Northern Italy

Looking for ideas for Summer 2020 Family holiday. Never been too Italy. Right now my geography and general knowledge of the region is very basic. So where to go and what to do!

Northern Italy, Mountains, Summer skiing(maybe). Villa/chalet with pool! Wine. foo.d.

Ideas, thoughts and comments graciously received.

SKL
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I’ve spent a bit of time there importing cars with my cousin and I love the place. I was also in Venetto last year testing boots and I’d say it’s my favourite part of the country.

Venice is totally mental and probably best avoided, it’s just totally overrun, shoulder to shoulder people everywhere.

Get yourself up into the mountains around Monte Grappa, see the WW1 battlefields etc. This region of Italy is where Prosecco comes from so be prepared for lots of that. I mean the good stuff, not the cheap lady petrol we get over here.

The lakes are obviously a must.

Some pics from my boot trip here:

https://www.arrse.co.uk/community/threads/new-aku-pilgrim-issue-boots-italy-factory-visit-and-product-test.277522/
 
Looking for ideas for Summer 2020 Family holiday. Never been too Italy. Right now my geography and general knowledge of the region is very basic. So where to go and what to do!

Northern Italy, Mountains, Summer skiing(maybe). Villa/chalet with pool! Wine. foo.d.

Ideas, thoughts and comments graciously received.

SKL
College of mine has just got back from a week in Varenna on the East side of Lake Como and said it was excellent. The whole region is well suited for a bit of a wine-cation I'm told. Fly into Milan and it's a short but scenic drive North. Quite affordable too he said.
 
An Italian friend and his wife run an agriturismo (upmarket B&B with dinner and wine from their own vineyard) between Torino and Genova. I could get more details if you like. Otherwise look for the agriturismi in whichever area you think to go to.
If you like opera go to a performance at the Verona amphitheatre: an experience not to be missed.
Venice is a complete zoo in the summer : too many tourists and too many euros required.
For the mountains, try Cortina
d’Ampezzo.
 
Sorrento is ace but is in the South and very expensive. Amalfi coast is nice, but Italian drivers are shite and every car I saw was battered to fcuk - even the new expensive German ones. They honestly dont seem to give a shit.

I thought Lake Garda was shite - everyone bangs on about it. Milan is nice but you will do it in two days. Lots or armed police and Italian squaddies about because of the risk of erm none Italian Catholic terrorists - a relatively new phenomena.

Pompeii is simply stunning and do it before you die. Make sure you get a guide. Some interesting facts:

They had one way streets - you could tell the flow of traffic by the direction the road name sign was pointing in.

Fast food was invented in Roman Italy - the stores has pull-across shutters and they used boiling water in jars to keep pre-cooked food hot. Loads of fast food shops in ancient Pompeii. Staggering but true.

Rome is expensive but worth a poke around. Food is pricey. Colosseum is amazing but stacks of dodgy people round dressed as Roman soldiers looking to rip you off - its a bit cheesy.

Italian food is ace.

Lots of fit women about as well
 

Wightsparker

War Hero
Daughter-in-law comes from Bergamo, roughly NE of Milan. Beautiful city, not too touristy (yet). The old city is on a volcanic plug and surrounded by massive walls built by the Venetians. Driving up from the new city is problematical because of lack of parking space in the narrow ancient streets, but there's a funicular railway which makes it easy. Bergamo (pronounced "Burger-mo" rather than what the English assume is "Berg-Arm-Oh") is sited just where the flat bit of Italy joins the hilly northern bit with mountains. We worth a visit, and a good base for exploring the north.
 
In the north of Italy I liked La Valle d'Aoste / Val d'Aosta. Two names as the locals speak French and the rest speak Italian (but most also speak English) It is close to Switzerland and France. We stayed in Bruill-Cervinia where there ia a ski area. We went in March and stayed at the Hotel Chalet Valdotain. Not at the ski lifts bit the hotel has a shuttle and it is a short trip. We stayed in one of the less expensive rooms, not roomy but quite comfortable. Food at the hotel was good, breakfast was a nice buffet, dinner excellent.
Lift tickets are cheap as is ski/boot rental (at least by US standards) They apparently shared lift use with the other side of the mountain but you need to carry your passport when skiing as the top of the lifts are on the Swiss border. My son skied down the other side of the mountain to Zermatt and rode a lift back up on the same ticket. (not sure if this is still the case).
The mountain is called Monte Cervino in Italy and Materhorn in Switzerland.
It is a very pretty area to visit. Languages vary by area. The Bruill Cervinia area's valley runs down to the Aosta river and natives speak French and Italian, the next valley east the natives speak Walser German and Italian.
I was there in March but was told ski season runs to July and August.

PS - Turin is a nice city to visit
 
Awesome stuff thank you kindly. I left out the part of "Avoiding tourists". Im not too kind towards mass tourism. Ruins it for the locals, despite what the economic figures say. I say this because, a big fcuk off cruise ship mooring up in the fjords is just a cnuting eyesore. Does rock all for the economy and just sends clouds of shit into the atmosphere.

SK
 

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
I've been to Italy a surprising number of times, considering how much I despise the place.

Lake Garda was stinking and dirty all over and the water was rank.
Rome was horrendous and just a tourist death trap.
Venice needs to just sink and be done with.
Skiing is good but prices are high and I found it quite Russian heavy.
Public transport is old, dated and unreliable.
The attitude of the people, I've always found, is quite stand-offish and rude.

I did enjoy one place I stayed, which I cannot recall where now but north of Garda near the mountains and it was a guesthouse dug into the side of a hill, so the bathroom for example was essentially a cave and the bath was cut into the rock.

Amazing, but I have sworn a blood oath I'll never, ever go back again.

Austria every time for me!
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I've been to Italy a surprising number of times, considering how much I despise the place.

Lake Garda was stinking and dirty all over and the water was rank.
Rome was horrendous and just a tourist death trap.
Venice needs to just sink and be done with.
Skiing is good but prices are high and I found it quite Russian heavy.
Public transport is old, dated and unreliable.
The attitude of the people, I've always found, is quite stand-offish and rude.

I did enjoy one place I stayed, which I cannot recall where now but north of Garda near the mountains and it was a guesthouse dug into the side of a hill, so the bathroom for example was essentially a cave and the bath was cut into the rock.

Amazing, but I have sworn a blood oath I'll never, ever go back again.

Austria every time for me!
Hate to say it, but if everywhere is shit and everyone hates you, then perhaps it isn't them...perhaps you are that Brit tourist. Simply don't recognise the description of Garda (though Como or Lugana are better). Rome and Venice are crowded, yes, but so is London or most big cities - Rome is awesome, depending on what you like in a city. If you think skiiing is expensive then you clearly haven't been to Switzerland or France recently: Italy is a lot cheaper than both. Public transport is as dated as in the UK, a whole lot more reliable (buses may vary), and again about 1/4 of the price of UK equivalents.

@SKJOLD I lived in Lombardy for a couple of years, northern Italy is amazing and as above I'd much rather live there than 99% of the UK. I second the recommendations for the Torino / Piedmonte area and agriturismi around there, and the Aosta valley. Thing to note about Aosta is that it's mostly a ski area though, although you can do some big hikes / mountain biking etc in summer using the ski lifts as entry/exit.

I'd strongly recommend going to Lake Como. Simply put its one of those rare places where anyone who goes there immediately starts planning how to go back at the end (and actually go back). I'd recommend somewhere in the Bellagio area in the centre of the lake because a) it's great, and b) you can access the entire lake by ferry from there. Bellagio is where Italians go when they want to visit northern Italy. Lake Como in general is amazing because it's basically a closed geographic system with 2,000m mountains, forest, general northern italian villages, and lakeside resorts, all within about 30 minutes drive. So you can do a whole lot of different things (trekking, biking, watersports, speedboating, drinking, eating) in the same day from the same pad, or different parts of the family can do different things. Oh, and you've seen it before: watch Casino Royale. The place where Bond recuperates after having his balls tickled, and the villa where he gets Mr. White, both of those are on Lake Como. You can actually rent holiday apartments in the villa for about £100 p.n.p.p (it's called Villa la Gaeta).

Best tips:

AirBnB is big business in the area, because a lot of Italians have holiday homes there that otherwise stand unused and are keen to make something of it, the best deals for accomodation are to be found on there. Hotels are super expensive, normal BnBs are mid-range.

If you can, you want to go in these specific months: May, June, September. Avoid July / August as the prices everywhere go up substantially. April / October and the weather is colder. May is good, but the weather is unpredictable. September is the new choice for the wise, it gives the best combination of good weather and minimal tourists.

Flights: Fly in to Milan Malpensa from Easyjet (lots of flights from around the UK) - it's the easiest access to the region and it's also the main car rental hub so you'll be able to get the best deal. You can usually get about £120-200 return per person.

Cars: get a rental, public transport will just suck up your holiday time. Avoid going over a public holiday, or the car rental prices will be soar and be pegged to that one day (e.g. if you go over Easter, prices for Easter weekend will suddenly be EUR60 per day on the Friday-Sunday, but the rental companies charge you that for the entire week). In the months I mention above you should be able to get a compact for about EUR10 per day. If you fly into Malpensa, you can take advantage of the fact it's a big rental hub with surpluses: so the best time to book for cheapest prices is between 5-3 weeks before you travel (if this sounds too much of a risk, book a car with free cancellation earlier, and then check 5-3 weeks before...it is usually about 2/3 the price. Cancel old one and reserve new).
 

goodoldboy

MIA
Book Reviewer
I like just about every place in Italy but enjoyed Lake Maggiori (sp?) particularly. Stayed in Stresa which is about 30 mins from Milan on a clean and fast train which cost just a few Euros. Naples is a stinking hellhole but Italy is all about horses for courses as there's something for everyone. I would visit Italy again in a heartbeat...
 
Sorrento is ace but is in the South and very expensive. Amalfi coast is nice, but Italian drivers are shite and every car I saw was battered to fcuk - even the new expensive German ones. They honestly dont seem to give a shit.

I thought Lake Garda was shite - everyone bangs on about it. Milan is nice but you will do it in two days. Lots or armed police and Italian squaddies about because of the risk of erm none Italian Catholic terrorists - a relatively new phenomena.

Pompeii is simply stunning and do it before you die. Make sure you get a guide. Some interesting facts:

They had one way streets - you could tell the flow of traffic by the direction the road name sign was pointing in.

Fast food was invented in Roman Italy - the stores has pull-across shutters and they used boiling water in jars to keep pre-cooked food hot. Loads of fast food shops in ancient Pompeii. Staggering but true.

Rome is expensive but worth a poke around. Food is pricey. Colosseum is amazing but stacks of dodgy people round dressed as Roman soldiers looking to rip you off - its a bit cheesy.

Italian food is ace.

Lots of fit women about as well
Northern Italy; you must have been an officer, 'cos you obviously can't read a map!
 
Started in Garmisch- Partenkirchen in Bavaria and drove down through the Alps to Bologna which I can highly recommend. Stunning medieval town and still seems like a bit of a hidden jewel. We then went across to Verona which again is beautiful and has a colleseum but is a bit more touristy. Stopped at Lake Garda which I found to be stunning, not sure where the previous poster had been but it was like heaven to us. We finished in Milan which I didn't like, we found it unfriendly and dirty.
 
Northern Italy; you must have been an officer, 'cos you obviously can't read a map!
I'm on Australia at the minute so everything appears upside down.

I did mention Lake Garda and Milan in my defence!
 
Just spent my lunch break inputing the above given place names onto Google maps. Checkws them out via street view. :-D

SK
 
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Italy - love it... :)
 
I've lived in the north of Italy for the past 18 years, in Milan, Verona and Vicenza.
Lake Garda is beautiful, but very crowded in July and August.
Venice is definitely worth a visit, but once again avoiding July and August and absolutely avoiding weekends.
One of the main setbacks of the north is the humidity, added to the heat it makes life uncomfortable.
However, still technically in the northern half of Italy, I'd recommend Tuscany - in particular Siena and Lucca.
Just north of Lucca, an hour's drive, there are wonderful walled villages with castles, such as Montecarlo and Barga. The food and wine are wonderful. Avoid Pisa and Florence, but particularly Pisa.
The sea in Tuscany is clean. The sea on the Adriatic side (Veneto) is not very clean.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
We finished in Milan which I didn't like, we found it unfriendly and dirty.
Agreed, you can safely avoid Milan. It seems to only get publicity because fashionistas babble enthusiastically about it. But then if you look at most of the things fashionistas babble enthusiastically about (stick thin women with a face like a set of knives; clothes you wouldn't wear even if in the world finals of Twat of the Year; all the worst colours imaginable; insanely expensive snake oil fads like sticking stone eggs up your jacksie) they are all either mad, morons or desperately suggestible.

Milan is basically an industrial city like Detroit or Chigaco with a nicer central bit for rich people. It's pretty crowded, traffic is bad, there's not much to see, and nothing much to do that you can't do in any other city elsewhere.

@SKJOLD What does your family like to do on holiday?
 
Pompeii is simply stunning
I thought that before I went to Heracleum, then I thought Pompeii was quite shit by comparison.
 
The only place I've been in the North of Italy was Arenzano, it was a nice cheap(ish) town.

If you have the time and fitness this is worth a go

IML Walking

You can either hardcore it up a ******* great big mountain or stroll along the beach stopping for ice and beer when you feel like it.

Food and booze was fairly cheap, especially in little cafe/bars.

For some weird reason you wont find many khazis with bogs seats. Its seems to be an Italian thing.






If any of the Mafia give you any lip, just say you are mates with Don Bugsy and they will back off.
 

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