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Northern Italy in mid-October

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Aug 29th, 2016, 03:33 PM
  #1
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Northern Italy in mid-October

I will be traveling to Italy October 17-31. We fly into Venice and depart Milan. We plan to rent a car in Venice and head towards Lake Garda and then to Lake Como. My question, would you stay in Italy the entire trip or would you spend sometime in Switzerland since it is so close to Lake Como?
I wanted to go to Portofino, but from what I've read, the west coast rains a lot in October. Thanks for your help.
JIll
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Aug 29th, 2016, 03:48 PM
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Well Lugano would certainly be a possibility. Where are you planning to drop off the car?

http://wikitravel.org/en/Lugano
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Aug 29th, 2016, 03:54 PM
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After Lake Garda, at least for now.
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Aug 29th, 2016, 07:13 PM
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You can get lucky, but on the whole the second half of October is already less attractive for much outdoor stuff. What was green and in bloom earlier is autumn-drab, days are shorter (sunset around six thirty - no more balmy evenings with everybody doing the passeggiata), and weather possibly iffy.

You could have a splendid day by a lake, but keep your program flexible, don't lock yourselves in. Spur-of-the-moment excursions are always possible, trains run all the time and a car can get you there in no time.

But aside from the new vintages, what October is great for is the big-city life that has just gotten into full swing. The concert season, for example, and not just the Biggies like La Scala and the famous orchestras, but chamber music in churches where there is nothing other than a posted flier alerting you, so be on the lookout.

Get serious about exploring Bologna, Padua (Padova), Ravenna (mosaics!!!), Chioggia (a picturesque mini-Venice that your camera will love!), and other such targets that hold their own, in many respects, to the colossal draws like Venice and Florence.
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Aug 29th, 2016, 11:56 PM
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Rain: there is not much difference between Portofino and Lombardy. The weather can be fine at both places or it can rain in either Liguria or Lombardy and be fine in the other area.
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Aug 31st, 2016, 02:19 PM
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Thanks so much for all the good information. I have one more question. Would it be crazy to take the train from Bellagio to Lucern?
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Aug 31st, 2016, 02:32 PM
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There's no train station in Bellagio. The nearest station is in Varenna-Esino. We took the train from Varenna to Luzerne a few years ago. Often you have to go back to Milan to change trains, but we changed trains in Monza. Then you have to change trains again somewhere in Switzerland, often Arth-Goldau. Another time I did the trip from Milan. It's the same train line as the train from Monza.

I wouldn't say the idea is crazy; the scenery can be very nice, unless it's foggy. I wouldn't go there just for a day or two, because it's probably not worth the long trip.

On our way back to Italy, we took a boat from Luzerne, changing to a train that went to Lugano, and changed there for a train to Milan. This is a famous route, known as the William Tell Express, except that you can get the tickets for a lot less if you don't buy into the William Tell Express name. We happened to hit a foggy day, so the scenery wasn't spectacular.
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Aug 31st, 2016, 02:32 PM
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Where is your flight home from? Milan? Zurich?
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Aug 31st, 2016, 03:29 PM
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As well as the routes described by bvlenci, you can also take the train from Varenna to Lucerne using the Bernina Express but it's a long journey and I would only do it if planning to spend some time in Switzerland.

For a very long day out, if you want to mostly see scenery from the window, it is possible to take the train from Varenna to St Moritz and return from St Moritz to Chiavenna by bus then onwards back to Varenna by train. Ferry between Bellagio and Varenna.

There is also a bus from Menaggio to Lugano which would also get you into Switzerland. Ferry Bellagio to Menaggio.

Weather is entirely unpredictable. One year we had brilliant weather in October in Italy followed by a week of rain in the south of Spain (which the previous week had been over 30celsius). You can check historical weather online if that helps.
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Aug 31st, 2016, 03:41 PM
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For Swiss transport services check sbb.ch/en and swisstravelsystem.com.
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Sep 2nd, 2016, 04:46 AM
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Como - Bellagio: bus and trains about every 2 hrs.
Best connection:
Bellagio dp by bus 14.02 - Como SG ar 15.15, Como SG dp by direct train (with dining car) 16.01 - Lucerne ar 19.13
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