Now that we three ladies have our passports which meet all requirements; the airline premium coach seats reserved; light luggage with spinner wheels; comfortable walking shoes; the credit cards with the European chip for added security with the benefit of less than 1% currency exchange fees; cell phones verified to have the frequencies between 900 and 1800 MHz so that we can use them in Europe in the event of an emergency; and our adapters so that we can charge our phones and cameras, we still had a lot of work to do. Preplanning will facilitate a more pleasant trip even though we are traveling in Italy where no one can count on anything working smoothly. Remember that we want to maintain a total budget of $5,500 per person including our airline fares for a 30 day tour of Italy.
We had to decide on an itinerary for the first few days which included a wish list of which destinations were a must visit for all three of us. The routing that we all agreed to follow for the first five days is to arrive in Milan, Italy while having a car with driver waiting to take us directly to Bellagio, Lake Como where we will reside for 3 nights. Then on the morning of the 4th day, we will arrange for a taxi to transport us to the Lake Como train station with direct routing to Milan where we will stay one night. Fortunately, our Milan hotel is close to the train station. We do plan to purchase tickets to attend the 2015 Worlds Fair in Milan. I have footnoted a link below on how to purchase these tickets. Finally, on the 5th night, we will board a train from Milan to Venice where we will stay for 3 nights.
1.) We fly overnight via Delta Airlines to arrive in a Milan airport the following morning.
2.) Then we are arranging to share expenses for a car and driver to take us from the Milan Airport to our Bellagio hotel in Lake Como.
For this service, we have contacted Como Limo Via Leopardi 7 – 22031 (Como) Italy; FROM USA Tel: 011 39 348 2201286
3.) We will be residing for three nights at Locanda della Maria è un piccolo e grazioso Bed and Breakfast, Via Ludovico Loreti 5, 22021 Bellagio, Italy. The estimated cost is about $60.00 per night per person. This past Fall, a couple that I know well stayed at this Bed and Breakfast Inn and they both raved about how accommodating the owner was towards them. We have reserved a superior room with 3 beds and a balcony view of the lake. The booking was done via Expedia at 1-866-599-6674.
4.) We will follow the 8/7/14 NY Times travel recommendations as per their article, “36 Hours: Lake Como, Italy,” by
1. Faro Voltiano, Brunate; funicolarecomo.it.
2. Mr. Savethewall, Via Giovio 5, Como; savethewall.it.
3. The Market Place, Via Borsieri 21A, Como; themarketplace.it.
4. Fresco Cocktail Shop, Viale Lecco 23, Como; frescococktailshop.it.
6. A.Gi.Emme, Via Vittorio Emanuele II 91, Como; agiemme.com.
8. Villa Carlotta, Via Regina 2, Tremezzo; villacarlotta.it.
10. Theoria, Via Bianchi Giovini 41, Como; theoriagallery.it.
11. Tempio Voltiano, Viale Guglielmo Marconi 1, Como; cultura.comune.como.it/tempio-voltiano. Gelateria Lariana, Lungo Lario Trento 5, Como; 39-031-266-388.
12. Villa Monastero, Viale Giovanni Polvani 4, Varenna; villamonastero.eu.
RECOMMENED NY TIMES LODGING FOR THOSE ON A BUDGET
A restored 17th-century convent has been transformed into B&B Convento Sant’Antonio (Via Rezzonico 23, Como; bblakecomo.it; from 90 euros), a year-old bed-and-breakfast in central Como with three top-floor suites and an ancient stone stairwell lighted with glass chandeliers. The owner, Giampiero Molteni, is an antiques dealer, so rooms are adorned with artworks and beautiful antiques in addition to modern amenities like Wi-Fi, whirlpool tubs and the odd exercise bike.
5.) On the 4th day, we will request the bed and breakfast owner to arrange for a taxi to take us first thing in the morning from Bellagio to the closest Lake Como train station with a direct connection to downtown Milan.
6.) We plan to stay one night at Hotel Berna; Via Napo Torriani, 18, 20124 Milano, Italy +39 02 9475 5704. The room type is a superior room with an extra rollaway bed. This was booked via Expedia at 1-866-599-6674. The estimated cost including taxes is $110.00 per person. Hotel Berna is located in a strategically perfect part of Milan, making it easy for us to get around the main attractions. In fact, the hotel is just 200 metres from the Central Station and 150 metres from the entrance to the two main metro lines which, in no time at all, connect the city’s key sites, allowing us to reach the Duomo, the Castello Sforzesco or the Fashion Quadrilateral in just a few minutes.
On the fifth day, we will tour Milan for most of the day while storing our luggage with the concierge. In the evening, we will take the train from Milan to Venice followed up by a taxi ride from the train station to our Venice hotel.
While you can visit most tourist attractions and museums in Italy without a reservation, there are a few that you will want to book in advance to avoid long waits and a few where reservations are mandatory. These are the top sites and museums that you should buy tickets ahead for and where to buy them. By clicking on the link you’ll find out more about each attraction. Most museum tickets can be bought on Select Italy. The most highly recommended site for purchasing some of the hardest to get in to see and with long lines exhibits is www.weekendinitaly.com.
There is a small transaction fee that is well worth it if you value your time.
If you want to see DaVinci’s famous masterpiece, the Last Supper, in Santa Maria della Grazie church in Milan you’ll need to book two to three months ahead. To help preserve the painting, a limited number of visitors are allowed to enter for a time period of 15 minutes only. Here’s how to see the Last Supper. Last Supper tickets or guided tours can also be booked through Select Italy or www.weekendinitaly.com.For example to prebook the combination ticket of Ufizzi and Academia would cost 41pp. Most cost effective way is booking via official sites listed by Zerlina. Unfortunately the official site can be difficult. The official web site is www.firenzemusei.it/00_english/home1.html and the approved site for bookings is www. b-ticket.com/ b-ticket/ Uffizi/ default.aspx. This site can be difficult to work with to make a reservation.
However, the best way of booking is by phone. There are always more places available by phone than on the web site. The operators speak English, and you do not have to make any payment when you make the booking. +39 05 529 4883 (FOR ACADEMIA). ANOTHER OPTION IS TO PARTICIPATE IN GUIDED TOURS WHICH INCLUDE ADMISSION COSTS.
In Milan, a tour via “Walks of Italy,” the top rated touring company by most travel experts would cost about $157.00 per person for 1/2 day which can include the entry tickets into the most popular museums. The “Walks of Italy” tour company was created in 2008 by an American Yale grad, Jason Spiehler who is an Art historian. His company continues to earn outstanding reviews and is recommended by name in the New York Times travel section.
Train travel is inexpensive and very convenient in Italy. My friend contacted an AAA agent who has recently traveled to Italy with a similar routing plan. Her recommendation is not to purchase the eurail pass but to purchase point to point tickets.
NOTE: I WILL WRITE MORE ABOUT TRAIN TRAVEL IN ITALY ON MY NEXT BLOG. This blog was updated on 2/24/15.
36 Hours: Lake Como, Italy – NYTimes.com www.nytimes.com/…/36–hours–lake–como-italy.html Aug 7, 2014 – In the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, Lake Como
Book These Italian Museums and Attractions Before You Go -goitaly.about.com › … › Things to Do in Italy › Museums in Italy –How to make reservations and buy tickets ahead for museums and tourist attractions in Italy.
Walks of Italy: Italy Tours & Activities https://www.walksofitaly.com/Guided walking tours, small group and private, with central meeting points around Italy. Sightseeing walks feature major or off-the-beaten-path itineraries.
Buy your ticket – Tickets | Expo Milano 2015 www.expo2015.org/en/tickets Expo Milan 2015, tickets for the exposition. … available at a reduced price: click on Learn More for further details and for information on how to buy your ticket.
Italy Rail Passes and Train Tips from Rick Steves …https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/…/trains/italy–rail-passe…Most train travelers in Italy spend each rail–travel day taking relatively short rides on the Milan–Venice–Florence–Rome circuit.
Train travel in Italy, a beginner’s guide | Tickets from €9 www.seat61.com/Italy–trains.htm –2/17/15 – Do you need to buy tickets in advance?• Regional trains, no. For example, Pisa to Florence, Milan to Como or Tirano, Florence to Siena. … • Long-distance trains, yes. For example, Rome to Florence, Milan to Venice. Frecciarossa – Frecciargento – Frecciabianca – InterCity
ItaliaRail offers a quick and easy way to get the best prices on rail passes and train tickets for Italian and European rail travel, with discounts of up to 75% …City-to-City Tickets – European Train Travel Guide