My husband and I are returning to Italy and staying for about 10 days in October. In our previous trips we did the tourist stuff in Venice, Florence, Milan, Rome and Naples.
This time we really want to stay in Northern Italy and emerse ourselves into the culture/lifestyle. We will have a car, and will travel up towards the Dolomites, Cinque Terre, and as far south as Perugia for the Chocolate Festival.
We plan to stay either in Florence, Lucca or Parma in a rental home for the entire trip, as our home base.
We love the country, villages, history and food. We have a special favorite for the Moscato sweet wines, and even thought of going up to Turin for some Asti wine tasting.
Any thoughts/advice on where/what we should do?
Thanks for any help!
Happy to hear from you!
Sounds like you really love Italy! It’s so full of amazing things to see 🙂
As you already known, the car is essential to tour Italy, but I think having only one base for your entire trip can be tiring! If you base in Florence for instance, you will need to drive for about 5 hours to reach the Dolomites (so incredibly beautiful, I love Modonna di Campiglio). This is why I suggest you stop one night or two in some other destinations during your tour of Northern Italy.
All the towns you mention as your home base can work great, and you may consider the scenic countryside around Florence, as you love country, villages, history and food!
As for the sweet wines definitely head to Piemonte, where also the countryside is very charming, particularly in the Langhe area.
If you decide to base near Florence or Lucca, you may well get some ideas on new things to visit from these side trips from Florence and this list of the best day trips still to make from Florence.
On your way to Perugia, you may consider a brief stop in the charming Cortona and the scenic Trasimeno Lake, if you’ve never been there. While, only half an hour driving south from Perugia is Assisi, one of the most beautiful places in Italy, that I mention here.
On your way north to reach the Dolomites, you may consider a visit to the beautiful towns of Bologna, Verona, and the Garda Lake. Though not on your way, also the Lake Como is spectacular; I imagine you’ve already been there 🙂
The Cinque Terre area is one of the best destinations in Italy. This is the official website for the Cinque Terre, where you can find details about its beautiful paths! Walk through at least one of these scenic paths facing the coast.
As far as things to do while in Italy, in addition to visiting historic sights, going for wine tastings, and traveling around, you will have lots to choose from! from horseback riding, trekking, enjoying some thermal springs, and even taking a tour on a hot air balloon. Check here for some hints.
Contact me again for any other suggestion,
Enjoy your weekend,
Thank you so much for your insight! I do have a follow up question….We have been researching driving a car in Italy, and would appreciate any advice.We read that parking it horrible, how truly difficult is this process? Is parking outside the city center difficult? Is there a better transportation? I know there is always public transportation, but I don’t look forward to the inconvience of going from train to bus to bus, etc… We really want the freedom to travel easily and get to some of the lessen know areas.Any advice?Is car rental the right way to go?Do you suggestion a car rental place in Bologna?What kind of currency should we have on hand if credit cards don’t work?Are our smart phones GPS enough, or do we need an in car GPS?Really hoping you can soothe our fears!Thanks, Mandy
Thanks for getting back!
The car is definitely the right way to go! You will have total freedom and the possibility to discover lesser known areas. Many fantastic sights in Italy as well as in Tuscany are not well served by public transportation. This way you will also enjoy the wonderful Italian landscapes while driving! For lesser known areas of Tuscany, have a look here, while for general info on driving in Tuscany read some useful tips here.
Parking the car is horrible only if you’re going to park in the very historic center of a town, this is true for Florence and Bologna for instance, but you will always find large parking areas, even if not free. Parking right outside the city center is the best thing to do!
For renting a car I suggest this website where you can choose the location to pick your car up. Your smart phones GPS will be enough! Credit card will work great.
Buon Viaggio 🙂