Bernese Oberland and 1 month in Bologna

Old Mar 4th, 2022, 06:33 PM
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Bernese Oberland and 1 month in Bologna

After spending 1 month in Nice and 1 month in Paris late last year, we decided to plan more trips where we stay in one place and go on a few day trips. We're meeting our friends in Bernese Oberland in May this year for a week and plan to stay 1 month in Bologna, and possibly another month in Umbria (Assisi) or another place. Here's an overview of our trip:

7 nights Land in Geneva. Stay in Montreux/Vevey?
7 nights Bernese Oberland
28 nights (June) Bologna
28 nights (July) Assisi or another place

This is our first time in Switzerland and I'm thinking if we should stay a few nights in Geneva then move to Montreux/Vevey. We could also go to BO after a night or two in Geneva. I need to research more about this part of the trip. I've read trip reports on Montreux/Vevey here but I have to read them again as I've mostly been looking at Italy.

I think Bologna is more or less set as our first 1 month base. We're excited about the food and wine. We enjoyed going to the market in Nice to buy cheese, charcuterie, and fruits. We also enjoyed walking to Vieille Ville.

Bologna also has a lot of options for day trips, Parma, Modena, Ravenna, Ferrara, Florence, and possibly smaller villages like Brisighella. Any day trips you recommend? We've been to Italy 8 years ago, spending a few days each in Venice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Florence, and Rome. We'd like to visit Florence again even just for a day, and Venice too but probably that will have to wait. We've also been to Ventimiglia for a few hours during our recent trip to Nice if that counts!

We prefer to take the train for day trips. Is there a rail pass for Bologna or should we just buy tickets on the train station?

I'm looking for apartments on Airbnb and found a few options. Do you know of rental agencies in Bologna or Assisi? In Nice, we found a great apartment through Nestor & Jeeves. (Thanks to gooster for the recommendation!)

For the second base, I looked at Tuscany (Arezzo) but without a car Assisi seems a better option as it has more options for day trips via trains. I've thought of Puglia and Sicily but don't know much about these regions yet. Would it be too hot in the south in July? We're looking for a base where we can walk around, so we like to stay near the center. We don't try to see and do a lot when traveling. On weekdays, we only have a few hours for sightseeing as I need to go online but our time is flexible. In some days in Nice, we went to the markets in the morning. Other days, we went to a different town (Villefranche) in the afternoon. Weekends, we went to St Paul de Vence, Ventimiglia, Eze, Antibes. We only went to 1 museum, we enjoyed the gardens in Eze.

Spain (we've been to Seville and Barcelona), France, and Portugal (never been) are also options but I think we should focus our search to Italy, otherwise we won't be able to decide soon with the many great places to choose from. I am excited to research Spain and Portugal for a future trip. San Sebastian seems to be a good base.

I've seen flights out of Bologna and Rome so staying in those parts of Italy makes sense logistically but we also don't mind taking a longer train ride or flying when going from Bologna to the second base.

Thank you for reading! I would have wanted to do more research before posting but hoping to get some help with day trip options and a second base.
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Old Mar 4th, 2022, 08:26 PM
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It sounds like a wonderful opportunity.

For Assisi, be aware that the train station is a short bus or taxi ride from Assisi itself. I would consider Spoleto, Siena or Lucca as large but not huge towns with plenty to do and options for day trips by bus or train.

Because July can be very hot in parts of Italy, I would be tempted to stay somewhere cooler, like up in the mountains.

For Switzerland, perhaps consider flying into Zurich and spending a week in Bern or Thun and a week in the mountains. I've never been to Vevey/Montreux - and I'm sure there's a lot to enjoy there - but Geneva doesn't appeal so much to me.

If you wanted to turn things upside down, you could spend your month in Bologna before visiting Switzerland and then your second month somewhere within a train ride of your Swiss location. I dislike the heat so April/May in Emilia Romagna would be appealing.
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by dreamon View Post


If you wanted to turn things upside down, you could spend your month in Bologna before visiting Switzerland and then your second month somewhere within a train ride of your Swiss location. I dislike the heat so April/May in Emilia Romagna would be appealing.
That could be a problem Schengen-wise depending on when the two months in France were
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 05:42 AM
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Wow, a month in Bologna! I've spent about weeks there, [2+1] but in the winter so my experience was very much centred around museums and galleries of which there are over 100 and can all be accessed by the Bologna card which costs a mere €25 for 12 months https://www.bolognawelcome.com/en/ex...come-Card-EASY [there's a PLUS card too for €40 but I couldn't work out what extra it gave you].

As for train passes, Trenitalia seem to have just introduced a new one which covers all trains including Freccia etc - more details here :https://www.trenitalia.com/en/offers...alia-pass.html

I also found mention of a regional pass which might be attractive for you but the website is a bit sketchy on prices. https://www.trenitalia.com/en/purcha...andpasses.html

I would suggest looking at the man in Seat 61 or Rome to Rio to see what tips they have.

I agree with Dreamon that moving your trip round so that you end up in Switzerland might be better - I stayed in a village near Bologna for a week in early October a few years ago and it was scorching. The summer months could be challenging unless you are used to hot weather. i would also add that with a whole month at your disposal, you could perhaps afford to spend a couple of nights away from Bologna, especially to visit Ravenna and Venice if you feel like going that far [would be much better than a day trip, and on a Frecce train the journey should not be that long - i just found one lasting 90 mins]. I would also add add Padua to your list - some trains take only an hour from Bologna and the station is very close to the centre. If you don't already have it, I suggest downloading the Trenitalia and Swiss Train [ SBB Mobile] apps. Both are invaluable.



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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 01:23 AM
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Originally Posted by dreamon View Post
For Assisi, be aware that the train station is a short bus or taxi ride from Assisi itself. I would consider Spoleto, Siena or Lucca as large but not huge towns with plenty to do and options for day trips by bus or train.
Yes, I noticed that the train station is a short ride from Assisi itself. I prefer to be able to walk to the station and to the sites like in Nice but a short bus ride is also fine. I have Spoleto on my list of day trips from Assisi. If we stay in Spoleto, are there some villages we can see that we wouldn't otherwise if we stay in Assisi?

Originally Posted by annhig View Post
Wow, a month in Bologna! I've spent about weeks there, [2+1] but in the winter so my experience was very much centred around museums and galleries of which there are over 100 and can all be accessed by the Bologna card which costs a mere 25 for 12 months https://www.bolognawelcome.com/en/ex...come-Card-EASY [there's a PLUS card too for 40 but I couldn't work out what extra it gave you].

As for train passes, Trenitalia seem to have just introduced a new one which covers all trains including Freccia etc - more details here :https://www.trenitalia.com/en/offers...alia-pass.html

I also found mention of a regional pass which might be attractive for you but the website is a bit sketchy on prices. https://www.trenitalia.com/en/purcha...andpasses.html
The Welcome card sounds great though is only valid for 15 days now. Happy to see you here annhig. I am thinking of taking some Italian language classes and if I'm not mistaken you have experience with two schools in Bologna. What are the names again?

I can't find the prices on the trenitalia site for the regional pass even on the italian version. It looks like there is no pass for both the bus and the trains.

The Italy part has to come after Switzerland because of our schedule. Actually, the reason we're not sure of traveling to a second base is it might be too hot. If you have to be in Italy in July, where would you stay? We found apartments with AC in Assisi and other places we looked at, so it might be fine.
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Old Mar 8th, 2022, 10:21 PM
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If you really want to experience Switzerland, skip Geneva. It is a big city. I have stayed in Lausanne, Vevey and Montreux. Montreux is my favorite. You can day trip to vineyards, a cheese factory, or a chocolate factory via trains and buses. Cruise Lake Leman to small villages, Chateau de Chillon and Lausanne.

My favorite place in the BO is Wengen (have also stayed in Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen) . It is a car free small town perched part way up a mountain with the Monch, Jungfrau and Eiger towering behind it. We rented a three bedroom apartment overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Watched the cows and the goats wander the pastures below our apartment. Heaven on earth watching the sun set behind the mountains from our balcony eating cheese and drinking wine.

If you get a Swiss Rail Pass, you can travel on most trains, trams and buses in Switzerland. The Swiss Rail Pass also includes many discounts on cable cars and private trains, plus entrance to many museums and other places.

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Old Mar 9th, 2022, 02:16 AM
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'If you have to be in Italy in July, where would you stay?'

Probably the Dolomites would be a good choice. If you include the areas around Trento, Merano, Bolzano as well as the Dolomites themselves, there's a heap to enjoy if you like nature.

If the coast is more your thing, then Liguria may appeal (but probably not Cinque Terre).
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Old Mar 10th, 2022, 12:22 PM
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<<The Welcome card sounds great though is only valid for 15 days now. Happy to see you here annhig. I am thinking of taking some Italian language classes and if I'm not mistaken you have experience with two schools in Bologna. What are the names again?

I can't find the prices on the trenitalia site for the regional pass even on the italian version. It looks like there is no pass for both the bus and the trains.>>

Waboss - the schools I attended were Academya Lingue https://www.academyalingue.com and Madrelingua https://madrelinguaitalian.com At both the teaching was very good but IMO the organisation at Madrelingua is better. It's also more central but OTOH the Academya is near Santo Stefano which is a very lovely part of the city and still very central.

As for the regional pass prices like you I couldn't find them either hence my suggestion to look at man in Seat 61 etc.

<<The Italy part has to come after Switzerland because of our schedule. Actually, the reason we're not sure of traveling to a second base is it might be too hot. If you have to be in Italy in July, where would you stay? We found apartments with AC in Assisi and other places we looked at, so it might be fine.>>

I have stayed in Italy in July a few times - twice in Venice, [though 30+ years apart] which was quite bearable both times, and once on Lake Garda which was stinking hot. My friend who lives near Bologna makes for the Dolomites every summer, which gives you an idea of what it might be like.
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Old Mar 10th, 2022, 12:48 PM
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May would not be the optimum time for the Berner Oberland. A lot of the high mountain trails won't open up until sometime in June. Not that you wouldn't enjoy the BO in May, but I think you'd find it more enjoyable in June, if you can arrange that.

I agree with the others on Geneva -- stay somewhere on the East end of Lake Geneva, not in the city of Geneva. We stayed at Auberge de la Gare outside Grandvaux (100 yard from the train station) and used our 15 day Swiss Travel Pass to go everywhere.
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Old Mar 15th, 2022, 06:13 AM
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Thank you for the suggestions on Switzerland. We'll skip Geneva. We're now looking into taking the train from Geneva airport to Wengen. Our flight lands in the morning of May 15th and we'll stay in Wengen for 7 nights.

Aside from walking around Wengen, the plan is to go to Lauterbrunnen, the lakes, Murren, etc. If I understood correctly, point to point tickets from the SBB app are valid for the day so we can break the journey on any of the stops (for example, in Interlaken).

twk - I'm glad we would still enjoy BO in May. We're not hikers so the high mountain trains being closed should be fine for us. We'll do some easy walks (< 2 hours). I see some transportation are still closed during our stay (Wengen -> Mannlichen) but I think a lot would be operational.

Any suggestions for easy walks near Wengen?

We plan on getting the Swiss Half Fare Card at the very least and we're also checking the other passes if they make sense for us.

annhig - thanks for the schools in Bologna. Some of the apartments we're looking at are between the 2 schools so I think I can go with either one. 4 weeks is cheaper not surprisingly but I'm also thinking of booking 1 week first and see how it goes.


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Old Mar 15th, 2022, 05:27 PM
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I wouldn't get any rail pass for Italy. For day trips, you would mostly use regional trains, which are very cheap. For longer distances, on trains with reserved seats, you can get excellent discounts if you buy well in advance. The cheapest tickets can't be changed, but you can get a 25% discount on tickets that are more flexible.

Assisi has good train connections, but nearby Perugia has just as many, plus bus connections to smaller towns.

I love Assisi, but I don't think I'd spend a month there. It's a long narrow town, and rather hilly. There are tons of tourists, lots of convents and monasteries, but not much to do aside from visiting churches. You wouldn't be taking day trips every day.

For a month's stay, I would want a larger town, with more of a neighbourhood character, and more variety of cultural activities.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 06:34 AM
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bvlenci thank you for the feedback. Right, we would use mostly regional trains. I didn't know Padua is 1h 39min on the Regionale Veloce. It's only 1h 3min on FrecciaRossa but more expensive.

We watched a video of a walkthrough of Assisi and we liked what we saw. I understand what you're saying about not having much to do and it's definitely something to consider for anyone who wants to do a long stay in Assisi.

I've also looked at Perugia as a base and might be one of our day trips. Gubbio looks nice but harder to get to without a car. Would you go to Lago Trasimeno from Assisi/Perugia? Spello and Spoleto would be our other day trips.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 07:01 AM
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Aside from walking around Wengen, the plan is to go to Lauterbrunnen, the lakes, Murren, etc. If I understood correctly, point to point tickets from the SBB app are valid for the day so we can break the journey on any of the stops (for example, in Interlaken).

Not necessarily. The last time we were in Switzerland we noticed that some of our tickets purchased on the App were only good for a set number of hours (usually three to six) whereas others were good all day.

neckervd is our resident Swiss transport whiz, perhaps he will weigh in.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 12:46 PM
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Your trip sounds exciting, waboss. Hub and I took trips that included either basing or visiting several of the towns you mentioned. Hope they give you some ideas:

Turin, Spoleto, Bologna and Bellagio TR

Perugia and Rome by train and bus
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Old Mar 17th, 2022, 02:25 AM
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If you look at a detailed map of Assisi, I think you'll see what I mean.

Bernese Oberland and 1 month in Bologna-assisi-map-0.jpg

A good part of the town, especially near the Basilica di San Francesco, consists of several long parallel (hilly) streets, with almost no cross streets. These are not neighborhoods. In fact, the residential neighborhoods of Assisi are mostly modern quarters down I'm the valley. In the old town, there is a paucity of shops and services, other than those for tourists. There are maybe half a dozen easy day trips from Assisi, but you are thinking of staying there for 28 days.

The last time we were in Assisi was last summer. There were severe restrictions on international travel, so we thought there wouldn't be big crowds. However, we waited over an hour to get into the Basilica of Santa Chiara, and another hour to get into San Francesco. This was partly because they were limiting numbers who could enter the churches, but also because we unwisely chose to go on a Saturday. Assisi is not far from our summer home, and we've been there often, but I don't think we'll ever visit again in the summer. We're not young anymore, and trudging up and down those streets in the heat, and waiting in queues in the heat, about did us in.
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Old Mar 18th, 2022, 06:28 AM
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Melnq8 - Thanks for the warning. The SBB app says the tickets are valid for the day, actually up to 5am the next day. To be safe, we can split the tickets. I think the prices will end up the same.

TDudette - Thank you for the links to the TRs. Ravenna is on our list and it looks like you enjoyed your trip there.

bvlenci - Thank you for the additional feedback.

annhig - I found the price for the regional pass. It's 77,50 for a monthly pass from Bologna to Parma (90km) for Regionale. I think it's a distance based pass and Ravenna should be included but I'll contact trenitalia to confirm.
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Old Mar 18th, 2022, 09:57 AM
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I suppose you will land at Geneva at 7.30, 7.40, 9.15 or 10.05.
You can then go directly to Wengen (ar 12.11, 13.41 resp. 14.11
or you can chooses the much more scenic itinerary via Montreux and the GOLDEN PASS line, with more train changes (at Montreux, Zweisimmen, Wimmis, spiez, Interlaken Ost, Lauterbrunnen).
If the weather is fine (and after a overnight flight), I would however relax on board of a Lake Geneva boat (with restaurant, saloons and open air deck), Geneva dp 10.45 - Lausanne ar 14.33, dp 14.45 - Montreux ar 16.27 and spend the night at Montreux. From the boat's deck, you would see many small Swiss and French towns nestled in the wineyards as well as Jura, Mont Blanc and other mountain peaks.
If you take a local train from Montreux to Les Avants/Soloup or Cret d'y Bau, you will end in endless fields of bloming white narcissus flowers.
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Old Mar 18th, 2022, 09:58 AM
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Lake Geneva close to Montreux


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Old Mar 18th, 2022, 10:08 AM
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Wild narcissus above Montreux
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Old Mar 18th, 2022, 10:14 AM
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Boat's pier and castle of Nyon, Lake Geneva
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