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Best adventures in northern Italy

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Lynnfield
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Best adventures in northern Italy

My husband & I have the luxury of visiting northern Italy in early April for 2 1/2 weeks. What small towns, restaurants, adventures are most memorable? Did you stay in any wonderful hotels? Eat any fabulous meals in local, little restaurants? We will have a car so we'll have lots of flexibility where we travel. Would love your thoughts!

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Best adventures in northern Italy

Love Pienza and the hotel Il Chiostro, also eating on its terrace with a view to the Val d'Orcia.

There is a tiny place in Montepulciano called Le Logge del Vignoble which is outstanding with exceptional food. Quite a hike up the main street to where it branches and it is just to the right.

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
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for Tuscany
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2. Re: Best adventures in northern Italy

Be aware that the weather may not be wonderful at that time of year (it is often wet) so I would stay not too far from interesting cities with plenty of indoor sights. Do make sure you read up on the ZTLs as not being able to drive into the centre of places may affect your plans. In good weather visiting small places, like Lynn's excellent suggestions of the Val d'Orcia towns, this isn't a problem as there is plenty of parking outside the ZTL and you just walk in. However, visiting cities such as Siena, Arezzo, Lucca, Florence all require a bit of planning in advance, regarding where you will park.

Lynnfield
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3. Re: Best adventures in northern Italy

Lynn & Peggy, thank you so much! This is just the type of info I am looking for. Would you suggest making reservations at restaurants at this time of year? I guess we may need raincoats for possible rainy weather. Are there maps available to check out no parking zones ahead of time? Gram

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
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4. Re: Best adventures in northern Italy

There are some maps here, but also examples of the ZTL signs etc.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187893-c140065/Tusca…

Once you know about them, they really are easily dealt with (Florence being the one exception and so it is best to use public transport to visit there). I don't think you need to make restaurant reservations in general at that time of year unless you are going somewhere very popular.

Lynnfield
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5. Re: Best adventures in northern Italy

Peggy, Florence is not a part of our plan for this trip as we have already visited the area, so parking will not be an issue there. Thanks for the link to the pictures of the signs and the information regarding fines, etc. It sounds serious and we need to have the knowledge prior to our travel. Is there a particular book that you recommend for exploring northern Italy by car? Thanks!

Montepulciano, Italy
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6. Re: Best adventures in northern Italy

I would urge you to invest in a good guide book, there are so many available today, check out titles on Amazon where you can also "look inside" to get a feel for what's on offer. Many have tips on particular routes, there are even books dedicated to driving tours in Tuscany - Frommer's, I know publishes a couple. The southern Tuscan hill towns are magical but Peggy's right to point out it could be dodgy weather around then and they don't always look their best on grey, early April days. But if you have 2 1/2 weeks to spare, that's should allow you to see quite a bit of this area, though note please that Tuscany / Umbria are technically classed as central Italy and northern Italy usually starts somewhere up above Parma. With that much time at your disposal, you should be able to easily see all the major sights, though whether you tour from several bases or have lots of shorter overnights stays is up to you and your travelling style. I would certainly try to see as many as possible of the following: Orvieto / Todi / Assisi / Cortona / Arezzo / Montepulciano / the Val d'Orcia villages (allow 3 nights min) / Siena (with 3 night stay) / the Chianti / San Gimignano / Volterra / Lucca (3 nights) / Pisa. You will most definitely need a raincoat, umbrella and, most essential, waterproof shoes (ideally two pairs) for I can't remember an April when it hasn't rained for a good part of the month. Earlier in the month you shouldn't need to worry about reservations in restaurants anywhere but Easter is late next year (20th April) and will run through to the Liberation Day public holiday in Italy on 25th April so that will be a very busy time as Italian tourists will be out in force too and bookings will be required everywhere.

Savannah, GA
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7. Re: Best adventures in northern Italy

Villa Bongi for a Sunday Luncheon....Montuolo about 10 minutes drive from Lucca.

Lynnfield
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8. Re: Best adventures in northern Italy

Thanks, Las Traniera, for all of your suggestions. You are a wealth of knowledge. I shall certainly purchase of good guide book!

We fly into Balogna on April 4th and out of Milan on April 18th and then we go to Tel Aviv for our grandson's Bar Mitzvah!

We hope to spend 2 nights in Balogna (side trips to Parma & Modene, by bus) and then move on to Tuscany for about 6 nights. From there we would like to visit CT & Portofino (2 nights), and finally the Como area for about 3-4 nights. Would you suggest we drive to Tuscany or take the train and pick up a car in one of the cities in Tuscany?

In Tuscany, I think 1 hotel (2 at the most), centrally located, would work out and then take day trips.

Changing hotels too many times wastes time and we would like to avoid that.

I really appreciate all of your input!!

Lynnfield
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9. Re: Best adventures in northern Italy

Hi Savannah Mame, thanks for the tip. The menu looks very detailed and the views gorgeous, but clearly, I will need a big book to translate the food choices. I wonder...are wait staff patient, in general, about helping non Italian speakers to make choices?

10. Re: Best adventures in northern Italy

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