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Cinque Terre, Bologna and Lake Como

Old Jun 8th, 2017, 08:20 PM
  #1  
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Cinque Terre, Bologna and Lake Como

Will be taking a trip Sept. 28-Oct 8; flying from JFK to Milan. What is the best itinerary: is CT, Bologna and Lake Como Ok as far as train travel? Trains from Milan to Bologna or Lake Como are already available for purchase but I am wondering how come the Milan-CT is not; there is a pic of a crossed cart and when I hover around it, it says sold out! Hard to believe. Would appreciate any feedback comments on trains, itinerary as well as Airbnb, B&B or hotel on those cities. Thank you.
nina88 is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2017, 09:01 PM
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You must be choosing a smaller town in the Cinque Terre like Vernazza that may be served only by regional trains. Those regional trains may not yet be available for purchase - but because they are not reserved, there is no benefit of buying them now anyway - the price is the same now for regional trains as it would be 5 minutes before departure.

If you want to book the InterCity trains now, book to Levanto or Monterosso and book the short regional train later from Levanto to your destination town (even from your phone if you have one of the Italian train apps like Trenit).

Or wait a few more weeks until the regional train tickets can be purchased as well - but maybe the cheaper IC train seats get sold out in the meantime, who knows?
Andrew is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2017, 10:50 PM
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Presuming you are also flying out of Malpensa, recommend ordeingr the trip Milan Malpensa-> Lago di Como-> le Cinque Terre-> Bologna. From le Cinque Terre you can take a train through La Spezia/Parma to Bologna.

No guarantees on weather, but this order gives you the best chance of dry weather in all your destinations. However, it also puts you in Bologna during the time when trade fairs start to kick in, so you need to make sure that your book your lodgings well in advance, and would suggest looking at smaller B&Bs and AirBnb for best deals on prices. Otherwise, using a website like booking.com, where you search specifically for your travel dates, budget & see lots of pictures and read guest reviews is the best way to look for lodgings.
frencharmoire is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2017, 03:56 AM
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What site are you using to buy these tickets?????
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 05:15 AM
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Andrew, yes you are right...we're staying in Manarola. Frencharmoire, weather wise, I thought we'll start with CT first as this part of the trip is the one that needed a good weather (hopefully), Lake Como (we're actually staying in Bellagio) and Bologna should be OK if weather is going to be iffy. I already made reservations (but are cancellable 30 days before start of trip) based on my original planned itinerary. Now, I am having 2nd thought because of the difficulty with the train Milan-Manarola (which I now understand why). Dukey1, I used trenitalia. My hotel reservations were made just to make sure I have reserved hotels for those three cities after I made the flight reservation. Also, supposedly it's difficult to make a reservation with Hosteria Giusti (Modena) but just got a confirmation that we're in! Appreciate any feedbacks re accommodations. Fodorites are always generous with info... my go-to site whenever I travel and never fails me. Thank you.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 05:29 AM
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Just to clarify... the Milan Centrale-Manarola trains that were not available/sold out were the fastest (3+ hrs. vs. 4+ hrs.). Also, they're either early in the morning or late afternoon. Our JFK flight arrives 8:25 AM in Milan so best for us is the fast train that leaves about 12 or 1. Just don't want to hang around in Milan as we've been there the 2nd time we were in Italy. Just to give an idea on our budget as far as accommodations, our reservations are with Arpaui in Manarola, Hotel Metropole in Bellagio, Airbnb central apt. in Bologna and First Hotel Milan (for early morning flight back to JFK). Thank you again.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 06:13 AM
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On our way back to our hotel near Milan airport, which one is better (we are staying in Bellagio): Varenna to Milan Centrale then bus to airport or Como straight to the airport? Thanks.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 07:34 AM
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Tickets for all Milan - Genoa trains are usually available up to a few minutes prior to departure (ticket machine or counter; but be aware that there may be queues).
At noon, there are 2 trains:
Milan dp 12.10 - Genoa ar 13.44, Fare 22 EUR
Milan dp 12.25 - Genoa ar 14.18, Fare 14 EUR

Bellagio - Malpensa airport:
Bus from Bellageio to Como Lago plus train from Como Lago to Malpensa Terminal 1 and 2, change trains at Saronno).
http://www.trenord.it/it/orari/scari...iario-(1).aspx
http://www.asfautolinee.it/content/i...te-extraurbana
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 08:25 AM
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Thanks, neckervd... but this means I still have to find a way to connect from Genoa to Manarola. Re Bellagio to airport, I guess it's a toast... vs. ferry to Varenna, Varenna train to Milan Centrale and shuttle bus to airport.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 08:28 AM
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I don't understand the issue connecting from Genoa to Manarola? What's wrong with the train? Are you just worried about buying the ticket early?

I'd take the train from Milano Centrale to Malpensa, although I guess they still have buses too...
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 09:10 AM
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This is where we stayed when in Bologna in September 2016. We stayed in one of the apartments. Maria also has a B&B in the same building. It is a short walk to the historic center and Maria is very helpful.

B&B Bologna Nel Cuore
Via C.Battisti 29, 40123 Bologna
T. / Fax. +39 051 269442
M. +39 329 2193354
[email protected]
www.bolognanelcuore.it
italy2012 is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2017, 09:52 AM
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We just got back from and Italy trip that included Milan, Bologna and CT. Here's my report http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...lognamilan.cfm

The ferries in CT are flaky. When we were there they were not stopping in some of the towns because of rough currents. It was very hard to get the status on this, so we gave up trying to take any. I know there are connections to the CT towns from La Spezia station, and there is a train from Milan to there.

Of the towns you mentioned that we visited, we stayed in:
Manarola - https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/857047
Bologna – B&B Casa Faccioli Guilia Suite (which was AMAZING)
Milan – Hotel Gran Duca di York

I would recommend all of these in a heartbeat.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 12:51 PM
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Ferries in le Cinque Terre are not "flaky". They cannot operate safely in the tiny harbors when winds cause rough seas. The coastline of le Cinque Terre is historically and famously unpredictable: The English poet Shelley (who lived not far from le Cinque Terre) accidentally drowned because he wrongly predicted an afternoon of calm seas and took his boat out. Local boy Christopher Colombus became the best paid and most famous sailor in the world because he grew up not far from le Cinque Terre and learned how to deal with absolutely unpredictable weather. Names like "Andrea d"Oria" are famous in seafaring because these are Ligurians who got rich learning to build ships that could withstand the treacherous coastal waters.

So if you go to this area you cannot expect local ferry boat operators to run the ferries when it is dangerous to do so, and they cannot predict local weather conditions in advance. They can only post an "optimistic" schedule, but they will not be so flaky as to risk your safety running a tourist ferry when it is not safe for passengers.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 12:53 PM
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there is no real reason to book your trains ahead of time - unless you are riding a high-speed train and these do not really exist on CT route -you can take regional trains to Como and as neckervd shows Milan to Genoa and to CT- these you just buy at stations as you go- they do not take reservations anyway so no such thing as a full train. IC trains to CT may have a minor discount for booking (in stone) ahead of time but again Regional trains run that route and not all that much slower.

Anyway for lots on trains check www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 01:40 PM
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Maybe flaky wasn't the correct word, but I meant flaky in the sense that you just never know when they are and aren't running to/from a particular town because of the currents. It can change from one day to the next.

We booked all our trains at the last minute except our last leg from Bologna to Milan, because we needed to get on a specific train time wise so I didn't want to take chances.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 02:07 PM
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I booked all of my Italian trains at the last minute too on my trip last month, but I managed to use only regional trains (except the Thello from Genoa to Nice) so it didn't cost me any more other than that one.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 02:18 PM
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Experts here say not to book Regional trains unless you are sure of the validation period you will use them -booking these trains means only having a ticket - does not guarantee a seat and no discounts. But if sure yes do it -saves trouble buying them there but be sure of time frame you will use them (paraphrasing what experts have said).

And remember to validate regional train tickets before boarding or you will be deemed traveling without a valid ticket and possibly fined for not doing so. Stick them in a cancelling machine trackside or in stations. Discounted train-train specific tickets need not be cancelled as they are valid only for a specific train. Regional tickets if not used could be used again during their time frame.

Milan to Lake Como can be done on regional trains but not Trenitalia trains - Nord de Milan railways - cheaper than mainline fast train tickets and no need to buy ahead of time - terminates right at boat docks for boats all over the lake. Regional trains also run the Milan to Varenna-Esino route.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 06:07 PM
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Thank you all, I think I will just wait when the Milan Centrale-Manarola becomes available (within 90 days of trip?) or maybe I will just book at least the Milan Centrale-Levanto (thank you Andrew). I would like to book as much as possible for this 1st leg of our trip as we will be training directly to Manarola from an 8+ hour flight and we'll be tired. I've read also that machines at CT's train stations sometimes does not work; is there a ticket office at least during normal business hours?

MNFC, thanks for the trip report, getting excited with our trip, you did seem to have a wonderful time. I tried your Bologna hotel but the only one available is with the room that has an outside bathroom, that is not good.

Frencharmoire, wow fascinating stories about CT's coastline and history, thank you.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 06:26 PM
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There was a train ticket office open in Riomaggiore a few weeks ago when I was there in the morning (also a tourist office for park hiking passes and info). Manarola is a smaller town, so I can't say for sure there would be an open ticket office there while you are in town.

I would be surprised if the ticket machines are broken at the stations. Just know that you should expect to pay cash at the ticket machines - unless you have a chip and PIN credit card (which I used several times at the machines). I also bought some tickets with the Trenit app on my phone, which meant entering my name, birthday, etc. numerous times because Trenitalia won't let many foreigners register with them (so you check out as guest each time). The ticket machines at stations require none of that for regional tickets, so it can be easier.

I hope your trains from Milan to Manarola are on time. I did a long day of regional trains from Venice to Camogli a few weeks ago (one change in Milan) and encountered a few serious delays, one more than half an hour (the train just stopped for a while due to some track issue, I guess). With regional trains, at least you can just hop on the next train if you miss your scheduled train; if you get to Levanto, there are lots of regional trains south to Manarola, so don't freak if you miss the one you were planning for. If you miss your InterCity train due to your connecting train arriving late? I assume you need to go to the Trenitalia office and get the ticket changed to the next IC train, but I'm not sure. I would note down at least for that connection from Milan what the train schedules are after the train you are planning on, in case you miss one. The Trenit app was helpful for checking delays and platform at upcoming stations while I was on the train, too.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 07:05 PM
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Thanks Andrew, just finished looking at your CT photos, amazing!
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