Reviewing Switzerland and Italy

Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 02:21 PM
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Reviewing Switzerland and Italy

Hello

Several things have happened or have been learned that are influencing me to change my plans for Switzerland and Italy. I would like your input on my current ideas, please.

We leave home for Zurich on September 24, arriving Sept. 25 am, and departing Venice on October 7. That's 12 nights on the ground.

We had originally planned for Lucerne then the Berner Oberland, staying in a mountain town such as Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen. I'm changing my mind for a few reasons:

I read on this forum that this might be late in the year for the BO and someone else was suggested a place further south in Switzerland. I can't find that post but would appreciate input. Also those towns seem very sporty to me and I'm not feeling well. I may have waited until too late in life to plan this Swiss trip, but I think we can still make abbreviated visits to more mountainous towns.

In any case, I'm now thinking of heading straight from Zurich to Interlaken. I don't want to stay in Interlaken, but neither do I want to stay in the mountain towns. I would prefer a day trip to Grindlewald, etc.

I was looking at spots along the lakes on either side of Interlaken. Does anyone have a suggestion that would be good for taking cable cars to the mountains if the weather is right?

From there (?) we will head to Lago Maggiore. I'm not sure where, but my husband likes the idea of Stresa for a couple of days. I thought maybe I would prefer Locarno because it is in Switzerland but would that make a difference?

From there, we will get a car and drive to Vincenza or nearby. The plan is to make day trips to Bassano al Grappa, the Colli Euganei and Padova.

Then on to Venice for the Biennale for our last three nights.

Feedback and ideas are sought, please.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 02:44 PM
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I wouldn't hesitate to stay in Grindelwald during your dates in September. We did exactly that at that time of year and had beautiful weather. You don't have to be "sporty" to enjoy the beautiful views. Take a train and head to the Jungfrau too.
If you want to stay on a lake, the town of Spietz is nice.
We have been to Bassano del Grappa twice and enjoyed it with it's Alpine feel even though close to Venice. Also loved Vicenza. Stresa would be nice for a few days too.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 02:49 PM
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Happy, thanks for the feedback. I was thinking that Grindelwald would be hard for me. If we are training it seemed hard to find a place that wasn't an uphill hike to get to the station or back. Sporty applied to being able to do much hilly walking.

I could go back and look yet again. But I got discouraged after hours and hours of searching. Any recommendations?
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Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 02:56 PM
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I thought maybe I would prefer Locarno because it is in Switzerland but would that make a difference?>

About twice as expensive all around and a large modern city on a nice lake - I liked smaller cuter Stresa more and there are more lake boats available from there - the three Borromean Island lovingly sit right offshore.

Those southern Swiss towns were probably in the Engadine - St Moritz area (but not glitzy S Moritz itself - look over by the Maloja Pass area and do do the Bernina Express - to me Europe's most scenic rail line - a good way to Italy - to Lake Como but not Lake Stresa - for that go to Milan and come back out. The two lakes are both great.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 03:11 PM
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I'd throw the dice and stick with the original plan. You can get uncooperative weather any time, and I like Luzern.

On one trip in the second half of October, we arrived to a sunny and very pleasant day in Zurich and woke to a light dusting of snow in Luzern and Bern a few days later. (It was never as cold as it looked.) When we reached the BO, we had glorious clear blue skies for 3 days. Our next destination was Lugano, and the great weather followed us. The last stop was Bellagio where it finally rained all day as we were leaving on Nov. 1st.

Interlaken may not be the most charming option, but the location and transportation links are good. I like Thun, but I haven't stayed there without a car so I don't know about access to cable cars.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 03:39 PM
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"Sporty applied to being able to do much hilly walking. "

It looks like auto-correct may have scrambled this a bit. I gather one or both of you want to avoid hilly walking? If so, then you'll want to scrap the idea of staying in the mountains. There's no way to avoid it, not even in Lauterbrunnen. Although cable cars will take you up to Murren, Gimmelwald, and Wengen, the towns themselves are not perfectly flat. That's too bad. It's a real treat staying there.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 04:08 PM
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We were just in Stresa; we really liked it a lot. We kept busy with boat tours to the islands (3); a combo train and ferry day trip to Locano, Switzerland(1); a visit to the lovely gardens (2).

http://www.visitstresa.com/Lake_Maggiore_Express.htm (1)

http://www.villataranto.it/ (2)

Palazzo Borromeo a Isolabella-Stresa(3)
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Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 04:10 PM
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If you don;t want to stay in a mountain village and do some hiking you can certainly stay in either Lucerne or Interlaken with day trips by boat, car or train to other charming towns (Thun, Brienz, gruyere, etc) and small villages as well as take cable cars or tram/railways up several of the mountains.

We stayed in Stresa for several days relaxing at the start of a vacation in May and loved it - not sure of the weather in October. There are many hotels in the flat along the shore, boats to the Borromean Isles (fascinating) and easy day trips to a variety of villas and sights of interest (we drove and found it useful).

If you don;t want to do much walking - or any hills - then I would avoid the mountain villages except for day trips.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 07:10 PM
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We rented a xhalet in Geindelwald with friends. Ot was just a sloght alope uphill, not bad. I thought there were hotels in the flatter area of town.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 11:05 PM
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You can double check the transport options, but I think Stresa would be simpler than Locarno. If staying for a few days there, I might want to rent a car to visit other places, but I would probably wait until I got there to see how I felt.

I wouldn't hesistate to go to Lago Maggiore in the window you are talking about. Might rain, might not. Evenings will be cool but if the sun is shining it will be glorious.
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Old Jun 4th, 2015, 03:07 AM
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Early Octobert is NOT too late for the Swiss Alps. But be aware that
weather is always unpredictable in these areas (the Canton of Valais is always a bit warmer, a bit more sunny and less rainy than the Bernese Oberland);
end Sept/early Oct are school holidays in the Canton of Berne and many other Swiss Cantons. That means that everything will be open and running and that almost all chalets and may be some hotels too will be fully booked.

The train ride from the Bernese Oberland to Stsresa is 1 hr shorter than that to Locarno. Locarno has tons of publlic transport to mountain valleys and along the lake.
Stresa has just railway and bus lines along the lake and 1 bus line to the mountains.
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Old Jun 4th, 2015, 05:53 AM
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Stresa has more boats however IME than Locarno. And it is best to tour the lake by boat I believe - can't drive to the Borromean Islands for instance.
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Old Jun 4th, 2015, 06:48 AM
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Tuscan, I am not a big fan of Grindelwald.

It is not a car-free town like Wengen.

However, the hotel I always stay at in Wengen closes up on September 22 and reopens for the ski season.

I don't think the end of September is too late to enjoy the mountain hiking in the BO.

I love to go up to the Schynige Platte at Wilderswil. Gorgeous views from the restaurant up there and also from
the panoramaweg above the flower garden. You look down over Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.

My favourite walk in the BO is from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg. It is downhill.

Thin
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Old Jun 4th, 2015, 09:12 AM
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Almost all Lake Maggiorte boats run until Oct 11th. After that date, it get's rather too cold and foggy for boat rides. The car ferry Intra - Laveno and some services to the Borromean Islands run all the year round.
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Old Jun 4th, 2015, 11:21 AM
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Wow! I've read all that great suggestions and I'm still confused.

I think it comes to these two separate choices:

1. Luzern or BO. Either will involve at least one day trip to mountain terrain.

then

2. Stresa or Locarno. I am attracted to Locarno in order to get a car and get up into the mountain valleys above the lake.


We have visited Italian Lakes but have not been to Switzerland.
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Old Jun 4th, 2015, 11:52 AM
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I have only passed through Locarno so can't really compare, but there is a cable car in Stresa that takes you high up into the mountains for lake views and hiking paths. I don't know if it has a seasonal schedule.
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Old Jun 4th, 2015, 12:01 PM
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I prefer Stresa, and the funicular from just north of Stresa to the top of Mt. Mottarone is spectacular. If you decide on Locarno, read about Val Versasca.
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Old Jun 4th, 2015, 12:08 PM
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If staying in Stresa or Locarno and want to visit the other you can take the scenic Centovalli Railway to Domodossola and then a train to Stresa and vice versa. The Centovalli or "100 valleys" railway is one of Switzerland's celebrated scenic rail lines (even though it runs thru a large slice of Italy - still consiidered to be a Swiss train.
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Old Jun 6th, 2015, 09:21 PM
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An update: the cable car in Stresa is not running and apparently hasn't been for awhile.
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Old Jun 7th, 2015, 04:50 AM
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Yes, the funivia (gondola) Stresa - Mottarone is out of service since months.
You may go by bus up to Gignese o Piancavallo instead: http://www.safduemila.com/stresa-gignese.html
http://www.vcoinbus.it/cagnoli/estivo.htm
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