You may have noticed my obsession with all things Italy by now. I just can't help myself! Aside from genuinely finding it a fantastic place to visit, I'm especially attached since my dad was born & raised there, and all my relatives on that side still live throughout the boot. When it comes to choosing slow travel, it's easy to jaunt to one of Europe's other jewels for a few days to sample what Italy's neighbors have to offer while remaining in a month-long home base. Whether by train, plane, or car you can arrive in a new country in just a few hours.
Particularly in northern Italy, it is very easy to base yourself near one of the major cities like Turin, Milan, or Venice where train connections make this especially practical. Should you choose to rent a car, whether for your whole stay or just a few days, the options expand considerably. If you plan on flying a budget airline like easyJet, you can stay near Rome or Naples as well. By watching deals, you can often snag a round trip ticket well under $100 per person. Weekend in Paris? Oui!
You can reach Paris easily by plane from Milan, Rome, Naples, Bari, Brindisi, or Bologna. Fly out in the morning, enjoy two or three nights in one of Europe's most enchanting cities, and return in the evening to your Italian abode. Trains from Turin or Milan can take you to the south of France or into the eastern regions near wonderful cities like Lyon or Dijon.
A classic view of lavender fields in the South of France
Photo courtesy of K.Hurley on Flickr
If you've chosen to while your days away in Puglia, you can hop an overnight ferry to Dubrovnik for a brief introduction to this stunning and wildly popular locale. From the city of Ancona in Le Marche, you can choose from ferry sailings to Split or Zadar, both beautiful cities that are often overlooked in the shadow of Dubrovnik. The one caveat here is that you'll be restricted to the seasonal schedules of the ferry operators, so if you're there in winter months then you're probably out of luck.
Who Needs Corona - Split, CroatiaRelaxing in Split, Croatia
Photo courtesy Clark & Kim Kays on Flickr
The fascinating new kid at school, and for good reason, Slovenia lets you choose from its lovely capital city of Ljubljana, coastal jewels like Piran, or the breathtaking Lake Bled area. You can take a combination of bus and train from Venice, but this really is an ideal excursion for those with a car at their disposal. Ljubljana can be reached from Padova in less than 3 hours, and you could easily squeeze in a day trip at Lake Bled from Ljubjiana.
Stunning view over Lake Bled
Photo courtesy John Kroll on Flickr
With destinations in the west of the country eminently reachable by train from several Italian cities in under 6 hours, Austria is a choice destination just about any time of year depending on your personal preferences. Innsbruck is easily arrived in from Bologna or Verona in 4 or 5 hours with one or two train changes. By car, you can drive to Vienna all the way in the east in 6 or 7 hours from various locales in northeastern Italy.
Outdoor seating in Innsbruck, Austria
Photo courtesy Bob Hall on Flickr
This is another destination that works with any mode of transport. You can fly into Berlin from Milan, Rome, Venice, or even Cagliari [Sardegna] if a city break strikes your fancy. Drive easily into the south for a bit of Castle Road exploration or visit the Black Forest region in 4 or 5 hours. Hop a train from Verona or Venice to Munich for destinations in the same area mixed with a touch of city energy.
Amazing view from Germany's Castle Road
Photo courtesy Chris Zielecki on Flickr
There are so many incredible options to choose from of Europe's endless bounty. Enjoy the greatest flexibility by staying in the northern areas and rent a car, which allows you to drive to places that would be a real pain by train or aren't served by flights. If there are 2 or more of you, this can be quite affordable as the cost of rental and gas is split up. If you plan on making flights your primary mode of transport, your options expand to include Rome, Naples, or towns from which you can easily reach the airports. You can fly nearly anywhere in Europe in 2 or 3 hours, and there are almost always excellent promotions on tickets at some point. Trains aren't always as cheap as they once were, but shorter journeys can still be very reasonable and watching the changing scenery glide by your window is lovely and relaxing.
Please share any of your own ideal weekend getaway spots in the comments, and Buon Viaggio!