Subject: Re: Italy
Hello again all,

John Wiernikowski asked about travel in Italy this coming April. He will be speaking at a conference in Turin and wants to know about other sites, having 10 additional days.

I have not been to the Piedmonte wine area, but I have been in the Lake district and Tuscany in April. It was a bit rainy and even snowed a bit (Italian Ziners can comment better than I on the general situation). but nothing that an umbrella and a po' di vino couldn't cure.

Actually, I would like to visit the Piedmonte, and, especially, Le Langhe, which I gather is an emerging tourist area, but it is a bit harder to get to than the other major area. How can you not love an area where the house wines are frequently barberas (the third Piedmonte b wine)? Like you, John, I much prefer wines from this area to Tuscan wines, although I hardly qualify as an expert.

As to the Lake district vs. Tuscany, much is personal, especially on a very short stay. Keep in mind that train service from Como to Florence is very good, so you might easily do both. especially if you fly out of Siena or Florence's smaller airport on one leg.

We will be spending about 10 days in those two places this coming May, and we are splitting it 3 days in Como vs. 10 in Florence. Como is magnificent for short stays, but we feel that Florence has it by a substantial marging for stays of a week or more. Besides Florence, you can go to wonderful places like Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa, Lucca or even lesser frequented places like Arezzo.

The question of car vs. train is somewhat personal, although I gather the major problems in parking are not. I have not driven a foot in Italy and do not intend to. Public transportation, while often critized, is excellent. On the other hand, I do not nocice the lunacy in driving in Northern Italy that I notice in Rome and South (or for that matter, US freeways--I can't speak about Canada).

In sum, yes, it is worth it to go from Como to Florence. Train service is frequent and good.

If you do go to Como for part of the time, let me add a suggestion I forgot to in my last posting about this wonderful place. There is a funicolare (cable car) that takes you up from Como town to Brunate that is a short walk from the water taxis. It is delightful to walk around and stir up an appetite for a trattoria called Il Cacciatore (The Hunter).

Regards, Ira Texas