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Jul 29, 2010 03:05 AM

One night on the way to Tuscany

Hello, I am driving from France to Tuscany at the end of August. I'm looking for a place to stay 'nearish' to Bologna for one night to break up the long drive. We are looking for a smaller town/city to stay in with a good restaurant for dinner. We tried to book Amerigo 1934, but sadly they will be closed at that time, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!



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  1. Much is closed for vacation in Aug. Starting with Ferragosto (15 Aug). In Reggio Emelia, try the Hotel Posta. It is very nice and has a good centro location.

    1. Without knowing where you are coming from in France and what is your likely route, it is really difficult to offer advice. Do you want to be near Bologna for cuisine reasons or travel logistics?

      While it is true that Ferragosto closes many restaurants, country-side restaurants are often doing their best business of the year. But be aware if you are driving a coastal route part of the way and trying to make restaurant reservations, traffic at the end of August could add hours to your estimated travel time.

      1 Reply
      1. re: barberinibee

        Ditto what Barberinibee said. If the intention is to break up a long journey, Bologna - about two hours from, say, Siena - seems late in the day to do so.

        Depending on the point of origin and the total driving time, somewhere further north would, I think, make more sense.

      2. Easier for this Board to recommend if you indicate the route you are taking.
        Bologna is tWAY out of the way if you are taking the coastal route.

        Like others have said, country restaurants are more likely than those in towns to be open in the summer. also day of the week is relevant.

        10 Replies
        1. re: jen kalb

          Hello everyone, sorry for the vague post, I should have included more info! We are leaving from the Auvergne region of France (inland from Lyon) early Monday the 31st of August. It looks like our shortest route is to avoid the coastal route, heading inland past Turino, Parma & Modena just about to Bologna, then veering south to Tuscany. Our overall journey is 11 hours approximately, and we wanted to get more than half way there so our second day of driving is shorter. We were looking at Bologna because it looks like it will take about 8.5 hours to get there, but if traffic will be slowing us down, maybe we should stop closer. I have also heard great things about the city, and its food. I also like the idea of a smaller place to avoid having to find parking and drive in a busy Italian city after such a long day. We ideally would like to stay in a smaller town/city where we can find affordable accomodation, and delicious Italian food. I hope this helps, and you'll now be able to offer some suggestions. We'll be passing Parma & Modena, are these places to stop? Or is there a smaller town off the beaten track worth stopping for? Thanks again!

          1. re: caitlinferguson

            When you are in Bologna, you are almost in Tuscany, I would find it too far down the road. If you want halfway, I'd go for Turin or maybe a bit further Alessandria, both lovely cities with great food and wine.

            1. re: vinoroma

              The logistics of driving into Turin and finding an affordable hotel with parking are pretty daunting. I've not been to Alessandria, so I can't comment.

              There are many country restaurants and agriturismi in the area with lodging and restaurants. It would be much easier in terms of parking, and might be a lot of fun. You could begin to look for them with a google search for "agriturismo Alessandria Italy". You'll get a map with the agriturismi pinpointed, sometimes with reviews.

              If you don't see anything that appeals, the map will continue to indicate agriturismi all along your highway route.

              1. re: barberinibee

                Actually caitlinferguson, the faster way is going along the coast, not heading past Torino, Parma etc. I do this a lot. From Lyon to the border of Tuscany, should be about 6 1/2 hours (don't know how far you are from Lyon). The autrostrade along the coast are also far easier to drive than the A1 down from Piacenza (where you would pick it up after Torino) to Firenze
                A great overnight stop would be in Varigotti (right near Finale Ligure) about 35km. from Savona. The restaurant there Is Muraglia Conchiglia D'Oro, all fish and really great. Fabulous pasta, typical Ligurian fish dishes, wonderful desserts and a very good, reasonably priced wine list. It is right on the Lungomare overlooking the coast. A few years ago, they added some rooms, very comfortable, very clean and reasonably priced ... and you don't have to get in your car after dinner.
                We've stayed there twice and have eaten there perhaps a dozen times.
                Highly recommended.

                1. re: allende

                  The wild card here is that the caitlinferguson is traveling at the end of August, when traffic on the coastal A10/A12 can come to a complete standstill around some autostrade exits and interchanges. Even if that's endurable for the drivers, or they luck out with clear sailing down the roads, seaside locations need to be booked pronto (and make sure you have a guarantee of parking with your hotel reservation).

                  I've never been to Finale Ligure, but I will note that it means heading 35 kms *north* of Savona -- again, at the peak of Ferragosto -- and then retracing the miles to go south to Tuscany the next day.

                  If you pick the coast route, you can look to stay away from the beach towns. There are agritursmi and albergo ristorante in the near hills that will serve food and have parking, and you can find them with google searches.

                  Fred Plotkin was recently here to recommend eating at Manuelina in Recco -- which is just off the A12 autostrade exit marked Recco, 40 minutes south of Genova, on the way to Tuscany. It has an attached villa with rooms:


                  Also much admired for food in Recco is Da O Vittoria


                  You can read the Chowhound exchanges in high praise of both restaurants here:


                  Again, you would need to book pronto. Recco is on the sea.

                  As an aside, which autostrade is the least or most loathsome is a matter of debate. I hate the A7 (down to Genoa, Michelin's preferred route), others hate the A10/A12 coastal autostrade for the constant tunnels, others find the A1 tough going. I think the moral is: Don't book yourself into too much driving in one day, and leave yourself spare time to take breaks from the road all the way.

                  1. re: barberinibee

                    Barberinibee, Finale Ligure is not *north* of Savona as you say. It is south and west, right off the autostrada, coming from France. You do not have to retrace anything. Just look at a map.
                    The next day you just get back on the autostrada and continue to Toscana.
                    At Conchiglia D'Oro, you do not have to "book" a parking space. The parking spaces are for the guests.

                    1. re: allende

                      I wasn't suggesting they book a parking space. By the seaside, they need to book lodgings with guaranteed parking -- and book it soon if they are travelling by the sea in Ferragosto. If they can book your restaurant and be guaranteed a room and parking at the end of August, sounds great if they want to travel the coast all the way.

                      Sorry for my "north" -- it is west of Savona -- but I thought you were suggesting that the travelers take the A6 south from Torino to Savona (to avoid the A1). Were someone to do that, they would have to head west toward France to get to Finale Ligure/Varigotti, and then backtrack the next morning to proceed onward to Toscana.

                      But you are suggesting that the travelers go from the Auvergne area directly to the coast of France, and take the coastal route all the way to Tuscany, overnighting in Finale Ligure/Varigotti? No, they won't need to back track.

                      Just curious -- have you ever done that at the end of August? I haven't. Maybe it's not as bad as I imagine it could be from Cannes to Viareggio.

                      1. re: barberinibee

                        There should be less of a problem then usual re traffic. Depending when "the end of August" is, on the A 10 from France along the coast, there should be less than normal traffic (it will be going the other way; Italians don't go to France in August, and so won't be returning). The major tie up, if there is one, is always at the A7 coming from Vercelli where it meets the A 10, just west of Genova. That, too, will be less than normal because the traffic is going north, not south.
                        Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Last week there was 16 km. of code on the A1 between Fiorenzuola and Fidenza (two tractor trucks had a "problem") and it took five hours to get through.
                        I find that most of the time, it is much easier to take the coast road from France, rather than across the mountains through Torino.
                        Whatever... caitinferguson is in for a real treat if they wind up in Varigotti.

                        1. re: allende

                          Not to sound like that Monty Python routine about British commuter trains, but I think you mean the A26 from Vercelli, which reaches the coast just west of Genova.

                          I agree with you that vehicle accidents can make predicting un-jammed routes impossible and I've not driven around Cannes, Nice and Monaco in August. But I've seen traffic choke points along the Rivera Levante and Viareggio , and heard groans about driving the A10/A12 tunnels, -- although I don't find them too greuling -- I don't know which route should get the nod. But I've not driven the mountains between Torino and Lyon, and apparently you have -- but moreover, it's not my call to make. I wish the travelers luck and a good meal!

                          1. re: barberinibee

                            I did mean A26. Thanks for the correction.
                            The peage around Cannes is infinitely better than driving the mountains between Lyon and Nice and Varigotti is a much much better spot than anything coming down A26 or A1 at that time of year (meaning that most of the great places around Alba (A26) or Parma (A1) are still closed).
                            Amerigo would have been a good spot; one of my favorites... but the rooms leave a lot to be desired.
                            BTW, a hint. When you want to get past Viareggio, do not take the spur (A11) that heads to Lucca west. Just continue down A12 to Pisa north and then head to Lucca. 7 km. longer but never, ever a traffic tie-up as there often is getting off to pick up A11.