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Lake Como, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre?

Lake Como, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre?

Jun 25th, 2001, 06:58 PM
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Lake Como, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre?

We leave in less than 2 weeks. We fly into Milan and go up to Bellagio at Lake Como. Would a car be the way to go rather than the train. Then I didnt' know if we should drive to Venice and leave the car at the auto-park lot or return the car to Milan and take the train.

Going from Venice to Florence if we didn't rent a car how easy is it to go by train?

We have almost a week in Florence and planned to see the hill towns, like Sienna. We were told the best way to see those towns is by car. Is that true?

Is a day trip to the Cinque Terre a possibility while staying in Florence or is that too far. Again, would it be better to rent a car or go by train?

Sorry for all the questions but am trying to make this a great trip.
Jun 25th, 2001, 07:52 PM
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I would get a car and keep it. Drive to Bellagio by going up the west side and ferry over versus the east side that looks easiest on the map. The east side is tricky, slow driving but it takes you directly there. We found the west side and ferry over to be much better roads.

You will enjoy a car in Tuscany as it is the best way to amble around and see the area. I would park the car in Venice in the Tronchetta and then use it to get to Florence and explore.

Cinque Terre is not a bad drive, but may be a little long for a day trip and back. We left from Siena and then stayed in the area, so cannot help you here.

Great area! Have fun.
Jun 26th, 2001, 01:13 PM
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We just returned from that area. A car provides you with much greater access to see the Lake Como area; otherwise, you are limited to where the ferry's go. Even though we had a car, we still spent a beautiful afternoon taking the "local" ferry from Bellagio to Como (about a 2 hour ride). The ferry is the best way to see the lake. This area is just like heaven. I would then drop the car off in Como and train it to Venice and again train it to Florence. This is very easy and enjoyable. You do not need a car in either Venice or Florence.Pick up a car in Florence to use to see Tuscany. This is far and away the best way.

I would suggest that you spend 3 of your 7 days in Florence, a city which has a lot to offer. Be sure to get advance reservations for the Uffizi and Accademia (the David is here); otherwise plan to spend a long time waiting in line.

I understand that Cinque Terre is wonderful and about a 2 hour drive west-northwest from Florence. Siena, on the other hand is 1 1/2 hours south of Florence. So, if you are based in Florence, you need to plan your daily direction. This is a wonderful area. Enjoy.
Jun 26th, 2001, 03:11 PM
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We just returned from the same trip a couple of weeks ago. However, we did it in reverse. We flew into Milan and flew onto Venice ( same price airfare on Alitalia to change in Milan). We rented the car on the day we left Venice and headed to Tuscany (we went to Florence last year so we decided to skip it this year). We needed the car in Tuscany to see the countryside. We then headed to Portofino and stayed in Camogli which took us by car about 2 1/2 hours from Tuscany. This was not such a great car trip-- lots of traffic-once we hit the Riviera we parked the car for the entire trip and took ferries around. We headed by car up to Bellagio--not a bad drive except thru Genoa (very heavy traffic). We kept the car in Bellagio one night ( we drove up the west side and ferried across from Cadenabbia (very pleasant trip and we were able to stop in Cernobbio to see the Villa d'este etc.) We decided that we should get rid of the car early so we drove to Como and turned the car and ferried around the lake the rest of the time. We took a taxi to Malpensa (which was worth every penny --no hassle, door to door service and with the heavy traffic-- the taxi driver was so proficient it was actually an experience in itself!) Hope this helps!
Jun 26th, 2001, 05:02 PM
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A little elaboration on Lee's comment that the ferry from Bellagio to Como took 2 hours. You can also take one that only makes three stops and consumes 45 minutes. We chose the latter, as we had already been in the area for three days and wanted to spend more time in the city of Como.
Jun 26th, 2001, 09:30 PM
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We did this same trip in April and May. We flew in to Milan and rented a car and drove up to Bellagio we drove up the middle of the peninsula from Milan and found it wasn't that bad of a drive and beautiful scenery when you are looking down from up above at Lake Como. The pictures I took from there were pretty impressive with Lake Como in the foreground and the Alps in the distant.Then we ferried across from Bellagio and drove back the west side.
We left our car at the tronchetto in Venice, however you could take a train to Venice I suppose, but my feeling is that a car is a must in Tuscany. The drives are so gorgeous.
If you like museums Florence is ok, but if you like scenery and small towns then my preference is spending as much time seeing Tuscany. When we go back we will skip Florence.
We stayed in Santa Margherita and took the train to Cinque Terre.
We had a car the entire time we were in Europe.
A car does give you a lot of flexibility.
Jun 26th, 2001, 11:24 PM
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Don't know if you could do a mixture of car and train which is what we did.

I would recommend a car for the lake area (which we didn't do)

No car for Venice or Florence (or in between/travel to these cities)

Car for Sienna/other cities in Tuscany.

May sound confusing, but you'll welcome the break from driving and eliminate dealing with the car when you don't need it.
Jun 27th, 2001, 07:13 AM
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Be aware that there's a lot of traffic in this period, and to stay overnight in Cinque Terre (or even near to the area) you should have booked months ago. Yesterday i tried to plan a weekend there for the end of July and everything is taken.
Jun 27th, 2001, 08:43 AM
dick patterson
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I agree with the posters who advised to drive up the west side of Lake Como and take the car ferry across. I did that the first time I drove to Bellagio. The second time, I drove up the east side (i.e., the east side of the western branch of the lake), and it was pretty nerve-wracking, though very beautiful. I'd like to know if anyone has driven up the west side of the eastern branch of the lake, or the east side of the eastern branch of the lake (you would then take the ferry from Varenna) and what the driving was like there. Sharp dropoffs with narrow roads and lots of curves tend to put a damper on my enjoyment of the scenery, but if it's not too bad and the scenery is worth it, I might give it a try next time.
Jul 1st, 2001, 03:05 AM
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Can any of you tell me the places you stayed in Tuscany?
Jul 2nd, 2013, 01:15 PM
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My fiancée and I are heading to Milan next Thursday and were planning on driving from Milan to Bellagio. We initially thought we would drive the eastern way but after reading these threads we're thinking going the western way via ferry. Can someone please advise the name of the ferry we would take so we can look up the times and books our car for the ferry in advance?
mikeboston is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2013, 01:29 PM
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For the benefit of others who open this thread, it was started 12 years ago...

mike, are you sure you need a car for Bellagio? For almost everything you'd likely want to see, it's easier to get around using the ferries. Does your Bellagio lodging have parking? Were you going to drive from the city of Milan or from the Malpensa airport? FYI, it's very easy to get from Milan/Malpensa to Bellagio using trains and ferries, or you can splurge on a land shuttle service or private driver.

Anyhoo, here's a link to the ferry. You can't make reservations.

Jean is online now  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 07:14 AM
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Thanks Jean! Yes we need a car as after Bellagio (there is some free parking by the hotel) we are driving to the Tuscany region, via a stop in Verona. Then we will be driving through Cinque Terre and back to Milan, 7 days in Italy, so we want to maximize our time and not depend on train schedules. Costs wise we make out the same or even better with renting a car.
mikeboston is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 07:15 AM
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Oh and we will be driving from the Malpensa airport, does that make a difference in terms of the route?
mikeboston is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 07:23 AM
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Jean, one more question, what town/stop would you pick up the ferry from and where would you take it to (Bellagio I assume?)
mikeboston is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 10:17 AM
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If it were my trip, I wouldn't rent the car until leaving Verona, and then return it at La Spezia before going to the Cinque Terre. But you didn't ask that question...

Driving from Malpensa is infinitely easier than driving from the city of Milan, but will you be coming off a long, overnight flight? Going through the rental process, orienting to a foreign car, language, signage and traffic is challenging enough without being jetlagged/exhausted too. But you didn't ask that question either...

I would either drive to Cadenabbia and take the ferry to Bellagio or drive directly to Bellagio along the western shore of the Como "leg" of the lake. Either way could take 2 hours or possibly more if the traffic is exceptionally heavy.

As you plan to do lots of driving, you should become familiar with the limited traffic zones (Zona a Traffico Limitato, aka "ZTL") established in most Italian cities and towns, including Verona and most Tuscan towns. If you drive into a zone, even unintentionally, you may receive an expensive ticket in the mail after you get home. Read this overview and then Google "ZTL Verona" (and other towns) for more info and maps.


FYI, Italy also has more stringent drunk driving laws with lower blood alcohol limits and uses speed cameras.
Jean is online now  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 10:50 AM
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The over night flight lands in Paris and we have 5 hours at the airport to relax/rest and take a direct flight to Milan that gets in around 3PM.
Thank you so much for all the info, especially the heads up with the ZTL!
mikeboston is offline  

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