When covid-19 outbreak
started we had already booked a trip to Iceland. As months were passing
by, we were looking forward to the chance of being able to make that
travel. And when we thought we were finally going to make it, less than
one month for the departure day, Icelandair cancelled our flights to
Reykjavik and, since the rest of bookings had cancellation free, we
cancelled everything and looked for a new trip to do. We had short
time to organize it but, since I'm always having a list of destinations
with the itineraries made, from that list, the most feasible one was
Northern Italy. Italy, after having got the worst hit of the virus in
Europe, it was recovered better than anyone else and had very few cases
during the summer. It was also in the very short green list in Ireland,
where we were, so we could be free of quarantine when coming back.
So, we could take advantage of the low flight rates
of the crisis and booked our return flights to Milan for the same
dates we had for Iceland, which were our holidays.
The base itinerary was already thought and was based on me
able to show Venice, Florence and Pisa to Eva, which I knew from when I
was a child and she didn't, and Eva could show me the Alpine lakes and
Milan, which she knew from when she was a child and I didn't. So, with
this base, our route should link those points and we added stops in the
way in places like Brescia, Verona, Padua, Parma and the Aosta Valley,
to access to one of the 49 wonders of our list: Mount Cervino or
There were more places for a short visit in the way
when we learned about the ZTL in the cities and how it is an usual
problem for the travellers because of the high fines, we reduced the
list of cities in order to get the risks lower and added San Gimignano,
which will be the most southern place in all our route, This way, cities
like Vicenza, Bologna and Modena were removed from the list.
So, finally, the definitive route plan (number of day and
where we'll spend the night) is the following, starting by September
13th of 2020:
4 y 5: Venice
6 y 7: Florence
The total budget for this travel, counting
flights, hotels and car, is about 1800€, which could be way less by
simply reducing the category or location of the hotels and having
lesser insurance conditions for the hired car or, as suggested in
the "Other expenses" section below, using train for moving
from one city to other.
Choosing flight was an immediate task this time since, with
our fixed dates, we simply checked how much were they with Aer Lingus and,
due to this weird period of empty planes, the rates were so good that
we didn't look further.
Finally, then, the return flights bought to Aer
Lingus by 62€ per person, are the following:
09/22/2020 LIN 11:10
The low rates this year are for hotels too, which must compete
for the few travellers that are there. So, the following prices and
hotels might be not useful for next years. We went to Booking
in order to choose the best option for every place. This time we've
searched based directly in the location for our plans and keeping in
mind that we're having a car.
The first nights we booked were the ones for the first half of
our itinerary, when the option of stopping at Bologna or Modena was
still in place. The first night is in Brescia, with a great Old Town
and halfway to Garda Lake. We've looked for a hotel there, just at the
ZTL border, close to the castle and with free parking, and that's Hotel
Master, a four stars hotel that is giving us all that by 76€.
We quickly noticed that allocation rates in Garda Lake were higher. We still booked one night at Hotel Lago di Garda, within Malcesine's centre, with paid parking, by 107€.
For the next day we booked one night at Hotel Donatello
in Padua by 66€. Its location is perfect: just in front of St. Antonio
Church, at the very border of the ZTL and with paid parking.
We looked for something special for the two nights in Venice and
we knew that a hotel with breakfast in St. Marcos Square would be
expensive, so we've made the highest expense in a hotel of this travel
here. The chosen one has been Hotel Montecarlo, for which we've paid 120€ per night. It's not really that expensive for what it is.
For our two nights in Florence we've chosen a B&B sited a few
meters from the Duomo. This area is obviously within the ZTL, but they
offer an option for parking that includes the procedures for reporting
the plate number to the authorities to be allowed to drive through the
ZTL. We've booked at B&B Le Stanze del Duomo by 83€ per night, which are not including the service of that third-party parking.
When we finally closed our itinerary we booked the rest of
the hotels. The next is for somewhere close to Parma city centre, the
place chosen for our rest in our way to Aosta Valley. The chosen one
is Novotel Parma Centro, a four stars hotel just out of the ZTL and at walking distance to the Cathedral. We've paid 82€ for that night.
For Cervinia area we would like to be in the hotel
across the road of the Blu Lake in order to optimize our chances for
having good views of Mount Cervino, but we found several of the hotels
there were closed, including that one. We end up by booking one night
at Hotel Dama Blanca, in
Valtournenche, by 80€.
We've paid a bit more of the average in this travel for Hotel Astoria
in Stresa, just by the shore of Lake Maggiore. Even though rooms with
views to the lake are quite more expensive, we can get one with views
to the mountain by 110€ and we still have the views to the lake just by
leaving our room.
In Lake Como we've searched for a place in Como because
our highlight there is visiting its Old town. We've chosen the B&B La Terraza di Como, where we've paid
95€ for that night.
And, finally, for our last night in Milan we've chosen the Old
town, within the ZTL, so we have to deliver the car before that. The
chosen one has been the B&B Le Colonne Milano, at walking distance to Duomo Square. We've paid 80€ for it.
With this, the total expense in hotels for this travel is
about 1100€, which is making an average of nearly 92€ per night, which
points to we haven't been saving a lot in allocation this time.
After reading carefully all the options for hiring a car at
Linate airport we chose Alamo (). All of them have bad reviews because
most customers don't understand they're still having charges to the
credit card after even one year, but these are coming from the ZTL
fines and the company has nothing to do with them, even if they're the
ones charging them. So we had to focus on the reviews about extra
charges when returning the car.
Even though there were cheaper companies, they didn't have an
option for zero excess in case of robbery, which is something I'm
always concerned about since it is something I can't control. And we
could also read reviews complaining about charges for tiny scratches
that, sometimes, customers were sure they were already there when the
car was delivered.
We preferred to pay more for a
peace of mind and Alamo was the cheapest one with zero excess
option, which was 220€ over the rate. With this, the total amount we
paid for the car was 624€ for 12 days and zero excess in case of any
For all our visits for this travel, the only one we've purchased
in advance is the one for the Cenacolo Vinciano to ensure we're going
to be able to see Da Vinci's "The last supper" in Milan in the short
time that we're going to be there.
We've paid 15€ per person for our tickets for this visit at 6:45 PM the day we arrive at Milan.
We also need to mention here a expense that we're usually
ignoring but, this time, it is important enough as per explaining it.
It seems driving is kind of a luxury in this part of Italy: petrol
prices are one of the highest ones in Europe but, that cost is not even
close to the one for parking, which is a daily cost and quite
unavoidable. The most expensive places for parking have been Venice and
Florence, where we've paid about 25€ per day. This means that, only in
those two cities, we've paid 100€ just for parking. We've also paid
parking in Malcesine, Verona, Padua, San Gimignano, Pisa, Parma and
And another daily cost on the road is the one for tolls. All
motorways have tolls, so you can pay more than one in one day. Our
calculations are that we've paid over 80€ in tolls in this travel.
Having this, there is a way to save a good amount of money
by having a similar route that could be done by train, which is linking
all the cities.
Detailed plan, then, is like this: