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Lake Maggiore or Lake Como - where to stay?

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Hello,
we would like to spend about 3 days in the Lake Region at the beginning of September. We would like to explore both lakes and may be make a day trip to Lugano. We are flying into Milan Airport and I want to go directly to the Lake Region. Do we need a car to travel from one lake to another? Most of the posts suggest the car will be a liability there, but is there a public transportation between the lakes? how often it runs? how long does it take? Also, if we do rent a car to travel between the lakes, how are the roads in the region? Are they very windy mountain roads or they are not so difficult to drive? how lond does it take for a car to travel from one lake to another? The same question is about Lugano. Can we venture there for a day or half-day without a car? My husband used to drive in Europe, he is ok with it, but if the roads are too challenging I don't want him to get stressed on his vacation. Looking for the advise. Also, what will be a good base to do that?

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