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Bernina Express and other Zurich-Lugano train ?'s

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Dear Fodor Travel Experts:
I'm in the early stages of planning a trip based mainly in Dolomites and Lakes Region (Como or Garda). We will land and depart in Zurich. I'd love to take the Bernina Express in one direction from Zurich to Lugano, but it looks like it is a 10 hour journey! Is that correct? When I look up a more direct route via Chur, which I hear is quite beautiful, the journey is only 4 hours. Both of these journeys entail a bus. Is that really necessary? Is the direct route (3 hours) almost as scenic? Should I make the extra effort to take the Bernina and perhaps spend a night along the way? I'm getting a bit confused by the choices.
Suggestions, advice needed.
(We're planning to rent a car in Lugano for the trip through Italy.)

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