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Thread: Italy 2020...errr...2021

  1. #1
    Jim A is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2017 NY Posts: 873

    Italy 2020...errr...2021

    So we cancelled, or perhaps I should say were forced to cancel, our 2020 Italy trip. So we immediately rebooked for mid September 2021. 11 nights, or does it count as 10 because one is on the plane

    Getting back to the planning mode a little so I figured I'd drop this here for any tips/help. Worst case scenario we start all over again in 2022. Airfare is booked but nothing else. Torn between booking hotels that will offer a 100% cancellation and just waiting it out a little longer. Leaning towards booking in the next couple of weeks. Still just a loose itinerary but this is kind of how we are leaning. Trying to figure out when to rent a car. thinking just for a few nights and taking the train the rest of the time. I've never been to Italy. GM has been there at least a dozen times but always in the South. Would truly appreciate any recommendations for restos, hotels, wine tours or even sites to consider (I do have a couple Florence and I believe Bellagio suggestions from another thread on this board). Admittedly and in part on purpose we know we are hitting a lot of spots for a short time but the idea is we will be back many times () and will circle back to the places we liked. Plus we really aren't planning on hitting tons of touristy spots in each City and mostly enjoy walking around and eating...and drinking...and hitting just a few can't miss spots. Last year Venice was on the agenda since we were flying into there, but we knocked that out this year for logistical reasons since we are not flying into there now.

    Arrive in Milan at 7:30am. I'm more a fly later and get some sleep on the plane person, but this is the flight our Delta miles led us to and allowed for Delta One flights over. Probably taking a private car to Lake Como. Just not interested in public transportation after an all night flight. Two nights in Como (somewhere in Bellagio). Will have most of the first day and probably departing in the afternoon on the day we are leaving so thinking we'll have enough time to explore the Lake a little.

    As of now the next stop will be somewhere in Emilia-Romagna. Also an option was the Cinque Terre and San Gimignano. Both would have resulted in us renting a car at this point but that wasn't the main issue. We will plan to hit Cinque Terre on another trip, perhaps one starting in the French Riviera and making our way slowly over before flying out of Milan or Florence. San Gimignano will have to be a day trip for now. We liked the idea of staying there after 90% of the tourists leave for the night but choices must be made. We will, however, regret passing on this view from the hotel we had picked in San Gimignano



    In Emilia-Romagna we are leaning Bologna, Modena or Parma. Bologna the most convenient travel wise but loving the idea of Parma too. This stop is just for food and we aren't ashamed to admit it. The idea of the ham and parmigiano reggiano cheese and balsamic tastings won out and that's not even talking about dinners! We will likely stay here for two nights also. The first night we will probably arrive in time for dinner. Then the next day will be dedicated to tastings. Most likely a tour or two, or maybe just walking around and eating. Also may hit FICO Eataly World. Still up in the air.

    The next stop is Montalcino for winery visits/tastings. We will drive here from ER or may take the train to Florence and then rent a car from there (partly to return to same location) but either way will have a car here. The idea is to leave early and have a lunch at great spot somewhere on the way (any recommendations would be appreciated) and then arrive for dinner or perhaps a stop at an enoteca before dinner. We have a bunch of wineries from which we love the wines, but would again like to hear it if someone has a recommendation for winery visits in Montalcino or Montepulciano or the general val d'orcia area. Haven't decided exactly where we are staying but it will be somewhere in the valley. Just don't enjoy Chianti or Montepulciano's the same way that we enjoy Brunellos, but a beautiful winery is a beautiful winery so we may stray a little for the right stop although not likely t oChianti because it will be too far from where we are staying (perhaps from Florence later on). I understand it is much different than let's say Napa and that the visits are generally longer so maybe we only visit a couple or we may just splurge for a full day wine and food private tour with driver/guide. Also, we have barely looked into restos here so dinners wide open. One night will be within walking/cab distance from where we stay due to of course the whole day wine drinking thingy.

    The last stop is Florence. We will drive there and return the car when we get there and stop in San Gimignano on the way. There is a winery just to the South/SE of SG that we have looked into and are looking forward to visiting for a lunch/tasting/visit. We will then spend a few hours in San Gimi and perhaps even dinner. The last 4 nights will be in Florence. We will take a day trip to Siena and would like to also take a long day in Rome via the high speed train. Tiring, yes. Too much to see in one day, of course. Doin git any way, check. Then the last couple of days and most of the nights will likely just be spent in Florence. Ciao.

  2. #2
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 28,521

    Re: Italy 2020...errr...2021

    In Bellagio I loved our stay at the Villa Serbelloni. We visited charming Luca and loved the ferry ride on the lake.

    Florence...we went to Verrazano winery and Villa...yes the guy the bridge in NY is named for was born there. Excellent lunch, views, and guided tour. Tasted Balsamic out of this world good.

    EVERY STOP WAS LOVELY. EVERY MEAL A DELIGHT

    Ahhh, Italy.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  3. #3
    NancySC is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Sep 2017 Posts: 1,323

    Re: Italy 2020...errr...2021

    I'm exhausted Jim A from just reading this ! Slow down, deep breath...way too ambitious to go to Cinque Terre and most of the above. Don't turn your trip into the old movie, If it's Tuesday it must be Belgium. If you try to do most of what you've plotted out, you won't enjoy this 'vacation.' You'll be exhausted & your partner too. This is what I do for us and my clients when I was in the business, regardless of where we (or clients) travel, domestic, international including Europe, UK, Caribbean. Think less is more. So you're flying into MXP, out from FCO ? or was it Florence ?

    Take a sheet of paper, make a calendar of the days & dates...you can actually buy a package of blanks.
    Make list of the important things & places you want to see & do...even two weeks isn't enough. Choose 1 or at most 2 areas that you really want to see, even then scale back.
    Drive here, drive there, wine tasting...there are penalties for too much vino & driving, you know this. Driving in Italy is not for everyone especially on a first trip for you. I think that's buried in what you wrote.
    Milan so you can go to Como, Bellagio then to ER etc.

    I have no connection to this company that showed up on my phone recently, nor would I use it for a trip because it is based in Australia, have never heard of this company or know their reputation. But take a look at Ormina & their offerings as I did with a potential return to Italy for us next summer 2022. You will see what I mean I hope...

    My other thought is to choose a place/town/area...make that your hub to do day trips out to the wineries etc. Go from there, choose a city that you want to see for a few days, go there by train.
    Hope this helps !

  4. #4
    Jim A is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2017 NY Posts: 873

    Re: Italy 2020...errr...2021

    Quote Originally Posted by NancySC View Post
    I'm exhausted Jim A from just reading this ! Slow down, deep breath...way too ambitious to go to Cinque Terre and most of the above. Don't turn your trip into the old movie, If it's Tuesday it must be Belgium. If you try to do most of what you've plotted out, you won't enjoy this 'vacation.' You'll be exhausted & your partner too. This is what I do for us and my clients when I was in the business, regardless of where we (or clients) travel, domestic, international including Europe, UK, Caribbean. Think less is more. So you're flying into MXP, out from FCO ? or was it Florence ?

    Take a sheet of paper, make a calendar of the days & dates...you can actually buy a package of blanks.
    Make list of the important things & places you want to see & do...even two weeks isn't enough. Choose 1 or at most 2 areas that you really want to see, even then scale back.
    Drive here, drive there, wine tasting...there are penalties for too much vino & driving, you know this. Driving in Italy is not for everyone especially on a first trip for you. I think that's buried in what you wrote.
    Milan so you can go to Como, Bellagio then to ER etc.

    I have no connection to this company that showed up on my phone recently, nor would I use it for a trip because it is based in Australia, have never heard of this company or know their reputation. But take a look at Ormina & their offerings as I did with a potential return to Italy for us next summer 2022. You will see what I mean I hope...

    My other thought is to choose a place/town/area...make that your hub to do day trips out to the wineries etc. Go from there, choose a city that you want to see for a few days, go there by train.
    Hope this helps !
    Flying into MXP and out of FLR.

    I probably wasn't clear, but not going to cinque terre

    "Take a sheet of paper, make a calendar of the days & dates...you can actually buy a package of blanks."
    Already done with 4 or 5 scenarios. Well, really probably has had 30 plus since the beginning of our planning!!!

    Not driving ourselves to or from wine tastings except for lunch on way from Montalcino to Florence and that is followed up with a 15 minute walk into San Gimi and then a few hours before driving to Florence and the driver won't really be drinking more than a glass or two there

    Land MXP: hiring driver to take us to Bellagio (which is in Lake Como, not separate stops, I think you know this but wasn't sure from what you wrote) spending two nights there
    Two nights in Emilia-Romagna
    Two nights in Montalcino - this is the only time we will have a car
    Four nights in Florence

    As I led with, yeah we do know we are hitting a lot of stops and thought long and hard about it. The reason for adding Emilia Romagna is partly to break up the trip from Bellagio to Montalcino so that it isn't a tiring 6ish hour train/drive. Our days are spent eating, drinking, relaxing, exploring and taking in the ambiance. Won't be hitting many museums or touristy things or waiting on lines for hours. It isn't what we enjoy. We will walk, a lot. But we walk a lot always. Yeah, we'll hit a couple museums/Duomos/etc in Florence and some things we will walk by and enjoy but that's about it. So, don't expect to be too tired or hectic. The only concern for the moving around is honestly the packing/unpacking and checking in/out. Spending 10 days in Florence, while wonderful I'm sure for many, just isn't something we would do. We considered spending those Montalcino nights in Florence and doing a day trip or two instead but that's over three hours a day driving and that to us is what would be tiring. We've seen what a lot of people do which is pick a home base and be on the road for 8-10 hours a day on various day trips. That sounds exhausting to me. The only time we will do that is if we take the train to Rome from Florence one day, but that's Rome!!! And not a guarantee we do it. Will be a last minute call.

    Another reason for the various stops is we want to walk around a "smallish" type town like Bellagio and Montalcino at night as much as we want to walk around Florence. That is part of the allure for us. I absolutely appreciate the comment and not sure if this makes sense or not but to us the tiring out type of vacation is when people in Paris (for example) spend their whole day going from place to place. We get tired sitting at our cafe relaxing just watching them

  5. #5
    Jim A is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2017 NY Posts: 873

    Re: Italy 2020...errr...2021

    Quote Originally Posted by amyb View Post
    In Bellagio I loved our stay at the Villa Serbelloni. We visited charming Luca and loved the ferry ride on the lake.

    Florence...we went to Verrazano winery and Villa...yes the guy the bridge in NY is named for was born there. Excellent lunch, views, and guided tour. Tasted Balsamic out of this world good.

    EVERY STOP WAS LOVELY. EVERY MEAL A DELIGHT

    Ahhh, Italy.
    Thanks. The views from Villa Serbelloni were amazing IIRC from my research. I had also heard the resto there was really good. Did you find that to be true? We have no idea where we will eat in Bellagio and were thinking we would have one of our dinners there.

    That sounds like the exact type of winery we are looking for

  6. #6
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 28,521

    Re: Italy 2020...errr...2021

    The restaurant was superb. Fabulous food and wine. An amazing breakfast in a mini palace dining room setting.The service first class. And they even have a wonderful library which the concierge escorted me to and allowed me to explore. (Old leather bound treasures mostly in Italian.) I can even remember the smell there. I turned in the book I had finished reading and he let me have Steinbeck’s TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY which I enjoyed tremendously.

    The grounds were beautiful with secret gardens and gates to lake views that were stunning.

    We walked the cobbled streets and ate at a restaurant recommended by the staff. After dinner walkabout and we passed a gelato shop. A man emerged with two cones. One for him and one for the German Shepherd with whom he was strolling. Great memories.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  7. #7
    stbartshopper is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Dec 2013 Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. Posts: 11,317

    Re: Italy 2020...errr...2021

    In Como, because we like Sereno in SBH, it might be an option there in their sister hotel- we haven’t tried it though. Not too far from Cinque Terre is Hotel Il Pelicano.
    Also -You didn’t mention the area, but a favorite of ours is San Pietro, just outside of Positano.
    Bon Voyage!

  8. #8
    Trinigerl is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Apr 2007 Trinidad/Houston Posts: 121

    Re: Italy 2020...errr...2021

    In 2019 we flew Houston to Venice spent 4 nights in Venice, from Venice we went to Murano and Burano. Took the train to Florence for 4 nights went to Pisa for a day . Then back on the train to Rome for 5 nights. In Rome we stayed in an Airbnb in the Trastevere area we loved it. We were able to walk to the old town every night for dinner.

  9. #9
    Jim A is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2017 NY Posts: 873

    Re: Italy 2020...errr...2021

    A little over a month out and thinking we'll still go, but just not sure. Right now if you are fully vaccinated and coming from the US you do not need a COVID test to enter Italy (this may change soon). You have to fill out the travel form and show your vaccine card. The vaccine card also serves as your "green card" and allows for access to museums, restos, bars, etc.

    Current plan 3 nights at the Hotel Florence in Bellagio (Lake Como). Then 2 nights in Montalcino staying on the grounds of one of our favorite wineries Casanova Di Neri. Then 5 nights in Florence which is where we will do all of our day trips on the train from - Siena, Bologna and hopefully Rome. If the COVID situation worsens, but not enough to make us cancel our trip we were thinking of adding another night or two in the "Countryside" and taking away from Florence so we maybe can have a little more social distancing. In Florence we picked our hotel more by location. We are staying at the "NH Collection Firenze Port Rossa". Seems to be in walking distance from everything we may want. If we can't go, we'll just rebook for 2022. We may also cut down on the day trips to stay off of the trains but that's our loose plan for now.



  10. #10
    Jim A is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2017 NY Posts: 873

    Re: Italy 2020...errr...2021

    As of September 1st, for vaccinated travelers, Italy has added the requirement of a negative test within 72 hours (PCR or Antigen) of travel for travelers from the US, Canada and Japan. This is for direct flights. Connecting flights have added another layer of confusion (e.g. tested within 48 hours for the UK). It appears, but isn't clear or consistent, that non-vaccinated, but eligible to be vaccinated persons will not be allowed entry to Italy unless they quarantine for 5 days and get tested at the end of those 5 days. Vaccine cards or negative tests were already required to enter restos and the such in Italy and that appears to continue

  11. #11
    Jim A is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2017 NY Posts: 873

    Re: Italy 2020...errr...2021

    Italy trip was an incredible success. We got back late last week.

    Comments on the suggestions from the other thread:
    Amy thanks for the tip. We stopped for lunch at Castello di Verrazzano on the way to Montalcino. Was very good with great views and great service. I'm more a brunello guy than a chianti guy but the wines we tasted were pretty good

    castello di verrazzano.jpg

    Dennis that resto was temporarily closed as per their website (COVID related maybe?) We didn't walk by to check. Maybe next time. We did find some absolutely fantastic restos though.
    JEK we stayed at a hotel a level (or two) below but loved our Jr suite at the NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa

    I'll try to post a quick summary of what we did at some point

  12. #12
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 28,521

    Re: Italy 2020...errr...2021

    Jim, I am delighted to see that you enjoyed the visit to VERRAZZANO...notice two RRs and two ZZs. Often spelled incorrectly here in NY. Did you seed the stones from the NY-NJ bridge that are on display there? What a kick that someone thought to do that after the bridge groundbreaking.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

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