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Northern Italy Alba

jan

100+ Posts

This place is a great find. Easy walking to everywhere in Alba. Has a parking place included. Love the keyless entry. Comfortable bed; decent little kitchen; tiny balcony; all systems work very well. The only negative is the shower--like many in Italy it gets hot and cold unpredicably. Really a great find.
 

Mark

100+ Posts
So, I am dredging this thread back up from 2020.
We had the entire trip booked just Milan (4 nights) and Piemonte (6 nights) staying in Alba.
Cancelled the trip.
We are both now retired and have added to the itinerary.
we would depart Philly Wednesday 9/13 and return Thursday 10/5
Flying to MXP from PHL on American is a stop in Madrid and overall, 13 hours.
So thinking of flying into Malpensa, then here is our Itinerary for the rest of the trip.
Milan 4 nights (again, we have friends who are native Milanese to see)
Lakes 3 nights
Piemonte 5 nights
Cinque Terre 4 nights
Train to Venice from La Spezia
Venice 5 nights
Fly home from Marco Polo non-stop 9 hours.

Not quite the slow trip, but my wife wants to return to Venice and has her heart set on the Cinque Terre.
Any observations or suggestions are appreciated.
Mark
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Hi Mark
Flying into Milano and meeting up with friends as a first leg makes huge sense. From there to Lake Como (or perhaps Maggiore) gives a nice change of pace. Will you have a car, as from here it gets a little more restrictive with public transport, but far from impossible?

Piemonte is a big region (and one we love). What sort of experience were you looking for:
- Rural relaxation (e.g. any number of places from in the foothills of the Alps, to the rolling hills of Langhe, to something a little under the radar like Castino, Bubbio, Loazzolo, etc.
- Engaging city with super public transport (Torino is a favourite city of ours)
- Exploring a wine region be it Barolo & Barbaresco, or Monferrato, Gattinara/Ghemme, Roero etc.
- A historic town like Alba
- A quirkier town like Cuneo
- Something else?

Cinque Terre for 4 nights feels reasonable, and again a different perspective

La Spezia to Venice is the one leg that feels uncomfortable, as all but one (a slower afternoon) option have 3 changes of train, as you'll have a local train from the village you're staying in as well. That many changes with heavy luggage can be a grind. Ideally keeping each train journey to one change max. would be my aim when planning.

As an alternative (which looks like backtracking, but might be better), there is a direct train from Como San Giovanni to Genova at 1.10pm (and from there the coastal train to CT)
327/12411
13:10


5h 23min

18:33
Como S. Giovanni
Riomaggiore

Then if you headed back up to Torino (if that was what appealed) then there are direct trains from La Spezia to Torino.

Finally Torino to Venezia is fast, direct and comfortable

Thus that revised itinerary would have CT jumping ahead of Piemonte in the order.

Maybe worth surfing around on Trenitalia.com to find options that work for you.

________________

Beyond that, it might be worth investigating Pisa or Genova as the entry airport, so the trip becomes CT -> Piemonte -> Lake Como -> Milano -> Venezia, as this might give you slightly better logistics
 

Mark

100+ Posts
Thanks Ian, Much to consider. My wife wants non-stop flights. American does not fly non-stop to MXP when we are going. So could be in and out of Venice and training eventually to Milan and then back again. Or into Rome and training to Milan and then fly out of Venice.
We have flown in and out of Rome twice and once through Venice and really did not have issues coming and going.

Once we are done with Venice and Milan we would have a car at least for the lakes and Piedmont.
Some places in CT have parking but many do not so, need to figure out where to drop off the car with the easiest train into CT. Checked Sixt and their nearest is either Genoa or Pisa. If we keep the car it makes sense to drive to Torino to train to Venice.

As far as our interests they are wine, food, art architecture, history and chilling.
Piedmont is a special focus for me. I have been in the wine business in some form for 30 years as an educator, winery weekend warrior and retailer.
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Hi Mark
That makes sense, as transfers on planes are much worse than transfer on trains

As you'll have a car, it does open up the option of a road trip, and for this agriturismo.it can be ideal, as they're usually very nice farmstays in lovely countryside. Not 'slow' but it can be a nice way to amble down from the lakes via Piemonte region, ending up at CT.

There may be options for parking the car, but for visiting CT, it's a waste having it sat there when you'll be traversing the villages on foot, by boat or train.

Toying with re-ordering...
If starting in Milano meeting your friends, you could afterwards get the fast train from Milano Centrale to Genova, then the coastal train to CT.

Then look to hire a car in La Spezia, Levanto, or anywhere on that direct train line (including Genova). Drive up through Piemonte - either to a single base or use the road trip idea. Keep the car for the lakes to really open them up, dropping it off somewhere convenient to get to Milano Centrale for the fast trains to Venezia. It's doubling back, but might flow better as it keeps the driving legs together.

Given the interest in wine, I think the Langhe does shout out as long as you've got a keen interest in Nebbiolo. We've enjoyed many stays there and a car is near essential. We've stayed in Treiso, Corneliano d'Alba, Santa Vittoria d'alba (especially recommended - val di spinso, which has spacious apartments and a pool in lovely grounds), Serralunga d'Alba, Monforte d'Alba and between Barolo and La Morra. The walking here is lovely. We've also stayed in Ghemme, and on the outskirts of Asti as well if they appeal. The food is wonderful and I'll especially put in a good word for little Treiso, with all 4 places to eat very good in their own way. Conversely I feel Barolo (and to a lesser degree Barbaresco) are showing signs of tourism taking away some of the charm. The other villages retaining it much better.

The walking is also excellent there, and shared inheritances / resultant shared ownership means almost every vineyard retains open access, not just for the vineyard owners, but also us mere individuals. The paths are good and maintained. That can be a very special experience.
 
Last edited:

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
p.s. This recco might not work for a stay, but might appeal for when you're with friends in Milano. Ghemme is a rather plain place for a wine region, but the agriturismo Il Cavenago does exceptionally good weekend meals and really shining with their risotto. The grounds are lovely, with bats flying around as the light fades.

The fast autostrada runs from here towards Milano, so it's not a long drive at all.
 

lisaonthecape

10+ Posts
Hi Mark
That makes sense, as transfers on planes are much worse than transfer on trains

As you'll have a car, it does open up the option of a road trip, and for this agriturismo.it can be ideal, as they're usually very nice farmstays in lovely countryside. Not 'slow' but it can be a nice way to amble down from the lakes via Piemonte region, ending up at CT.

There may be options for parking the car, but for visiting CT, it's a waste having it sat there when you'll be traversing the villages on foot, by boat or train.

Toying with re-ordering...
If starting in Milano meeting your friends, you could afterwards get the fast train from Milano Centrale to Genova, then the coastal train to CT.

Then look to hire a car in La Spezia, Levanto, or anywhere on that direct train line (including Genova). Drive up through Piemonte - either to a single base or use the road trip idea. Keep the car for the lakes to really open them up, dropping it off somewhere convenient to get to Milano Centrale for the fast trains to Venezia. It's doubling back, but might flow better as it keeps the driving legs together.

Given the interest in wine, I think the Langhe does shout out as long as you've got a keen interest in Nebbiolo. We've enjoyed many stays there and a car is near essential. We've stayed in Treiso, Corneliano d'Alba, Santa Vittoria d'alba (especially recommended - val di spinso, which has spacious apartments and a pool in lovely grounds), Serralunga d'Alba, Monforte d'Alba and between Barolo and La Morra. The walking here is lovely. We've also stayed in Ghemme, and on the outskirts of Asti as well if they appeal. The food is wonderful and I'll especially put in a good word for little Treiso, with all 4 places to eat very good in their own way. Conversely I feel Barolo (and to a lesser degree Barbaresco) are showing signs of tourism taking away some of the charm. The other villages retaining it much better.

The walking is also excellent there, and shared inheritances / resultant shared ownership means almost every vineyard retains open access, not just for the vineyard owners, but also us mere individuals. The paths are good and maintained. That can be a very special experience.
I really love these suggestions. Milan, then CT; pick up the car in Genova and head to the lakes and Piemonte; train to Venice from Torino.

My personal favorite for the lakes is Lake Orta and especially Orta San Giulio. When we were last in Piemonte, we stayed in Annunziata (fraz. of La Morra) and loved it there. A couple of our favorite restaurants were Osteria Veglio in La Morra and La Coccinella in Serravalle Langhe.
 

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