Tripologist travel tips and advice: What are the must-do highlights of Italy in summer?

I have a week of personal time tacked onto an Italy work trip in July and so my husband is coming along - neither have been before. We start in Milan and fly out of Rome direct to Perth a week later. Lake Como feels like a must, but what else should we try to see? Views and meals are more important than museums!

J. Mackay, St Kilda Vic

July is problematic in Italy. The cities are mostly hot, crowded with tourists and exhausting and the coast will be packed, and with just a week to spare you want to keep travel time to a minimum. What I suggest is three nights at Lake Como, using the ferry system to explore the villages, the fabulous garden at Villa del Balbianello and lakeside bars where you can sip Aperol spritzes and sigh. Family-run Villa la Mirabella (villamirabella.com) is a favourite, in a prime position overlooking the lake at Tremezzo, close to the famous gardens at Villa Carlotta and opposite Bellagio.

Next stop, Modena, a glamorous mid-sized city in Emilia-Romagna that sees few tourists. Modena is one of the gastronomic capitals of the universe, with the usual northern Italian jaw-dropping assembly of churches, palaces and nice places to sit over an aperitif and watch the world go by. Epicures come to worship at the Michelin three-star Osteria Francescana (osteriafrancescana.it) but it's tiny and you would need to book now. Spend three nights. The fastest trains will get you from Como's San Giovanni Station to Modena in just over three hours with one or two changes.

Last stop, Rome, another three-hour train trip, and a single night in Rome is almost criminal, but perhaps a taster for next time.

I'm fascinated by Tibetan culture and I want to plan a trip to India's Ladakh. Is it possible to do this solo and organise my visit when I get there or should I pre-book a tour?

A. Reynolds, Killarney Heights NSW

You can fly from Delhi to Leh, capital of Ladakh, and Qantas now has several weekly non-stop flights from Sydney to Delhi. It's best to plan an initial couple of days in Leh doing nothing more strenuous than breathing, with very gentle walks. Leh lies in the valley of the Indus River at an altitude of 3500 metres and you'll find even a mild uphill walk leaves you short of breath. And everything is uphill from Leh. You'd do well to have a lung function test before you set your plans in motion,

You need to take a tour. World Expeditions (worldexpeditions.com) has several Ladakh trips which vary from easy to challenging while Banyan Tours (banyantours.com) has a high-end, culturally immersive trip staying in village houses which have been upgraded to Western standards. There are also several Leh-based tour operators, found easily via Google.

Advertisement

Four friends are travelling to the UK in September and looking to take a barge holiday for about a week. Hoping for gorgeous countryside, lots of pubs and not too many locks to contend with.

B. Appleby, Ballarat Vic

A narrowboat cruise from Whittington to Llangollen, which straddles the Welsh-English borders, could be just what you're looking for. The 20-kilometre trip takes you through the beautiful Vale of Llangollen, along the incredible 307 metre Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which straddles the River Dee and through 421 metre Chirk Tunnel, both built more than two centuries ago. If you happen to be in Llangollen on a weekend, take a ride on the historic Ruabon to Barmouth Line which winds through the storybook North Wales countryside, an absolute cracker. From Llangollen you need to return the boat to Whittington, allow three days each way. See Whittington Wharf narrowboats (whittington-wharf.com) for more information.

I'm taking a Hurtigruten cruise out of Bergen, is it worthwhile taking the Flam Train?

H. Andersen, Picton NSW

Absolutely yes. The Bergen Line (vy.no) from Oslo to Bergen takes you across Europe's largest high mountain plateau, with never a dull moment in the seven-hour journey. Hop off at Myrdal and board the Flam Train (norwaysbest.com) for the steep, 20-kilometre journey down to Flam on the edge of Aurland Fjord, a regular feature on any list of the world's greatest train rides. The train takes you past dramatic granite formations and the Kjosfosse sinkhole where a waterfall disappears into the ground at your feet. If you can, spend the night at Flam, it's a world-class wonder.

Got a travel question? Include your name and suburb or town and send it to Michael Gebicki - tripologist@traveller.com.au

Travel advice appearing on these pages is general; readers should consider their personal circumstances.

Comments