Help With The Alps....

Old Oct 29th, 2008, 02:54 PM
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Help With The Alps....

Hello,

Long time reader, first time poster here. I'm planning a trip to the Northern Italy/Southern France region for next September with a total of about 12 nights. 3 in Venice, 2 in Milan, 4 in Nice and 3 for the Alps.... trouble is, I can't lock down where. Arrival city would depend on which area I ultimately pick but my departure home will more than likely be from Milan. So here's what I'm looking at....

Option #1
Focus solely on the Dolomites via arrival in Venice.

Option #2
Start in Austria catching the Eastern Alps and Dolomites en route to Venice.

Option #3
Head to Interlaken from Milan and then head back to Italy continuing the trip.

Option#4
Arrive in Zurich staying in either Luzern or Interlaken then heading off to Milan.

My goal is to do some easy hiking for a day or two and experience an Alpine village/town. My preference would be to get to Switzerland but I'm afraid it may be too much. After doing a lot of reading it seems that option #1 would be the most logical as there would be less backtracking which is a big factor. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance for any input.
stefan240 is offline  
Old Oct 29th, 2008, 03:18 PM
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Given that your focus is on the Northern Italy/Southern France region, it seems that Venice is the outlier.

Thus I'd suggest starting in Geneva, heading to Chamonix and then more of the French Alps, on your way south to Nice. You'd want to rent a car on the French side in Geneva and return it in Nice before training to Milan. Or to Venice and then back to Milan if Venice is a must on this trip.
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Old Oct 29th, 2008, 10:30 PM
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See if you can get a multi-city fare into Venice and home from Milan, or simply a roundtrip from home to Mlian and back, whichever works out better. The train from Milano Centrale station to Venezia-Santa Lucia can take as little as 2:35 hours.

Decompress by walking around Venice for a day or three, then take the train into the mountains to Calalzo-Pieve di Cd and the bus to Cortina d'Ampezzo, former olympic site, where hiking is marvellous. Google it.

Then you can come back down and take the train from, say, Padova (itself worth a good look around!) to Nice - the best (fastest) is the 08:24AM that requires only one change, in Milano Centrale, and gets to Nice by 4PM. The others all take quite a bit longer.

After Nice, head back to Milan (there is a great direct train at 6:05PM, arr. Milan 10:50PM) and eventually fly home. From Milan you can go into the southern parts of Switzerland or to lots of other interesting places.
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Old Oct 29th, 2008, 10:54 PM
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The core of the difficulty of this type of itinerary is that you have 3 end point destinations: namely Venice, Nice, and (Swiss) Alps. Even if you start your trip from one end point and end in another, the third end point location must be backtracked.

Presuming you are using trains, the best way is to plug in several scenarios into the scheduler and see what you get in terms of frequency, travel time, and cost.

I personally don't like to backtracking in Switzerland as the train cost there is higher compared to Italy or France. Also as someone else mentioned, Venice is not hard or expensive to get to from Milan.
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 04:31 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions. Tuck, I hadn't looked into Chamonix but from online it looks gorgeous. I had briefly considered that route into southern France but Venice is a must for us. I should have elaborated that this will be for my wife and I our first Euro road trip.

I think my back up plan was pretty much what you suggested DailiLlama. And Greg you're definitely right that backtracking is my biggest problem. That's why as much as I want to get to Switzerland it's probably best for me to hold out and hope I can get back for at least a week or so to do it properly.

So from Dalai's suggestion here's what I'm thinking.
-Arrive in Venice am and stay 3 nights
-pick up car and head for Dolomites
-stay a night in either Castlerotto or Bolzano
-head for Lake Como and stay two nights
-head straight for Nice and stay four nights
-head back to Milan for last night

The only reason I'm going back to Milan and not just staying there 3 nights when I'm at Como is to avoid the car drop off fee. The other option would be to just do that and then take the train to Nice and just get a car there and possibly depart home, although I'm not sure I'll be able to use my miles from Nice. I would like to use the car as much as possible just for the freedom of taking photos and the fact I don't mind driving. But this is where other's opinions and experience is helpful as I may be biting off a little much. The driving and times are the X factor at this point as ViaMichelin can only give me so much info. It's useful but my concern is of course traffic

Thanks again.
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 04:55 AM
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With the Dolomite scheme, head into the Engadin area of Switzerland (via Merano), then the Val Bregaglia (with a must-see stop at the village of Soglio) just prior to your arrival at Lake Como.

Beautiful Alpine scenery!
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 05:34 AM
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That's a great idea and I didn't even realize until I looked at the map that St Mortiz was that close to Bolzano. Would I have to do the train at any part or would I be ok with a car the entire way? That would be ideal to head to Como from there.
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 05:51 AM
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No train - car all the way. Pick up in Venice, return at Malpensa. All Italian rental - no drop off fee...
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 07:29 AM
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Now that a car enters the equation, all bets are off. Don't settle for the obvious bigger towns, like Bolzano, there are much nicer places to stay in, smaller towns in the region - not on train lines, but easy with a car.

The entire Graubünden-Grisons region of southeastern Switzerland is yours, not just ritzy and overpriced St. Moritz in the lovely Engadin, but Sils or Silvaplana on the lake, Samedan, Pontresina, etc....

Then take the Maloja Pass to get down into the Lake Como region of Italy (the western side of the lake is more picturesque to drive), and across to Lugano and lovely Locarno/Ancona/Brissago/Stresa (and the Borromean islands!) along the Lago Maggiore ("Major Lake") and down to Milan.

What is it about Nice that you couldn't get closer to Venice if it is beaches you're after? Nice is a long way away, screws up your alreday tight schedule, and there are beaches galore within reach of Venice, or - for something a bit different - just across the golf of Venice near, say, Pula or the island of Krk - there are ferries to get you there, too.
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 10:21 AM
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Since we're on a budget I don't think we'll stay at St Moritz but it might be nice to pass through. I'll have to do some more research on where to stay in that area as a smaller town would be nice.

Nice...yes I'd really like to get there for the beaches and the Maritime Alps. As corny as it sounds, years ago when I first saw To Catch A Thief I told myself I would someday get there. The trip for my wife and myself is sort of a a rite of passage into starting a family and it will probably be some time before we're able to get back to Europe. So, all that to say we're trying to see as much as we can realistically. If I can fly home out of Nice I think we'll be ok but if it has to be Milan I may have to rethink it.

While we're talking about the beaches, would I be correct in assuming the Mediterranean will still be warm enough to swim in mid September?

Thanks



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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 11:17 AM
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Yes, warm enough. Look at www.kayak.com and choose the Multi-City option, to find out if you can fly into Venice and home from Nice. That would be the best solution for you by far. Make sure that your layovers are long - better to be sitting around an airport than to miss a connection.
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 11:21 AM
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Yes - avoid St Moritz.

There are a number of nice towns and villages in the Upper Engadin that offer economic lodging. Pontresina, Celerina, Silvaplana, Sils, to name a few...

If this were my trip, I'd cut out Nice - it's too far and out of the way. I'd take in the Mediterranean along the Italian Riviera. Look into the Portofino/ Santa Margharita Ligure area.
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 01:43 AM
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Hi Stefan - I'd definitely stay in Castelrotto (- or Val Gardena) rather than Bolzano.

You'll wish you could stay more than one night in the Dolomites ...

Steve
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 02:59 AM
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hi stephan,

love the ideas but agree with others that you're trying to cram too much in.

there ARE beaches in Italy - in fact there are some big ones just round the corner from Venice along the adriatic, in Tuscany around viareggio, and on the italian rivieria.

in 12 nights, you REALLY only have time for 3 main destinations, unless you want to need another holiday when you get home.

as Venice and mountains are a must, and you want beaches too,

I would simply fly into AND out of Venice, start off with 4 nights there, then pick up a car and set off into the hills. in september with just two of you, finding nice places to stay "on spec" should be no problem.

this sort of "touring" is something that you'll find much more difficult to do with kids, so take advantage of it while you can.

France will still be there in a few years time.

regards, ann

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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 11:33 AM
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Thanks again for all of the input. Steve, I probably will really consider Castelrotto. How is the hiking there in comparison to some of the other neighboring areas, including Switzerland?

Ultimately Ann you're probably right that I might be cramming too much. I just have to figure out where the priority is and either compromise something timewise or rearrange more dramatically. So to be clear, the consensus seems to be that 4 nights for a Dolomites/ Como combo would be overdoing it? Maybe one night in Castelrotto, another in Switzerland, and then 2 at Como?

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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 02:35 AM
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There is fanstastic hiking country throughout the Dolomites, Stefan - you're spoilt for choice.

From Val Gardena or Castelrotto you can access the beautiful Alpe di Siusi. The area around Saltria/Sasso Lungo/Sasso Piatto and the Sciliar is unmissable.

http://www.seiseralm.it/en/
http://www.valgardena.it/en/walking-...ng/page50.html

There are organised excursions from the resorts if you prefer to join a group.

If you are interested in more serious hiking, consider the Vie Ferrate.

http://www.planetmountain.com/english/Trekking/ferrate/

http://www.dolomiti.org/dengl/Cortin...ubarea=ampezzo

http://www.dolomiti.org/dengl/Cortin...ate/index.html

http://freespace.virgin.net/paul.ben...lo/routes.html

Hope this helps ...

Steve

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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 03:09 AM
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hi again, stephan,

i think that if you want to do sone hiking, 4 nights in the dolomites would NOT be overdonig it.

but if you have followed my advice

>

not to book in advance, it won't matter. you can stay there are long as you like and then head off for the adriatic or the lakes just as you prefer.

regards, ann
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 07:07 AM
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Thanks for the links Steve...very very helpful. Looks like the Val Gardena area would be the best to focus on. Easy to semi moderate hiking would be the best for us. Just want take my camera and explore. Based on that one interactive map there appear to be more cable cars than I would have thought which is nice. It also looks like Ortisei might be a more central location to base for two nights.

I'm definitely going to take your advice Ann on that leg of the trip and just plan as we go so we have that freedom for 5 days. I'd like to get to the Engadin area as well for at least one night before heading to Lake Como.

Thanks again.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 01:55 AM
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Some prefer Castelrotto, but I always recommend Ortisei as a base.

It's more central, with access to several great cable-cars (- Ciampinoi, Dantercepies etc.) from the Val Gardena villages.

Either way you can't go wrong

Steve

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