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Help with train to Varenna on Lake Como and Itinerary suggestions

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Arriving Malpensa Airport Oct 11 and wanting to train to Varenna on Lake Como.

We are hearing different ways to get there. Just need some clarification from someone with experience. Some say take a bus to Milan Central others say express train. Comment... And where do we catch either of them? A little confused about where to get them.

Assuming the train is our best option exactly which train from Central do we take. ALSO everyone says to buy a round trip ticket because once in Varenna if you do not have a return ticket you have to go to a travel agent to buy a ticket. Our issue is we are staying in Varenna for 5 nights and we are open ended. We might spend more time here and we are not sure where we are headed after that. Maybe to Cinque Terra, Florence or to another Lake. So as you see it would be hard to buy a return ticket...unless you can have an open ended ticket?

Would love to hear suggestions...

Also would love to hear suggestions of where to head after Varenna. We are in Italy for 11 days (have been to Italy before but to Tuscany and the Amalfi area). We will not have a car, we are hikers, not too much into museums but would do that for a day or 2. We like being in small old towns and exploring the culture.

Thanks for any input
Mare

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