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Last leg of FOOD TRIP in Northern Italy

So we have all but completed our itinerary for our 2 week trip to Northern Italy. We are having a bit of difficulty planning the last 3 days of our trip. Any ideas of a place that is nearby this itinerary that is a great place to visit ?

2 weeks starting in:
Days 1 -3 land in Malpensa and drive to Alba and stay for 3 days touring Alba and nearby cities
Days 4-6 drive to Sestri Levante and stay for 3 days
Days 7-9 drive to Bologna stay for 3 days
Day 10 stay in osteria in Parma country side
Days 11-13 UNPLANNED!
Days 13 leave from Malpensa

We would prefer for the last location to be somewhat near Malpensa (within an hr drive). All suggestions welcome as no preference as what we would like to do. So far I am leading towards either Mantova or Padua....Thanks again!

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  1. If it's food you're looking for, go to Mantova, not Padova. I spend a lot of time in Mantova and you can go back and see what I wrote and where to stay.

    19 Replies
    1. re: allende

      Have you been to Pavia? I like the idea of Mantova only it seems to be 3 hrs from Malpensa and we do not want to drive 3 hours before going to the airport.

      1. re: FoodExpression

        Im forgetting when you will be there - I think in the hot summer, right? Malpensa is not far from the lakes and a goodly way west and north of Milan - you might consider a couple days and nights near Como or Lake Maggiore (with which I have no experience however. or around lago di Garda, farther east.. Bergamo is also a nice place (a little elevated, and with some good eating and sightseeing) for the summer heat - Id say 1-1/2 hr from Malpensa. .

        There is a nice restaurant in Oleggio, a little hill town just a few miles from Malpensa if you want to spend your last night nearby, Il Gatto e La Volpe - reservations are essential.
        http://maps.google.com/maps/place?oe=...

        Search the board you will find some recommendations of it.

        If you are working your way back from E-R Mantova is a great stop as Allende suggests - Padua will take you too far east.

        1. re: jen kalb

          @ FoodExpression
          Yes, I have been to Pavia. Pavia is an eh city, not really interesting either for food or the city itself. Mantova, and the surrounding countryside is very interesting, both for the city and restaurants and food. Go to Mantova for two days, spend the last night at Cascinalenuovo in Isola d'Asti ( and have a great meal) and you're 1 1 /2 hours from Malpensa.

          1. re: allende

            Allende,

            I will certainly try to go to Cascinalenuovo on the first leg of our trip. Just a pain to worry about driving back to Alba after a bottle of wine with dinner. Also we could stay there one night but it seems that all of the best restaurants that we are selecting are in the osterie so we must either stay the night or drive there.

            Mantova seems very interesting...2 nights is hopefully enough. Thanks again for the recommendation. Will report all finding when we get back in mid July.

            1. re: FoodExpression

              Have fun.

              Where are you planning to eat in and around Alba.

              BTW, we've never found a great place to eat around Malpensa and we've tried a lot of them over the years (including one last week; mistakes continue to happen) before deciding that the last night at Cascinale with great food and nice comfortable rooms was really worth the next morning's drive to the airport.

              1. re: allende

                there is always the option of dropping the car off in Milano and taking the train out from there. We liked the drive over to Malpensa through the countryside from Oleggio but there arent any outstanding lodgings there.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  So Il Gatto e La Volpe is closed for dinner as its a Sunday. Should we still try to stay in Oleggio as there are other dining options in town?

                2. re: allende

                  Il Gatto e La Volpe in Oleggio is a wonderful trattorie 15 minutes from Malpensa.

                  1. re: Villasampaguita

                    Il Gatto e La Volpe requires reservations well in advance. In June of 2010, I called about a week out and they were full for the one night we were staying nearby.

                    1. re: jangita

                      you're saying it! we stayed nearby specifically to eat there and naively tried to walk in. Not a chance. Looked great, and a fine view out over the Po plain too.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        I didn't know it was so popular these days, last time I ate there made a reservation the day before.

                  2. re: allende

                    Here are the places that we need to decide upon for our stint in Alba. Input is welcome! We will be in Alba for 3 nights so that is 6 meals. lol

                    RISTORANTE BOVIO in LA Morra
                    Catiza-Alba
                    La Libera-Alba
                    Osteria dell Arco-Alba
                    Piazza Duomo-alba
                    Il Cascinalenuovo in Isola d’Asti
                    Osteria Veglio
                    Trattoria La Coccinella-Serravalle Langhe

                    1. re: FoodExpression

                      If you are really interested in good food, I would skip all three of the first places you listed in Alba; you can do much, much better. I have not been to Duomo because I don't like culinary jokes and my friend who is a well known barolo producer says it is just there to show foreign guests (of producers) that the Italians can do what the French and Spaniards can do. I very much respect his opinion. He knows a lot about food, has a barolo vineyard and eats out very frequently.

                      La Coccinella, we were disappointed in. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing special. Read my comments in a Piemonte blog from last year. After going to Da Bardon (read my comments from the other day), I'd go there way before Veglio (which I like).

                      For whatever it is worth, in no special order, our favorites are Da Renzo in Cervere (certainly in place of Duomo from what my friend tells me), Cascinalenuovo, Il Centro in Priocca, and Da Bardon.

                      1. re: allende

                        Ill add it to the itinerary. I also am not so keen on dining in white tableclothed restaurants EVERY night. I enjoy fancy meals but sometimes the food is more genuine when it is a more casual restaurant or trattoria.

                        1. re: FoodExpression

                          Amen, amen.

                          Da Bardon, for a trattoria meal, is really great; for the food, the service and the spectacular wine list.

                      2. re: FoodExpression

                        We had a very good dinner at Bovio last fall and I had probably THE best dish of that trip at La Libera. I would return to either restaurant in a heartbeat. We also had a great lunch at Villa Tiboldi outside of Canale (127 Case Sparse), sitting on the terrace with a view of the vineyards. We followed the lunch with a tour of the nearby Malvira winery ... very memorable afternoon!

                        1. re: ekc

                          We are leading toward Da Vittorio in Bergamo or Al Sorriso in Novara for our final evening. I think its a win-win situation.

                        2. re: FoodExpression

                          I would drop Piazza Duomo for the reasons Allende cites. I would definitely add Il Centro. I liked La Libera very much when I went there a few years ago. Another place I feel should not be missed is Trattoria Cascina Schiavenza in Serralunga d'Alba.

                          My report from last fall's trip to Alba:

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/810190

                          1. re: FoodExpression

                            As others have said, I would eat outside Alba, Il Centro in Priocca always gets good reviews, Ciau del Tornavento in Treiso if you want to splash instead of Il Duomo, I also like Rabaja in Barbaresco. Haven't been to Da Bardon, although we tried many years ago but it was summer closing, but I would trust Allende's reviews. Also Al Enoteca in Canale is very good and we have gotten rave reviews from gourmet guests of the new La Rei restaurant near Serralunga, who went there twice.

              2. You might want to consider Bellagio, on Lake Como. It is breathtakingly beautiful, and there are a number of good restaurants. We stayed and dined at Albergo Silvio, just outside the town, and had memorable meals.

                1. Seven months ago we spent the last day of a three week trip at Al Sorriso. It is in the village of Soriso, near Lake Orta, no more than an hour drive to Malpensa. We had many very fine meals on our journey (thanks, in particular, to Allende's advice regarding the Langhe leg), but none to compare with the superb cuisine of Chef Marelli. I have dined at many 3 star Michelin restaurants and been disappointed at more than a few. Al Sorriso merits it's stars.

                  1. We dined very well at Da Vittorio, but based on two dinners at each of the two restaurants you are now considering my recommendation is easy. If you are interested in what's on the plate then Al Sorriso is the better choice. Da Vittorio offers a more luxurious setting, more polished service, and a much better wine list. Its proximity to Bergamo (as opposed to Al Sorriso and a visit to Orta San Giulio) is, in my opinion, also in its favor. However, if first and foremost it's "about the food", then for me Al Sorriso is the clear winner.