This post about family holidays in Italy originally appeared in the group Traveling Overseas with Children and is published here with Na’ama’s approval.
Northern Italy with children in October. 11 days, a multi-generational trip (my parents, us and 3 children aged 13, 9 and 4.5).
We started planning this trip in the fall because of the post-autumn trip in Lake Como published by Michal from the blog Roa Olam. I read it and my senses were jolted. I saw the color of the autumn leaves, I heard their crunch, smelled the wood and roasted chestnuts, and mostly I felt very excited about the thought of autumn in Italy.
I hate going abroad in August and during the holiday season, so her very different season was a great opportunity for us. In March, we were booked our flights to Milan with EasyJet. We spent many hours researching the best accommodations and itineraries that would suit all participants. 2 cars, 2 hotels and lots of wonderful moments.
Since there were children on the one hand and adults on the other, the trip needed precise planning. I used the book המשפחה המטיילת and read many recommendations online. I took into account that my children are great travelers, that they are user-friendly and that this was our vacation as well, and not just a list of attractions that should be marked as complete.
At Lake Garda, we chose to sleep in Mincio Valley, about 15 minutes south of the lake. The selection turned out to be excellent because the area is charming, filled with wineries and old cities that are fun to walk around, and our lodging turned out to be a great choice.
Due to our multi-generational trip, we planned a leisurely retreat. We sat in cafes, we took leisurely trips through the towns, we enjoyed ourselves and we strayed off path when something interesting came up. Lots of landscapes, lots of towns, lots of birds to feed and lots of ice cream.
The weather was mostly sunny and we wore thin, long-sleeved shirts. We only had rain for 2 days, but it did not interfere with our plans. Since this is the end of the tourist season, many accommodations around the lakes are closed, many restaurants and attractions are closed and the cable cars are closed, so this should all be taken into account. From mid-October to April, the area goes into hibernation.
Family Holidays in Italy – Day 1 – Brescia and Castelro Lagosolo
On the way from Milan, we stopped at Brescia, which has a charming old town. In the evening, the owners of our lodge sent us to the medieval town of Castelro-Lagosolo for dinner at a local restaurant. If it hadn’t been for the children, we would have been there for hours.
Day 2 – Castelro Lagosolo, the market in Desenzano, Sirmione and Aquagardens
It was a rainy day. Even so, we strolled through Castelo Lagosolo and searched for the heart-shaped lake. We continued to wander through the Desenzano and Sirmione markets. We finished the day in Borghetto and had dinner at Peschiera del Garda. Later on, part of the group went to check out the Aqugardens.
Day 3 – The Eastern Dolmites, Val di Nun, Val di Sola, Friedel Cable Car, Niagara Falls and Nardis
Because of the weather, we decided to travel north to the eastern Dolomites. We drove to Val di Nun and Val di Sola. From Molbano, we took the Friedel cable car to the observation point (the rope park was closed, which really made the kids sad), but we walked through the leaves and enjoyed the colors. We drove through the lake, the castles and the picturesque towns until we arrived at Pinzolo. From there, we continued to Lars and Nardis Falls, and through Val di Sula, where we went for a tour. We finished the day with dinner in Trento.
Day 4 – Pagani factory tour and Verona
Today was divided into two parts. In the morning, we drove out to Modena to visit the Pagani automobile factory. (The Ferrari and Lamborghini factories and museums are there as well.) The second part of the day was dedicated to the city of Verona. Thanks to the owner of our cabin, who was born in the city, the trip included lovely locations and an excellent observation point to view the city, which we reached by going by the Roman Theater. Because of an opera that took place in Arna that evening, it was lit and decorated beautifully, but was closed and we could not enter. The evening ended at a restaurant on the outskirts of Sirmione, which we intended on walking through, but it was really cold so we passed.
Day 5 – Bolzano, a tour of the Loacker chocolate factory, the Old Town market, the cable car and the Meran 2000 roller coaster
The original plan was Venice, but it was raining, misty and cold. We checked out a weather website and changed our plans, heading north on the highway to Bolzano. We went to Loacker, the chocolate factory, and took a tour and walked through the factory shop, located on the outskirts of the city. We then walked to the Duomo, where we had a lesson in faith and values, visited a market in the alleys of the Old City and ate apple strudel in the piazza.
The young at heard took the cable car and rode the train over the city to the observation point over the mountains. The actual young people went to ride the Meran 2000 rollercoaster through the mountains on a road that looked as if it had come out of an commercial. In the evening, we all met up in the elegant town of Marano, with the lovely aroma of roasted chestnut, and wandered and shopped through the city.
I was hoping that we would have enough time left to take the cable car up and climb down through the vinyards, but it was very cold and very late, so we passed.
Family Holidays in Italy – Day 6 – Venice
Much has been written and said about Venice. It is decadent and old-fashioned, tired and energetic, empty of permanent residents, but full of tourists. A type of Disneyland. I must add that the children fell in love with the city and thoroughly enjoyed our day. We peered into the alleyways, and mainly absorbed the city and all it had to offer. And of course, let us not forget – we rode the gondola. The gondolier did not sing us “O sole Mio,” but he told us many interesting stories. The children promised to return with their children. Our work here is done.
Day 7 – Malcesine, cable car to Monte Baldo, Riva del Garda, Verona Falls, Lake Tenno, Lake Ledro and the Museum of Prehistoric Man
We drove around the lake to Malcesine for a tour and a cable car ride to Monte Baldo. We continued to Riva del Garda and the busy promenade with cyclists and strolled through Varone Falls. We had a quick view of Lake Tano and we managed to stop by Lake Ladro and the Museum of Prehistoric Man. We ended the evening at Pesquiera del Garda.
Day 8 – Bellagio, Lugano, Monte Bra and Stresa
This was a transfer day for us – we left the Garda area. We went for a walk in Bellagio and took the ferry to the other side of the lake to climb to Lugano. We went to Monte Bra in Funicular for a wonderful observation point and went back down to walk on the promenade and through the city alleys. We then moved on to Stresa where we stayed at apartments in a wonderful location and with a charming, English-speaking hostess.
Family Holidays in Italy – Day 9 – Dunmahur Community and Subterranean Temple, Alpyland, Isola Bella Palace and Il Centro Mall
The young at heart took a tour of the Damanhur community, including the underground temple, while we rode the cable car under the villa up to Motarona. After 2 cable car rides and another chair cable car ride, we reached Alpyland, the mountain slide. We were almost alone, which made the children happy, and after a few rounds of adrenaline therapy we left. We then sailed to Isola Bella, toured the palace and the gardens, and took in a lot of beauty. The afternoon was dedicated to the new and luxurious Il Centro mall near Varese. We’ve been to many shopping centers around the world, and this is definitely the prettiest.
Day 10 – Domodosola, Chinatown Valley Train, San Maria Maggiore, Chimney Sweep Museum and Locarno
We drove up the mountains to Domodosola, where the Centovalli Line seems to be driving through a painting. The villages, tunnels, cascades and a forest that looked like they came out of fairy tales. You can choose a stop to disembark and return to the train whose last stop is in Locarno, Switzerland. You can either go back and forth or you can sail back. We stopped at San Maria Maggiore where the Chimney Sweep Museum is located. In Locarno, my husband was waiting for us with the car and we returned to Stresa by driving around Lake Maggiore, where we made a few stops along the way. The day ended in Stresa.
We mainly spent the last day at the villa, the children spent it playing in the yard. We took a short stroll through Verona and we left for the airport. It went by entirely too fast.