Recommendations for places to visit in Northern Italy
March 15, 2015 7:21 AM   Subscribe

We will there for about 1 week, based near Milan. We are thinking about a day or overnight trip to Venice. Any other recommendations for day or overnight trips around there? We won't have a car.

We are interested in seeing old neighborhoods, traditional food markets, that sort of thing. One limitation is that neither of us speak Italian.
Thanks for your suggestions.
posted by neutralmojo to Travel & Transportation around Italy (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
We really enjoyed Turin. It's got some great museums (Egyptian, auto, cinema), nice wide car-free streets in the city center, and a pretty river. And great food. Not very touristy, and we did fine with our very limited Italian even in places with no English menus. Maybe a two-hour train ride?

We also took a day trip to Bellagio. That was a bit of a slog, requiring a train ride and a boat ride. But the town is very pretty (if a bit touristy) and Lake Como is gorgeous.
posted by smackfu at 7:34 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

As far as Venice goes, I recommend restricting your visit to a day-trip, if you can swing it. The food in Venice will underwhelm you, and the prices of meals and lodging will make your eyes pop out of your head.

See San Marco Cathedral, take a Vaporetto through the canals (7 euros), and escape with your wallet intact.
posted by seinwave at 9:20 AM on March 15, 2015

I think Venice is at least worth an overnight stay. Walking through at night when the streets are a lot emptier is pretty magical.
posted by PussKillian at 9:24 AM on March 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Verona is one of my favorite cities in Italy. Lots of history and places to wander and cheaper than Venice for a night or two.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:35 AM on March 15, 2015

Venice as an overnight trip with a stopoff in Verona and visiting Lake Garda (preferably seeing Sirmione).

I also enjoyed the day trip out to Bergamo, but I was going anyway because that's the airport I was flying into.
posted by kadia_a at 9:36 AM on March 15, 2015

I really loved Verona and Vicenza.
posted by three_red_balloons at 11:01 AM on March 15, 2015

I was going to suggest Lake Garda, which is magnificent, but you'd need a car. Verona you can reach via train, though, and it's beautiful too.
posted by lydhre at 11:27 AM on March 15, 2015

Bologna is an incredible city!!! tons of amazing architecture and the food is just utterly delicious and awesome!
posted by supermedusa at 12:35 PM on March 15, 2015

I loved Verona and Padova! Padova is less than an hour train ride from Venice, so you can easily make a day trip there
posted by munichmaiden at 1:39 PM on March 15, 2015

If you go to Venice, you should definitely stay overnight. A day trip to Venice is a horrible experience - almost scary. Strolling along the quiet streets at night and or early morning is amazing. Maybe go to Verona or Vicenza on the way, so you get to Venice in the afternoon, stay overnight and then leave again late afternoon the next day. There are great affordable hotels and restaurants, and airbnbs in Venice, but they have no reason to advertise, so memail me if you want tips. It's true that there are also more tourist traps in Venice than in the rest of Italy combined. The poor Venetians have almost no other sources of income. But all of this happens within a very limited route which is what one can handle on a day-trip.

The fish market in Venice is amazing, and alongside it great local vegetable markets. Obviously almost everything is very old and beautiful. The atmosphere is incomparable. Last year, I seriously thought of buying a tiny apartment there, but I was vetoed by my family.

Maybe a more authentic Italien experience would be to go to Genova. There are wonderful markets, amazing restaurants, and ancient but still lively neighborhoods. It is a big industrial city like Milano, and thus harder to "get" than the smaller towns. But also a lot less touristy.

I'd also second Bologna: because of the huge university, it has a young vibe to it, and again, in spite of tons of monuments and cultural history, it is a living industrial city, not a tourist site.

When are you going? Most of Italy is really hot during summer, and airconditioning is rare. If you are going July or August, you should plan for either going north, to Lake Como and the Alps, or down south to the Mediterranean coast. Well maybe the Appenines are great as well, I haven't stayed there, but driven through, and it is beautiful, and cooler.
posted by mumimor at 2:50 PM on March 15, 2015

Response by poster: These are great recommendations. Thanks everyone.
posted by neutralmojo at 4:03 PM on March 15, 2015

Verona is rather nice.
Trieste is gorgeous.
You can totally do Lago di Garda without a car, although I'm not sure how the trip is from Milan. I heartily recommend the Hotel Ristorante Panoramica at Salò.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:10 PM on March 15, 2015

Ah jeez of course everyone else is right about Venice. Its magical at night. Ignore my above post.
posted by seinwave at 4:27 AM on March 16, 2015

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