View Full Version : Milan & the Italian Lakes - Tips?
I've just been informed by my O/H that we're flying to Milan the last week in August. So far our plans go no further than that. I suspect we may only spend a day or two in the city and then head to the lakes - possibly Lake Como.
I was just wondering if any fellow RFF member have been to, or even live in, this part of the world as I would be grateful for any advice. Particulalry regarding travel.
I'm leaning towards travelling from Mian to the lakes by train. Is this realistic?
I'm also getting the impression that there is some kind of a national holiday in August. Could this cause us problems travelling/finding accomodation?
I lived 4 years in Lugano.
August 1st is Swiss National holiday, shouldn't bother you, since you come from Italy and you are there later.
Traveling by train from Milano to Como is OK. Should take about 1-1.5 hours.
I do recommend to go over to the Swiss side. Maybe travel a bit further and go to Ascona. Take a boat trip. Relax. Eat.
Beautiful country sides, great food.
Bob, some general rules:
August is the top holiday month here, and 14 and 15th of August are the top of the top of the holiday season here, so the cities will be deserted, all shops will be closed and at the lakes you will find zillions of people and will feel like a sardine in a can, so avoid these dates, later the situation will improve slowly.
It might still be quite hot, so get up early and avoid going in the open sun between 11 am and 5 pm, if you plan to stay around after dusk, make sure you have a copious amount of anti mosquito repellent with you.
The trip to Como from the center of Milan, is a pretty straightforward affair, you take a train from the Cadorna station (near the castle, there is a tube station there), or from other two stations :Garibaldi or Centrale, and you should be in Como in about 60 minutes. From the central square in Como there are ships and gliding ships that will take you on a tour of the lake - the most interesting localities are Menaggio and Bellaggio - there you will find a splendid park with nice views on the lake:
The other lake which is near, is Lago Maggiore, also connected by train from main stations (Garibalidi and Centrale), and you should definitely try to visit Stresa and Baveno, from where you get ships that will take you to Isolabella:
Milano as such is probably the ugliest city in Italy, but you will find a lot of local folklore in the shopping district in the centre around the streets Via Montenapoleone and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. Some more bohemien atmosphere can be found in Corso Como ( if open, at nr 10 there's a great place with a cozy caffè and great photo exhibition center): http://www.galleriacarlasozzani.org/, as well as along the Navigli - old canals. A great place to visit ( if open in August) would be Centro Forma, where you can also eat a great meal at reasonable prices in the internal restaurant:
Last, if you feel like overpaying any Leica gear, this would be the shop to visit ( as always, check if open in August):http://www.newoldcamera.com/index.aspx.
And last advice: if possible, postpone your visit till the beginning of September...
Thanks for the info guys - It's much appreciated.
We land in Milan on the 23rd August, do you think it will still be as busy then? Would we be wise to book accomodation in advance as opposed to looking when we turn up?
Unfortunately we can't change the date.
Milan and the surrounding areas have been widely covered in this thread a couple of weeks ago:
Of all the lakes, I think Como is the nicest. Work your way from the town centre towards Bellagio, cross the lake by ferry and take the other side back to the city. Visit all the famous villas. There is a hotel, now sadly only 3 stars, in Caddenabia where the Queen of England (not this one but a previous one) stayed. Have a nice time and show us your pics afterwards.
Thanks for the advice guys!
As we will be in the lakes during the last week in August, I'm guessing that it is advisable to pre-book accommodation?
I was originally hoping to be able to just turn up.
Yes, I'd say it is better to book some accomodation, as it will still be high holiday season, although some shops might be opening during the last week of August already...
I live few km far from Milano and, even if I live in Lombardy, I prefer the lakes in Piedmont: therefore I would invite you to consider the Maggiore lake more than the Como lake. Less crowded and probably more fashinating villages; the train will take you there in 1.5 hours from Milano.
I am sorry that I will be at the seaside on the second half of August, otherwise I would have been pleased to guide you here!
Enjoy your stay in this part of Italy.
Thanks for the info!
Lake Maggiore looks very interesting Mauro. I'm going to look into it.
What's the seaside like at that time of year - equally busy I assume?
At that time of year. I'd book, even though I don't usually.
Whatever you do, don't hire a car if you can possibly avoid it. I have driven cars and ridden motorcycles on three continents, and the Italians are the worst drivers I have ever encountered. This includes Greeks, Mexicans, Maltese, Indian...
Roger. I'm doing my utmost to avoid driving.
I want a relaxing holiday!
Hence trying to find somewhere to stay with good transport links.
Suggestions welcome. :)
Somewhere around Maggiore is looking favorite at the moment.
I have twice driven through the northern part of Italy. The Dolomites are awesome mountain ranges that are very photogenic. Pension Verona is a nice place for lodging. It is to the north of Varona. Padova or Padua has the oldest botanical garden in the world, and it is a good place for a camp to drive out from to Venice with a bus. This way you can enjoy the daily lives of the Italians riding on the bus. The bus ride takes you to the center of Venice, and it allows you to avoid leaving your car in a parking lot outside Venice. Bolzen [German name] is a beautiful town. I forgot what the Italian name was. They have plenty of hotels and apple orchards and beautiful scenics to boast. The northern part of Italy is called Southern Tyrol, and it used to be a part of Austria. The locals still speak German, which infuriates many Italians. Each year, a special Alps commando team parades and has maneuvers in South Tyrol, reminding the locals who is boss. Milano is close by, of course. A great drive by car is to cross the Grossglockner Pass from Italy to Austria and then drive back again. You will get awesome photos.
Never leave your camera gear in the car or in a lobby or in your room or anywhere except always with you. Let's just say, there are people who "borrow" without returning.
edit: I did not see the last post in which you expressed no wish to drive.
I would suggest you to consider Novara (a nice historical town 40 km west of Milano) as a location: it is on the rail line Milano - Torino (I think you will enjoy also this town, now famous for Fiat cars, but it was our first capital city when the Kingdom of Italy was founded: therefore, many wonderful buildings of that era - second half of 1800), and linked via rail to the maggiore lake. I live 20 km west of Milano and 20 km East of Novara: please let me know how I can help you.
By the way, seaside resorts in Italy are quite crowded during August, but you can discover some quiet sea villages where you can spend relaxing days "far from the madding crowd": of course our resorts are different from Hastings where I spent some summer vacations.
Thanks for that suggestion Mauro - I'm going to look into Novara.
It seems most places around the lakes are booked up.
I'd be grateful of any suggestions of places worth spending some time that won't be completely booked up.
Thanks to all in this thread. We found it very helpful as we will be going to Como via Milan this coming October. Much appreciated.
Dear Bob, I suggesto you to visit the website www.turismonovara.it: it is the official site of the tourist office of Novara, where you can find out many useful information in order to plan your stay (hotels, b&b, restaurants, history, suggested trips etc.). Please feel free to ask for my help.
One bit of advice others are leaving out: bringlots of money. August around the lakes can get frightfully expensive in a hurry. I once had to climb the passes to get back to Zurich, 'cause I didn't have the money for the tunnel... it went all in wining and dinning!
Try using www.virtualtraveler.com. It gives a lot of useful tips by people who have traveled to these places. It can save you plenty of money.
Well, it now seems we will most likely be spending half the week at Lake Garda staying in Torri del Benaco.
Anybody visited Lake Garda. I plan be making my way to Torri del Benaco by train & bus does that sound feasible?
you had already many good suggestions, do not need to add more. I have a small sailboat on Como's lake and I would follow mfogiel suggestion: take a train to Como's and than travel by ships around. I do not know yet my programs for end of august, pm me a few days before arriving maybe we can meet. THIS (http://www.rangefinderforum.com/photopost/showphoto.php?photo=24161&ppuser=3692) is just a picture from the lake...
have a nice stay !
I'd just like to say thanks to everybody for all their help. It is much appreciated.
We have finally found somewhere to stay in Bellagio (on Como).
I'll post some pics when I return. :)
I was at Lake Como for a week in April: flew to Milan from Aberdeen and hired a car.
Beutiful place- take lots of film.
If driving be aware than the road from Como to Bellagio is a nightmare. Ensure you've a digital camera to record the evidence when the tailgating Italian rear-ends you as you do an emergency stop (in my case when a nun reversed a van onto the main road from nowhere).
Ha ha! I hope you got a picture of the nun too. :)
Bearing in mind the reputation of the Italian roads, I've refused point-blank to drive. It is a holiday after all! We're (hopefully) letting the train take the strain.
I've already started ordering extra film. :)
Take the ferry to go across to Menaggio, Caddenabia and other places and look at the beautiful villas. You are in a very nice area in Italy. Have fun and show us your pics when you returned.
For an outstanding day trip, rent a car and drive up over the Simplon (Simpione) pass into Switzerland. Incredible views.
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