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Traveling to Italy (and a bit of Switzerland), can you please help with itinerary?

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Feb 24th, 2007, 01:42 PM
  #1
annieladd
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Traveling to Italy (and a bit of Switzerland), can you please help with itinerary?

You all were such a big help for our trip last fall to the Loire and Dordogne (which I still owe a trip report) that I would love to have your input on this trip to Italy and a bit of Switzerland. We're still in the early stages of deciding where to go, so feel free to offer any specific or general suggestions.

The cast: my aged parents. Dadd is 85 and can only walk with the help of a walker. He loves Europe though and one way another gets there twice a year. So, getting him around is of the utmost importance. That means few stairs. He's seen most of the sites so he doesn't always make it to the museums, castles, etc., but the ones he wants to go to, we find a way to get him in. Also attending will be 2 or 3 sets of grown children and spouses.

We're thinking of flying into Zurich, the price is so much better than any of the airports I've tried in Italy. It will also give us a chance to see a bit of Switzerland (I'm thinking our first night or two in Luzern?). We'd like to get as far as Florence (staying there a few days), and maybe somewhere in Tuscany or Umbria. We'll have 2 weeks. We will not be going to Venice this time. Verona sounds beautiful, so that's a possibility.

I think (unless perhaps for a night or two) we'll want to stay in towns as opposed to a villa in the country, as the "kids" will want to head out at night occasionally, and we often bring Dad back in the afternoon for a nap. All hotels will need to be full service and have a nice restaurant, because often times Dad is just too tired to head out again at night. Nice room on ground floor or elevator, once again for Dad. A shower is preferable in his room, but I know that sometime is too much to ask for. Budget is 300E or so per night, we usually try to get a nicer room or suite for the parents.

We will have a car the entire time. I've heard driving into Florence is a bear, but we really don't have an alternative.

We like wandering around towns, art, food, wine, musueums, shopping, scenic drives...

Any ideas on a general itinerary, and also specific hotels that you think would be a good fit for us. And, any other advice you care to give!

Thanks, as always, annieladd
 
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Feb 24th, 2007, 02:00 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Just a note, annieladd,

You certainly can drive from the Zurich airport, but it'll actually be more hassle & longer to get to Luzern that way.

There is a train station in the basement of the Zurich airport, and trains to Luzern take about an hour, with no changes. You just pile your suitcases onto a cart and take the cart all the way -- YES -- to the station in the basement (use elevators or escalators). Then maybe one or two of the strong young folks can load the cases onto the train, and presto (!!) you're in Luzern. You avoid city traffic in both Zurich and in Luzern.

(Make sure you designate someone to stop by a grocery store enroute to the train station to buy lots of fresh bread, cheeses, and chocolate for the trip!)

Once in Luzern, you can either enjoy a nice walk to your hotel (again the strongest wheeling the luggage) or just take a taxi.

I think Luzern would be a lovely first stop where you can gaze at the awesome scenery, take a ferry cruise to explore lakeside villages, or hike the mountains of Pilatus or Rigi. Info at:

www.rigi.ch
www.pilatus.ch
www.luzern.org
www.lakelucerne.ch

Rail schedules at www.rail.ch. You can print your tickets on your computer after you register.

Have fun!

s
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Feb 24th, 2007, 04:10 PM
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The drive from ZRH to Lucerne is not a bad one. You do most, if not all, of it on 4-lane roads. I've always gone from downtown Zurich to Lucern and have had to deal with city traffic. By going directly from the airport you should not have that problem, I don't think. I could look on my Dec 06 road map but DH has put it somewhere unknown?? and is not here to tell me where it is.

Anyway, Lucerne is really lovely. We like the NH Hotel, which is quite reasonable, and has an elevator. It is quite near to the old city.

We also like the Grand National, which is lakeside and beautiful and grand.. but very high priced.. maybe not what you are wanting.

Have also stayed at Hotel de la Paix, but it is very basic, though the location is right near the entrance to the old city.

Parking in Lucerne will cost you extra. There is a parking structure close to the NH and the Hotel de la Paix. The Grand National has a garage and valet parking for a fee, of course.

You don't say which city is your departure point. It will cost you extra to get your car in ZRH and drop it off somewhere in Italy, if that is your plan.

Sounds like you will be a large group.. does that mean renting a van? I would advise you to beware while driving any sort of larger vehicle inside the hilltop towns of Tuscany and Umbria. We've had some experience with that... we usually have a small station wagon type of car. It's had a side scrape or two... (we always get full coverage auto insurance w/Avis)

Enjoy your adventure. It sounds lovely! I think you will like Kloten airport in Zurich. Take time to peruse the shops if you are also departing from there!

Carol
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Feb 24th, 2007, 04:20 PM
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Based on what you say abut your dad I think car is much better than train. You can avoid steps up into the train, ramps up to/down from platforms and can pull right up to the door of the hotel for him.

Lucern is a good choice not only because the center of town is flat, but because there are a lot of things that can be done by boat trips, cable cars etc - so your dad can do many things with practically no walking.

Check out the Balances & Bellevue and the Wilden Mann.
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Feb 24th, 2007, 07:35 PM
  #5
annieladd
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Thanks for the info so far. Unfortunately, a train is out of the question, my dad is just not strong enough.

I'll check into the hotels listed.

Regarding transportation, we had a large van in France last year. It was quite an adventure driving through the little towns in the Dordogne, but we did fine. However, it was a bit difficult getting Dad into the van, so I'm sure we'll rent 2 cars this time.

In France, we picked up the car in Paris and dropped off in Bordeaux with only a small fee, but I don't think that will be possible, to pick up car in one country, and drop off in another, without a substantial charge. Is that right? So, I think that means we'll arrive and depart from Zurich. BTW, we're going in September.

Also, I don't recall there being a need to get an international driver's license in France, but if I understand correctly I'll need one in Italy?

Thanks again for the info, and would love to hear from others regarding Italy.

annieladd
 
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Feb 25th, 2007, 09:42 AM
  #6
annieladd
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ttt
 
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Feb 25th, 2007, 10:41 AM
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If you're driving out of Switzerland to northern Italy, you might consider a stop in Lugano. It's a charming lakeside resort in an incredible setting. Yes, it's surrounded by mountains but the lake front is flat. We stayed at Hotel Lugano Dante and I can't speak too highly of it. It didn't have a restaurant but there were several to choose from in the piazza where it is located.

When you drive back to Switzerland from your stay in Italy, return through the Dolomites. You want scenic drives; it doesn't get much more so. You can stop in Verona for the part of the day, stop the night in Trento which was a delightful surprise, and then go on to Bolzano. Our hotel in Trento was the Grand Hotel; it had elevators, restaurant, parking, shower, and a wonderful view. Again, surrounded by mountains but the city center which is only a short distance from the hotel, was flat. In Bolzano we stayed at the Park Hotel Luna with all the amenities you're looking for. All in all, it's a wonderful part of Italy.
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