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Milan, Lake Como, Venice Help - Is this doable?

Milan, Lake Como, Venice Help - Is this doable?

Old Mar 2nd, 2012, 06:29 AM
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Milan, Lake Como, Venice Help - Is this doable?

Many thanks in advance to this board! I've enjoyed reading through as many as posts as I can about our upcoming trip to Italy. Just one week ago, I was notified by a company I contract with that they need me to work one day outside of Milan in Vimercate. I convinced (!) my husband to join me and we are now arriving Tuesday, March 13 at 8 am at Malpensa in Milan and leave out of the same airport on Monday morning, March 19th. My work in Vimercate is all day Thursday, which means I need to be at that hotel by dinner on Wednesday and also stay there Thursday night as well. That leaves us free for Tuesday 8 am through Wednesday dinner, and then again Friday morning through Monday morning.

Here's the plan that I still need help with. We rent a car somewhere (Malpensa or somewhere in Milan??) and drive to Varenna (on the east side of Lake Como) and we have reservations Wednesday night at Hotel Olivedo (the others recommended on this board were booked already). We plan on spending the rest of Tuesday (after our nap from being tired from the flight and driving) and Wednesday in either Varenna or Bellagio which we hope to visit by ferry either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

After driving to Vimercate for Wednesday dinner and staying over til Friday morning, we thought we'd return the rental car to wherever we got it in Milan (or can we drop somewhere different than where we rent?) and then take the train to Venice. We have reservations Friday and Saturday night in Venice at the Hilton Molino Stucky. We're thinking having Friday afternoon through Sunday morning should be enough in Venice and we leave Sunday morning to travel back to Milan where we have reservations in downtown Milan at the Hilton Milan before flying out Monday morning.

So is it doable to stop in Verona or somewhere on the way back on Sunday using the train system? Should we use our weekend time differently? Should we keep the car and drive to Venice which might allow us to go to Lake Garda or somewhere else?

So my questions are... how does this plan sound? Where should we rent the car that first morning? What can we realistically do over the weekend without a car, and any other ideas that ya'll may have. My husband and I haven't visited Italy since we were in college and we're now late 50's/early 60's, so we are so excited!! I've never been to any of these cities at all. Please help us enjoy this wonderful opportunity!!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2012, 12:30 PM
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Should we keep the car and drive to Venice which might allow us to go to Lake Garda or somewhere else?>

Well I would drive from Varenna to Venice and if possible return the car there - even at Mestre, on the mainland if possible. then yes it is easy to take train and get off in Verona - station is right in town center. Just buy tickets as you go along and if not in a hurry hop IC or regional trains as they are much cheaper and pretty much a flat fare than the marginally faster AV or ETR or ES type trains - there are so so many trains never a problem getting on.

And yes stopping by Lake Garda en route to Venice would be fantastic - I loved that lake even more than lakes Como and Maggiore, fine as they are - you can take a boat around the lake for a day - easier than driving and you can see better from the water the whole lake than from one side only by car - Sirmione is a famous city with a famous archaeological site but in season is sardine city with tourists. Two cities right off the autostrada and right on the southern tip of the lake make nice bases.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2012, 12:48 PM
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I agree, drive to Venice. You should be able to drop the car at Piazzale Roma in Venice, at the end of the causeway from the mainland.

The Verona Porta Nuova station has luggage storage. You can leave your bags there while you visit the town.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2012, 01:22 PM
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Thank you both SO MUCH for your suggestions. I'm just curious - why drive to Venice when it is so easy to take the train from Milan to Venice? I'm not sure I follow your logic. I thought the purpose of possibly keeping the car would be for the return trip if we stopped in Verona or Lake Garda. I'm assuming we won't have time to visit Lake Garda on the way to Venice, but on the way back to Milan on Sunday. Am I missing something here?
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Old Mar 2nd, 2012, 02:50 PM
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Someone said drive from Varenna to Venice, but you would be driving from Vimercate, which is NE of Milan, with access to the main Highway toward Venice. I am sure they are thinking not to take time to go back into Milan to catch the train. This is one thing I do not know, but if you can turn the car in someplace in Vimercate, catch the train from Vimercate to Verona and on to Venice, then I would take the train. If you have to return the car closer to Milan, then I would probably keep the car and drive to Venice instead. You might drive to Venice, drop the car there, and train back to Milan via Verona.

Actually, unless it was really inconvenient, I'd take the train because I love arriving in Venice by train - and hate driving. That is a personal bias, so take with a grain of salt.

As to Verona, you can really play that by ear. If you find on Sunday that you want a few more hours in Venice, then stay longer. If you say, "enough with Venice" then leave early and stop in Verona. Personally, I would take every minute in Venice. OTOH, the Roman amphitheater in Verona is certainly worth seeing (I think the 3rd largest in the Roman Empire) and the central piazza is a lovely place for lunch.

Since you will have already been to Lake Como, I would visit Verona because it is so different from Venice and a bit of the Roman Empire to feel and touch. It is very, very easy to stop on the train in Verona and there is a bus to the city center, but it isn't far, only a few minutes walk.

I'm happy for you that you are getting to do this trip. I hope it is wonderful. You are taking a very good approach to the planning.
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Old Mar 4th, 2012, 12:40 PM
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Thank you Sassafrass! That answers so many of my questions and explains what PalenQ and Mimar were suggesting. We were wondering about driving from Vimercate BACK to Milan to return the rental car and catch the train from Milan to Venice. We would rather take the train to Venice and back to Milan, especially now that I know that stopping in Verona is so easy to do.

Can anyone suggest where we should rent the car (Malpensa or somewhere else in or outside of Milan) and then where to drop it off in Milan in order to catch the train to Venice? I assumed that if you rent and drop it off in two different places that there would be prohibitive fees, but maybe I'm wrong.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 10:11 AM
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Usually within a country at major agencies there are not extra charges for dropping elsewhere except perhaps at airports - Milano Centrale train station would be the ideal Milan drop-off obviously and this station is on the north side of the city center so you need not drive thru the center to reach it, coming from the north or northeast.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 11:16 AM
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So, Spinsker, (based on PalenQ's good information, which I trust totally) sounds like a toss up depending on your choice of Lake Garda or Verona, and whether you prefer to train or drive. You can drive or train round trip; or drive one way, drop the car, and train back.

We drive only when we want to get to places where there are no trains, so I must leave driving info to others.

If you take the train, get off at Santa Lucia Station in Venice, not Mestre. SL is the last stop on the train and when you walk out of the station, you are facing the Grand Canal.
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