April 28, 2010, 04:39 PM
apartment and activities and ????
My husband and I are going to Italy this fall for up to 2 weeks, give or take. We will be there mid October. We will be focusing on Northern Italy (Alba, Florence, Venice . . .) and it will be all about the food and wine not to mention the exploring. What we would like to have input about is apartment location. We would like to set up a home base and travel on day trips around that part of the country. Also, if anyone has knowledge about activities that my husband would like to do for example helping with a harvest, truffle hunts, a barn raising . . .) He is a very active man and I am afraid that 5 weeks in Europe will send him over the edge unless he has something to do. I do realize that this is an unusual request but he is an unusal man. Italy is the middle of our trip. 10 days in France to start and 4 days at the end in Amsterdam is all that I have planned so far. So, from October 16th - November 5th we will be roaming to places yet determined. I am hoping that with your help I will be able to fill in some of these blanks.
April 29, 2010, 04:37 PM
Around Italy for 2 weeks
in order to provide you with helpful and better information I need to ask some questions.
Are you planning to rent a car during your trip? How you are going to move around Italy?
What areas are you interested in? You mentioned Alba, Venice and Florence, what else have you got on your list?
Tuscany would probably be a good base since it's located in central Italy and weather is milder than in the North. But it depends on your plans.
Regarding accommodations you should look for a proper farmhouse with farm annexed. But still it depends on your plans.
So, we look forward to hearing from you
April 30, 2010, 04:25 PM
Where to go?
Thanks for your prompt reply. As for a rental car we are open to that as well as the train and flying within the country if deemed the path of least resistance. We definitely have discussed doing a bit of all modes of transportation while in Europe. We are interested in areas that provide an authentic, not nessessarily a "geared for tourist", experience. It has never been a priority to do much else than to walk by a tourist attraction. As for where we want to go we have no ideas. I guess the goal here would be to use this trip as a first date. Getting to know the towns, the terrain, the people. We love markets. Food, antiques, you name it we like them. So markets and festivals are high on our priority list. Any places that you think are worth the effort to see would be great.
I'll chip in with some thoughts.
I highly recommend using the train system whenever you can, particularly for the longer trips between each country (France and Italy, etc.) and between Florence and Venice, for example. If you stay in cities or villages, train is a great way to move from one place to the other as most are connected.
Only if you want to stay in the countryside then should you consider the convenience of getting a car.
Tuscany is a great base for anyone that loves food and wine - truffles, chestnuts, olive oil, wine! You don't need to make it to Alba just for the truffles, you'll find them in Tuscany and Umbria which is much closer.
Since you're looking for doing something while here, I also second the idea of looking into real farms that offer the opportunity to participate in the farm activities, whether they be helping with the olive harvest (perfect for Tuscany as October is picking season) or anything else. Truffle hunting might be more difficult as you need a trained dog but I suppose it is likely offered by someone who knows what they're doing.
On the other hand, if this is your first trip to Europe, then you shouldn't really worry about not having things to do since you'll find plenty. Even if you're not interested in getting trapped in the "tourist" experience, you should still experience a few days in Florence, visit Pisa, Lucca, Siena.... you'll have the advantage of having time and not being in a hurry so take advantage of it. As long as you are not in a hurry to "see everything", your experience will be different. Having more time, I'd spend it touring the beautiful but lesser known (to those who want to see the "top" places) areas of Tuscany such as the Maremma, Casentino, Garfagnana and visit the hipptop medieval towns with castles and generally wonderfull osterias and trattorias where you'll find great home cooking. You'll see your time will fly even if you're taking it slow and really enjoying each place. Every little town has a market day at least once a week, in the area at least one town will have a festival centered around food or a particular local dish or specialty or ingredient. In October you can taste the newly pressed extra virgin olive oil - wonderful! Take walks in the forest and gather chestnuts. Enjoy local dishes made with cinghiale, wild boar.
Unless you have specific places you want to visit in "northern Italy", I highly recommend you staying at least a week in Tuscany and really experiencing it. Have you ever been to Rome? You definitely have to see it, spend at least 3-4 days there. As long as you stay away from the very easily identifiable restaurants in the main squares catered to tourists, it is hard for you to have bad meals in Italy.
These are just some suggestions Do let us know what else you're thinking about or planning so that we can offer more ideas....