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Jim Zurer

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!

Trip Itinerary​


So after three years, we are off again to Italy. Here is our itinerary.

zurer-2022-map.png


1 - April 26: Sesto Calende (near Malpensa)
2 - April 27-May 2: Turin (Piemonte)
3 - May 2-6: Asti (Piemonte)
4 - May 6-10: Piacenza (Emilia-Romagna)
5 - May 10-12: Lerici (Liguria)
6 - May 12-17: San Quirico d'Orcia (Tuscany)
7 - May 17-20: Florence (Tuscany)
8 - May 20-25: Rome (Lazio)

We are excited.

Jim and Diana
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
A really nice mix of locations. It feels like it's a lovely balance, offering plenty of diverse experiences.

I'm not sure if this works, and I've not updated it for ~ 4 years, but I created a 'food explorer' google map for Torino. Perhaps of use if you enjoy grazing food shops as much as me (there are some reataurants / enoteche on there as well)


Aside from that, let me know if you have any questions about Torino. We've been there ~ a dozen times, so know the city reasonably well.

I'll also put in a good word for the evening passeggiata in La Spezia, which we thought was a wonderful window into this tradition.
 
Last edited:

Georgia & Zig

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!

Trip Itinerary​


So after three years, we are off again to Italy. Here is our itinerary.

View attachment 35472

1 - April 26: Sesto Calende (near Malpensa)
2 - April 27-May 2: Turin (Piemonte)
3 - May 2-6: Asti (Piemonte)
4 - May 6-10: Piacenza (Emilia-Romagna)
5 - May 10-12: Lerici (Liguria)
6 - May 12-17: San Quirico d'Orcia (Tuscany)
7 - May 17-20: Florence (Tuscany)
8 - May 20-25: Rome (Lazio)

We are excited.

Jim and Diana
Oh my goodness! We will be in Firenze on May 18th to the 21st! Staying at a convent there.
The next week we will finally get to take our prize week at Sant Antonio!
 

jonathan

100+ Posts
A couple of intriguing overlaps with our road trip starting this Friday - but, sadly, not quite simultaneous! We're driving, via Eurotunnel, down to join Amy and Larry for a week in a casale near Collevecchio (just in Lazio, v near the Umbrian border). After 3 nights in France, we're spending 3 nights in Lerici - which I know is a favourite of yours, but where we've never stopped.

And then our return drive starts with quite a long hop up to Asti, so we thought we'd spend two nights there - again, it's a town we've been very close to on a number of previous trips, but never stayed in.

It looks as if, for our Lerici stay (arriving 2nd May, departing 5th), the boats up to Cinque Terre will be running - but I'm hoping things won't be too crowded up there this early in the season. We're hoping to combine a boat trip to 5T with a short hike (if I was Pauline, I'd have planned this all in detail several weeks ago, but I'm not…) - and then spend another day walking along the coast around Lerici itself. Maybe I should spend the rest of the morning looking at boat schedules!

But, even if we don’t get to meet Jim and Diana on this trip, it's still a lovely testament to the community that Pauline started all those years ago - not just the friendship with Amy and Larry, but the day after we get home to London, we're having Sunday lunch here in Canary Wharf with Judy and Bill, who helped us feel at home in California a decade ago when our son relocated there.
 

Jim Zurer

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!

Zurers in Italy 2022: Tuesday April 26​

Day 1: Sesto Calende​

We are back....

We take our usual drive to Newark Airport in a one-way rental for the flight to Milan which is packed as is the airport. The flight is uneventful (I doze some, Diana doesn't) and arrives about 45 minutes late.

We have ordered a wheelchair for Diana because the distances in airports are too much of a challenge and we luck out with a charming man with a motorized wheelchair who takes charge of us, gets us through passport control quickly, handles our luggage, and makes sure we are going to the right place to meet the shuttle for our leased car company's off-airport location.

The car pickup procedures for our leased Renault are cursory and we spend some time trying to figure out how to change the language on the built-in GPS from French to English. After a few of the staff are unsuccessful, I finally find the right setting to change and we are on our way.

We are staying in Sesto Calende tonight, a short distance from Malpensa Airport. On our first trip to Italy in 1993, we stayed in this town located at the bottom of Lake Maggiore at the 3 Re Hotel.

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We were visiting my sister Barbara who was in Italy on a teaching Fulbright, living in Florence. Our mother had been visiting the month before and she was leaving the next day. We had coordinated our arrival so that we would be together at the hotel for her birthday (her 75th--younger than we are now). So we had a birthday dinner for her at the hotel, she left the next day, and we set off for Florence with Bobbie and Wilbur to start our three-week vacation. The rest is history...we like to say that my sister's Fulbright changed my life.

The hotel was (and still is) run by two sisters--Silvia and Rafaella--and we have returned to stay there a number of times since then. So it was a pretty big deal to be staying there precisely to the day that we first were there in 1993.

Arriving in Sesto Calende, we get to the hotel easily. The town seems familiar but somehow a bit bigger and busier than we remember. Rafaella is at the desk and she remembers us..after a bit of hesitation. Our room won't be ready for an hour so we camp in the lobby. I have to park the car and it's hard finding a space. We usually park in back of the hotel along the river but it is all torn up with construction. After a few circuits of the town, I park next to the main church, a few steps from the hotel.

I go out for a short walk along the riverfront, which is as attractive as we remember. I grab my first coffee and cornetto and sit on the square people watching. As soon as our room is ready, we both fall asleep quickly...our usual plan of trying to stay up the first day is impossible to carry out.

Late in the afternoon, we stroll along the river and have our first gelato.

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We then get in the car for a drive up the east side of the lake. We love driving in Italy and it is wonderful just to see the trees, flowers, towns, etc. again. We have to get some gas (leased cars don't come with a full tank) and I am able to negotiate the process of paying by cash for self-service...which has been learned via painful and costly failures in the past. As we descend to the lakeshore in Ranco, where we had stayed once before, we stop in a beautiful lakeside park and have our first prosecco at a perfectly located bar overlooking the water. After a cool morning and a rainy mid-afternoon, the sun is out and the temperature is perfect for sitting outside and admiring the scenery.

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We eat dinner in the hotel dining room which is very lively because there is a big family group of about 20 people celebrating birthdays. Our food is delicious, reminding us (as if we needed reminding) of how terrific eating in Italy is. Diana has a lasagnette with asparagus and cheese sauce followed by simply fried perch with grilled zucchini and roasted potatoes. I have a tasty tortino with asparagus and silky slices of prosciutto and then a delicate ravioli filled with burrata and leeks. We each have glasses of wine...Barbera for me and a local white for Diana. To top it off, I have my first panna cotta of the trip topped with a tart raspberry sauce. We reminisce with Rafaella about our previous stays and the hotel's experience during the pandemic.

We are very happy and tired as we go upstairs.

Tomorrow to Torino.

Jim and Diana
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
We're hoping to combine a boat trip to 5T with a short hike (if I was Pauline, I'd have planned this all in detail several weeks ago, but I'm not…)
We did some Cinque Terre hiking in May 2018 when we stayed in Levanto. There were three hikes that I really liked. They are in my trip report.

The first one is from Levanto to the northern most Cinque Terre town, Monterosso al Mare. A very good hike and not as crowded as the lower Cinque Terre trail. 2.5hrs

Post in thread 'Liguria and the Piedmont, May 2018'
https://www.sloweurope.com/community/threads/liguria-and-the-piedmont-may-2018.3261/post-22841

The second one was from Corniglia in the Cinque Terre on the high route to Manarola and ended at a very good restaurant and a bus back down. You can easily extend this hike.

Post in thread 'Liguria and the Piedmont, May 2018'
https://www.sloweurope.com/community/threads/liguria-and-the-piedmont-may-2018.3261/post-22998

The third one was from Levanto to Bonassola. This is an east high route out and very easy route along the water back.

Post in thread 'Liguria and the Piedmont, May 2018'
https://www.sloweurope.com/community/threads/liguria-and-the-piedmont-may-2018.3261/post-22906

Have a great trip!
 

jonathan

100+ Posts
Thanks, Pauline! Coming from the other end (Lerici), I think we'll probably make some different choices from yours, but looking at your reports & pics has helped focus my mind! Currently looking at just a short (but very up & down) hike between the bottom two villages (Manarola, Riomaggiore) with a boat at either end to take us to/from Lerici.
 

joe

500+ Posts

Day 1: Sesto Calende​


We are staying in Sesto Calende tonight, a short distance from Malpensa Airport.


View attachment 35480
How nice that you also find Sesto Calende a lovely place. We also decided to stop there for a coffee break on our way from MXP to an agriturismo north of Biella in 2016. I believe that the above photo you took is from the riverfront in the town, and actually this (or a similar) beautiful double row of trees between the road and the river is what enticed me to choose this place for a short stop, while researching. We sat at the Bottega Caffe Cacao, and afterwards stretched our legs a bit along the river.

Good luck with the rest of the trip.
We are also looking forward to the day when we will be able to say : "finally, back to Italy".... :)
 

Jim Zurer

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
A really nice mix of locations. It feels like it's a lovely balance, offering plenty of diverse experiences.

I'm not sure if this works, and I've not updated it for ~ 4 years, but I created a 'food explorer' google map for Torino. Perhaps of use if you enjoy grazing food shops as much as me (there are some reataurants / enoteche on there as well)


Aside from that, let me know if you have any questions about Torino. We've been there ~ a dozen times, so know the city reasonably well.

I'll also put in a good word for the evening passeggiata in La Spezia, which we thought was a wonderful window into this tradition.
Thanks for this link Ian. I will take a look. I will forward any questions I have in the next couple of days. Here's the first one--have you ever been to the Jazz Club Torino? They seem to have music every night. I wonder if one has to eat there or can one just get a drink and listen?
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Currently looking at just a short (but very up & down) hike between the bottom two villages (Manarola, Riomaggiore)
Excellent idea! I haven’t done that hike but was told it was very good. I think I have a description of it in a hiking guide. Do you want me to send it to you?

BF3B58AE-0516-4ED0-BAFF-52EB8A6A6031.png
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Hi Jim
We've not been there, but have walked past that skate park square many times over the years, including a failed attempt to get one of the big city transport maps from the local GTT office when it was in that part of the city.

In general it's a little quieter in that part of the city, and heading east there are a couple of very small leafy parks if you are there a little early (cavour especially)

For eating, (if not eating at the jazz club) it's near a favourite (but somewhat understated) place 'Taverna dell'Oca'. It's arguably more trattoria than ristorante in the decor, but we've often really enjoyed the food, and I like the understated way they run the restaurant. The dish with goose in a variety of guises is one that remains strong in the memory, but they've also done well with truffles when in season, and there have been other highlights.

I did notice in the Jazz bar reviews on google, a picture of a Baladin beer, and for what's become a rather successful and more widely distributed beer, I still remain a fan. I particularly like those that include a little spice e.g. Nora, but Wayan also a good lighter beer.

I did have a quick poke around the internet, and saw a review on trip advisor that said you can only book a table at the Jazz club if eating, but can still go to drink / listen, and when some people left their table after their meal, the reviewer just grabbed the seats/table that had been vacated.
 

Jim Zurer

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
A couple of intriguing overlaps with our road trip starting this Friday - but, sadly, not quite simultaneous! We're driving, via Eurotunnel, down to join Amy and Larry for a week in a casale near Collevecchio (just in Lazio, v near the Umbrian border). After 3 nights in France, we're spending 3 nights in Lerici - which I know is a favourite of yours, but where we've never stopped.

And then our return drive starts with quite a long hop up to Asti, so we thought we'd spend two nights there - again, it's a town we've been very close to on a number of previous trips, but never stayed in.

It looks as if, for our Lerici stay (arriving 2nd May, departing 5th), the boats up to Cinque Terre will be running - but I'm hoping things won't be too crowded up there this early in the season. We're hoping to combine a boat trip to 5T with a short hike (if I was Pauline, I'd have planned this all in detail several weeks ago, but I'm not…) - and then spend another day walking along the coast around Lerici itself. Maybe I should spend the rest of the morning looking at boat schedules!

But, even if we don’t get to meet Jim and Diana on this trip, it's still a lovely testament to the community that Pauline started all those years ago - not just the friendship with Amy and Larry, but the day after we get home to London, we're having Sunday lunch here in Canary Wharf with Judy and Bill, who helped us feel at home in California a decade ago when our son relocated there.
Sorry to miss you on the trip...our trips are aligned but out of sync. Pauline deserves so much credit for building the Slow Trav/Slow Europe community--it's so important to so many of us--whether we have met in person or not.

Where are you staying in Lerici?
 

jonathan

100+ Posts
Sorry to miss you on the trip...our trips are aligned but out of sync. Pauline deserves so much credit for building the Slow Trav/Slow Europe community--it's so important to so many of us--whether we have met in person or not.

Where are you staying in Lerici?
Yes, absolutely agree about SlowTrav/Slow Europe. We're in a little apartment I found on Booking.com, just down at the bottom end of Via A Doria. If you've got any favourite restaurants in Lerici, I'd be happy to know! Hope your trip carries on well.
 

Jim Zurer

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!

Zurers in Italy 2022: Wednesday: April 27
Day 2: Sesto Calende - Torino​


We sleep through the night for the most part and hope that will take care of any jet lag. After breakfast, we pack up and leave Sesto Calende, which has become another one of our special Italian places. We decide to avoid the autostrada for our trip to Torino and, after an initial snafu and the long, dense commercial strip as you enter Piemonte from Lombardia, we are on pleasant country roads passing farms and occasional views of the snow-capped Alps in the distance. The route takes us through the centers of some attractive small towns on the way to Biella, where we decide to stop, do some sightseeing, and have lunch.

Biella is known as the center of the wool processing industry and seems quite prosperous as we drive into the center of the lower town. We stop at the tourist information office and a friendly woman gives us detailed instructions on how to access the historic area on foot or by car in very rapid Italian. We follow her directions to the free parking lot at the lower station of the free funicular to the upper town.

Leaving the station at the top, we walk through narrow porticoed streets and emerge into a very attractive, sunlit piazza--the Piazza Cisterna.

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There is a trattoria in one corner with outside tables and it is hard to avoid sitting down for lunch. (This goes against our plan to have sandwiches or other light mid-day meals but "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.")

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This is the Trattoria Cisterna after the lunch crowd has finished.

In any case, the menu is appealing, the waiter is charming, the weather is perfect, and the location in front of the ornate Palazzo Cisterna is irresistible. On top of all this, lunch is delicious. Diana chooses the daily special lunch--two courses, wine, water, and coffee for Euro 12.00. She has a risotto with radicchio followed by grilled smoked cheese and spinach. I have the local specialty...a risotto called panissa vercellese cooked with sausage which is also excellent.

After lunch, we walk across the piazza and into the old Jewish section of Biella to find the synagogue but there is no indication of the specific location. We identify the building and take pictures. We later learn that there are no signs and that the entrance to the sinagoga is through an interior courtyard so that the Jews of Biella could avoid the public streets on their way to prayer.

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On the way back to the funicular, I am taken with some of the alleyways and courtyards, and the view from the upper station over the city and countryside is quite spectacular.

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As much as we enjoyed the drive on local roads, the last part took us past a long string of commercial strips rather than the lovely countryside so we get on the autostrada for the remaining part of the trip to Torino. There was a fair amount of traffic into the center but the directions are good and we make it to the hotel with only one wrong turn. We are staying at the NH Collection Piazza Carlina, part of a Spanish chain of hotels. The check-in process is a bit tedious (we got a trainee) but the room looks attractive with views over the piazza. I park the car in their underground garage which is very tight...I hope to be able to get the car out without too many scratches.

We hang out in the room for the rest of the afternoon, resting, doing some research, and catching up on work. We do find that as attractive as the room is, there are definitely some quirks--no dresser or drawers anywhere for unpacking, the lights in the bathroom don't seem to work, no bath towels, outlets for electronics are poorly placed, the air conditioning doesn't work, etc. We do get the lights working, the air conditioning turned on, and bath towels delivered but we expect more from a not inexpensive hotel.

I have researched restaurants in the immediate area of the hotel and make a reservation at Le Vitel Etonne--a Slow Food restaurant just around the corner. Before dinner, I make a short reconnaissance stroll around the neighborhood...a very bustling area with many restaurants of all nationalities, bars, shops--even a laundromat.

Dinner at Le Vitel Etonne is excellent...the food is delicious and the staff very friendly. We share a carne cruda (Piemontese version of steak tartare) and Diana has a local version of small ravioli (plin) in a butter sauce. I have a dish called agnolotti tre gobbi (large ravioli with meat filling and meat sauce), and we share a plate of greens called barbe di frate in Piemonte (agretti in central Italy, non-existent in the US) --all excellent. Diana has a glass of a local white and I drink a simple local red (vinruss translated from the local dialect as red wine). There is a mixup about dessert; Diana gets a warm chocolate cake rather than a strawberry tartlet but it is fine. We will think about going back for another meal.

The walk back to the hotel through the Piazza Carlina is quiet.

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Tomorrow we will explore the city.

Jim and Diana
 

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