Switzerland Italy trip

Nov 4th, 2012, 02:32 PM
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Switzerland Italy trip

I am starting a new thread because I called out to Franco for info, but I am guessing he is not on here very often anymore!

I booked tickets in and out of Zurich Switzerland from late May into early June! We have two weeks, traveling two adults, late 40s,early 50s, two adult DDs 20 and 19 when we go.

Don't want a rush trip and will probably use the train system. We have never been to either country. We are not museum people but will do the Vatican and some churches in Rome. Would like to have a trip that goes from Zurich to Rome. What to see and what to do? One DD mentioned the idea of the Cinque Terre, I have heard the lakes region in Switzerland Italy is beautiful...we are open to suggestions! We are active, have had some recommendations on my other thread which I greatly appreciate and am exploring. We definitely need to nail down where we want to go and how long to stay in each place.
girlonthego is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 02:39 PM
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If you are definitely using rail for travel and you feel you have a day to spend you might consider taking the train from Zurich/Chur and then over the Bernina Pass into Tirano and make your way from there to Milan (and from there to Roem, eventually).

That route affords some very spectacular Swiss scenery. There are faster and more direct routes into Italy from the Zurich area as well.
Dukey1 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 02:58 PM
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Thanks Dukey for the quick response! I think we will not go to Milan though. I was thinking down to the lake region, then either going to the cinque terre or venice, then to florence, then rome and then back! Unfortunately, for the frequent flyer tix, zurich is our gateway both in and out.

Not sure what will be the preferred places to see? Is venice out of the loop or more interesting than florence? Have some reading to do..
girlonthego is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 03:20 PM
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>>>I think we will not go to Milan though. I was thinking down to the lake region, then either going to the cinque terre or venice<<<

You will still likely have to route through Milan if you are traveling by train.

>>>I booked tickets in and out of Zurich Switzerland from late May into early June!<<<

You need to state how many days you have. If only two weeks, I don't think you have time for all the places listed.
kybourbon is online now  
Nov 4th, 2012, 03:45 PM
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First, grasp the scope of what is possible in 2wks covering quite a distance. Rather than wondering where to go, just define several different itineraries including different destinations, estimate travel time using www.bahn.com if using train or maps.google.com or www.viamichelin.com if using a car. You can quickly grasp which connections are very time consuming.

There are several ways you can approach where to go within what is possible (from step 1). 1. Just trust what someone tells you to do. 2. define several possible scenarios making assumptions about what you get out, and validate assumptions using this forum. You can also combine destination randomly without much thoughts. You can also combine them systematically. If you are visiting lakes/mountains in Switzerland, do you want to spend your limited days visiting more lakes/mountains in Italy?

Another constraint may be that if you are heading to a high altitude mountain destination such as Berner Oberland in Switzerland, June is when you can expect most places to open again for the hiking season after the ski season closure. If this is the case, you might want to make a beeline to Italy as soon as you land in Zurich and visit places as you head back towards Switzerland. In this case, you might even want to fly ZRH - FCO, VCE, FLR, etc. Depending on when you arrive in ZRH, Milan is not impossible to reach on the arrival day by train. Lugano and Stresa are both possibilities. Lake Como is much faster to drive on your own from ZRH than using a train. However, this may be too much lakes if you are already doing lakes in Switzerland, such as Luzern.
greg is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 03:46 PM
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We have 14 nights from day of arrival. Day before departure will be a travel back to Zurich day.
I know I don't have enough time for all places. Trying to think of what places will be the most enjoyable for the family.
Definitely want to go to the lake region. My mother suggested Locarno.She was there many years ago and thought it was beautiful. Will the lakes area be dull for a family trip?

Is the train the best way to travel? Thanks
girlonthego is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 03:51 PM
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posting at the same time greg!

If we go Zurich to Locarno to ?Italy. We originally were planning on a trip to Italy, but I was able to use some frequent flyer miles in and out of Zurich. We are excited at the idea of visiting a little bit of both countries.

Seeing Locarno would satisfy the lakes part of the trip I would think.

The train schedules are not up yet for May.
girlonthego is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 03:58 PM
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The train schedules don't change much between seasons. You can use the schedule published for now to get an idea.
Where are you staying the night before your return flight?
greg is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 04:06 PM
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okay will check out the trains. milan may not be a bad idea, but i just keep thinking it is not as pretty as some places, but heck I haven't done my homework yet so I probably shouldn't be ruling it out.

Not sure,but maybe near the airport?
girlonthego is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 04:30 PM
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You have to realized that if you are going from Switzerland into Italy and basically anywhere south of Milan, by rail, then you are going to be going through Milan. It doesn't mean you have to STAY there.

Have you considered visiting Lake Como? Perhaps it would help if you were to look at this region on a map, too.
Dukey1 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 05:01 PM
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Thanks Dukey, I am figuring that all out. I have looked at the maps, but the train schedules will probably determine how we get around unless we rent a car..I think it will be easier to travel by train.
Locarno is not exactly an easy place to get to. So, I will look into Lake Como. Thanks again.
girlonthego is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 05:06 PM
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My husband, sister, and I all traveled around Italy and into Switzerland via rail. You will be on the move A LOT. Rail passes were good in Switzerland, but Italy was plagued with unexpected rail strikes and cancellations. We had a WONDERFUL summer trip, and had been to both countries before on Eurrail Flexi Passess, but we found that buying point-to-point passes in various Italian cities saved money.

We hightailed it out of rainy Zurich (had already seen it before) for Luzern and the Berner Oberland, Lugano, Castellrotto, Italy, Bozen and Ober Bozen (Bolzano) and that region of northern Italy that speaks German. We then booked rail to Venice and left out of Rome. Siena and Florence are not to be missed, but require a separate, longer trip.
TravelinTeacher is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 06:36 PM
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Apparently, you've already booked the FF flights in/out of Zurich. Did you ask if you could fly home-Zurich-Rome and then Zurich-home (or the reverse)? We've done similar quasi-openjaw tickets on both American and United (from Los Angeles) for no additional miles. I think the only requirement was that the 'gateway' European city be the same at both ends of the itinerary.

It would be worth a call to the airline to see if you could make this change. If there's a change fee, however, make sure you know what a Zurich-Rome flight would cost in comparison.
Jean is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 07:17 PM
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I've taken 2-week vacations in various parts of Italy in the same time of the year, late May, early June.

I've tried to limit the area covered though, to minimize transit time. Plus a lot of areas have plenty to see which merits the time.

I'm trying to plan 2-weeks in Northern Italy, with the Dolomites and possibly the Alps around Aosta. But I'm learning that a lot of services like cable cars and gondolas don't start running until at least late June.

You may want to check if the same is true in the Bernese Oberland or other mountain resort areas in Switzerland.

Depending on how much time you end up spending in Switzerland vs. Italy, there are a lot of options. For instance, you mentioned Cinque Terre and the Lakes regions. I split 2 weeks between Cinque Terre and Lake Como a couple of years ago. Certainly a good combination, going between beautiful coastal towns perched on hilly terrain, to seeing beautiful villas on a big lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks.

But Venice is also near Switzerland and is certainly worth seeing.

You indicated you're not really museum people but may see the Vatican and some churches. What about old architecture? For that, certainly Italy has more to offer than Switzerland.
scrb11 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 07:52 PM
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>>>The train schedules are not up yet for May.<<<

The schedules will be loaded by the 2nd week of Dec. through the second week of June.

>>>Rail passes were good in Switzerland, but Italy was plagued with unexpected rail strikes and cancellations.<<<

I don't imagine there were unexpected strikes as Italy schedules their strikes well in advance. You can go on the government website for a list of strikes. You can also book strike proof trains, but these are usually during commuter times.

I would train to Como upon arrival. You might be able to snag some discount tickets on the SBB website in advance from the main station in Zurich to Como S. Giovanni. I don't believe you can get discounts from the airport station so you just buy that on arrival (or take the tram). You would have to allow time for any flight delays if you book tickets in advance.

After Como, perhaps Venice? I'm not sure I would do Como and the CT unless you are really outdoorsy.

Plot out a couple of places in Italy and then leave time for anything in Switzerland at the end so you are closer to your return flight.

>>>Would like to have a trip that goes from Zurich to Rome.<<<

Your listing a lot of travel time. You don't want your trip to be a tour of train stations and insides of trains. Zurich/Milan is 4 hours (if on time), Milan/Rome is 3-4 hours (depending on train), Rome/Venice about 4 hours, Venice/Milan 2 1/2-3 hours.

Switzerland is expensive so be prepared for sticker shock at restaurants, etc.
kybourbon is online now  
Nov 4th, 2012, 08:32 PM
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Thanks everyone! I have been doing some research tonight on different towns, cities.

I spent the entire day trying to get frequent flyer tickets and would have liked the open jaw, but they were too many points. So, I have saved a lot by getting the tix in and out of Zurich which will leave more to spend on the trip itself!

kybourbon, I have been studying the train schedules and I think you are correct about the time between places. No, I agree that I don't want to spend every other day on a long train ride. I may focus on southern switzerland and northern italy. Will research some more and post back with questions.
girlonthego is offline  
Nov 5th, 2012, 12:30 AM
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Southern Switzerland's lakes area and Northern Italy are pretty similar. They even speak Italian in the Ticino region. Ticino --where Locarno is--is very expensive. I recommend some other places in Switzerland that will be convenient for you with the Zurich gateway, but they will be a little cool during the time you will be there. The good news is that Zurich is a wonderful, calm, efficient airport to arrive in Europe and so easy from which to travel to Zurich city, as well as other Swiss cities directly from the airport train station.

For ease of travel, I would suggest you use Lugano as a base in the Swiss Lakes, traveling directly there on your arrival. It is a small city, expensive, but lovely, walkable, with good transport connections. From there you can visit other places in Ticino and get to Italy easily via train. You will probably go through Milan, as others have said. Milan is certainly worth a day and has some unique sites that you will not experience elsewhere (The Last Supper, La Scala, the Milan Duomo, and the Galleria, among others). From Milan, you can easily travel on a direct train to Monterosso in Cinque Terre (plan carefully --not all are direct). Cinque Terre isn't usually the first place people choose to see in Italy, but since you mentioned it, and it is doable, why not? If you go there, though, I would save Venice/Florence/Rome for another trip, and head back toward Switzerland so you don't spend all your time on the trains. Maybe spend some time in Luzern or in one of the smaller villages in the Berner Oberland. Places like Thun, Bern, Brienz might be more temperate than the mountain villages at this time of year. You could end your stay in Zurich if you wish or go directly to the Zurich airport from Luzern.

A possible itinerary might be something like:
Lugano (3-4 nights)
Milan (2 nights)
Cinque Terre (2 nights)
Luzern (or Bern, Brienz) plus day tripping elsewhere (4-5 nights)
Zurich (1-2)

If that seems like too many destinations for 2 weeks, you might be able to spend a half day in Milan to see the sights and then travel on to the Cinque Terre the same day, perhaps leaving your luggage in storage at the train station. You could also "save" Zurich for another trip. If so, add the extra days to your Swiss base city and day trip from there.
mocha_dolce is offline  
Nov 5th, 2012, 06:06 AM
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As an alternative, if you decide to rent a car for the four of you, consider a less expensive location on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy. I stayed in Cannobio, Italy, just south of Lugano. You do need a car but it is a great start to reach either the Piedmont or Cinque Terra regions of Italy. The drive from Zurich is easy. Since you are returning to Switerland, there will be no drop off charge for the car. Since I paid for the car with a major credit card, my insurance for the car was in force for my travel through Italy. Suggest you check with your cc to determine if this will be true.

Obviously if you chose to train it, Cannobio is not accessible by rail but Lugano is. I can highly recommend Lake Maggiore.
Huggy is offline  
Nov 5th, 2012, 06:57 AM
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GOTG - we did this trip in reverse in 2009. Started in Rome, went to Sorrento, then to Venice and then to Zermatt through Milan. All by train. Six of us. The train is very relaxing. I hope you get to see Rome and Venice. My wife still tears up about those two places.

The kids loved Zermatt.
colduphere is offline  
Nov 5th, 2012, 07:14 AM
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Here is one itinerary I am considering
Train directly to Lugano 3nights, Florence 3nights, Rome 5nights, Como 2nights, Zurich 1 night.

Using the train the entire trip.

I have several different scenerios. Most of which are spending every other day on a train which is NOT what we want to do.

This is all still very early stages. I am just trying to get a feel of what might work. The plan your trip on the train website is a great tool! We could rent a car because DH can drive a manual, but I do think the trains would be an easy way to go..
I welcome all suggestions.
We could stay up in northern italy and leave out Rome..still deciding what will be best.
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