Lake Como in March?

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Jan 9th, 2017, 10:16 PM
  #1
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Lake Como in March?

I will be visiting Italy in late March (20-25). I have personal business in Florence for a couple of days and then I was thinking about visiting Milan (1 day) and Lake Como (2 days).

I know March is off season esp for Lake Como but will everything be closed? I am currently looking for Hotels and many of the ones I like don't open until mid April. Should I just avoid going to Lake como? If so, any other suggestions? (NOT Rome or Venice since I have already been)
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Jan 9th, 2017, 10:36 PM
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What did you hope to do on the lake? What town(s) are you checking for hotels? Depending on the town, many/most hotels and restaurants will be closed. Will you have a car or be relying on the ferries? Have you noted the reduced, off-season ferry service?

Where would you go after these days? Are you flying out of Milan?

Sorry for all the questions, but any suggestions could be over a large part of northern Italy. My first thoughts are Bologna, Torino, Parma...
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Jan 10th, 2017, 06:39 AM
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Forget Como in March.
We got caught in a snow storm in mid-April one year.
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Jan 10th, 2017, 07:26 AM
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Looks like you have three nights. I would book all three nights in Milan and then once you get there, based on the weather you could go to Lake Como (1 hr by train to mid lake, Varenna). If the weather is bad you could do day trips to Bologna, Pavia or Parma - all about 1 hour train trips. Or Lugano, just over an hour. Gives you more flexibility and hopefully at least one of your three days will be pleasant weather for the lake.

That's how I usually plan my March trips, has worked in the past for various Italian trips, and I hope it's good advice since I am doing exactly that the same week you are!
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Jan 10th, 2017, 07:53 PM
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Jean
I didn't have anything specific to do on the lake. Just hang out, walk around, and enjoy the scenery. I was checkING Varenna, Bellagio, and Como. I will be relying on ferries only, no car. I don't know anything about the off season ferries. After the lake I would be taking a train back to Milan and then Rome to fly back to America.

I was also considering maybe doing a day tour to Pisa from Florence as well.

Is bologna a good option? I don't know much about Bologna.

I wanted to visit somewhere scenic and beautiful. Not interested in museums and we will have lots of shopping opportunities in milan. I really wanted to visit the southern coast but I will save that for a summer vacation.

Isabel
I don't feel comfortable booking hotels in lake como such last minute. Esp since there not very many available hotels to begin with. But the day trip to Bologna seems like a good idea.
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Jan 10th, 2017, 08:34 PM
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Actually what do your all think about visiting Cinque Terre from Milan?
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Jan 11th, 2017, 11:03 AM
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If you follow Isabel's suggestion, you can check the ferry timetables from/to Varenna to what you could do in the time available. Buy your round-trip train in Milan because the Varenna-Esino station is unmanned. Needless to say, don't miss the last ferry back to Varenna.

http://www.navigazionelaghi.it/c_dow...I2016_2017.pdf

The Cinque Terre is too far from Milan for a day trip. 3+ hours each way on the fastest train connections. And you've already got a 3-hour ride back to Rome, so you don't want to spend all of your time sitting on trains.

I would choose Torino, Bologna, Parma over summer resorts. Add Verona to the possibilities. Most trains take only 1:15 hours.

Search train timetables at the link below. Use Italian spellings (Milano, Torino, Varenna-Esino, Roma, etc.).

http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en
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Jan 11th, 2017, 11:38 AM
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Cinque Terre is an even worse idea than Lago di Como. Go to Bologna.
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Jan 11th, 2017, 04:59 PM
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I didn't mean book a hotel in Lake Como, I meant spend three nights in Milan. Each morning, based on the forecast for that day decide where you would like to go for a day trip - if it's sunny go to Lake Como, easily done as a day trip since the train to Varenna is only an hour. You could then take the ferry over to Bellagio for a few hours. Another day, if the weather is less good, you take the train to Bologna for a day. Parma or Pavia could be a third day trip if you wanted to get out of Milan three days.
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Jan 11th, 2017, 10:11 PM
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How expensive are last minute train tickets in Italy?
Thank you for all your suggestions!
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Jan 11th, 2017, 10:36 PM
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The trenitalia link that Palenq gave you above is easy to navigate and will give you fares to your intended destinations. If you want to know what the difference in rates is, use tomorrow's date, and you will see what it will cost if you buy last minute. Then pick a date in March and recalculate, and you can see the difference.

The fare to Varenna is the same all the time, Euro 6,70
Watch for time of trip, and what kind of train ie you want the fast train to Bologna or Parma.
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Jan 12th, 2017, 04:30 AM
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tahviln - strange as it might seem to some Fodors posters but people actually live on Lake Come all year round as I do. Some tows may be quieter such as Bellagio but this might in fact be a blessing. The ferries still function as many on the Lake use the ferries as a means to get to work or school.

Villa Balbienello and Villa Carlotta should be open.

Finally,bobthenavigator - how many times do you need to tell everyone about snow in April. This is a rare event.
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Jan 12th, 2017, 04:57 AM
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I am in the Bologna camp. Compact city, many sights, great food and easy rail connections to Rome and Florence.
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Jan 12th, 2017, 10:09 AM
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I agree, nochblad, but being a resident and being an off-off-season visitor are quite different. For a day tripper, the dining options in Varenna and Bellagio are slim. For shoppers, variety would be quite limited.

Balbianello is closed Mondays and Wednesdays. It would be a little early for the azaleas and rhododendrons at Carlotta but perhaps good for the camellias. At Villa Monastero, the gardens would be open, but the flowers won't be in bloom. The house would be open only Friday to Sunday.
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Jan 12th, 2017, 01:28 PM
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While I love Bologna, I wouldn't expect it to appeal to someone looking for a place that's "scenic and beautiful". There are some beautiful places near Milan, such as the Park of the Ticino, with its villas along the river. I'm not sure how easy it is to get around without a car. We stayed for several days in Abbiategrasso and took bike tours along canal towpaths and riverside bike paths.

Another possibility would be a day trip to Lugano, or to Bellinzona, in Italian Switzerland.

Both of these might depend to some extent on the weather as well.
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Jan 12th, 2017, 01:40 PM
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I should add that Torino is another good suggestion. It is a city, however.
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Jan 12th, 2017, 02:05 PM
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Bellinzona is a good suggestion for scenery, but be aware it is almost 2 hours by train from Milan.

Has anyone mentioned Bergamo?
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Jan 13th, 2017, 07:10 AM
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Why don't you wait to see what the weather is? If you decide at the last minute to go from Florence or Lago di Como in March, you will not have trouble finding a place to stay. You can even pre-book a hotel in Milan and cancel the reservations if you do it through booking.com.

A lot of people are suggesting you go to historic art cities. While they are beautiful in their own way, they are not scenic nature destinations and are mainly of interest to people who like museum-history type sightseeing. I enjoy Bologna, but it is not a scenic destination. It's a busy city wth medieval history (and soulful food).
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Jan 13th, 2017, 07:14 AM
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I just noticed in your other post you are interested in le Cinque Terre. It can be beautiful in March and, contrary to what was posted here, if the sun is shining it will be a better bet for outdoor activity than Lago di Como (warmer). You can easily find a last-minute booking in le Cinque Terre in March, so same strategy applies. Wait until you are in Italy to see where the weather is sunny and dry, and go there to spend a couple of nights, and then go to Milan.
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