Subject: northern Italy Itinerary Part 1.
Hello Patsy, Key: * = very interesting; ** = Don't miss, a visit is strongly recommended.

ITINERARY 1, from Milan to Florence by car (lake district, Aosta Valley with Castles, Piemonte wine route and Ligurian sea resorts). This trip will give you a general view of northern Italian countryside.

- 1 day (76 km): rent a car in Milan and drive to Bellagio (in the middle corner of the lake Como) by Lecco (don't stop in Lecco) then drive down to Como (*) city, enjoy its lake promenade and its down town. Stay in Como for a night. - 1 day (58 km): drive to Laveno on lake Maggiore (don't waste your time visiting Varese!). In Laveno you can get a cable car up to Poggio Sant Elena (974 meters high) where you can have a great view of the lake. If you like walking, you can take a walk up to Sasso del Ferro (1062 meters high) in about 20 minutes. Five kilometers south from Laveno along the lake there is Saint Caterina's shrine (*) on the shore (XIII century - great view) which is nice.
>From Laveno you can catch a ferry to Verbania or drive along the lake up to Switzerland (stop in Locarno) and down to Verbania (80 km). Go to Stresa (*) and use it as a base. - 1 day : Go to the Borromee Islands (**) where you can visit old palaces with great parks (both closed in winter) and a fisherman's village. Then drive to Orta, on lake Orta, visit this great town and go to St. Giorgio island by boat (a few minutes). - 2 or 3 days: Now you can spend a few days visiting Aosta Valley (*) or you can miss it out. Aosta Valley: Castles, Nat. Park and ski resort (in winter). Use Ivrea as a base and visit some of castles in the Valley: Verres, Issogne, Montjovet (ruins), Ussel (close Chatillon), Fenis (*) (the most beautiful and preserved one), Nus, and Quart. Visit the regional capital Aosta (*) (founded in 25 BC by emperor Augusto). Chamois is a small town (100 people) on mountain around the Valtournenche valley (1800 meters high) where you can go to only by a cable car, there is no road to Chamois. If you enjoy trekking and walking, don't miss the Gran Paradiso National Park. You can start your walk from Cogne, Valsavarenche (+), Rhemes-Notre-Dame (+), Noasca (+), Ceresole Reale (+), and Ronco Canavese (+) (+ = visitor center). Other famous and characteristic towns are Breuil-Cervinia, St. Vincent, Courmayeur, Champoluc and Cogne where there are great ski resorts which are full of tourists during winter. - 1 or 2 days (48 km): Now you can spend some days in Turin (*) or you can miss it out. You can visit The Cathedral (VX cent.) where the Holy Shroud is preserved, the king's Palace and the Egyptian museum (*) (the most important Egyptian museum in the world after the Cairo one!)

- 2 days (130 km): Piemonte wine route in Langhe district. Drive, by the A21 motorway, to Asti (the district capital) then to Alba. Use Alba as a base. Alba has a medieval down town and it is well know for its truffle fair (late October / beginning of November every year), Alba is the truffle capital! In the Langhe district you can visit Cherasto (XII cent. Castle), La Morra (medieval town), Barolo (where is produced the great Barolo wine that you can taste at the oenological museum in the castle), Dogliani (medieval town surrounded by vineyards), Bossolasco (great view from the Madonna di Mellea's church), Serralunga d'Alba (nice castle), and Grinzane Cavour where there is a castle (XIII cent.), now is the regional oenological museum of Piemonte. In many of these towns you can taste the typical wine of Langhe: Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto, and Nebiolo. If you like wine you mustn't miss this tour! This district is full of tourists only during the truffle fair.

Liguria region: - Now you can spend one full day in Genoa (*) or you can miss it out (120 km). Walk through Via del Pre', Via del Campo and Via Garibaldi, visit Doria Palace, the Cathedral, Tursi Palace, St. Matteo church, Piazza Caricamento and the great aquarium (the biggest one in Europe). - 1 day (28 km): get the A12 motorway and come off in Rapallo (take base). Now you can visit Tigullio promontory (**) and its towns by bus, boat or train. Be sure to leave your car in Rapallo because you can't go to all the towns by car. Start with Camogli. Camogli is a nice fishing village and the 2nd Sunday of May there is a fish festival: they cook fried fish in big pots. Portofino (**) is a picturesque and very famous town. Don't try to go to Portofino by car because only few cars can enter down town! S. Margherita Ligure is a well known seaside resort. Rapallo is a seaside resort with a nice promenade. The Tigullio promontory is a regional park so you can take some relaxing walks in the park and go to the light house, St. Giorgi castle, and to St Fruttuoso Abbey (*). There are no roads to get there so you can go only by boat or on foot. If you like walking, you can take an easy footpath from Camogli to S. Margherita Ligure through St Fruttuoso and Portofino. - 1 or 2 days (40 km): drive to Cinque Terre (**), use one of the Cinque Terre towns as a base (Corniglia, Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, and Riomaggiore) and leave your car there. Visit all or some of these picturesque fishing village. You can go to all the towns by train, boat or on foot. There is a nice (but a bit narrow) footpath that runs through all the towns.

- 1 or 2 days (96 km): use the A12 motorway to Sarzana than drive to Fosdinovo. Fosdinovo is a less touristic medieval town, in the Alpi Apuane regional park, where there is an interesting castle (XIII-XIV cent.). Visit the castle then go back to the motorway and come off in Lucca. Lucca (**) has a very nice medieval down town boarded by well preserved 4 km long walls (XVI cent.), great churches (especially the Cathedral, St Michele in Foro and St Ferdinando). Enjoy walking through the down town. 46 km north of Lucca, close by Braga, there is the Grotta del Vento. It is a great cave under the Apuan Alps. There are 4 possible itinerary (from 1 to 2 hours long), departures every hour. For more information, please check the following web address : . - 1 day (80 km): Go to Pisa (**) and visit the well know Piazza dei Miracoli with the Cathedral, the Tower and the Cemetery. Just a few kilometers east of Pisa you can visit the Certosa di Pisa Abbey (*) (close by Calci). Then go to Florence.

Ciao for now. Marco