The flights worked well, timing was good as was the service with Lufthansa. The Air Dolomiti flights were small, regional but worked to get us to Florence.
Roads in Italy, San Marino, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein
The roads in Switzerland, San Marino, and Liechtenstein were fine, some construction but not bad for narrow mountain roads.
Autostrada in Italy
The roads in Italy were going through lots of construction. They seemed more narrow and crowded. The roads were OK but not as smooth as other European autostradas. The Autostrada was very congested, drivers were Formula 1 “wanna-bes” and very aggressive drivers. There were many toll roads with difficult to interpret directions for taking tickets and paying tolls.
The food was excellent, very light pizza sauce with a great thin crust. The salads were very healthy and excellent. The Panini sandwiches were light and a fast and efficient meal. The piadina sandwich in San Marino was really great. Most of the food we chose were reasonably priced. The seafood pasta dinner in Monterosso al Mar was worth the price for the ambience and the experience.
We had great weather, even in San Marino when it was foggy, cloudy and cold, we were able to get out and see everything. We were very lucky on the rest of the trip with excellent weather in Liechtenstein and in Cinque Terre. Perfect time of the year to travel but fall would be nice also.
Renault – the car was an upgrade to a larger model to accommodate our luggage. It was a nice, generally comfortable with room for our bags and us. The GPS worked well and once we got used to programing the commands we were fine. The owner’s manual was in Italian, with no English translation, but we made do. IE cruise control
Cost – the cost was more than we expected but we did get a larger car, the GPS system, and more insurance, which raised the total amount.
Insurance – luckily we did not have to test the insurance coverage.
Hertz – the initial check in went well but took quite awhile. I am not sure we needed the additional coverage, but it made us feel better to have the mid-range plan as we drove through northern Italy.
GPS – once we got the programming figured out and that the maps had to have a specific address, we were fine.
People We Met
Because one initiates talking to people and we can understand so many languages this was a highlight of the trip. We met and spoke to Chinese, Australians, French, German, and many Brasilians. We sent many photos to people we met as we promised we would do with the Chinese and Argentinians but unfortunately they did not write back to let us know they had received them.
Days in Each City & What We Did
Pienza – 3 - Because we had been there and remembered the city itself, we probably could have spent two days instead of three. We did have time to drive to other small hilltop villages, but if we had not already been to Lucca, Pisa, and Seinna, three days would have worked.
San Marino – 3 - We were OK with three days because we went to Rimini which was a fun day on the Mediterranean Sea. We walked around the city and saw many of the side sights.
Vaduz – 2 - Perfect! Wonderfully small capital city and so friendly.
Monterosso al Mare – 5 - As we discussed, three or four days would have probably been fine. The way we hiked first, and then rode the train to the other cities worked out well. The day that we really liked was the ferry ride to Porto Venere.
Florence – 1 - This was fine, Easter Sunday made a difference on so many things being closed. Glad we did not try to go to the old city.
As in our past experiences with gas prices in Europe, they were high, but so was France…
I think that parking might be another whole category. We might have just ridden the trains to Cinque Terre and then to the other cities, but having our car worked well for flexibility in Pienza. Parking is expensive but we lucked out in Pienza – no charge, Vaduz - no charge, and in San Marino it was reasonable 4 Euros per day and no charge for Sunday. The most expensive of course was Monterosso, but it turned out that 80 Euros was not too bad for a safe spot out of the sun.
In the USA we pick-up the maps we need at AAA and after looking at Google Maps, off we go. Driving in Europe is a lot easier and safer than in other parts of the world and after we learn to use the car GPS we are OK. Just be aware of the rules of the round-about.
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