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Train travel in Italy

Old Oct 4th, 2006, 09:42 AM
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Train travel in Italy

Is the train from Venice to Rome a scenic ride? Milan to Rome? Rome to Sorrento? What would be your pick for the prettiest train ride to or from Rome in the spring?
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 09:48 AM
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Milano to Roma has its moments, mainly south of Firenze. I thought the ride from Roma to Napoli was pleasant. It rained when I went south from Venezia, so I saw very little.

In general, trains in Italy pass through the established industrial corridors, and avoid as many hills as they can. So you see a lot of commercial farms, or factories, and a lot of the state-owned land that is right by the train tracks is very weedy and overgrown.

The upside of this downside is that while the train journeys are not usually scenic, a great deal of Italy is unspoiled because it has never been zoned for industrial use.

I've always found my train trips in Italy a good time to organize my plans for wherever my next stop wil be, with an occasional glance out the window.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 10:12 AM
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Thanks! I would hate to miss the countryside. We may mix up the train with a rental car. This will be ourfirst trip to Italy.

What would you think of this:
Rent a car at the Milan airport.
Drive to Como area for 3 days.
Drive to Venice for 3 days.
Drive to Rome and drop off car in Rome for 5-6 days
Train to Sorrento and hire driver to Positano for 3 days.
Hire driver to Naples airport.

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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 11:52 AM
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If you are going to rent a car it would be better to use it to get to places inaccessible by train or ferry, and to use it to see some of the more remote countryside.

You can do the trip you described without a car at all, and driving around Lago di Como is not necessarily fun. It's better to use the ferries. So you would end up paying car rental fees for essentially parking your car for 3 days at Lago di Como, and another 3 days in Venezia.

If you haven't bought your tickets yet, check into the possibility of flying to Venezia directly. Then go to Lago di Como, from there, head to Roma and Sorrento. For all of that, you really don't need a car. (Take the train from Venezia to Varenna on Lago di Como, and from Varenna to Roma.)

What time in spring are you going? In early spring, the lakes can be a bit foggy. You might consider flying to Venezia then renting a car to see something of the beautiful central countryside on your way to Roma. You could pick Tuscany or Umbria.

It partly depends what you want out of your trip. If you need a real vacation, with lots of relaxation by a lake, definitely go to Lago di Como (or Maggiore or Orta, which are easy to get to from Malpensa).

If you really want to see the Italian countryside and don't mind driving (and occasionally getting lost), then swap out your time in Lago di Como for a Tuscan or Umbrian hilltown for 4 nights. Pick up you car in Venezia and drop it off in Orvieto when you are through, then take a train to Roma (60 minutes).

Can you fly directly into Venezia? It would make sense to start your trip there.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 11:57 AM
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Actually trains on the new high-speed lines are often in long tunnels it seems and have wind barriers along the tracks as well. I wouldn't rate any of these train trips as terribly scenic - interesting as they pass thru the signature Italian countryside but nothing to write home about.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 11:58 AM
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PS: You can have almost the best of both worlds by beginning in Venezia and then driving to Lake Trasimeno in northern Umbria, right on the Tuscan border. From there, you can visit many beautiful hilltowns and art treasures -- before heading to Orvieto.

The scenery of Trasimeno is not as famous or as beautiful as that of Lago di Como, however.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 01:44 PM
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Thanks so much, this is exactly the kind of advice I was seeking. We had just about nailed down a desired itinerary for a 10 day trip in April, then decided that 10 days just isn't enough. Instead, we'll take 15 days in early June, adding a northern leg to our existing Rome/Positano plans. . We may be able to fly direct to Venice from Boston, I will look into that. Alitalia has a 7 hour 30 minute direct flight from Boston to Milan. That is pretty attractive.
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Old Oct 5th, 2006, 08:38 AM
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I'm making progress on the new possible itinerary and would love some opinions.

Leaving June 9 for 15 days, the best flight for us is direct to Milan. Unless there is a compelling reason to take the longer flight on to Venice (which is the same flight that stops in Milan on the way to Venice) I would rather the shorter flight and recover from jet lag in Bellagio (3 nights). If the schedule for June is similar to the one they have now, the train ride from Verenna to Venice is 4 1/2 hours arriving in Venice at 3pm. Perhaps in June it runs more frequently? After 2 or 3 nights in Venice we could rent a car and drive through the country in the direction of Rome, stopping for one or two nights on the way somewhere in Umbria (open for suggestion....would love to try the food in Bologna) then drop the car in Rome for 3 nights and take the train to the coast and ferry to Positano for 3 or 4 nights, depart from Naples. Too ambitious? Say no, please!
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Old Oct 5th, 2006, 12:03 PM
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If you want to go to Bologna -- and the food is great -- you don't have to rent a car. The train from Venezia to Roma stops in Bologna, so you could spend two nights there. I would suggest that you spend one of those days making a sidetrip to Ravenna. It's spectacular.

The reason it takes so long to get from Varenna to Venezia is that you must go back to Milano and take a train from there.

It is always difficult to try to include Venezia in an itinerary, but especially if you want to go as far south as Positano.

What do you want most from your Italian vacation? You have picked some of the most heavily touristed spots in Italy -- and there is nothing wrong with that. They are justly famous and alluring. But you will be moving through them at considerable speed. If you want a tour of Italian highlights, this will do fine. If you would like to sink into Italy and relax, you should start eliminating destinations. Most people find that the more they slow down in Italy, the more they discover and enjoy, even though it means missing a lot of picture postcard attractions.
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