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First week of August, where?

Hello, I am so happy to have found Slow Europe, I loved Slow Traveler and this is just fantastic to find you! We fly to Italy for one week from Zurich the first week of August after two weeks of travel, in the past, we have been to the big cities and want to visit smaller towns that are not packed with tour buses. We are two couples in our 50's who will all have medium sized suitcases. Open to renting a car. I have been all over the map in my planning, first I decided on Pulugia, Lecce, and Matera, but now wonder if the heat will be too much? I was also thinking of Sicily but we only have one week. We have all been to Tuscany and Umbria. I would really appreciate some suggestions, possibly an itinerary with 2- stops. We would stay in hotels or B&B's. We love art and food with a little bit of history. We prefer to be where people are not remote archaeological sights. Thank you
I will put in a strong word for Trento / Trentino, though car from Zurich appears faster than train, and almost certainly faster than a flight+train combination. About 5 hours by car according to Google

Some friends described Trento as like Verona 30 years ago, before the tourist hordes really descended.

If looking for two stops, we've combined Trento and Lago Molveno before. They are close, but due to the mountains are ~ 1hr apart. The nice thing is city vs. Mountain lake gives a really nice contrast. The walking is very good indeed.

Not especially great for art (though few places in Italy don't have something interesting)

For a similar combination, you could also consider Aosta and somewhere in valle d'Aosta, though Aosta is rather more tightly packed due to the geography. A nice and rather friendly place though and enjoyable to walk around.

The Italian lakes might also appeal, but I'd definitely be looking for the smaller ones rather than the big tourist draws. Perhaps Novara and Lake Orta, the former a lovely place to walk around.

I'm conscious that some of these suggestions may not be so different to great places in Switzerland!
Yes, I think August in southern Italy will be too hot, so I'd think north. 2 areas spring to mind: Piemonte, and Trentino-Alto Aldige/South Tyrol. Both areas have much to offer! I agree with @Ian Sutton about looking for smaller places. I'm not sure if your 2 weeks of travel will be in Swizterland or not, so perhaps Piemonte might offer something slightly different - but the Trentino-Alto Aldige/South Tyrol is so spectacular I could NEVER get tired of the scenery.

Just to stir things up, have you considered Slovenia? We visited in 2016 and LOVED it!
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Trento is nice. You are close to Bolzano for a day trip. In the same general area is Udine, another small gem. I'll second the idea above for Slovenia for a one week stay. Ljubljana has a small, but delightful historic area (pedestrian only) and gives you access to Lake Bled and other outdoors areas.
I am excited to research these places, our friends outbound after the week is out of Milan and we HAD and an outbound on Norweigan Air from Rome. Norweigan airlines just contacted us that our flight time has changed to a 6 AM: ( asking us if we want to change our flight. We bought Flex Premium so maybe we can now fly out of Milan. Regarding your suggestions what is a better location for this departure city, Milan?
We are weekend hikers at home but not interested in hiking towns for this week. Can you tell me what towns from the above are less beautiful mountains and more villages-towns?


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If you choose Trento, it does get hot there but you can easily day trip up into the mountains for some cooler air. Also, close enough to Riva del Garda for a lake visit.
In Rovereto there is a wonderful contemporary art museum.

We've been twice to Trento for 3 days each time and I am quite fond of it.
You can do a search on my blog for more info.
Hi Phyllis
I'd mis-read your original post, thinking you were living in Zurich.

If the airport is Milano Malpensa, then Lake Orta / Novara would be the easiest of options that I mentioned. Nearby Gattinara is also a pleasant more modestly sized town that could switch for Novara. If going for two bases, I'd lean towards Novara for 2 or 3 days, and making it a way of breaking up a long day of travelling, or to work around a late arrival or early departure. There are buses and trains to connect to Milano Malpensa. I'd go for longer on the lake, as this should provide cooler air to take the edge off the heat.

I would opt for the Lakes - Lago di Orta or Lago Iseo for example. Basically anywhere in the beginning of August will be hot. Puglia would be bearable if you are RIGHT on the sea. Matera gets VERY hot in July and August; once those rocks heat up they stay hot and reflect the heat. Of course, inside the tufa dwellings it stays cool, but you don't want to spend the whole time indoors ;) (We're up in the mountains where it stays a bit cooler and there are lots of small towns to explore, but that may be *too* slow for you. ;) )

There are some nice seaside areas in the south that don't get quite so overrun, where you can relax and explore some small towns and not rush around. But depends on what you're looking for.


100+ Posts
You might want to consider the area of Cuneo, if you aren't familiar with it. We have been there twice, albeit not in August. But I see that last year the average low and high were 20 and 26 C., so that looks pleasant to me.
The beautiful town borders on this part of the Alps, the three main valleys that ascend through the mountains offer beautiful drives and lovely villages to pass through. Quite close to Cuneo are other historical towns, such as Mondovi, Vicoforte, Saluzzo, and many more, The food is incredible, just like anywhere in else in Piemonte, and the wine region of Dogliani is close by.
Tons of hiking/cycling options of course, and many natural parks not far away.
Cuneo itself is wonderful - sort of a mini-Torino.
A car is a good idea, and you might want to be based all or part time in one of the many agriturismi in the area. We can make a recommendation if needed.
Here's a sample of what the area has to offer (no connection to the tour company advertised) :
Thank you, everyone, sorry that I didn't get back. A side note we returned from India 3 weeks ago and just found out that we have Guardia, I've been sick for three weeks... Just a travel warning** It was a great trip but not worth this : ( now for Italy.... I am thinking that for our week, 8 nights, we would divide into two areas. Maybe it's my sickness but I'm not getting a feeling for this. We were in Como on our Honeymoon 32 years ago and honestly, I found the town boring, are the small Lake towns similar but smaller? To reiterate, we are not interested in mountain towns or hiking. What about a lake town as mentioned above and Bologna or is there another city to recommend, Trento is loved here. (we love cities)
Bologna does at least have the porticoed streets that keep rain and snow off in winter, but that can also give shelter from a blazing sun. I've not been there in August, but have heard of bad experiences of it being too hot to enjoy and of places shutting for extended ferragosto holiday. Better times of year to go it it and many other Italian cities

Hence the suggestions of Trento, Cuneo, Novara, Aosta (and Bolzano if not already mentioned). They'll be a little cooler, but each has areas to explore nearby in car, or via public transport.

What to see in Trento? The historic cathedral with a crypt well worth the modest charge, some very good restaurants (but we're in Italy, so that's not overly special), fine weekly market once a week, that transforms a relaxed and spacious city into something briefly more intimate. A cable car ride up the mountain, starting a 5 minute walk from the station (for a very most charge). Sparkling wines that vie with Franciacorta for Italy's finest (I'd give Trento DOC the edge), plus some interesting whites, reds and (shhh!) Vino Santo that is truly exceptional, but very small production. Some fine squares for an aperitivo drink / snack before dinner (or in lieu of it if lunch was big). Food is a hybrid of Italian plus germanic influence. Some wonderful cured meats, but a great highlight are the 'Malga' cheeses made from cow's that summer in the mountains. Connected via fast trains to Verona and Bologna (which are good airport options to use to get here). There are options of trains from Zurich - IIRC at least 1 change involved though.

We chose Lago Molveno as the way to introduce a 2nd (and quite different) base, whilst keeping transfer time really low. There are buses & bus/train combo if you want to avoid having a car. Molveno like most of the villages here, has a ski lift to go up into the mountains for the views, light or more strenuous walking and to cool off. I don't like the modern new lift up to Pradel (enclosed, unlike the simple open waist high cage of the old one. However take the lift from Pradel upwards and it's much more open. There are a couple of cafes also serving food to avoid the feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere. Meanwhile the views even down in the village are wonderful - like a great view with all the boring filler removed. Lake. Picturesque village. Mountains. That's about it. The restaurants are ok - tasty but safely traditional, though a big shout out to the somewhat mad but hard-working and jovial/engaging butcher, who stocks just about any food you might need, as well as doing lunchtime bbqs outside. He's a great asset.

Other villages (without lake, but still pleasant) include Fai della Paganella, Andalo (which houses the brilliant food shop labottegadellebonta.com) and Cavedago. The air is lovely and fresh up there, and without going crazy on the walking, I was amazed when coming back home after our first visit, that I was cycling noticeably faster afterwards.

Other stuff to look out for includes local fruit in season and herbal grappe, some softened a little with sugar to make them more approachable.
Although we've been looking at Northern cities to get slightly cooler (but still hot) weather, another alternative is to bow to the sun gods and head for a coastal location in the south.

I've been to Ravello (Amalfi Coast) at the start of July and it was baking hot. However a coastal breeze, apartment pool and enough altitude (1200 steps up from the coast) helped make it bearable. The views are well known as being stunning, plus you'll have the option of the Wagner music festival if such things appeal

Not in peak summer, but in a reasonably hot September, we visited the Aeolian islands off Sicily, and island hopping does give you the sea breeze, cooling water and relaxed pace of life. The islands are different enough to each other to reward exploring them.

Almost essential here is to get a pool. The sea is nice, but at the end of a day out and about, the pool is looked forward to with great appetite. Aircon also, though Italian aircon is notoriously unreliable so it becomes a bit of a shock when you find a good one that works and doesn't break down.

What I really can't recommend is a hot, busy & highly populated city. Head their in spring or autumn/fall or even in winter, as they present a better option then.
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Thank you for these great thoughts. I don't think I can convince my group to go to a beach town as we come from Los Angeles. I would not want to plan my one week in Italy around the need for a pool. Maybe, if I had two weeks : )
I’m still not clear and need to make a decision. I’m possibly thinking of the Piemonte area that could include a day in Torino. Or a lake or two, Susan you mentioned a couple. Any thoughts of where we would fly into from Zurich. Ian, thank you for your wonderful description of Trento, I just don’t think we want a “mountain- ski” town as we will have just been in Switzerland. Although I’m sure we would love it.
Torino my favourite Italian city, so probably my favourite in the world. I'm struggling to recommend it for early August heat, but that's your call. Torino is not a big airport, so fairly easy to navigate.

Loads of countryside options in Torino with wine a constant draw. Perhaps a better than Torino would be Asti, which certainly has plenty there, but with the option of staying in the nearby countryside and having an easy drive or bus (or train) in to the centre.

I had a quick look at direct flights - nothing direct to Torino I could find. Interestingly there is a direct flight to Lugano, which if the lakes do appeal, is logistically excellent. Very cheap as well.
Catania or Palermo if Sicily or its own islands appeal. Milan, Venice, Naples, Rome don't jump out in peak summer, though would Olbia on Sardinia appeal. City + countryside + coast?

Others may find other direct flights that I missed, plus their may be holiday period specials not yet listed.
How best to get to Trento from Zurich? Could we or should we include Udine ? Looking for small towns.
Please advise, thank you


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