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Help with Italy / Switzerland itinerary - 10 days in May/June

Help with Italy / Switzerland itinerary - 10 days in May/June

Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 10:25 AM
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Help with Italy / Switzerland itinerary - 10 days in May/June

Hi everyone!

I'm going to Italy with a little bit of Switz in May with my mom, who is in her 70s and not super active (so no hiking or active outdoor activities, unfortunately). I'm still working on our itinerary and could use some advice. We both like to have an itinerary when we're traveling rather than open time / aimless wandering. Here's what I have so far - I worry a little that it's too much, so I would love your advice and tweaks.

As for priorities, Florence is a must, Venice is a nice-to-have but could be cut, Lake Como the same (I chose it because it's supposed to be beautiful and is a good gateway to the Bernina Express), and a scenic train ride through the Alps is a MUST. If it's not the Bernina Express it needs to be something else amazing. We are flying into Milan and out of Zurich. Zurich or Lucerne is not an absolute must but a nice-to-have bc we have family history in the area and my mom would like to see it. I would take suggestions on any other German-Swiss area, though, if there is a more optimal route.

Day 1 - arrive Milan at noon, train from Malpensa -> Milano Centrale -> Florence (3.5 hours) arrive Florence late afternoon, settle into hotel, dinner, stay Florence
Day 2 - Florence sightseeing, stay Florence
Day 3 - Florence sightseeing, stay Florence
Day 4 - Tuscany full-day tour from Florence (we don't want to rent a car), stay Florence
Day 5 - AM in Florence, midday train to Venice (2 hr), arrive Venice, check into hotel, some sightseeing and dinner, stay Venice
Day 6 - Venice sightseeing, stay Venice
Day 7 - AM in Venice, midday train to Varenna (via Milan) (3.5 hr), check into hotel and dinner
Day 8 - Lake Como exploring - Varenna, Bellagio, and villas
Day 9 - Varenna -> Lucerne via scenic train. It's a long day but we really want a scenic train ride through the Alps. Varenna -> Bernina Express -> Lucerne (8-9 hours). Stay Lucerne
Day 10 - Lucerne: spent half the day going up Mount Pilatus via cogwheel train and down on cable car. Spend the rest of the day in Lucerne.
Day 11 - Train to Zurich airport, afternoon flight home

On alternate I'm thinking about is cutting Venice and spending a couple days in Siena instead (and doing tours from there), then going up to Lake Como.

Any thoughts greatly appreciated! Thank you!




Last edited by cc0818; Dec 2nd, 2022 at 10:33 AM.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 10:44 AM
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I think it looks pretty good, though I would not like three two-day stops in a row. I would consider changing something to have longer than a day in Lucerne. We did some hiking while on Pilatus, which you won't be doing, but it is nice to walk around and enjoy the views (there are lounge chairs to just sit and enjoy the views), possibly have lunch, and it's not exactly a speedy zip up and back on the cog wheel. Basically we spent a whole day (caveat, we're not early risers), and then I wished I had had one more day to enjoy Lucerne. The town is small, but I did not get to get into every nook and cranny like I like to, or even tour the castle. There's a pretty great art museum too (but it was nearly 70 degrees in October, no way were we going to see that unfortunately).
If you keep Venice, I would depart Florence earlier so you have closer to two full days.
To avoid tiring mom out too much, consider having something to break up every other day--such as moving your Tuscany day trip a day earlier so you break up the sight seeing in Florence. Your long train ride will help with this also.
Maybe ask mom if she would prefer the lakes, Lucerne, or Venice more?
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Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 04:15 PM
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Yes, ask mom her preference re time in Como, Lucerne, Venice... but IMO unless you have a long list of Venice sightseeing, one full day might be enough. I don't like a string of short stays either, but you've mentioned that you both prefer "traveling" over "wandering." Although Venice has lots to see, I think it's a town for wandering

As you plan your sightseeing in Florence, keep in mind that not all of the main sights are open every Sunday and/or Monday.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 06:43 PM
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Travel time from Rome to Florence is much less than from Milan to Florence. Even travel from Venice to Florence is less than from Milan. You could eliminate one train ride.
I would try to change arrival flight to either Rome or Venice. I would probably do:
Day 1, Arrive Venice, (2 nts)
Day 2, Venice
Day 3, Venice, late afternoon, travel to Florence (4nts)
Day 4, 5, 6, Florence, with daytrip
Day 7, Continue as planned, except from Florence. I do not know enough to comment on this part)

or
Day 1, arrive Rome, go directly on to Florence
Day 2, 3, 4, Florence with day trip (4 nts, Florence)
Day 5, travel to Venice
Day 6, Venice (2 nts, Venice)
Day 7, Continue trip

BTW, your trip sounds wonderful, especially in May.

Last edited by Sassafrass; Dec 2nd, 2022 at 07:20 PM. Reason: Added comment
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Old Dec 3rd, 2022, 10:09 AM
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Fastest afternoon train connection Venice - Varenna: Venice dp 15.18 - Varenna ar 19.24 (4 hrs 06 min).
There are 7 daily train connections between Varenna and Lucerne (via Bernina - Albula - Chur - Thalwil).
First departure at Varenna: 7.25, last departure 15.25
First arrival at Lucerne: 15.25, last arrival 23.25
3 to 5 train changes, according to the nature of trains
Things might be easier if you would go to Lake Lugano instead of Lake Como:
Direct train Venice dp 15.18 - Lugano ar 19.28, direct Bernina Express bus from Lugano to Tirano.
Instead of Bernina, you could go from Lugano to Locarno - Panoramic Centovalli Express - Panoramic Simplon Pass-bus to Brig and by train to Zermatt/Gornergrat/Matterhorn.
Can be combined with:
Panoramic train Loetschberger from Brig via Spiez to Bern.
Panoramic train Golden-Pass from Spiez to Montreux.
Glacier Express Zermatt - Andermatt plus connecting trains to Schoellenen Gorge - Goeschenen - Fluelen - Lucerne.
There are historic paddle steamboats running between Fluelen and Lucerne, as an alternative to the train.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2022, 10:47 AM
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<<If you keep Venice, I would depart Florence earlier so you have closer to two full days.
To avoid tiring mom out too much, consider having something to break up every other day--such as moving your Tuscany day trip a day earlier so you break up the sight seeing in Florence. Your long train ride will help with this also.
Maybe ask mom if she would prefer the lakes, Lucerne, or Venice more?>>

I agree with all of this, especially giving Venice a bit more time. Ideally though I would suggest flying into Venice as if you're lucky with the weather, the views of the islands as you fly in are incredible. You could then treat yourselves to a water taxi to transfer to your hotel which is the very best way to arrive, [if you can afford it of course - it's about €100]. Then on the day you travel to florence, I would suggest timing your train to coincide with lunchtime so you can eat lunch on the train. The Frecciarossa has several classes and the more luxurious can be quite reasonable if you book early enough. More details here: https://www.seat61.com/train-travel-in-italy.htm

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