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Where in Italy?

Oak Park, Illinois
Level Contributor
167 posts
75 reviews
42 helpful votes
Where in Italy?

(I also posted this in the "Vacation Rental/Timeshare" forum.

I'd like some guidance on where to start looking for a 6ish week stay in a vacation home in Italy - probably in 2023. Given our limited knowledge of the area, an initial though is the area around Lucca. We'd like some other suggestions. After we narrow down a general area, we'll start looking in ernest.


My wife has all her family in Porretta Terme (south of Bologna/north of Florence). We'd like to be within 1-2 hours of there so that we can visit.

We'd like transportation (train/car) to be accessible so that we can do trips to other regions we haven't visited yet (e.g.,Venice, Naples)

And, of course, there should be local dining and day trip.

Bicycle traveling (short distance) OK.

Haven't thought about if we'd want to be in apartment or home/ in city or away from city center.

Thanks for any guidance you can provide.

9 replies to this topic
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
1,625 posts
231 reviews
113 helpful votes
1. Re: Where in Italy?

My immediate reaction to your question was to ask, "why not Bologna?"

You can make day trips to Ravena, Ferrara, Padua, etc. The food is excellent, and your wife's family are as close as they would be if you stayed in Lucca.

South East England...
Level Contributor
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4 reviews
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2. Re: Where in Italy?

We've been spending our annual summer holidays in Lucca for donkey's years, staying many weeks at a time and have yet to tire of this wonderful, small city. We find it a place to relax, just be and enjoy the daily life of the city. In 2019 we stayed in Lucca for seven weeks without doing any day trips and it was such a joy! In 2017 & 2018 we did a side trip from Lucca of three nights to Bologna and were very taken with that city.


New Brunswick, New...
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2,277 posts
6 reviews
4 helpful votes
3. Re: Where in Italy?

Good ideas from the first reader do make sense. Locations should prioritize more than access to your vital destinations. Do not extend the parameters of your range of exploration and meanderings far beyond what is realistic to cover. No need to participate in an expedition of walking just to arrive at your destinations≥ The cities enumerated by other authorities are within range of trains and should be satisfying to reach easily. Do not put Venice on your list of necessary destinations as do-or-die places to visit when others are closer. Far removed from your central place for setting up camp in one location are enough places too far distant. Do consider Bologna if that location puts you vacation with convenience at center stage for your benefit. .

4. Re: Where in Italy?

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Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
14,288 posts
132 reviews
82 helpful votes
5. Re: Where in Italy?

6 weeks is what you have. I would prioritize the places you want to see and stay there for a few days or longer. As an example you mentioned Venice then land in Venice and spend 3 or 4 days there. The same goes for Rome or Florence or Amalfi Coast if it's part of your plan. Then settle down in the general area such as Lucca for 3 weeks so that you can visit family and tour the nearby area.

Level Contributor
16,388 posts
54 reviews
39 helpful votes
6. Re: Where in Italy?

Given you have a lovely amount of time, 6 weeks.....first ideas:

Venice, Bologna, Tuscany or Umbria region, Naples, Sicily (2 weeks)

OR Bologna, Tuscany region, Rome, Naples, Sicily

Time to grab an appealing guidebook or two, map(s) and a nice glass or wine...paper/pencil/highlighter by your side. You will find this link helpful with planning and organizing tips: https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowTopic-g187768-i20-k10267159-Tips_for_first_timer_travelers_to_Italy-Italy.html

Imperia, Italy
Destination Expert
for Italian Riviera
Level Contributor
36,423 posts
7. Re: Where in Italy?

Lucca is a little under two hours from Porretta Terme, with one change of train in Pistoia. Bologna is 1h 10 from Porretta Terme, by once-an-hour direct trains.

Bologna is better situated than Lucca for trains to Venice and Naples, with fast direct high speed trains taking from 1h 50 and 3.5 hours respectively. From Bologna to Venice, there are also hourly fast regional trains, taking only fifteen minutes or so longer than the high speed trains (because it's not a high speed line), requiring no advance reservations and much cheaper if bought at the last minute (the high speed trains are often cheaper bought on advance).

From Lucca, a change of train is always required except on the short distance local lines to Florence, Viareggio and Pisa.

Level Contributor
6,457 posts
58 reviews
106 helpful votes
8. Re: Where in Italy?

We have twice been frustrated in desire to visit and stay in Castelluccio BO, up the hill behind Porretta Terme. The Monte Piella seems fabled among Italians. They have B and B onsite also are I think are owners of several airbnb properties nearby.

They are closed until January 2022.


From Porretta Terme you take a 787 to Castelluccio!


In searching for Castelluccio information, add BO at the end, for Bologna province. There is another and more popular Castelluccio in Umbria.

For rail, use the Trenitalia website.

https://www.trenitalia.com/ ... device on top right shifts between languages but you must use Italian language station names.

So... Florence is Firenze, main station Firenze Santa Maria Novella, Rome's main station is Roma Termini.

Venice... Venezia Santa Lucia. Bologna Centrale. Milano Centrale. Etc.

Rome airport station is Fiumicino Aeroporto, Milan's is Malpensa Aeroporto.

The rail line through Porretta is important in the history of Italy, in the race of local rulers and businesses to build rail to the north, etc


You can train up the Chrome browser to always translate.


You might consider a leased vehicle from Peugeot/Citroen. This is an Australian site, you will find an equivalent in the US. Booking in December you are likely to get early bird offerings. Pickup at Rome or Milan airport.


Then you would have great freedom.

I find driving in Italy more enjoyable than driving in Australia, the US, China, etc. But it's not for use in cities, it's for wandering the undiscovered.

While we have stayed four weeks in Rome (twice) in the past decade and once in a village north of Rome, you may wish to divide your time between two places.

This trip did not happen but the planning links in the right column may be useful.


Some other Italy blogs here: https://www.blogger.com/profile/14465343834162583738

... especially with a long stay, you need to keep a diary somewhere, blogger is easy.

Wander the map, paper and google, in what's-this-then mode. See if there's an airbnb offering, generally the mood of the apartment reflects the mood of the town. Google the town. Then see if there's a train. There is nothing more important than coming back at the end of the day to a comfortable and joyous place.

Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
1,513 posts
5 reviews
5 helpful votes
9. Re: Where in Italy?

Another vote here for Bologna or somewhere in the countryside nearby. It is so so easy to get many places in Italy from Bologna by train. It is a hub for the high speed rail lines. From Bologna you can go all these places on the fast trains, without changing trains: Turin, Milan, Bolzano, Verona, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples. It's also a very interesting city in itself. Great food, great shopping, the oldest university in the west...

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