Milan to Varenna by train

Old Aug 31st, 2019, 12:15 PM
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Milan to Varenna by train

We are planning our trip for next September to Italy. We will be spending 2 weeks. Part of the trip we hope to include 3 nights in Varenna.

A few Questions: 1). how is the train from Milan to Varenna? I ask because I find very windy roads an issue and going by train, I am hoping that I can handle a train ride and be able to settle in Varenna for 3 days. 2). The travel by ferry to Bellagio seems short and also I am hoping that it would be pretty flat. Same reason as number one. 3). Any suggestions for a great place to stay with a great view of the lake? We are willing to spend around $500 US a night tops.

We chose this place because it seems more peaceful and we really want to enjoy the culture etc without a ton of tourists.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all in advance.
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Old Aug 31st, 2019, 01:20 PM
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Varenna and Bellagio are very touristy during the season.
Both can also be reached by boat from Como.
Milan - Varenna trains run every 1-2 hrs. They are just usual Italian standard trains for regional traffic.
Varenna can also be reached by motorway. But the leg from the motorway exit at Bellano to Varenna is rather windy (with 6 hairpin curves and 3 tunnels).
Lake Como is usually very smooth, big waves would really be an exception.
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Old Sep 1st, 2019, 02:59 AM
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Thank you Neckervd. So the train from Milan to Varenna is then maybe slower so to speak and stops along the way since it is regional but it would be ok as it would be rather straight am I correct?
Thanks about the lake. I thought it looked quite calm.

Any idea about a place to stay. We like a quiet place with a view. We have stayed in B and Bs on other trips and simple beautiful clean family run places as well.

Thanks again.
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Old Sep 1st, 2019, 03:13 AM
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Sorry, I cannot help with accommodation. Swiss people like me never stay in this overrated area completely envaded by tourists from overseas. We prefer Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano.
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Old Sep 1st, 2019, 03:47 AM
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Interesting comment. We don’t like tourist invaded areas either. Been reading about Como itself and that town being more authentic. Thoughts about seeing Como as a quick stop instead? Thx.
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Old Sep 1st, 2019, 04:19 AM
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Most trains are not 'twisty' like roads. I don't really recall the train from Milan to Varenna but I don't recall it being anything other than 'normal'. People I know who get car sick don't get 'train' sick.

Como is much larger than Varenna or Bellagio and has more people living and working outside of the tourist industry so if that's what you mean by authentic then I guess it is. But other than a small area right by the lake it's not particularly interesting or scenic. And the southern part of the lake (where Como is) is much less scenic than the mid lake section. If you do stay in Varenna try Hotel du Lac.

If you want to avoid tourist crowds Lake Lugano is not a bad suggestion. The city of Lugano, like Como, is not particularly beautiful but the lake is nice and you can take a funicular to two different mountain tops (right from the center of the town) with gorgeous views. The train from Milan to Lugano takes about the same time as the train from Milan to Varenna. I would suggest trying to see both but you'd need to go back to Milan or take a car (through probably windy roads, I never did that though).

Here's part of what I wrote about Lugano on my trip report/blog - Lugano has a magnificent setting, much better even than Lakes Como or Garda. Lugano itself is a medium size city (71,000/140,00 urban area), mostly pretty modern. There’s been a town there for thousands of years but most of the buildings are from the late 1800s and later. The ‘center’ seems to be 1880-1920, some nice arcaded buildings and streets but nothing that feels especially old. And lots of 20th century building – that’s the majority. So not quaint, not especially atmospheric, but what a setting. There is a long promenade (at least 2 miles) part of which is a very nice park. Lots of things in bloom – pink and white flowering trees, dogwood, tulips, daffodils, willows just budding out, palm trees! I love that there you can see palm trees and snow covered Alps at the same time (which is also true of Lake Como). Delightful to walk along the water through the park. Lots of swans (and very tame).

I was in Lugano in March so in September you might not get snow covered alps. Photos and the rest of the blog are here: https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/blog/20...e-lugano-pavia

Last edited by isabel; Sep 1st, 2019 at 04:21 AM.
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Old Sep 1st, 2019, 05:00 AM
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That train from Centrale to Varenna makes two stops as I recall, the second one being in Lecco where the lake views begin (sit on the left side facing forward). I am not sure why anyone would say, or think, that the city of Como is "more authentic" than is Varenna, or Bellagio, or any other place since all of them are IN Italy and they are what they are. If you really dislike being a tourist adding to the crowd of other tourists just like yourself then you might think again about Bellagio and even Varenna can be quite busy with visitors.
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Old Sep 1st, 2019, 09:48 AM
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" I would suggest trying to see both but you'd need to go back to Milan or take a car (through probably windy roads, I never did"

thjere are direct buses from Lugano to Menaggio/Lake Como, about every 1-2 hrs.
The city of Como lies on the railway line Milan - Lugano. Lugano - Como by train lasts some 20 minutes.
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Old Sep 1st, 2019, 10:07 AM
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Varenna-Esino is the full name of the Varenna stop.

Do you get car sick, Byron1? I don't remember the train trip from Milano to Varenna being especially uncomfortable.

We wanted to stay at the Belvedere in Varenna but it hadn't opened when we visited in March quite a few years ago. We ended up at the Pergola in Bellagio. It was a bit too far from the center but we enjoyed the vibe. I hope others can give you better hotel suggestions.

The ferry from Varenna to Bellagio was short...10 minutes? And smooth if our experiences were an indication.
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Old Sep 1st, 2019, 12:08 PM
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We've stayed a couple of times each at the Hotel du Lac in Varenna and the Hotel Florence in Bellagio. I recommend both.

To me, the debate about authenticity is odd. All of the lakes mentioned are tourist destinations. Even the smaller villages not usually mentioned typically have one or two hotels and restaurants which are there for... tourists! While September is somewhat outside of high season, if the weather is nice, there will be lots of people at the lakes, especially on weekends when a significant percentage of visitors could be... Italians! or Swiss!
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Old Sep 1st, 2019, 12:13 PM
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Many thanks to all. We will try the train as my wife has been able to handle that in the past in Italy. Cars are not good especially on windy roads. Hotel du Lac is sold out. We will continue to look for accommodations and even in Bellagio. You are all very helpful.
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Old Sep 1st, 2019, 03:03 PM
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I had a lake view room at the Villa Cipressi in Varenna, you might try there. I found Varenna quieter than Bellagio, and would certainly prefer to stay there. The only problem with the train to Milan that I saw was too many people with over-large luggage. (I had arrived by super-scenic ferry from Como.)
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