Would love a bunch of help planning the Great Unknown Middle of a December / January vacation. Yes, this December.
1. Vacation starts with 4 days in the greater Alba area.
2. Then 3 days in Turin ... although that could get upgraded to 4, depending.
3. Then the Great Unknown Middle (p.s. that's where you all come in ! )
4. Vacation ends with 3 days in Florence ... been there numerous times, hence no worries.
These dates are NOT subject to negotiation. Bullet points 1, 2 and 4 are also done deals. But do not fear, my friends, because ...
The Great Unknown Middle is still a riddle !
And it endures for 8 days so there are many ways to solve this maze.
Some may refer to the Great Unknown Middle as the GUM period.
My hope is to be able to refer to it in the future as The Great Eight.
Okay, let's proceed.
I've read this board pretty extensively and I feel very good with Alba, aiming for meals at Il Centro, da Renzo, Guido at Fontanafredda, maybe La Ciau del Tornavento (notwithstanding claims that their wine list may border on thievery) and probably Trattoria della Posta (due to convenience since it will be very nearby). da Bardon would have been included but it will be closed at that time.
Similarly, I'm staying in the heart of Turin and feeling reasonably well informed there. Nevertheless, always willing to hear about highly-worthy places to consider. I do plan to dine at Del Cambio.
Post-Turin is the problem and I'm ready to be swayed.
The places that currently interest me include the following :
a. Genoa. Never been, want to go and am considering 2 or 3 days here.
b. potentially the area between Camogli - Portofino - Santa Margherita
c. potentially Cinque Terre
d. Forte dei Marmi / Viareggio. If I knew Lorenzo would be open at the very beginning of January (ie Jan 1 or Jan 2), then it would be included for sure. I would stay for at least 2 days and include a lunch at either Scolapasta or La Pinetta in Marina di Bibbona. Might try to fit in a little Lucca and give L'Imbuto a shot. I'm also aware that La Dogana is within reach.
The other idea that I'm considering throwing into the mix is a meal at Dal Pescatore. For that to work, it would require heading in that direction immediately after Turin. This jaunt would be for, at minimum, 2 days. And yes, maybe da Ivan could potentially be included. I was in Parma (and Bologna) last year, so I don't feel a requirement or a great urge to return.
Given the above as context, here are a slew of questions :
A) Are they any excellent (okay, very good) high-end restaurants in Genoa ? I'm struggling to find any serious dining in this city ... old-world Zeffirono ? Da Rina ? Others mentioned Il Genovese and La Berlocca, but I'm far from convinced.
B) Is there any really good eating between Camogli and Santa Margherita ? or anywhere in Cinque Terre ? I'm not talking about adequate. I'm talking about really good on an absolute scale.
C) At this time of year, will walking the Cinque Terre trails still be enjoyable ? I presume that if it is misty or drizzling then it is probably not worth doing ? And if that's the case, given the season, is it best to not sleep there and plan to enjoy Cinque Terre as just one full daytime event, weather-permitting ? Thoughts ? Same general questions re Camogli - Santa Margherita ?
D) Any pros / cons re staying in Forte dei Marmi vs Viareggio ? Any recommendations re some nice places to consider ?
E) Other highly worthy places to seriously consider as a base for a couple of days, if not those mentioned above ? preferably due to an excellent restaurant being in town and walkable. Lerici ? La Spezia ?
F) Is Dal Pescatore actually worth the detour ? because going there will mean that I'll wind up doing a bit of backtracking (since Genoa is also on the dance card) and it will shrink time allotted to fully enjoy the coastal options in an unrushed manner.
G) What am I totally not considering while in these Ligurian / Tuscan coastal environs ? Feel free to include sights to see, villages to not miss, etc etc etc.
Will have a car throughout ... although I'm finding it slightly annoying that hotel parking per day in Turin and Genoa is more expensive than the daily car rental price, ouch ! ... and no, there will be no returning and re-renting the vehicle (due to the waste of time involved and also due to no $ benefit because one-way fees are involved).
Have at it ... turn the GUM period into The Great Eight !