Italy

        venice, the dolomites, and the italian lakes - travel notes

      architecture    art    food and wine    gardens and parks    history    sun and sea   
      There are several different ways to combine the destinations in this itinerary. We recommend this order because you won?t have jet lag in Venice, you won?t need to pick up your rental car until after you visit Milan and Venice (where you can?t drive), and you can completely unwind in the Lakes before returning home.

      You can easily add Rome to the beginning or end of this trip. You?ll find our suggested itinerary and links to Rome accommodations, restaurants, and attractions on the Italy home page.

      If you have only two weeks, you can spend one less night in the Dolomites and visit either Lake Como or Lake Maggiore (not both).

      Day 1 - 3, Milan
      If you have never been to Milan before, we recommend that you spend at least three nights there. This will help you get over their jet lag before traveling to Venice. If Milan is not your first destination in Europe, you can stay two nights instead of three.

      Serious shoppers may want to spend two nights in Milan at the beginning of the trip and one night at the end so you don?t have to carry your purchases with you.

      For a list of our recommended accommodations in Milan, click here.

      If you want to attend a performance at the legendary La Scala opera house in Milan, you?ll need to make reservations in advance. Ordinarily, opera season runs from September through July and the ballet season is from September through November. You can get performance schedules and order tickets online from La Scala at www.leonidaniele.it.

      Reservations are required to see Leonardo da Vinci?s "Last Supper," located in Santa Maria delle Grazie. You can make reservations by calling (39) 02.89.42.11.47 between 8AM and 7PM Milan time 60 days prior to the desired visit. Reservations are not taken before then and they are often sold out after that. There is a 1.50EUR charge for reservations. You can also book through www.cenacolovinciano.org.

      Our Milan database contains information about dozens of restaurants and attractions. For specific information including admission fees, hours, addresses, and phone numbers, use the links to the right, or our search engine with the parameters "Milan" and "all."

      Day 4, Venice
      We recommend that you travel by rail from Milan to Venice. There are trains hourly in the morning and the trip takes a little less than three hours. The earlier you arrive in Venice, the fewer expensive hotel nights you?ll need to buy. Fares, schedules, and reservations are available through Trenitalia at www.fs-on-line.com, or through RailEurope at www.raileurope.com.

      For a list of our recommended accommodations in Venice, click here.

      If you are architecture or history buffs, you should take the "Secret Trails" tour of the Doge?s Palace which is given at 10:30AM Thursday through Tuesday. You need to make reservations in advance to do so. If you're traveling off-season and willing to wing it, you can make reservations at the box office if there is any space left. Otherwise, you can make reservations by calling 041.271.5911.

      Our Venice database contains information about dozens of restaurants and attractions. For specific information including admission fees, hours, addresses, and phone numbers, use the links to the right, or our search engine with the parameters "Venice" and "all."

      Day 7, Dolomites
      The best deal we found for rental cars in Italy was through Auto Europe. They work with all the rental companies to find the best deals, and their rates are very attractive. Information and reservations are available at www.autoeurope.com.

      Motoeuropa provides specific information about driving in Europe, including translations and road signs. Find out more at www.ideamerge.com/motoeuropa/. You can get detailed driving instructions through Mapblast at www.mapblast.com.

      We encourage you to get an International Driver?s License before you leave home. They are available at most AAA offices for $10.

      If you are interested in wine, you should visit the wineries outside Treviso en route to the Dolomites. For specific information about wineries in the area, use the search engine with the parameters "Conegliano" and "food and wine."

      The Dolomites are a wonderful destination for people who enjoy mountain scenery, so we have planned three nights here. If you aren?t that active, you will probably be satisfied if you stay only two nights.

      There are several towns you can use as a base to explore the Dolomites. Cortina d?Ampezzo is the best choice for those who enjoy being within walking distance of stylish shops and restaurants. It?s also great for hikers since there are lots of ski lifts that make it easy to explore the higher elevations.

      Those who just want to explore the outdoors will enjoy Merano, Castelrotto, or Bressanone. For those who don?t want to spend a lot, the best values are in Castelrotto.

      For a list of our recommended accommodations in the Dolomites, click here.

      Our Dolomites database contains information about restaurants and attractions in the area. For specific information including admission fees, hours, addresses, and phone numbers, use the links to the right, or our search engine with the parameters "Dolomites" and "all."

      Day 10, Verona
      Verona?s summer opera series in its spectacular Roman amphitheater is one of the most popular in Europe. If you are interested in attending a performance, you?ll need to make reservations well in advance. Performance schedules and online reservations are available through Lirico Arena di Verona at www.arena.it.

      For a list of our recommended accommodations in Verona, click here.

      Our Verona database contains information about restaurants and attractions in the area. For specific information including admission fees, hours, addresses, and phone numbers, use the links to the right, or our search engine with the parameters "Verona" and "all."

      Day 12, Lake Como
      There are several places you can base yourself on Lake Como. Ferry and hydrofoil service is frequent, so you can see everything regardless of where you stay.

      For a list of our recommended accommodations in Lake Como, click here.

      Our Lake Como database contains information about restaurants and attractions in the area. For specific information including admission fees, hours, addresses, and phone numbers, use the links to the right, or our search engine with the parameters "Lake Como" and "all."

      Day 14, Lake Maggiore
      There are several places you can base yourself on Lake Maggiore. Ferry and hydrofoil service is frequent, so you can see everything regardless of where you stay.

      For a list of our recommended accommodations in Lake Maggiore, click here.

      Our Lake Maggiore database contains information about restaurants and attractions in the area. For specific information including admission fees, hours, addresses, and phone numbers, use the links to the right, or our search engine with the parameters "Lake Como" and "all."


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