Ask Joan: Wine tasting in Verona and exploring the Cinque Terre

Verona and the wine regions, going to Lake Garda,visiting Pisa and navigating all the options for the Cinque Terre

 

We three women friends are celebrating our birthdays with a trip to Verona in June. We will have two free days and as the other two are committed wine drinkers I would love to organise a wine tasting in a vineyard near Verona - we won’t have a car. Any suggestions would be wonderful. Is a day trip to Lake Garda possible? We will be staying near the train station. - MB

Verona is surrounded by some of the most famous wine-growing regions of Italy, Valpolicella, Amarone and Soave. Pagus Wine Tours in Verona organise daily tours to the wine regions. You have a choice of visiting a vineyard for an afternoon, take in lunch or dinner. Tours cost from €60 - €110. Tours can be booked in advance online or by telephone, (00 39) 0458000424 valpolicellawinetours.com

Getting to Lake Garda is easy from Verona. A 15 minute train trip will have you in Peschiera where you can get the boat service to other lake side towns. You can either take a hydrofoil, catamaran or the slower pleasure boats.

Two towns to consider for your day out are, Malcesine where you can take the Gondola to Monte Baldo which rises 1,760m and has spectacular views all over the lake. Only worth doing if it is a fine day so you can enjoy the 360 degree view.

The other town is Riva del Garda right at the top of the lake. It is a lovely old town with a park and nice squares for sitting out watching the world go by. The Leon d’Oro Restaurant, Via Fiume 28, is a lovely authentic place for lunch.

I would love to visit the Cinque Terre and Pisa area and I’m hoping my travels will help me move into my sixties with fortitude and a “can do” approach!! I have gone online and am bewildered with the endless possibilities proffered. I have spoken with some travel agents and they don’t seem to know the hotels their agencies are recommending.

I am looking for a hotel with character/charm in Pisa (one night) and then for six nights in the Cinque Terre area, in early June. My husband and I will fly from Dublin. I would so appreciate your advice on how to make my hopes for my first holiday as a (reluctant!!) 60yr old a reality. - MP

Did you contact Topflight.ie, they are the specialist in Ireland for Italian holidays and their staff would normally visit all the hotels they use. There is a trip to Pisa and the Cinque Terre which includes one night either end in Pisa and five nights in Monterosso al Mare. It costs from €799pps and includes flights, seven nights hotel accommodation with breakfast, and train tickets to Monterosso.

Topflight also has a walking holiday of the Cinque Terre, if you are feeling a bit adventurous and a nice selection of high end hotels. You can call Topflight on (01) 240 1700 or get the lovely brochure from your local travel agent.

Going it alone there are flights with both Ryanair and Aer Lingus to Pisa this year, however it might be worthwhile considering flying into Pisa out of Milan or indeed Nice rather than backtrack. You can check trains on trenitalia.com and bahn.com.

Consider staying in the Relais I Miracoli hotel for the best views in Pisa, rooms from €175 per night, relaisimiracoli.it. For a traditional Italian small hotel with antique furniture and lots of atmosphere, the Centro Storico is charming. Well located for exploring the city it costs from €110 per night, centrostoricopisa.it.

The Cinque Terre is only a six mile stretch of the Italian Riviera and hugely popular. It gets big influxes of visitors during the day, both day-trippers and cruise passengers. There are five towns of the Cinque Terre, Monterosso Manarola, Riomaggiore, Vernazza on the coast and Corniglia inland a little.

There is an excellent blog written by Bianca Gignac called the Italian Fix and I think that will help you decide where you would like to stay in the Five Lands, and has great suggestions of things to do 

Send your queries to jscales@irishtimes.com

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