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Italian Rivera and Tuscany advice wanted

(12 Posts)
Countessfosco Wed 02-Apr-14 17:42:07

Wondered if there and any experts on this area since never been. These are my thoughts so far.

3 nights in Santa margarita.want to be able to explore portofino, ( but can't afford to stay there!) and cinq terre if possible, but been on the beach.
Then onto 2 nights inFlorence, but not in centre if possible, somewhere just outside, like fielsole, but easy to get into on public transport.
Then onto Lake como for 4 nights but no idea where, on the lake if possible.

Any nicer areas we are missing? Any hotel recommendations. Any advice appreciated, Portofino can see you know this area well.
We will be driving, but don't want to drive into the very centre of Florence ( which I believe you can't anyway). Will be in September.
Thanks in advance

juneau Wed 02-Apr-14 18:03:52

Yes, I know all those places. My first thought is that you're trying to pack in quite a bit. Portofino is small, as is Santa Margherita. Both very pretty little towns and worth a wander and a meal. The Cinque Terre are all accessible by train, but some (most?) aren't reachable by car. There is also a cliff-top path of about 16km which links them all. I walked it in a day from south to north and it's entirely possible to do this, even if you're not that fit, but you should be in reasonable health.

As for Florence/Fiesole, two days isn't enough unless you just want to have a wander and perhaps visit a couple of attractions. If you want to hit the sights and get a good look you'll need anything from three days to a week, depending on how 'in depth' you want to go. If you want to visit the Uffizi or the Accademia, book timed tickets online in advance or you can end up standing in a queue of several hours.

Then Lake Como, which must be a 3-4 hour drive north. Are you flying in and out of Milan or Bergamo, by any chance? If not, there might be a more convenient lake for you to visit, but yes, Como is lovely. I've only been there on a day trip but Bellagio and Menaggio are really pretty. It's big, so I'd choose one town and base yourselves there. You can take lake ferries to visit other towns or just enjoy being out on the water.

Countessfosco Wed 02-Apr-14 19:16:01

Thanks for the reply. I was planning to travel to cinq terre by train, and therefore thought Santa margerita was a good base for both.
I understand what you mean about Florence, and may consider staying longer, however we have done a no of city breaks this year and I would prefer to go back to Florence for a longer time in the autumn or winter months.

I will look at other lakes but a four hour drive was fine. It is a lot but I want to try and see a few places whilst we are there and then consider going back when we have more of an idea.

MillyMollyMama Thu 03-Apr-14 01:25:59

Lake Como is not really either of these areas. I would either do a lakes holiday and add in Verona or Bologna. Bologna has trains to nearly everywhere! Nearby there is Parma, Modena, Ferarra, and Ravenna.

I would visit Tuscany in its own right because you are missing out SO much! Siena, San Giminagno, Pisa, Lucca, Chianti region etc. and so many more interesting towns.

Countessfosco Thu 03-Apr-14 08:46:20

Thanks milly, may consider staying in Tuscany at this stage, but my husband is keen to go to the lakes. We have realitivity easy access to Tuscany so am not too worried about fitting it all in in one go since we live across the border in France so is possible to go again at a later stage, and fit in all the places we have missed. September still usually hot, and not keen on villas even with pools so not keen on being to inland or not on a lake in September.
Checked out the distance and is around four hours to the lakes which my husband says he fine with, or so he says. Thanks for input.

PortofinoRevisited Thu 03-Apr-14 08:56:13

The Cinque Terre coast is lovely! We stayed in Deiva Marina and got the train up and down the coast. You can get a multi day pass. We went to Santa Margarita and got a boat to Portofino. You can also do trips along the coast past all 5 villages as far as Portovenere and the Bay of Poets. I would stay longer than 3 days. The food in that area is fabulous.

We stayed here Really friendly owner, 5 mins to station and a Ice cream shop downstairs. There are a few bars and restaurants near by and a pebbly beach.

PortofinoRevisited Thu 03-Apr-14 08:59:49

Lake Como - we stayed here in Tremezzo. 5 mins walk to restaurants and the boat stop that takes you to Bellagio and up and down the lake. The views were stunning. It was lovely to lie by the pool with a glass of wine and soak up the scenery. Also close to the Villa Balbianello where they have done filming for James Bond and Star Wars. Jaw droppingly gorgeous place.

Countessfosco Thu 03-Apr-14 09:47:40

Thanks a millions portifino, that's exactly the information I was hoping for. Saw devia marina and lots of nice hotels available but was not sure about access to other places. Will look at that hotel on lake como as well.
I understand what people are saying about staying longer and will consider it. This trip was meant to be a bit of a whistle stop tour in a way and we wanted to fit in a much as we could, and then go back when we found out preferred areas.
May consider doing lake como next year though.
Another question though, are the beaches generally pebbly? Not a problem as long as I know.

PortofinoRevisited Thu 03-Apr-14 12:56:07

I think the beach at Levanto is sandy - it's generally a rocky/pebbley coastline though. The beaches the other side of Genoa tend to have the sand. Sunset from Vernazza followed by lobster of my favourite ever evenings. I am going to go back next year I think.

PortofinoRevisited Thu 03-Apr-14 13:04:28

There is a footpath between 2 of the villages easily doable by children called the Via Dell'amore which has lovely views and a little cafe half way along.

Countessfosco Thu 03-Apr-14 15:28:36

Thanks, looking forward to it!

Lagoonablue Thu 03-Apr-14 15:31:20

God so jealous. We used to go to Italy every year before we can't afford it!

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