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Switzerland & Italy itinerary planning

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Hello everyone!

Please help formulate travel plans for Switzerland & Italy in August. DH and I are retired gypsy travelers. We love small towns and great cities, art, history & architecture. We eat at local places, love meeting people and drinking wine. He hikes tall mountains, I like shorter hikes, so in Switzerland he is constrained to 4 hrs or so. How does one take hiking gear and still pack light?

Our friends have just moved to Titeret, near Montreux on Lake Geneva. I am thinking of arriving in Geneva and taking the train to their place, where we will spend Fri & Sat before heading out on our own. (We could stop a few days in Amsterdam, which we have not visited, or Paris, which we love, to get past jetlag.)

It looks like the trains are the way to go in Switzerland. These forums have some great posts, and guide books help, but I know we are very late on the planning end. So, maybe a part of the Golden Express, Bernese Oberland, Interlaken...finishing in Ticino area to head into Italy. (What, no Matterhorn?!!) What about Lugano or Bellagio? Would that be too similar to Switzerland? Please help with maximizing experience and making this flow. We have 4-5 weeks, so should have time to see a lot. In Italy we will rent a car and drive through Florence & Tuscany. Home to Houston probably from Rome.

Would love suggestions for reasonable places to stay--not $$$ if we can help it, but still nice. Is 150SF really out of the question in Switzerland?

We have visited Italy before, car & trains, but cannot get enough. Especially small towns, which we will focus on along with Florence. Would still love to hear your Italy suggestions!

Thank you so much!!

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