France to Italy advice needed please

Old Jan 28th, 2015, 03:13 PM
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France to Italy advice needed please

Hi everyone,

So the ideas for my six week Europe trip from Australia in July and August keep flowing, and so does the confusion of what to pick!

So far we have eight nights planned for Spain, from July 4 to July 12, then four nights in the Pyrenees to watch some of the Tour de France, before heading up to Paris. Here I want to stay at least three nights.

Then I really wanted to go to Chamonix. My travel companion wants to go to Venice so we could go our own way for a few days. Or I could go to Venice with her (both totally different experiences I know but will the mountains in the Pyrenees suffice and therefore is Venice worthy of seeing?) I should say I love the great outdoors and the natural beauty of the world the most - so hiking, running, cycling are my things ... but I also love cities and culture ...

So if we left Pairs on July 20 we would have to spend that day travelling no matter what I did. That would give me from July 21 to 26 to do either Venice or Chamonix. If I did Venice for two nights, i could perhaps go to the Dolomites (and therefore still get my mountain fix ..?) But it appears to take such a long time to get into and out of this area. From there we want to to to Cinque Terre - another long day of travelling to get to from the Dolomites ...

I guess my question is am I better off going to Chamonix and hiking and enjoying five or so days there and then putting up with just one day of long travel to get to Cinque Terre, or is it worth flying from Paris to Venice, heading up to the Dolomites (or is there somewhere else closer to Venice that I could get some great outdoors experience??) and then heading from there to Cnque Terre?

So much to think about!

Thanks
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Old Jan 28th, 2015, 04:31 PM
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Air France flies Paris to Genova, so what might work be neat is to fly from Paris to the Italian Riviera, spend some time there, and then head in the direction of Venice by train with your friend, but when you get to Verona, you get off the train and go up to Bolzano when your friend goes on to Venice without you. Figure out how to take buses through the Dolomiti to get to Belluno, and then take the train from there to Venice to meet back up with your friend.
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Old Jan 28th, 2015, 05:31 PM
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Thanks Sandralist,

Can I just clarify some of those steps?

Rome 2 Rio shows it would take around 6.5 hours to get from Paris to Monterosso (including to and from airports and waiting etc), which is fine because no matter where I go there from I am in for a big day. Then it would be another six hour day to get to Bolzano - but once I am at Bolzano, is this a good base for Dolomites hiking or do I need further travel?

Then it appears to be another six hours to get from Bolzano to Venice, via Belluno. But at least only two hours from Venice to Florence, which would be our next destination! And then finally Rome.

In your opinion is it worth doing three six hour days of travel to do CT, Dolomites and Venice.

If I was to do this, my dates would be from July 21 to August 9, which gives me around 2.5 weeks, but half of one week would be travelling ...
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Old Jan 28th, 2015, 05:58 PM
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I've never used Rome to Rio's calculations, which doesn't mean they are wrong, but that I can't vouch for them from personal experience. But generally speaking, it is definitely going to take you a full day of travel to get from Paris to the Riviera -- either by air or train (one leaves from Paris to Torino in Italy, and then you can carry on from there). But something you could consider is to take a 9pm flight from Paris to Genova and just go to sleep in Genova, then the next morning go to Monterosso. That would give you nearly a full day of sightseeing in Paris and you'd only "lose" a coupe of hours the next morning going to le Cinque Terre from Genova.

If you plan on going to Florence, maybe you should leave le Cinque Terre for Florence by train, and after that go to Venice together. You could visit the Dolomiti at any point from then on, by yourself, but it might be easier if the two of you split up at the Venice train station and you went immediately to Belluno or Cortina d'Ampezzo, so that your friend can go get a single room in Venice until you rejoin her. If you decide to do it this way, then I wouldn't bother trying cross from one side of the Dolomiti to the other. Just stay somewhere in the area of Cortina d'Ampezzo where you can take a few different hikes. Then go back to Venice.

If you decide to do my original plan -- going up to Bolzano to Verona -- then you will need to do some additional traveling on buses to get to nice hiking places. I was thinking you would have a few days to do a mini-road trip across the Dolomiti, from the weat to east, from Bolzano to Cortina d'Ampezzo/Belluno, staying in different places along the way. But the devil is in the details because you have to look at bus schedules and maps.

You ask me: "In your opinion is it worth doing three six hour days of travel to do CT, Dolomites and Venice."

The Dolomit are spectacular and they are a unique landscape, so I think they are one of the great wow experiences of the planet. I live on the Italian Riviera, so obviously I think it is wonderful, but the le Cinque Terre towns are so crowded with tourists (and the steep, shadeless hills are so blazingly hot in July) that I think it is nicer to be in other towns like Camogli, Rapallo, Zoagli, Chiavari or Sestri Levante -- all of which are cooler and have fewer foreign tourists, and are cheaper, but all of which are really beautiful and have easy train connections to le Cinque Terre if you want to take a look.

As for Venice, it is a great art city, and an unusual lagoon city, but going at the peak of summer means being comfortable with huge crowds, high prices, muggy weather. When you live in Italy you have the option of going when it is practically empty, which I realize is not yours. I would not deprive a dear friend of their chance to see Venice. But I might say "catch up with you later" if I wasn't in the mood for crowds and humidity and the mountains beckoned.
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Old Jan 28th, 2015, 06:51 PM
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Thanks so much sandralist! This helps to clarify a few things, especially the Dolomites info. I am jealous of where you live ... having said that I live in a pretty beautiful coastal part of Australia myself, but I guess the grass is always greener no matter where 'home' is!
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Old Jan 29th, 2015, 07:27 AM
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What about:

You leave Paris together (July 19th or 20th) at 15.58 by train up to Sion ar 20.53 and sleep there. Sion is a small town with a medieval city center in the middle of the Swiss Alps.

The next day, your companion leaves Sion at 9.15 by direct Venice bound train (with dining car, mini bar etc.) with arrival at Venice at 14.40.

You take any bus up to the glacier area and begin your hike. Some starting points of beautiful mountain hikes:
Arolla, 6600ft, 1 1/4 hrs by bus from Sion, buses every 2 hrs
Gde Dixence Dam, 7800ft, 1 1/2 hrs by bus and gondola, buses at 8.40, 9.45....
Pas de Maimbre, 7800ft, 55 min by bus and gondola, buses at least every hr
Plaine Morte Glacier, 9500ft, 1 1/4 hrs by train, cablecar and gondola, every hr
Mittelallalin, 11300ft, 2 hrs by train, bus, gondola and cablecar, every 30 min (hike from Felskinn, a cablecar station below),
Hohsaas, 10300ft, 1 3/4 hrs by train, bus and gondola, every 30 min.

After your hikes, leave Sion at 20.15 (train with dining car etc.), arrive at Milan at 22.35, sleep there and reach Venice the following morning (2 1/2 hrs ride).

If your companion takes your luggage with him to Venice, you may also hike from Switzerland over the Alps to Italy, for example:
Sion dp 7.27 - train and bus - Mattmark ar 9.24 - hike - Monte Moro Pass (border) ar about 13.00 - cableway to Macugnaga (10 min) - Macugnaga dp by bus 14.53 - Piedimulera ar 15.51, dp by train 16.10 - Novara 17.53/18.13 - Venice ar 21.40
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Old Jan 29th, 2015, 03:47 PM
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Thanks neckervd, your information is very detailed and I appreciate all the thought you put into it. I am unsure of how easy this would all be to do and having not been to Europe before it's a little overwhelming but I will look into it!
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Old Jan 30th, 2015, 06:45 AM
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It IS easy, indeed. The Swiss maps and the hiking trail network are excellent, well signposted and well signmarked. Every few miles you will cross mountain restaurants, mountain hotels or mountain huts, bus or gondola stations. And in July/August you will cross other poeple at least every 15 min.
The only problem is the weather: it is unpredictable all the year round, everywhere in the Alps.
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Old Feb 1st, 2015, 01:21 PM
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Thanks again neckervd.

We are also thinking that what we could do is go straight from the Pyrenees to Italy. We had planned to leave the Pyrenees on July 16 (after seeing a stage of the TdF) and going to Paris and then across to Italy via the alps/Venice. I was then going to go to London from Rome on August 9.

Now we are thinking that what we could do is fly from Toulouse to Venice, then go to the Dolomites and back across to Cinque Terre, then Florence and Rome. We would have from July 16 (a travel day) to around August 4 (I want to spend at least four days in Paris). So under this idea we would fly from Rome to Paris and then I would get the train to London on August 9.
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Old Feb 1st, 2015, 01:33 PM
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Sorry - one more question - or would it make more sense/be less travel to go from the Dolomites to Florence (via Milan) and then onto the Amalfi Coast before Rome? So that would mean going to Amalfi instead of Cinque Terre.

Thanks
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Old Feb 1st, 2015, 02:33 PM
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What you could consider is

Toulouse>Venice>Dolomiti>Rome>Florence>le Cinque Terre -- then train or flight to Paris. Flights to Paris from le CInque area are probably cheaper from Pisa than Genoa. (As for trains, I would suggest going through Genova to Turin, then switching to Paris).

If that plan tempts you then it might be most efficient to take the train from Venice to Belluno, and on to the Dolomiti from there, and then just spend your time hiking in the Dolomiti near Cortina d'Ampezzo (rather than trying to get to Bolzano).

If you were willing to rent a car a few days out of Venice to go up and see the Dolotimi, it would be a bit easier. Then you could either drop back down to Venice to take the train to Rome, or drive to Bolzano and drop the car and continue on to Rome by train.

As for the Amalfi, if you could find a flight to Naples or Rome from the Pyrenees area, that might be ideal, and then just shoot straight back up north. In that configuration, I might go from Florence to Bolzano, travel east across the Dolomiti (again, preferably by car but bus is doable), then drop down to Venice, and take the final flight to Paris from Venice.

Just about any flight out of the Pyrenees into Italy could be the beginning of a loop that includes most of your wish list, but I think you are wise to pick either the Amalfi coast or le Cinque Terre, but not both.
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Old Feb 1st, 2015, 03:18 PM
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Thanks sandralist, I will take a look at these options.
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