How to go from Milan to Como and Bellagio by train

How to go from Milano city center or from Milano Malpensa airport to Como lake main destinations: Como and Bellagio. A complete set of options and travel tips, including a travel map.

Como lake (actually we should call it Lario lake) is one of North Italy  top destinations, and lovely Bellagio is its pearl. Despite being relatively close to Milan, getting there as independent travelers could be tricky. So here is a quick guide with all the information you may need to go from Milano to Como and to Bellagio, should it be for a day trip or for a longer period.

Just in case you feel happily on holiday and not interested in handling Italian public transports: click here for a nice day tour from Milan!

From Milan city center to Bellagio

The easiest way to get to Como and Bellagio from Milan is to start from the “Trenord” station in Cadorna square. You can easily get there by metro Red and Green.

In Cadorna station catch a train to Como Nord Lago. There are many trains, at least one per hour, and they take one hour to get you to Como. Tickets cost 4,80 € per person.  Here is the Trenord web site to check departure times.

Actually there is no need to purchase tickets in advance, these trains have no seat reservations (so tickets cannot sell out). It’s your choice whether to purchase the ticket on line or at the train station, just remember that:

  • train tickets must always be purchased before travel. You must stamp your tickets in the yellow machines usually to be found at the end of the platform. During your journey, an inspector will check your tickets and if you are found without a ticket or an unstamped ticket, you will be fined.
  • tickets bought online must be used on the booked train, or a similar train in the following 4 hours.

Once you get to Como lake station you have 2 options to proceed to Bellagio: the bus or the boat.

The boat is of course the most enjoyable way to get to Bellagio, especially if the weather is nice. However it’s more expensive than the buss, less frequent, and it can take up to 2 hours if you take the normal Ferry boat which stops in all the lake shore villages. It’s a very enjoyable trip if you are not on a rush. Otherwise you can take the hydrofoil, which only takes 45′.

To get to the pier, walk 5 minutes to the lakefront and boat ticket office (Cross the road to the lake opposite the station and turn left). Tickets must be purchased prior to boarding. Here is the link to the schedule.

Otherwise, you can take the convenient bus which will get you to Bellagio in a little more than one hour.

Buses depart just outside the train station. Use the exit toward the lakeside and you find the bus stop at your left. Tickets can be purchased from the bus station ticket office and cost 3,70 €.
Bus stop in Bellagio is on lakeshore, between Villa Melzi’s garden and the car ferry terminal. Here is the link to the schedule.

In case you wish to go to Bellagio as a day trip, you will be better off if you plan ahead, so not to lose too much time waiting for your buses or boats.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Bellagio

From Milano Malpensa airport to Como and Bellagio

Milano Malpensa airport is the main international hub in Milan, if you are coming from outside Europe you will probably land here.

To go from Milano Malpensa airport to Como you will need to take the Trenord Malpensa Express train, which leaves from Malpensa Terminal 1 (below the Ground Floor / Arrivals area) and connects to Milano Cadorna every 30 minutes.

Purchase your ticket to Como Lago, take the train (Milan direction, you can’t get it wrong) then get in Saronno and catch the first train to Como. You Have trains at least every hour, more frequent during rush hours, expect to get to Como in 50 minutes.   Here is the Trenord web site

Once in Como, just follow the same directions explained in the previous paragraph to get to Bellagio by boat or by bus.

Alternative route to and from Bellagio

You also have the possibility to leave from Milan Central Station and catch a train to Varenna, and from there a boat to Bellagio. This is a less convenient solution since you will need to walk or take a taxi from Varenna station to the pier. However it could be a good solution in case you have connecting trains leaving from Milano stazione centrale, for instance to go to Venice or to the Cinque Terre.

Here is what it looks like:

Catch a train to Varenna at MIlan Central Station with Trenitalia. This is their web site. The final destination of the train is Sondrio or Tirano (this is what you will see on the information boards). Trains leave approximately every 2 hours and the journey takes roughly one hour.

From Varenna to Bellagio, exit the station and either take a taxi to the boat landing stage (approx. cost €10) or turn left and walk down the numerous steps to the road at the bottom. To avoid steps you can follow the normal road. Turn right until you come to a crossroads (there’s a bar on the right hand corner). Turn left and cross the road – you are now on the main road. Take the immediate right hand turning and walk down towards the lake. At the bottom, turn left and you’ll see the boat ticket office on the right. It will take max 15 min. on foot.

There is a choice of either boats or car ferries from Varenna to Bellagio – both are 15 minute crossings and the only difference is the different point of arrival in Bellagio. The ferry and boat landing stages in Bellagio are within a 5 minute walk of each other right in the centre of the historical part of the town.
Frequency: approx. every hour, 15 minutes journey, € 4,60 per person

If you have enough time and a very light luggage, you may consider to go on the ferries and discover the small towns in the vicinity of Bellagio for a day. These can be done easiest and cheapest by purchasing a ticket called “Centro Di Lago” from the ferry terminal in Bellagio for about 10 euros. The ticket lasts all day but make sure you check which towns they allow you to visit.

There are many organized tours to help you explore Como, Bellagio and the lake shores: click here to learn more about your options!

Hope this is useful.

Enjoy Como and Bellagio!

 

 

 

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Umbria, Italy: top 20 things to see and do

Explore the top 20 things to do and see in Umbria, one of Italy most fascinating regions, surprisingly still off the mainstream touristic itineraries. Discover Umbria charming town such as Perugia, Assisi, Gubbio, Todi, Spoleto and Orvieto.

Umbria, Italy, is one of Italy best kept secrets. It displays fascinating towns and villages, tons of culture, beautiful sceneries, fantastic food, cultural events and much more. And, despite that, it’s still ignored by mainstream tourism. Therefore, you won’t find the tourists crowds that will give you a hard time in Florence or San Gimignano. On the contrary, you will enjoy an atmosphere of bygone times, among the medieval paths, the palaces, the castles and the fortresses of charming villages.

This post is aimed at disclosing the best things to see and do in Umbria. I’m sure that after reading it you will want to squeeze Umbria into your Italy trip plan!

So here we go with the top 20 things to see and do in Umbria, Italy.

Umbria see and do # 1 – Visit Perugia and its medieval art collections

Perugia is Umbria, Italy regional capital. It’s a fairly big city, with modern outskirts, but his medieval historical center, built up on a cliff as usual in Umbria, is fairly intact and keeps all its medieval charm.

If you are passionate about art, you shouldn’t miss Palazzo dei Priori, one of the most beautiful and imposing buildings in Perugia. It is home of  Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria , a superb gallery of Umbrian medieval and renaissance art.

Other top sights not to be missed are:

  • Piazza IV Novembre, Perugia monumental city center, and its beautiful  Maggiore Fountain, carved by  Giovanni and Nicola Pisano
  • San Lorenzo cathedral, and its San Bernardino’s Pulpit, from where the saint used to preach
  • The Basilica of San Domenico, where many statues and valuable works by local artists are housed.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Perugia

Umbria see and do # 2 – Enjoy the Umbria Jazz festival

Umbria Jazz is one of the main Italian music events, and takes place in Perugia in the middle of July. It features artists like Quincy Jones, Gilberto Gil and David Byrne.  Click here for more info and to purchase tickets.

Umbria see and do # 3 – Discover Assisi, the town of San Francesco

Assisi is one of the most famous Italian towns, since it is home of San Francesco, who was born here in 1181 and it is one of Italy’s World Heritage Unesco sites.

But Assisi is much more than that. Regardless if you believe or not, you could hardly avoid feeling the mysticism of this town  and being overwhelmed by the beauty of its ancient white stone streets and palaces. Build over the centuries on the slope of mount Subasio, Assisi overlooks the valley and offer astonishing views, especially at sunset.

The most famous sight in Assisi is the Basilica di San Francesco , where he was buried. Actually you will find two overlying churches, the lower and the upper, both filled with astonishing frescoes by Giotto, Cimabue and others.

On the opposite side of the town you will find Assisi Duomo and its splendid Romanesque facade, dedicated to the other saint of Assisi, San Ruffino.

Try to sleep in Assisi, so that you can visit it when all the day pilgrims are gone.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Assisi

Umbria see and do # 4 – Enjoy Assisi Ester Stations of the Cross

The tradition of moving around the Stations to commemorate the Passion of Christ (“Via Crucis” in Latin) began with St. Francis of Assisi, and has continued century after century since the middle age.

Today, Assisi still hosts one of the most poignant Stations of the Cross of Italy.

Have a look here at my Assisi Stations of the Cross post.

Umbria see and do # 5- Spend a couple of hours in lovely Spello

Spello is a delightful tiny medieval town, ranged on terraces above the Spoleto Valley. There aren’t many major monuments to visit apart from Santa Maria Maggiore church, and its gorgeous frescoes from Pinturicchio.

What makes Spello special is the town itself, with its narrow alleys, the white stone century old buildings and, of course, the laid back atmosphere and the small town charm. The best think to do here is to sit on a café terrace under the tress, order a glass of local wine and enjoy life.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Spello

Umbria see and do # 6 – Assist to Spello “infiorata”

What makes Spello really famous is the tradition of the “Infiorate”, the christian tradition of covering the streets with flowers on the day of Corpus Christi.

Ephemeral works of art, the Infiorate are completed the early morning of Sunday and only last until the religious procession.

Umbria see and do # 7 – Leave your heart in Spoleto

English poet Shelley used to say that Spoleto was “the most romantic city I ever saw”.

Spoleto is worldwide known for its festival, but it doesn’t really need it to attract visitors. It displays tons of beautiful medieval buildings, Umbria’s prettiest cathedral displaying a major Renaissance fresco cycle (1467) by the Florentine Filippino Lippi. an impressive a Roman and medieval aqueduct and bridge that spans a picturesque gorge and a massive fortress. Isn’t that enough?

Click here to find the best places to stay in Spoleto

Umbria see and do # 8 – Assist to Spoleto Festival dei due Mondi

The Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds) is an unmissable annual summer music and opera festival held each June to early July in Spoleto. It has been going on for 60 years, and it’s now a worldwide known event.  It features a vast array of concerts, opera, dance, drama, visual arts and roundtable discussions on science.

More on 2018 Spoleto festival.

Umbria see and do # 9 – Unveil Todi, one of Umbria prettiest cities

Some years ago, the Italian press reported on Todi as the world’s most livable city. Not hard to guess why!

Todi stands  on the top of the hill overlooking the beautiful Tevere Valley. It is limited by three rings of walls (Etruscan, Roman and medieval) that contain the ancient city center. The main square is so perfect that it is often used as a movie set.  It hosts most of Todi medieval monuments: the co-cathedral church (Duomo), the Palazzo del Capitano, the Palazzo del Priore and the Palazzo del Popolo.

The whole square is built over some huge ancient Roman cisterns, with more than 500 pits, which remained in use until 1925.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Todi

Umbria see and do # 10 – Get amazed in Orvieto

Inhabited since Etruscan times, Orvieto’s monuments and museums cover millenniums of history. Its stunning cathedral is one of the best medieval monuments in Italy and the  astonishing St Patrick’s well will leave you appalled.

It’s a delightful town, which deserves at least half day in your Umbria trip.

Want to know more? Have a look at my Orvieto post.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Orvieto

Umbria see and do # 11 – Walk up Gubbio ancient streets to Piazza Grande

Gubbio is the oldest town in Umbria, and one of its most beautiful destinations. It’s relatively small, and its main attractions, such as the magnificent Palazzo dei Consoli (Consular Palace),  the renaissance The Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) and the cathedral can be easily visited in half a day and are a perfect day trip from Perugia or Assisi.

Piazza Grande, overlooked by Palazzo dei consoli, offers astonishing views on the countryside.
Read my full post about Gubbio.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Gubbio

Umbria see and do # 12 – Assist to Gubbio traditions

One of the most crazy and exciting traditions in Umbria (and I would say in Italy) is Gubbio corsa dei ceri (race of the candles). It takes place every year around the 15th of May, day of St Ubaldo. The traditionhas been going on uninterruptedly from 1160.

The candles are three tall heavy wooden artifacts, surmounted respectively by statues of Saint Ubaldo, Saint George and Saint Antonio Abate. With a height of nearly 5 meters, the “Ceri” are impressive to look.  In addition to the parade through the streets of the city, during the competition the candles are carried on shoulders and the “ceraioli” go through Gubbio to reach the  Basilica of St. Ubaldo, located on the top of Mount Igino that overlooks the city.

Here you can find a nice video of the corsa dei ceri.

Umbria see and do # 13 – Enjoy Norcia and its mountain scenery

Not only Norcia is a lovely mountain town, it is also one of Italy’s leading gastronomic centers, offering an amazing selection of truffles, ham, salamis, lentils and cheeses.

The 2016 earthquakes heavily hit Norcia, causing great damages especially to the San Benedetto church. Nonetheless, the town is recovering and is still a great destination. Norcia is also a great hub to viist Piano Grande and the Parco dei Monti Sibillini.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Norcia

Umbria see and do # 14 – Browse Norcia “Norcinerie”

Norcia is so famous for pork meat delicacies like sausages, tasty hams and salami, that in central Italy the characteristic shops that produce and sell them are commonly called “Norcinerie” (litterally “coming from Norcia”).

For sure, in Norcia you can find some of the best Italian pork meat products, as well as famous lentils and delitious cheeses.

In the picture you can see the Norcineria fratelli Ansuini, one of the most reputed in Norcia.

Umbria see and do # 15 – Get amazed at Marmore waterfalls

The Cascate delle Marmore (Marmore waterfall) is the tallest waterfall in Italy, with a total 165 meters height. It is located in the beautiful Nera river park, rich of green meadows, thick forests, teeming streams and hidden gorges. It’s arguably one of the most beautiful areas in Umbria.

Many trails are available in the park, where you can also enjoy rafting, canoeing and canyoning.

Umbria see and do # 16 – Discover Umbria wine routes

There are 4 wine routes in Umbria. They are the ‘Strada del Vino dei Colli del Trasimeno’, the ‘Strada dei Vini del Cantico’, the ‘Strada dei Vini Etrusco Romana’ and the ‘Strada del Sagrantino’. They will allow you to discover Umbria excellent wine production, and to spend an enjoyable day around wineyards and cellars. Click here to find your wine routes map.

Whichever route you decide to explore, don’t miss the tenute Lunelli estate, and it’s amazing cellar “il carapace” designed by world famous artist Pomodoro (it’s the one in the picture)

Umbria see and do # 17 – Discover Bevagna

Bevagna has been (rightly!) included among the most beautiful hamlets in Italy. It has been built in the middle age over an ancient Roman road, which is now Bevagna main street. Bevagna has a lovely central square, piazza san Silvestri, and two beautiful Romanesque churches:  San Silvestro, from 1195, squat and dark with age and San Michele on the other side of the square, known for the wonderfully macabre gargoyles over the main doorway.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Bevagna

Umbria see and do # 18 – Admire the flowering of poppies in the Sibilini national park

Tired of churches, ancient towns and art? Need for some physical activity in a beautiful scenery? Well, the Monti Sibillini is what you are looking for in Umbria.

Monti Sibillini provide great opportunities of  trekking along the many marked trails, with some themed tours like the Zafferano (Saffron) trail. Rock climbing fans will find many opportunities on the slopes of Monte Bove and mountain bikers several marked bike path.  Rafting and canyoneering are also practiced in the Forca Canapine area.

That said, what makes Monti Sibillini unique is the wonderful poppies flowering, which takes place between May and July in the Piana di castelluccio di Norcia.

Umbria see and do # 19 – Walk the mystical Franciscan path of Peace

This is a path that links Assisi to Gubbio, and it follows the route covered many times by Saint Francis after 1206 when he renounced his father’s properties. It’s a religious path and an important pilgrimage destination, so expect loads of mysticism (on top of the exquisite views).

Click here for more info and for the map (unfortunately only in Italian), local tourist office in Assisi can provide further guidance.

Umbria see and do # 20 – Raft on the Nera River

Just downstream Marmore waterfalls, the Nera river offers some of the best rafting spots in Italy. Operators offer experiences with different level of thrill, so this could be a funny completion of a day visit to the waterfalls.

Rafting Marmore is a well known operator who also offers hydro speed and canyoning experiences.

Click here to know more about exciting experiences in Umbria

Enjoy beautiful Umbria!

_____________________________________________________________________Delightfullyitaly.com: Italy top destinations and travel itineraries, off the beaten path

Delightfullyitaly.com is the blog for all the ones in love with Italian culture, Italian sights, Italian monuments .. and with Italian food! If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discoveredVenice , Rome , Florence , the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures. And if you like what you read, why not follow delightfullyitaly.com and get free updates?

 

 

Day trip to Cinque Terre

The easy walk from Monterosso to Vernazza is arguably the  most scenic and famous path in the Cinque Terre. You will walk among the renowned Cinque Terre vineyards (ever heard of Vermentino and Sciacchetrà?) and enjoy breathtaking views of the steep cliffs, blue sea and beautiful Monterosso and Vernazza sights.

Here is a quick video to anticipate what you will see when you get there.

Continue reading “Day trip to Cinque Terre”

What to do in Italy at Christmas time

Centuries old Italian Christmas traditions, delightful Italian Christmas markets, delicious Italian Christmas cakes: here is the list of the five (plus one!) best things to do in Italy at Christmas time.

Discover Italian Nativity scenes

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Preparing a Nativity scene (“Presepe” in Italian) is a widespread Italian Christmas tradition, especially in Southern Italy. Every church will display a nativity scene, and some are real masterpieces, with moving elements and detailed scenes displaying Italian rural life in the XVIII and XIX centuries. Unsurprisingly, baby Jesus is only displayed after December 25th, while you will have to wait until the Epiphany to see the three wise men!

The largest and most famous nativity scenes can be found in St Peters square and on the Spanish steps, but exploring Rome or Naples churches to find the Nativity scenes you like the most can be a really funny way to spend an afternoon, especially on Christmas day when museums and other attractions are closed. If you travel with your children, they will surely enjoy! Continue reading “What to do in Italy at Christmas time”

How to visit the Cinque Terre in one day

Key info and tips to visit the Cinque Terre in one day from Florence or from Pisa. Discover and enjoy the most of the Cinque Terre if you only have one day: charming Monterosso, Vernazza and Manarola.

Ideally, you would like to dedicate at least a couple of days to explore beautiful Cinque Terre, plus maybe two or three days more to visit Portovenere and the Golfo dei Poeti, Santa Margherita and Portofino, and beautiful Abbazia di San Fruttuoso. Unfortunately, not so many travellers have more than one day to visit Cinque Terre, and many want anyways to get a glimpse of the Cnque Terre while staying in Florence or in Pisa.

So this post if aimed at the rushy travellers, who want to see in just one day Cinque Terre key highlights: Monterosso, Vernazza and Riomaggiore. It is intended to give you the hints to visit Cinque terre on youself, which is not that difficult.. Alternatively, you can participate to an organized tour, which will probably alow you to see more. In case you are interested, click here for a very good Cinque Terre day tour.

The cinque Terre are five hamlets built on steep hills overlooking the Mediterranean sea., they are accessible from Florence via Pisa. Cars are not allowed, so only way to visit is by sea or by train or, of course, by walking the many trails. This is the cinque terre map, where you can see where the five hamlets are actually located and the main trails.

The cheapest way to organize the trip is to use train. You have many trains leaving from Florence and getting to Moterosso in as less as 2:10 hours, with a change in La Spezia to catch the Cinque Terre Express, the shuttle that connects the five hamlets.

Returning to Florecne will take the same amount of time, so check Trenitalia time table to select and to reserve the train best suited for you.

cinque-terre-map_credit to James Martin
Credits to wanderingitaly.com

The most popular (and, unfortunately, crowded) trail is the so called “Sentiero Azzurro” (blue trail), which is the closer to the coast, and the only one that requires an entry ticket (7€). You can’t do it all in one day, so my suggestion would be to limit your walk to the Monterosso – Vernazza segment (roughly one hour), so that you can visit the first two hamlets and use the frequent local train to visit Riomaggiore and Manarola, if you still have time, or continue walking from Vernazza to Corniglia (another hour).

Unfortunately, the famous Via dell’Amore (a beatiful trail linking Riomaggiore to Manarola) is presently closed due to a land slide.

So here we go with your tour.

Your gateway to Cinque Terre will likely be Monterosso. This is the largest of the Cinque Terre, the only one with a beach and the one with the highest number of hotels and Pensions.

The railways station  is located on the main beach, close to the Tourism office, to get to the old town walk on your left for less than half a mile and take the short tunnel.

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Monterosso beach

Moterosso is a delightful ancient village, which has kept all the charme of the past. You will find some very good restaurants, my preferred is the one just on the small cove.

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Monterosso main square

The Sentiero Azzurro starts just on the beach, just follow the many panels.

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Monterosso – the trail to Vernazza

The trail starts climbing on the hill, and you will shortly be walking among some of the most amazing vineyards you may think of.

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Monterosso vineyards

The Cinque Terre are reputed for their wines, you should taste the Vermentino (fruity white whine) and the Sciacchetrà, a sweet whine very typicall.

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Monterosso to Vernazza trail – the old staiirs

The trail can be quite steep, and very hot during summer time. I suggets to take plenty of water and, in summer time, to avoid the cenral hours of the day. luckyly, you will find many shade areas along the trail.

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Following the trail to Vernazza

The trail proceeds fairly high in the hills, and offers breathtaking views of the coast and of the villages.

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Amazing view of Vernazza from the top

After roughly one hour, you will get in view of Vernazza.

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Vernazza from the Sentier Azzurro trail

Vernazza is in my view the most interesting and pictureque of the five hamlets. Don’t miss the old romanic church and the remains of the castle, from which you can enjoy a great view.

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Vernazza, the view from the castle
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Vernazza: the romanic church

Vernazza enjoys a bunch of good restaurants, and after all this walking you surely deserve a delicious fish delicacy. Anchovies are one of the local specialties.

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Vernazza delicacies: acciughe and sardine

If it’s not too late (and you are not too tired) you can proceed along the trail to Corniglia (1,5 hours at least) or take the Cinque Terre Express to Manarola and Riomaggiore. You can take the train to Corniglia a s well, in that case take the bus from the station, so not to climb all the stairs.

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The coast towards Corniglia
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Corniglia breathtaking terrace

Riomaggiore is the last of the Cinque Terre,and one of the most visited.

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Riomaggiore view from the sea

From Riomaggiore you can catch your Cinque Terre express to La Spezia, and from there back to Florence or Pisa.



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Delightfullyitaly.com: Italy top destinations and travel itineraries, off the beaten path

Delightfullyitaly.com is the blog for all the ones in love with Italian culture, Italian sights, Italian monuments .. and with Italian food! If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures. And if you like what you read, why not follow delightfullyitaly.com and get free updates?

How to travel from Florence to Pisa

How to easily travel by train from Florence to Pisa (or from Pisa to Florence), for a day trip or as a stop on your way to Cinque Terre. How to by train tickets, walk from station to leaning tower and tips to plan your climbing on top of Pisa leaning tower.

Pisa leaning tower is an iconic Italian destination and travelling from Florence to Pisa an easy one hour train trip, so what are you waiting for?

Visiting Pisa can be an easy day trip from Florence, or a stop while going to or coming back from Cinque Terre (it’s the same train line). This is what the itinerary looks like: Continue reading “How to travel from Florence to Pisa”

The ten best restaurants in Milan, plus one

Treat yourselves with these ten great restaurants in Milan, where to taste the best Italian food in delightful locations, at a reasonable price.

Forget Pizza ans spaghetti Bolognaise: here we are talking about some of the best food you can taste in Italy, in posh locations and with a great service! This is my very personal selection of the restaurants in Milan with the best quality/price ratio, those where I usually have dinner with my friends and family.

I will not present the true Milan top dining places, such as Savini, Cracco, Joia, Aimo and Nadia, Armani Nobu and the similar (much too expensive for most travellers), but rather 10 excellent Milan restaurants when you can enjoy a a fantastic meal in a great location, spending around 50-60 € per person (the wine you will choose could be a major driver of your bill…).

Continue reading “The ten best restaurants in Milan, plus one”

Amalfi coast Italy: discover Amalfi, Positano, Ravello, Praiano

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The Amalfi coast Italy, is a not to be missed destination for any Italian traveler. Read this article to discover the best sights the Amalfi coast Italy, and use the interactive Amalfi coast map to fine tune your trip. Explore main highlights such as Amalfi, Positano and Ravello and get to know its off the beaten path hidden jewels.

Imagine ancient white hamlets perched on high cliffs, overlooking the deep blue Tyrrhenian sea. Add cytrus fields, steep light grey mountains, medieval churches, hidden fjords and beaches. Complete with amazing sea food and a “dolce vita” feeling stronger than anywhere else in Italy. That, and much more, is the Amalfi coast, Italy: you can’t really say you know Italy without visiting this delightful destination.

While you can have a glimpse of it in a day trip from Naples or from Sorrento, the Amalfi coast deserves at least two or three days, if not an entire week.

So here is my personal Italy Amalfi coast Italy itinerary. It will let you explore all the area, including off the beaten path jewels such as the mills valley and the astonishing “path of the gods” trail . My recommendation is to complete this tour by one or two days in Capri, which could be easily reached by hydrofoil from Positano. In my view, Sorrento can be skipped, but I leave this to you.

A last tip: like most central Italy destinations, best time to visit the Amalfi coast Italy is from May to early July, and, even better, from mid September to October’s end. Weather is perfect and the area is not too crowded (better to avoid week ends if possible). Absolutely avoid July and August, when the heat and the crowds would spoil most of the enchantment.

 Amalfi coast Italy five days tour: click on the image to get to the interactive Amalfi coast map

Amalfi coast tour map

Amalfi coast Italy tour – Day one: Salerno-Amalfi, Amalfi tour

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Amalfi cathedral

My Amalfi coast Italy itinerary starts in Salerno, very conveniently located for those arriving from Rome on a high speed train. Salerno itself deserves a visit, but if you are short of time, just jump on a  cab to the harbour and get the hydrofoil to Amalfi (here is the Ferry company  web site). You may also take a bus, but a journey by boat will give you a fantastic initial glimpse of the coast.

Amalfi used to be one of Italy’s four powerful maritime republics (with Venice, Pisa, and Genoa). Today, Amalfi is one of southern Italy top touristic destinations. You will enjoy its scenic seafront setting, its tiny, centuries old alleys, crowded of interesting workshops and delightful restaurants, and, of, course, its amazing cathedral, the Duomo.

Amalfi’s cathedral, the “Duomo di Sant’Andrea”, is a beautiful middle age church, perched on top of a monumental stairway and  fronted by an intricately patterned façade. Next to the church lies the XII century Chiostro del Paradiso, or Cloister of Paradise, whose somber Romanesque tone is enlivened by Arab elements.

You can decide to sleep in Amalfi or to spend the night in romantic Ravello.

Amalfi coast Italy tour – Day two: Ravello and valle dei mulini

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Sea View from Villa Ruffolo, Ravello

Your second Amalfi coast Italy day starts in ravello, which is considered one of the most romantic and beautiful small towns in Italy.

Perched on steep, terraced slopes it is a place blessed with lush gardens, quiet lanes, sleepy, sun-drenched corners. Perched high above sea level, Ravello will offer you unbelievable views over the azure coast below.

Highlights of  your visit are the 11th-century cathedral and its two major villas, Villa Rufolo and villa Cimbrone, who have hosted many VIP travellers of the past such as Richard Wagner (both can be visited). Villa Cimbrone is now a hotel, where you can enjoy spending a night (if your wallet is big enough!).

When you are done with Ravello, you can visit the Valle dei Mulini, a steep-sided ravine dotted with ruined watermills (“mulini”). Locals once used the mills to make paper, an industry for which Amalfi was, and still is, famous. It’s a fresh and relaxing walk, far from amalfi’s crowds.

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The Valle dei Mulini, Amalfi

Amalfi coast Italy tour – Day three: Amalfi – Conca dei marini – Furore – Praiano – Positano

Your third Amalfi coast Italy day will lead you to Positano, not before discovering some really amazing jewells along the road. Leaving Amalfi towards Positano, you will find many places worth a visit. Grotta dello smeraldo is one of the unmissable ones.

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The Emerald Grotto, Conca dei Marini

Conca dei Marini is one of the several delightful hamlets that dot the Amalfi coast. However, what makes it unique is the astonishing Grotta dello Smeraldo (the emerald cave). This cave is a cove in the coast which contains all the most spectacular colours of the nature. The visit by small rowing boats will be one of the highlights of our trip.

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Furore fjord

Your next stop after conca dei Marini is the lovely Furore fjord, another often overlooked sight.

Furore fjord is a narrow gorge cutting inland from the sea. A cluster of old fishermen’s houses cling to the cliffs. It is bypassed by an arch bridge over which a state road passes. The 30 meters high bridge is also the location where every summer the International Diving Championship is held

It’s a great place for a stop, especially on midday, when the sun manages to break through the narrow gorge and shines on the short beach. An old lime kiln has been converted into a bar and gift shop, perfect place for a glass of white whine.

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Praiano from the above

Continuing west from Amalfi, the increasingly spectacular corniche will get you to Praiano.

Praiano has two characteristics: the stairways and the little votive altars. Stairways are everywhere but the continuous up and down is worth the effort because the panorama is breathtaking. The little votive altars were built by the families on their properties to claim their possession to the place. Take some time to go visit the beautiful church of San Luca Evangelista, that is the fulcrum of the city, and the Torre a mare (Tower in the sea).

Back on the road, after a few miles you will get to breathtaking Positano. Plan to arrive in the afternoon, so you can enjoy the sunset and leave more time to day four.

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Positano

Amalfi coast Italy tour – Day four: Positano and the coastal road

Positano is the most impressive town on the Amalfi Coast, and arguably the most photographed of the region. Its the highlight of your Amalfi coast Italy trip.

Seen from the sea, Positano shows a dramatic vertical panorama of colors. The green of the Monti Lattari, the white, pink and yellow of the Mediterranean houses, the silvery grey of its pebble beaches and the blue of the sea. Just amazing!

The sea colour is crystalline and its black, volcanic sand beaches such as Marina grande and Fornillo are an irresistible temptation.

On top of the exceptional landscape, you will love the church of Santa Maria Teresa of the Assumption and its colored tiled dome, the Saracen towers, the little villages of Nocelle and Montepertuso which are places of an extraordinary beauty.
Positano is also known for its shops, selling local pottery and leather sandals. Local craftsmen produce them in traditional small workshops you can visit.

Don’t forget to taste local delicacies: on top of seafood you should have a try to local desserts such as Delizie al limone (soft pastry with a delicious lemon flavoured cream) and  torta positanese (cake with almonds).

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The Amalfi coast road

If you have a car, you may enjoy one of the most exciting driving experiences in Europe by driving from Positano to the end of the Amalfi gulf. The roads along the Amalfi Coast are famously winding, narrow, and challenging to drive. Add in drop-dead views and daring Italian drivers, and you have all you need for a high adrenaline experience! However, better to plan a drive of the Amalfi Coast during the shoulder tourist seasons. In mid-September to October and May, the road is less crowded and lumbering tour buses are fewer.

Another great activity you could plan when in positano is a hike on the God’s Path (Sentiero degli Dei).

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View from the Sentiero degli Dei

The Sentiero degli Dei links the tiny hilltop town of Agerola with Nocelle, a fraction of Positano nestled on the slopes of Monte Peruso.The name of the footpath clearly suggests how amazing the views could be! The hike can be hard, especially during hot summer days, so plan it with care. Local guides are available to assist you.

Amalfi coast Italy tour – Day five: Positano – Capri

On your last Amalfi coast Italy day, you can either proceed to Naples (and,, why not, have a stop in Pompei) or take an hydrofoil to Capri for a glorious conclusion of your Amalfi coast Italy trip (click here for the time tables). Then from Capri you can easily get to Naples (many hydrofoils, one hour trip) and then to Naples train station.

To know more about why you just can’t miss Capri, have a look at my post: Capri: breathtaking Faraglioni and Natural Arch walking tour.

 

Enjoy Amalfi coast Italy!


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Delightfullyitaly.com: Italy top destinations and travel itineraries, off the beaten path

Delightfullyitaly.com is the blog for all the ones in love with Italian culture, Italian sights, Italian monuments .. and with Italian food! If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures. And if you like what you read, why not follow delightfullyitaly.com and get free updates?

 

 

 

 

Details from Milan Expo

Half World food Disneyland, half architectural fair, Milan Expo is eventually finding success, as demonstrated by the long queues to access the site (avoid visiting during Week Ends!).

In this post I would like to share some really nice shots from a friend of mine, who made a great job focusing on expo pavilions details. They will give you a different view of what you are going to find at the Expo.

Remember, the Expo will last only until end of October, so hurry up!

Many thanks to Federica Donati for the great shots!
FD

Florence in a day

How to discover Florence in a day by foot, including some hidden jewels, off the beaten path. An interactive Google map will make it easier to follow your path.

Let me tell you before hand: visiting Florence in a day is possible, but this wonderful town would deserve more than one day of your Italian itinerary. But if you have to rush, here is a walking itinerary to have a glimpse of Florence in just a day.

Continue reading “Florence in a day”

Tremiti islands, pearls in the Adriatic sea

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In front of the Gargano peninsula lies a miniature paradise surrounded by the blue sea: the Tremiti islands.

Tremiti Map

Tremiti are a delightful archipelago of three islands (San Nicola, San Domino and Capraia), 36km offshore of the Gargano peninsula, in the Northern part of Apulia.

Its picturesque sight of raggedy cliffs, sandy coves and thick pine woods, surrounded by the glittering dark-blue fascinates the happy few travelers happy enough  to spend there a few days . Tremiti islands are a maritime reserve, and their surprisingly clear deep blue water make them a real wonder of nature for snorkeling and. diving enthusiasts.

Evocative sunsets can be admired from the Island of San Nicola where, at sunset, a soft rosy color paints the whole panorama.

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Like many other awesome islands (such as Ponza and Procida), the islands were used for the internment of political prisoners during Benito Mussolini’s Fascist regime. Indeed, a good reason to fight for political freedom!

Ferry services from the mainland operate from Termoli, Foggia, Vieste, Rodi Garganico and Capoiale.In order to savour the islands’ tranquillity visit during the shoulder season, avoiding July and August, when the small islands receive a sometimes excessive quantity of tourists.

San Galgano and the sword in the rock

Italy owns its peculiar Sword in the Rock: you can find it close to the awesome San Galgano abbey ruins. Galgano Guidotti, a knight and later a saint, stabbed it in the rock nearly 800 years ago as a cross pilgrims going to Rome could worhip (read here Galgano Guidotti full story).

San Galgano abbey and the sword in the rock in the nearby Rotonda di Montesiepi are an unmissable destination when exploring southern Tuscany.

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Santa Cecilia in Trastevere

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Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is a beautiful ancient church, off the mainstream Trastevere restaurants and night life district.  5th-century church in Rome, Italy, devoted to Saint Cecilia, in the Trastevere rione.

The church is devoted to the Roman martyr Cecilia, martyred by the late fifth century. St. Cecilia was a native of Rome, of a good family, and educated in the principles and perfect practice of the Christian religion. In her youth she by vow consecrated her virginity to God, yet was compelled by her parents to marry a nobleman named Valerian. Him she converted to the faith, and soon after gained to the same his brother Tiburtius. The men first suffered martyrdom, being beheaded for the faith. St. Cecilia finished her glorious triumph some days after them.

Santa Cecilia hosts a poignant statue of the saint, which depicts the three axe strokes described in the 5th-century account of her martyrdom.

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If you wish to visit Sante Cecilia, have a look at my walking tour in Trastevere post.

Matera, the amazing cave town

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Matera is one of the most  original and  fascinating destinations in Italy.

In the remote southern region of Basilicata Matera is famous for its extensive cave-dwelling districts, the sassi. It looks so ancient and odd, that Mel Gibson choose it to shoot his Jesus of Nazareth movie!

Matera is still an off the beaten path destination, but since it has recently be nominated European culture capital for 2015, things may likely change in the near future. Better to book your ticket to Matera now…

Hell in Bologna

The Basilica of San Petronio is the main church of Bologna, and the fifteenth largest church in the world (132 metres long and 66 metres wide).

One of its most fascinating masterpieces is the Chapel of the Magi, hosting the awesome Heaven and Hell fresco by Giovanni di Pietro Falloppi. It depicts Dante’s vision of “Inferno”, with a gigantic figure of Lucifer consuming sinners.

Cinque Terre travel tips

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Cinque Terre are five amazingly constructed fishing villages, set amid dramatic coastal landscapes. Cars are mostly banned, so you can only visit them by boat, car or foot!

However, all the Liguria coast from Portofino to Lerici is worthwhile visiting. So here are my Cinque Terre travel tips.

 

What to see:
– Cinque terre: 5 tiny colored villages (Monterosso,Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore – http://www.cinqueterre.it/info.php) clinging to steep hills, in front of a deep blue see: it’s a natural reserve and a Unesco heritage (http://ventisqueras.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/vernazza-cinque-terre-italy.jpg)
– Portofino, posh and beautiful village, one of the main “dolce vita” spots in the ’50s and San Fruttuoso medieval abbey, located in a secluded beach (http://www.italia.it/it/idee-di-viaggio/mare/portofino.html). You can only get there by boat or after a long hike.
– Sestri Levante, picturesque Liguria village, with a beautiful small beach (the baia del silenzio) and a gorgeous promontory overlooking the sea (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cb/Sestri_Levante_and_Baia_del_Silenzio,_the_Bay_of_Silence.jpg)
– The “Golfo dei poeti” (poets’ gulf), with Portovenere and Lerici as main highlights (http://www.hotelportovenere.it/foto/aeree/01.jpg)
How to get around:
Having 2-3 nights (equivalent to 3-4 days) will allow you to visit most of these places, and to have some time to relax as well. And the good new is…  you don’t have to trek (if you really don’t to)! These places can all be easily reached by train (http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=4ddd1a035296f310VgnVCM1000005817f90aRCRD) or, much better, by ferry boat (http://www.traghettiportofino.it/index9ed2.html?lang=en and http://www.navigazionegolfodeipoeti.it/orario.asp?lang=eng).
That said, you have many fantastic hikes, the most famous of which, the Via dell’Amore (more a romantic promenade than a real hike, indeed), is unfortunately still closed due to maintenance works. Nevertheless, a (short) hike among the Cinque Terre vineyards is an experience I strongly recommend!