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2022 Liguria, Piemonte, Lake Como

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
Northern Italy 2022, (September 3-14)



Let me start by saying thank you to members of this forum, very helpful information!



So, this trip was planned very last minute, started just 6 weeks out in mid July to be precise! When the stress of covid testing restrictions were removed our family of 3 scrambled to find a window of time to fit all of our schedules. We would have loved to tack on more days, but heck, we were traveling again!! First on the agenda book our flights, that gave us that good feeling of knowing we were actually going!



Lodging was next to check off, this took 2 weeks to figure out between busy schedules. Each of us had taken time to research airbnb's and hotels in Milan, Liguria, Piemonte and Lake Como. Because we were booking a month out our choices were fairly limited, we agreed on what would turn out to be 4 perfect airbnb's. When our family of 3 travels it can be tricky to find the right accommodations, hotels usually require 2 rooms and airbnb's usually win out because we enjoy being together in more spacious environments. Lastly, we reserved a car in Genova that we would return at Malpensa Airport. All systems were go at this point!



We departed from Dulles International Airport in Virginia around 11pm via Lufthansa through Munich. We were reminded once again of the presence of the virus when told masks must be worn during the 8 hour flight, but heck, we were traveling again!! No hiccups regarding flights or luggage, we were bused out to our connecting flight and actually saw our bags being loaded, great feeling! We did make a rookie mistake picking seats on the first leg, seats against the bulk head reclined about half the distance of "proper seats" but we had a large open area to stand and stretch periodically, thus last minute booking limitations...one last time...HECK, WE WERE TRAVELING AGAIN!!



I asked many questions on this forum about various places, activity ideas, and I think I said everything is subject to change of course... we certainly did modify our activity wish lists once our boots were on the ground!



From Malpensa Airport we took the train to the Milano Cadorna station. Fyi, we exchanged dollar/euro at our local AAA office before leaving Virginia, as well as getting issued International Drivers licenses. Our credit cards only had one issue on the very last day, we always take plenty of cash to avoid such credit card issues. It's been 4 years and we did require a little help at the train station choosing the correct train, we were a well oiled machine the rest of the trip! From the station we leisurely walked about 15 minutes to our airbnb which was between the station and the Cathedral. We carried our small bags up 3 flights to our comfortable 2 bedroom overnight stay. It was warm and we were fortunate to have a/c to sleep comfortably. We freshened up and had drinks and a nice dinner close by in a quiet alley at Rosso Brero. Early to bed to be ready for Santa Margherita Ligure the next day. How about some pics of our short stay in Milano before proceeding to the coast....
 

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Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Glad that you gave yourselves the opportunity to modify the activity wish lists when in situ.

Whilst we'll have a few things set in stone, e.g. transfer days & transport, plus any winery visits, pretty much everything else is an option, even if it's a 'that day only' event. It helps keep a balance between our preferences (me very active & excited, my partner wanting relaxation) and ensures we do things only because we *want* to do them.
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
Glad that you gave yourselves the opportunity to modify the activity wish lists when in situ.

Whilst we'll have a few things set in stone, e.g. transfer days & transport, plus any winery visits, pretty much everything else is an option, even if it's a 'that day only' event. It helps keep a balance between our preferences (me very active & excited, my partner wanting relaxation) and ensures we do things only because we *want* to do them.
This will come up in a future report, but there are times when we say "we are here, we should really do this", I have to ask myself why? is it because everybody else seems to say it's a must do? We have a friend who thinks we made a bad choice not seeing the statue of David on 2 visits to Florence, bad choice perhaps, but we tend not to like lines and crowded spaces to check the box off. To each their own really. We are very active during our travels, but like your partner we remind ourselves to "relax" a little. This trip we had a great mix of "must sees/do's" and relaxation...stay tuned!
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
Ian, we are big fans of the late Anthony Bourdain, sadly missed. He has great quotes such as this...

"I'm a big believer in winging it. I'm a big believer that you're never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I'm always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary."
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
I think my philosophy is to prep to a (self-confessed) stupidly large degree, so we can wing it with confidence when we're there! :D i.e. the prep gives us some peace of mind and pre-awareness of the location / what's available, but the decision is (almost) always made 'on the ground'.

I must admit I too rail against people saying "you must see / do". Do they know what we like / enjoy, or even think to ask, before instructing us? We might have our own personal (and typically very small) list of things that we really would like to experience in that location. It might be a cable car ride up a mountain, getting to a specialist food market, visiting a local festival, exploring a hidden canal network, or any *number of things that won't appear in any top10 lists for Italy.


* One very quirky highlight, was arranging to visit the studio of a cartoonist based in Trento (Fabio Vettori). His cartoons feature ants (formiche) doing various activities (see below for an example). We'd liked the design he did for the Giro d'Italia bike race, and arranged to meet him at his studio whilst we were in the city. He appreciated these strange foreigners taking an interest in his work, and we were thrilled to meet him. Whilst we were there and chatting, he did some scribbling on his pad, and then presented us a sketch with us as ants, doing the things we enjoyed in the region. That sketch is framed and on the wall, a memory of a visit that was a real joy. We left feeling very special indeed.


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joe

500+ Posts
* One very quirky highlight, was arranging to visit the studio of a cartoonist based in Trento (Fabio Vettori). His cartoons feature ants (formiche) doing various activities
Wow, what a great story Ian. How typical of many Italians to go out of their way to assist an interested tourist, and perhaps anyone, really.
I just had to check out the guy's website - very impressive.
And Beerman - I have to agree with you completely about your travel philosophy : "to each his own".
 
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BEERMAN

10+ Posts
Northern Italy 2022, (September 3-14)

***Trying a new pic format..lets see how it goes....

We went to bed around 11pm and set our alarms for 7:30 am. I usually survive on 5-6 hours of sleep, but I slept a solid 7.5 hours this night! Our check out was at 10am and check-in wasn't until 3pm in Santa Margherita Ligure, so we spent a couple hours walking around Milano. I put some of those pics in the last post, but boy did it feel wonderful to wake up in Italy!

Fyi, we did keep one Verizon cell phone on the entire trip costing $10 per day, money well spent in the end. We checked train schedules during breakfast and realized our options were thin and departure times one hour apart, most trains had multiple stops taking 4-1/2 hours! With a little patience and research our daughter found a train leaving at noon that was DIRECT, 2 hours 4 minutes to Santa Margherita-Portofino. I believe she used the Omio app, the site said 4 ticket remaining, we purchased immediately! I think we paid around $70 for 3 tickets, bargain if you ask me! We didn't unpack much, so it was easy to get ready to walk to Milano Centrale. Knowing we had 2 hours before the train it allowed for a relaxing walk to the station. Thank you daughter!


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The train ride was pleasant with only one disappointment, there wasn't a beverage car, I was just happy to be on this non-stop train! Masks were mandatory on this train, but most people seemed to disregard policy, letting the mask hang precariously from one ear or perhaps just warming ones chin. Our airbnb greeter kindly asked that we send them a text when we were 30 minutes out, we did. 2 hours and 10 minutes later we exited the station greeted with the most amazing sight, the Mediterranean/Ligurian Sea!!! With the wheels of our luggage bouncing along the well worn cobble stones we joyfully worked our way down to city center, absolutely beautiful.


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We chose an airbnb in the center of town. I read that our location could be noisy, it was, lots of scooters racing around, there were. But once we were in our airbnb it was surprisingly quiet especially at night, great windows and air conditioning. We stayed just a few meters from the ferry dock, perfect central location for us.. 2 bedroom, 1 bath, well equipped kitchen, large private yard with stone walls and fruit trees, and from the front of the apartment a view to die for. The host left us with an amazing amount of fruit, crackers and beverages, the unit was very well equipped with coffee, tea, condiments of all kinds.

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After unpacking for our 3 night stay we walked to a charming side street to grab a late lunch, basically just a really good panini sandwich! Sitting outside at a picturesque cafe on cobblestone is perhaps my favorite thing in the world. To be honest we really didn't need the panini with the generous snacks these places provide.

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With our bellies full we walked around the town, venturing beyond the marina loaded with amazing boats and yachts. Found a COOP close by and grabbed a few provisions. We wanted a drink and decided to try a small wine bar, Bar il Vernissage. It sat conveniently next to our apartment, this would be our regular go to spot, friendly staff and great drinks and service. They had a few tables with excellent views, but they also put large pillows along the ancient walkway giving it a little "bohemian" feel, awesome.

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Around 9pm we were looking for a restaurant and found a table at Da Michele. It was in a little square off the main drag. Just enough room in the square for maybe 3 restaurants to be nicely separated. We enjoyed gnocchi, pasta, prawns and filet with mushroom wine sauce, wine of coursel. After dinner we poked around the corner and found the wine bar closed at midnight, good thing I was exhausted. Off to bed to be rested for our first hike of the trip....ciao!

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Colo

500+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
So beautiful! Your shots and narrative makes one feel like they are part of the trip! The food looks amazing!
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
So beautiful! Your shots and narrative makes one feel like they are part of the trip! The food looks amazing!
Thanks Colo, you know me... I wanted to add more pics! getting ready for a party and really wanted to get the post out. Next post will have more!
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Wonderful colours in the photos, and weird as it might sound, it's lovely to see an Italian train station again (both inside and outside).

That's definitely a superb selection of nibbles to go with the drinks - definitely more like a light lunch.
I'm also drawn to the fruttivendolo, with zucchini + their flowers, plus the grapes hanging up. Seasonal produce is a delight.
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
My area of the US has pretty good farmers markets "occasionally" but wouldn't it be nice to have this store just steps from your home?!
 

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joe

500+ Posts
My area of the US has pretty good farmers markets "occasionally" but wouldn't it be nice to have this store just steps from your home?!
Couldn't agree with you more - Italian produce is simply divine, anywhere you go. Whereas many countries have invested in agricultural research that is directed towards improving a crop for farmers' benefit (higher yield, longer shelf-life, disease-resistant), it seems that in Italy nothing like this can happen without ensuring that the product also stays very tasteful. It looks like no one will grow or buy something that is not flavorful.
Sure, in the bigger supermarkets you will see packaged produce that looks more plasticky and unblemished - but any small grocer or any market will keep mainly the delicious stuff, and of course with an emphasis on what is seasonal.
If I had a store like this near me, seriously, it would destroy 40% of the reasons we go to Italy.
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
FWIW we have encountered some uninspiring produce on Italian markets (apples can certainly be rather hit and miss), but agree the general standard is pretty high. I think it's helped by having a seasonal mindset, delivering ripe seasonal produce, because the customers recognise that that delivers flavour. Conversely our (UK) demand for the same fruit, all year round, means we get stuff that's picked unripe, shipped to a treatment warehouse to artificially gain the colour to look 'ripe' and then shipped to us in plastic so our fruit looks perfect, yet tastes of.... nothing much really.

If I could live near Le Primizie di Osvaldo on Via San Quintino in Torino, I would be very happy indeed.
 
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BEERMAN

10+ Posts
Really nice pics. The colors are intense, Are you increasing the color saturation?
Thanks and yes I tweak some pics if I feel it needs it. I do it quickly for online posts, for instance the one of my daughter holding out a glass of wine is a good pic for the post. but needed the highlights brought down to get the sky to cooperate and I know I upped the color to get a little blue. I need to remember to take my time because I prefer the pics to look correct and not over worked.
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
Thanks and yes I tweak some pics if I feel it needs it. I do it quickly for online posts, for instance the one of my daughter holding out a glass of wine is a good pic for the post. but needed the highlights brought down to get the sky to cooperate and I know I upped the color to get a little blue. I need to remember to take my time because I prefer the pics to look correct and not over worked.
I’m away working in the woods, return home tomorrow to my computer, but here’s a preview of next post….
 

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