maybe the OP shjould try someplace like Chiusi (an ancient Etruscan city)...when we were there, the people in the museum were surprised that we spoke English...evidently, only Germans go there ;-)


answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sacramento

Well, it is the beginning of June so not July or August. Therefore, I must agree with the suggestion to visit Florence. Even there you can get away from crowds. We were nearly alone in the Boboli Gardens although the area around the Duomo was packed with people.

If you haven't seen Florence, you are missing a wonderful experience. It was our favorite city in Italy.

Good food can be had nearly everywhere.

If you're not familiar with Florence, type it into the Search Window above and see what VT members have written about it.

Enjoy your trip.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

Haha, Bill. I guess my point was that Venice certainly won't be any better for crowds so if they haven't seen Florence yet.... :O)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sydney

If you have not been to Florence, don't miss it. Yes, its crowded.........however, there are places close by that are less crowded. Areas to visit with less tourists. Its such an interesting city that it would be a pity to miss it.
If you are set on visiting Bologna, go also to Reggio Emelia (can get there by train from Bologna)- we visited Reggio Emelia, and it was fascinating.....and not a tourist in sight.
Then again- I love Venice so much that I would re-visit in a heartbeat.Even the crowds are bearable if you can explore and get lost in Venice.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Boston

I agree with the others and had the same question about Florence. You have to visit there if you haven't been yet--and the beginning of June shouldn't be too bad. Not to mention you're going to pass right through it when you're going from Rome up north. I would definitely stop in Florence.

If you want to talk about's all about Parma. Prosciutto, parmigiano die for!

Verona is beautiful, and while I'm not sure of the crowds, it's definitely worth checking out for a night or two.

I, in no way, would ever recommend a day trip to Cinque Terre--it's just not enough time to see the beautiful villages. There is hiking, beaching, boating, much to do--not to mention how quaint they are!

I would also skip a return trip to Venice--if you've already been, it's a little out of the way.

I highly recommend going to Ravenna. It's in Emilia-Romagna and is known for its absolutely breathtaking mosaics. It's a quaint little town with lots of shops and restaurants--it's also close to the Adriatic if you want to spend a day at the beach.

This is what I would do with my two weeks in Italy:
Florence (4 nights--day trips to Siena & Bologna)
Cinque Terre (2 nights)
Parma (2 nights)
Verona (2 nights)
Ravenna (2 nights)
Milan (2 nights, though I would consider dropping Milan all together--unless you want to see the Last Supper, in which case make your reservation ahead of time.)

To be honest--you're traveling to Italy during the early summer. You're going to get crowds. But not as many as in July or August. Take advantage of the two weeks you have there and see as many quality places as you can--regardless of whether it's crowded.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

That schedule looks good but the OP is flying in and out of Rome plus wishing to spend a couple of days there?

In that case I'd cut a day from Florence or maybe one of the smaller towns that can be seen in a day (suggestions, members?) and both from Milan. I actually enjoyed our short time in Milan more than I'd thought, and it has some very interesting churches and whatnot (we didn't see the Last Supper) but I'd probably only place it in this particular itinerary if flying in/out of there.

It is possible to scratch the surface of the 5 CT villages in a day/1 night if not wishing to do any hiking but I'd recommend two nights as well. All of them will be very busy in June, though. And I'd get hotel reservations booked ASAP if considering that area.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Perth

I like your suggestion, plenty of excellent destinations in Italy and train system excellent. Milan and Venice are excellent, I would finish in Venice and recommend you use Milan as a base for 5 or more days as it is central for all trains, visit Lake Como in an hour by train, or continue onto Swiss border etc .

We used Milan as a base last August after 3 days in Venice

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