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italy: piedmont or lakes region

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sam Dec 5, 2004 06:11 AM

My wife and I will potentially have two days to spend in Italy after a vacation in southern Switzerland (near Lugano) with extended family. We are looking for someplace that is roughly between Lugano and Milano. I was thinking of piedmont or one of the lakes but have never been. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We would probably like to be in a countryside setting rather than a city. Thanks!

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  1. j
    JmVikmanis RE: sam Dec 5, 2004 09:10 AM

    I recommend staying on Lake Como in Menaggio, Varenna or Bellagio. All three are accessible one from the other by lake steamer. We have stayed several times at the Grand Hotel Menaggio in that city. It is directly by the boat station. Other places to stay include GH Victoria and Bellavista in Mennagio, Hotel Florence and Belvedere in Bellagio and Hotel du Lac in Varenna. All three towns/villages are charming and relaxing. Places to eat while you are there include:
    GH Menaggio dining room, pretty good
    GH Victoria at the other end of Menaggio, elegant with high ceilings and old world charm
    Vecchia Varenna and Hotel du Lac in Varenna--both serve Pizzocheri (pronounced peet zoc o ri, not pizza cherry as I mistakenly thought). It's a buckwheat noodle dish with swiss chard and wonderful cheese. A comfort casserole if ever there was one.
    Bilacus or Hotel Florence in Bellagio. I've not eaten at the former but it has been recommended by diners I trust. The latter is also an elegant old world place. Even if you don't eat there, have a drink at their beautiful bar.
    Enjoy. Lake Como is lovely. If you want more travel/sightseeing info about the place go to fodors.com, click on travel talk and then europe and search using lake como. There is a wealth of information there.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JmVikmanis
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      sam RE: JmVikmanis Dec 5, 2004 09:31 AM

      Thanks for the helpful suggestions. One follow-up: it turns out that the Swiss location from which we will be departing for Italy is Ascona (not Lugano), which is on the Swiss part of Lago Maggiore. Should we still do Lago di Como, or should we venture "inland" such as piemonte? THanks.

      p.s. The trip is planned for May if that makes any difference.

      1. re: sam
        t
        torta basilica RE: sam Dec 6, 2004 09:40 PM

        My thought is after doing Lugano & Ascoa (which are fabulous), you'll have had a lot of lakes (& you can always visit the other ones while you're here) - I'd go for the land & less lakey idea for your last 2 days.

      2. re: JmVikmanis
        s
        sam RE: JmVikmanis Dec 5, 2004 09:32 AM

        Thanks for the helpful suggestions. One follow-up: it turns out that the Swiss location from which we will be departing for Italy is Ascona (not Lugano), which is on the Swiss part of Lago Maggiore. Should we still do Lago di Como, or should we venture "inland" such as piemonte? THanks.

        p.s. The trip is planned for May if that makes any difference.

        1. re: sam
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          JmVikmanis RE: sam Dec 5, 2004 10:42 AM

          I'm not well-versed in Piedmonte so I may be a poor person to advise you. I can tell you that I spent an entire vacation of about 14 days in the Lake Country, did not find it boring, enjoyed each of the lakes including Maggiore with its Borromean gardens, but found Como best. May should be lovely there. Probably warm enough to swim in the hotel pools.

      3. r
        Rune Aresvik RE: sam Dec 5, 2004 01:40 PM

        The lake region is wonderful. We lived for three years in Switzerland, and visited often. Certainly for your geographical "limitations", it fits the best.
        However, we are just back from a long week-end in Piedmont, and I have lost my heart (again) to this region. It is very beautiful, with rolling hills, hill-side villages, and (at least this time of the year)mystical fog. The people are very, very nice and kind (much nicer and less touristy than Tuscany), and the food and wine is simply great. Last week-end we went absolutely crazy eating white truffel, which you will not be able to do in May, but the food will still be great.

        We stayed in Villa La Favorita just outside of Alba, and can strongly recommend it. The owner, Roberta, is fantastic and arranged all kinds of wonderful activities for us ranging from good restuarants to winery visits to an actual truffle hunt with a dog. You will find her web-site below.
        Have a nice stay.

        Link: http://www.villalafavorita.it/home_uk...

        1. d
          DavidT RE: sam Dec 6, 2004 03:38 PM

          That is a very tough question. I think Lake Como is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I would recommend staying at Albergo Posta in the village of Moltrasio, on the west shore of the lake, north of the city of Como. The hotel is modest and is directly across the street from the village ferry stop. They also have a good restaruant.

          On the other hand, if you are into food & wine, the Piemonte, especially the Langhe region (around and south of Alba), is one of the great places on earth.
          Visiting the vineyards of Barolo, Barbaresco, etc. is a terrific experience if you are interested in wine.
          The dining in this part of Italy could be the finest in Europe.

          I highly recommend ataying at Al Cardinal Mazzarino in the village of Cherasco. It is a small B&B (only two guest rooms) run by Nucci & Flavio Russo. They will help you find places to eat and visit.

          If you do web searches, you should be able to find websites with contact info for both places.

          The good news is you cannot go wrong with either choice!

          1. e
            eater RE: sam Dec 6, 2004 04:48 PM

            I heard Gaja just opened a hotel in Barbaresco. I didn't stay there because it was still under construction when I went. In Monforte d'Alba, Villa Beccaris is the one I recommend, especially because it's very close to two of the finest restaurants in Piedmont: Trattoria della Posta and da felicin.

            1 Reply
            1. re: eater
              t
              torta basilica RE: eater Dec 6, 2004 09:56 PM

              Now if they offer complimentary wines... how good would that be?!

            2. v
              Victoria Libin RE: sam Dec 7, 2004 12:53 AM

              I would do Piedmont, you can always go to the Piemonte side of the lake for a day trip (about 1 hour drive).

              As far as places to stay, I had a fantastic experience this fall at Villa Tiboldi. It is part of a the Malvira estate (top producer of Roero with many 3 glass wines). The value for money is there with some of the best accomodations and views I have seen anywhere in Italy. Only caveat is that the road leading up the hill to the Villa is a challenge.

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                Peter R. RE: sam Dec 7, 2004 04:01 PM

                I just returned from Piemonte on Sunday, having spend two wonderful days there. It is unbeatable. Suggest you consider staying at Il Castello di Villa in Isola d'Asti. It is a Swiss run, former manor house. Wonderful people as well. As for food, the are an unbelievable number of choices, but at the top of my list at the moment are: I Bologna in Rochetta Tanaro; Trattoria della Posta in Monforte d'Alba (skip da Felicin); Il Centro in Priocca; Enoteca in Canale and Antica Corona in Cervere. All are within easy drive of Isola d'Asti and Alba. Also consider trying Guido in Pollenzo. If you want further details on any of the above, email me.

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