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Switzerland and Piedmont, Italy itinerary suggestions

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Apr 5th, 2014, 09:09 AM
  #1
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Switzerland and Piedmont, Italy itinerary suggestions

Well, here we go again: husband says on short notice, "going to conference in (European destination), wanna go?" And I must scramble to make reservations, etc.! Now I'm not complaining, I'm just getting nervous. Airfare locked in - Arriving Zurich, departing Milan.

He will be at a conference in Lucerne first part of July. Got a nice hotel (on business) for the conference in Lucerne. Once we are on our own dime, we usually like to stay in simpler places (i.e. less expensive). The original plan was to spend 6 days at the conference, and the remainder of our two weeks in the Berner Oberland and possibly exploring Switzerland. Then we said, what the heck, we have always wanted to go to Torino, Italy because this is where my husband's family is from. We have been elsewhere in Italy but never the Piedmont area. And we decided to extend our trip from the original 2 weeks in Switzerland to 3 weeks and include Piedmont, Italy!

We love the Berner Oberland area and stayed at the hotel Bellevue Crystal in Murren last time. it's booked so reserving Hotel Edelweiss in Wengen for 4 days (could stay more).

From there I have.... NOTHING. Should we stay somewhere else in Switzerland before heading to Italy (already been to Lugano)? or just head straight to Torino and spend our time around there? I really don't know what to expect from the Piedmont area. Would like to spend some time in Torino. Staying in Asti or Alba is appealing although we would rather see beautiful scenery than do a lot of wine tasting, although we wouldn't pass it up!

We are heading to the bookstore this morning to see what we can find in the way of travel books but any direction you can give me would be very appreciated. If you can point me towards trip reports, I would love to read some. If you have some websites you like, love to look at those, too.

About us: in our 60's, fit, love art, hiking, good food and wine, relaxing!

Thanks so much! I didnt know how to tag this so didn't select any. Mistake?
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Apr 5th, 2014, 09:48 AM
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I think it is fantastic you are visiting Torino -- it is a fantastic city and will be all the more fascinating for having a connection there. But after that, I highly recommend that you head up to the beautiful, beautiful scenery of the gorgeous (and interesting) valle d'Aosta, because everything else in the Piemonte will be hot and humid, and most of the restaurants will be closed (and you won't want to eat and drink that heavy food and wine anyway in July).

Good luck finding much information on the valle d'Aosta, let alone a whole guidebook. If you would be interested to go to the valle d'Aosta, I will post here what I know and try to give you some links.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 11:41 AM
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That's very kind of you sandralist. I would appreciate information on Valle d'Aosta.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 11:45 AM
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We loved Torino, it's a fantastic city...even better if you have a family connection! Great chocolate too

We had a car and stayed just outside if Asti. The area around was really pretty, I imagine the area North would be amazing as well. You will have a great trip - be sure to try the fabulist wine and food if that interests you!
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Apr 5th, 2014, 01:06 PM
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You can take a train from Torino or Milan to Aosta itself, or you can drive. Either way it is reasonably easy, under 2 hours, and it is very scenic. Once you are in the valley itself, it is good to understand the lay of the land. There is a huge river that makes the valley "floor", with Alps rising to either side of it. The town of Aosta, with its wonderful Roman ruins, is pretty much at the center of this valley and there are castles all along the route. Mont Blanc is at the furtherest end of the valley nearest France. At the end nearest to Milan and the rest of Italy are towns that are thermal and pleasure towns, but the Matterhorn is also at this end.

Branching out from the valley floor are various valleys that are now largely unspoiled places where cows are raised and people own second homes or trekkers walk along the flat valley floors in sight of glaciers and waterfalls. In July, these areas are filled with tiny alpine flowers and big grazing cows with cowbells. Part of the area, around Cogne, has been reclaimed by the national government for a national park, called the Gran Paradiso. Cogne itself is a typical tourist resort town, but other towns near there, in particular Lillaz, are rather village-y.

In the ancillary valleys -- Ollomont, Rhemes, valgrisenche -- there are lots of small hotels with restaurants where you can stay for a few days and go take walks and relax in an almost hiidden atmosphere. There are also the towns that line the main river valley floor which you can use as bases for exploration by car, foot or train. With a car you can visit the Matterhorn one day or Mont Blanc the next. From end to end, the route is less than 2 hours or so (traffic on weekends). There is the spectacular cable car ride over Mt Blanc if you are so inclined or driving over the small or large St Bernard passes. The town of Aosta itself is filled with marvelous Roman sights and has concerts and other activities in summer.

In addition the valleys have various summer festivals, many of them foikloric, in particular related to the cows that produce the area's famous Fontina cheese.

If you want to go but don't want to drive from Torino or Milan you can take trains to Aosta and rent a car there. But you can also stay in Aosta or Pre St Didier and have views of alpine peaks plus access to trail heads and cable cars.

Switzerland is much easier simply because it so thoroughly covered by guidebooks. But in some ways the valle d'Aosta is what Switzerland used to be. It is incredibly peaceful and rural but the infrastructure is great. If you love alpine flowers and quite walks and charismatic cows, it is really a fun destination, and in July, the temps can be almost spring like.

Some links:

http://www.lovevda.it/turismo/scopri.../default_e.asp

http://www.cogneturismo.it/datapage.asp?id=63&l=3

http://www.lovevda.it/turismo/prima_...si&ts=percorsi

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aosta

http://www.montebianco.com/trans_mont_blanc.php

http://www.lovevda.it/turismo/scopri...h=sch_localita

http://www.lovevda.it/turismo/scopri...h=sch_localita

http://www.valdirhemes.net/

http://www.lovevda.it/turismo/scopri...ocalita&pk=427
http://www.comune.valgrisenche.ao.it.../it/index.aspx

http://www.montebianco.com/trans_mont_blanc.php

http://www.booking.com/region/it/val...6a7c9bc;dcid=1

http://www.lavrille.it/

http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/agri...t=0;type=total

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breuil-Cervinia

Despite the daunting appearance of these links, you can actually just drive up into the valle d'Aosta in July and book accommodations on an as-needed basis using a Michelin guide or a Locande d'Italia guide, or asking at the tourist office.

Have a great trip wherever you go and hope you enjoy tracking down the ancestry in Torino. If you want an apartment in Torino, then Residence Saachi is good. Torino itself can be a fun place to stay for an extended time.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 01:35 PM
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This might help simply things if you decide to go to the val d'Aosta

http://goitaly.about.com/od/aostaval...-aosta-map.htm

http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel...ta-TG-C-1.html

http://www.aosta-valley.co.uk/
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Apr 5th, 2014, 01:44 PM
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I agree that Piemonte and Torino are worthy destinations in your itinerary, but I would try to include either Lago Maggiore or Lago Como as well, assuming you have not been before. The lakes are still my favorite Italy destination after 17 trips.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 03:35 PM
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You could get a direct train from Lucerne to Locarno - we had a few days there last year and wished we had more time. We stayed at the Hotel Geranio au Lac - pleasant simple hotel overlooking the lake, with good breakfast and literally five minutes walk from the station.
Beautiful scenery - we'd recommend taking the ferry to Asconia for lunch and a wander around town.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 05:18 PM
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Wow Sandralist! Thank you. Sounds lovely. I will certainly look at the links.

Yes, bob! been to lake como and Lugano and yes, we love it too but want to do something different this time. My husband is now looking at some B&Bs in the wine area near Alba and Asti but I don't know how central that would be for visiting the area.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 05:41 PM
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Look at Villa Favorita near Alba and Villa Sampaguita near Asti. Both are good locations but you will need a car.

http://www.slowphotos.com/photo/show...at=4172&page=2
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Apr 5th, 2014, 05:48 PM
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Alba and Asti are absolutely central to visiting the Langhe wine country of the Piemonte. Just be aware that in your time frame a lot of wineries and restaurants will be closed. That it because even the locals think it is too hot and humid to be hanging out there, and a lot of the comestibles that make the region a tourist attraction -- cheese, rich red wine, braised meat dishes, truffles and chocolates -- are literally impossible at that time of year. Some of the resort relais that offer swimming pools, golf, spas and other kinds of relaxation get people in from the nearby Northern Italian cities to kick back, and of course they serve nice food. So if you want to kick back with them, then Alba or Asti is a pleasant enough place.

However, if you are considering more of Piemonte instead of the valle d'Aosta, then consider areas like Cuneo and Saluzzo, which have higher elevations but also give you some access to the Langhe hills via Mondovi. Those higher elevations can really help in July.

Starting out from Torino, you would also not find it difficult to reach the Italian Riviera in just 2 hours if that interested you as a place to explore. If you were up for an adventure, you could visit the hills more than the sea -- places like Apricale and Triora. Fortunately, the Cadogan guide to the Piemonte and the Italian Riviera has great details, so no need for a blinding lot of links from the internet.

I wanted to amend something I wrote above about the valle d'Aosta being what "Switzerland used to be". Well, plainly nobody has taken down the Swiss Alps (although we all should worry about those melting glaciers). I only meant to point out that some areas of the valle d'Aosta are still tied to local farm production and cheesemaking in a very robust way, and while trekkers come through, it is not quite the robust commercial tourism industry that is now in place in the most famous parts of Switzerland.

If you can get your hands on the Cadogan guide to Piemonte it will be a good guide to pack for your trip, even for Torino.
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Apr 6th, 2014, 08:05 AM
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Hi Ronda,

Great to see you on here again and I hope you are doing well! Sounds like a fun trip. No advice as I haven't visited these areas - yet.

Have some Barolo for me!

Buon viaggio,
Dayle
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Apr 6th, 2014, 08:11 PM
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Oh DAYLE!!!! Hi!!!!! Lots has happened since we last communicated. New grandson, new home, son getting married, second grandchild on the way. So good to hear from you.

Yes, will try to keep Dan out of too many wineries!

Ronda

Sandra I really appreciate the info you have given me and will research how to get guide. I was wondering if Michelin guides might have something. Thanks too, Bob, and yes, villa F is one my husband is looking at.
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Apr 6th, 2014, 09:50 PM
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Thank you for sharing your very interesting photos, Bob. Must have been in the fall if there were such beautiful grapes. Do you have a trip report you can link me to? Villa sampaguita looks interesting. Did you take any cooking classes? I would love to refine my cooking skills.
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Apr 7th, 2014, 12:47 PM
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Hi Ronda,
we spend 3 weeks driving Italy last year, i wish we were staying close to Alba, but our hotel with the view of Moncalvo was great.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/liquid...7643562152125/

Have great trip
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Apr 7th, 2014, 01:39 PM
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We are heading to the bookstore this morning to see what we can find in the way of travel books but any direction you can give me would be very appreciated.>

Well if traveling around Switzerland after the B O by train or public transports check out the Swiss Pass, Half-Fare Card, Swiss Card or Swiss Transfer ticket as saving money perhaps - depending on how much you travel each day - the Swiss Pass for example is valid 100% to both Wengen and Murren from Interlaken-Ost.
some great sites for info on Swiss trains, passes, etc check out www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
Or look at the Jungfraubahn Pass or Berner Oberland pass if most of your travels with be in that compact area - more benefits than the Swiss Pass, which also gives 50% off any gondola or train to mountain tops.

You could wind your way to Turin via Chamonix, France, taking one of the most awesome scenic trains I've been on from Martigny, Switzerland to Chamonix - a train that climbs along a seemingly all-too-narrow ledge when leaving Martigny and the Rhone Valley - a few hours your in Chamonix (Swiss Pass covers whole route, even French portion). From Chamonix take bus thru the Mont-Blanc Tunnel to the Aosta area - perhaps fly home from Milan.
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Apr 7th, 2014, 03:39 PM
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MRS your photos are art! All very beautiful. Where did you stay near moncalvo?

Great idea for the train to chamonix. Yes, the train passes are really confusing. We will train from Zurich to Lucerne where we will spend about 5 days. Husband would to go to the two mounts there which will involve cable car and possibly boat. Train to Wengen, use cable cars and trains there. Then on to either another location in Switzerland before going to Turin.

So that route might be interlaken, Speiz, Montreux, Martigny, Chamonix, Annecy, Chambery, Torino? Or bus from Chamonix to Aosta? Thoughts?
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Apr 7th, 2014, 04:10 PM
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Ronda, thanks, our hotel was:
Cascina Spinerola Country Hotel

http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/casc...f299ef8;dcid=2

it was great,but it took 40 min to get to Borollo, Alba
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Apr 8th, 2014, 06:53 AM
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Seems you are doing enough train travel to make the Swiss Pass a good deal - especially if staying in Wengen and going around as again the pass covers trains to Wengen in full. And on whim you may want to go down to Interlaken - a city with a panoply of restaurants, shops and a famous casino to help replenish dwindling trip funds in one of the world's most expensive countries!
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Apr 10th, 2014, 08:14 AM
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I am having a hard time justifying the cost of the Swiss Pass. I really can't believe how expensive it is.

We arrive Zurich, train to Lucerne. We have one day before the conference begins to do something - Maybe Pilatus or Mt Rigi. Conference next 4 days so I can't imagine I will go very far with husband working. Saturday train to Wengen. 4 nights Wengen. Definitely want to do Mannlichen gondola, hike to Kleine Scheidegg, maybe go to top. Schilthorn. Will not day trip to interlaken.

From Berner Oberland we have not decided how much longer to spend in Switzerland before going to Italy but thinking about training to Lausanne for perhaps a day. Then Lausanne, Martigny to Chamonix. Maybe we should spend a night in Chamonix instead of Lusanne? Take bus from Chamonix to either Aosta or Turin. Trying to decide where to rent car. I think Torino will be our first stop to visit relatives. The rest is up in the air but husband definitely wants to stay near Alba or Asti. Return car in Turin or Milan, stay one night at Milan airport, fly home. Advice?
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