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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > July 2017 > Great Escape NORTHERN ITALY

Great Escape NORTHERN ITALY

Touch down in Milan, home to the country’s most inventive minds. From here, follow a route of enduring or rediscovered classics: admire Lake Como from every angle, raise a toast in Soave and Bassano del Grappa, and relive the experience of travellers over the centuries who have all been mesmerised by Venice.
The terraced gardens of Villa Serbelloni Bellagio, seen on a seaplane flight over Lake Como

Plan your trip

1 A love of design – from fashion to furniture – is ever-present in trendsetting Milan, in its shops, grand façades and backdrops to a predinner drink (p44).

2 Lake Como has Hollywood A-list credentials, but you don’t have to be a celebrity to explore and find unique ways to see its beauty afresh (p46).

3 Wine- and grappaproducing artisan wineries and distilleries dot the sculpted hills and fertile plains around Soave and Bassano del Grappa (p48).

4 From economic powerhouse of the seas to masked party animal, Venice has known many historic guises, and continues to surprise today (p50).

MAP ILLUSTRATION: ALEX VERHILLE. PHOTOGRAPHS: MATT MUNRO

HOW TO GET THERE

Milan is the gateway city for Northern Italy: its two main airports, Malpensa and the smaller but closer Linate, are served from major UK cities by Alitalia, BA, bmi regional, easyJet, Flybe and Ryanair (from £80 return; easyjet.com). As this feature involves a trip from Milan toVenice, choosing a pair of one-way flights – into Milan and out ofVenice Marco Polo Airport – means not having to double back.

HOW TO GET AROUND

A rental car offers the most flexibility for days spent outside Milan orVenice. Compact models start at around £30 per day from Milan airports. Returning the vehicle toVenice airport incurs a drop-off fee of around £60 – though you’ll save much of that in petrol and motorway tolls by not having to drive back to Milan. Roads around Lake Como and the hills of Soave are scenic if often narrow; inter-city drives on an autostrada (motorway) can be dull on the plains, but very direct thanks to the legacy of ancient Roman planning. Much of this itinerary is also doable by train: Como town is easily reachable from Milan, and Bassano del Grappa likewise fromVenice (trenitalia.com).

HOW LONG TO SPEND

Two nights in each location should be the minimum, making a trip of just over a week. With more time to spend, add extra days to see the sights in Milan andVenice, try a stop-over inVerona, or explore the great Palladian villas between Vicenza and Venice.

WHAT TO BUDGET

Milan, Venice and Lake Como are all places that can attract a prestige price tag. Count on at least £100 per night for a room in a mid-range hotel in shoulder season. Accommodation in the Soave region is significantly cheaper, though the choice is more limited. Mid-range restaurants with table service in Milan andVenice typically charge £12–£24 for a main course; it’s usually cheaper outside the cities, and you can also save by taking some meals at ubiquitous panini and pizza joints. Venetian cicchetti (tapas-like dishes) are often cheap at around £2 per plate. Petrol prices are about 10–15 per cent higher in Italy than in the UK, though trains and other public transport are usually cheaper than their British equivalents (with the exception of waterbuses in Venice).

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July 2017 issue of Lonely Planet.
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