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Help Me Plan Our Corona Germany-Switzerland-Italy-??? Road Trip!

Hey all,

So my husband got his leave finalized about a month ago, but we've been changing plans as Corona seems to be spiking everywhere we plan. Our biggest issue is not getting sick - we stay outdoors, distance, mask, everything - but not getting stuck or ending up somewhere that is unenjoyable due to closures. For this reason we are taking a road trip now apparently to Liguria, Italy, as it seems the least risky that's not just staying in Germany. We haven't booked anything but a housesitter yet. Our dates are varied, we want to go for at least 10 but no longer than 13 nights, between 1 - 14 September.

Right our now our general outline is depart Stuttgart, drive 4-5 hours, spend 2 nights somewhere (really, where???) in Switzerland but aiming for under $100/night (I know, I know), then go down to Liguria for 4 nights near Cinque Terra (sights set on Levanto) and 4 nights in a nature-y/small village setting in the hills above the sea and/or Piedmont. Then either drive straight through on the way back or say 1-2 nights somewhere mid-way but not in Switzerland because $$$$$.

Goals:
-Not driving more than 4-5 hours per day every few days, the less stops the better
-Being able to just chill somewhere with easy (non-driving) beach access at least for a 4 day stretch
-Love cities and sightseeing, not sure how feasible that is due to restrictions - I am checking news in areas we're traveling to religiously. We're city people but leaning more towards staying in remoter areas this time because...you know.
-Only staying in flats or with access to kitchens in case of bad weather, we do not eat inside in public spaces, period.

I've done to a ton of research and have plenty of lodging options in Liguria. What I'm wondering is where should we base on our way in Switzerland and what's a good idea for the way back? Northern Italian lakes? Should we split our time in Italy between Levanto and somewhere further away? What do y'all think of the area west of Levanto? We have no experience with Italy aside from flying trips to Venice, Rome, and Naples and to be honest, we are a little terrified of driving in Italy. We'd like to minimize stress in that regard (on the plus side, I banged up the side of my car recently and it will need body work so it's not the end of the world if something happens I guess).

Curious for feedback!

Posted by
1640 posts

hey hey sarah
we were in geneva last september for couple days, it is expensive. we spent a week in annecy, on the lake, about 30-45 minutes over border. really loved it there. if interested, check a place right near the center village. lots of shops, cafes, market days. booking.com and make sure parking. good luck
aloha

Posted by
25766 posts

Hi Sarah -

Lauterbrunnen is nominally 3:58 on Google Maps. A81 > Singen and Schaffhausen > A4 > Winterthur > Zurich > A3 (past my favourite Holiday Inn Express in Switzerland at Affoltern am Albis) > A4 > A14 > Luzern > A2 > A8 > bypass Interlaken and up the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Just past Lauterbrunnen is Camping Jungfrau https://www.campingjungfrau.swiss/en with CHF 120 up for a stationary caravan or bungalow or cabin, etc.

I haven't stayed there but planning to this summer (hah!) as was Andrea from Sacramento of this very parish and forum. I've heard good things, and they are in a great location. We usually in previous years have stayed up the hill..... but not self catering.

Posted by
8235 posts

As Nigel indicated, we were to spend a week at Camping Jungfrau a few weeks from now. Of course that is no longer happening. I’m hoping that in Fall of 2021 we will have another opportunity. They have a variety of options for lodging. Four of us were going to share a 2 bdrm 1 bath mobile home. I’m so disappointed that we will be missing it. I would suggest that you look at their website and if they have a minimum number of days and it’s longer than you want to stay you could email them. I’m guessing more flexibility will be given these days. Good luck and I hope you enjoy your trip!

Posted by
2 posts

One of my favorite Swiss towns is Meiringen in the Berner Oberland. You can visit Reichenbach Falls and hike the Aareschlucht among many other possibilities. There are a couple of places that are under $100/night both in town and in some of the smaller villages up on the mountainsides of the valley. According to Google maps it is just over 3 1/2 hours from Stuttgart. Also, as you go through Italy, I hope you can find time to stop in Brescia which is between Milan and Verona. It has a wonderful castle museum that celebrates the unification of Italy and is just a little off the beaten path.

Posted by
2 posts

Oh, and I have driven in Italy and it isn't too terrible in the northern half. I really didn't have a lot of issues. Now, driving around Florence was a bit exciting, but I quickly figured out that if you drive aggressively, you get by quite well and people there pay attention to turn signals. Use your turn signals and don't hesitate to take advantage of an opening and you will be fine.

Posted by
2932 posts

Thanks for the suggestions, everybody! Things are still looking OK on the pandemic front so I'm going to look into all your suggestions and book today. Appreciate the help and I'm sure I'll have an interesting trip report when I get back!

Posted by
836 posts

Hi, Sarah. Looks like the most direct route takes you right through Ticino canton. We’re currently staying outside Lugano for a few weeks and are finding it really beautiful and interesting. Granted, the Berner Oberland is more dramatic wrt mountains, but the lakes here are also spectacular and the prices a bit lower. If it’s not too late, you might have a look at places around Bellinzona or Lugano. There’s a really great hostel/hotel which has family cabins, called Youth Hostel Lugano Savosa When we were here a few years ago, we stayed there and then took a car ferry across Lake Maggiore, then drove from Stresa on down through Piedmont. It was no trouble driving at all, big or small roads. Just be aware that the Italians have put fixed speed cameras all over, even on small roads. Don’t blindly exceed the speed limits, as you will very likely come around a corner and see an unobtrusive mailbox-sized metal box and snap, you’re on candid camera.

Posted by
2932 posts

I went ahead and booked 3 nights at the Gasthof zum Ritterstübli near Meiringen, which is close to the Reichenbach falls (husband is a Sherlock Holmes fan), and it looks well situated for all sorts of adventures.

Then 2 nights undecided before 5 in Camogli at what appears to be an amazing little flat on the water.

I then need to decide on 2 nights on the return trip.

We definitely want to stop in Piedmont for a wine and food journey. The lakes make sense for one way, but I'm not all that enthused about Como even though it's most direct - it seems expensive and while pretty, not really our style. I guess we could do Piedmont in both directions. Milan would make sense but I don't really want to deal with the car and a big city, and it's relatively easy for us to get there by flying/train most of the time, and I'd like to focus on areas that it makes sense to have a car (with the exception of Camogli where we'll park it and not use it for 5 days).

Any more thoughts are welcome and I'm going to post on the Italy board as well.

Posted by
25766 posts

Meiringen is one of my fav areas. You have the drive over the mountains to the south when the passes are open, easy access to the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the statue of Holmes in the town, the Falls (hike up, funicular, or PostBus), the Aareschlucht, very close to Brienz for the boat over to Giessbach and its Falls, funicular, and walks, Brienz also very famous for its woodcarvers. You can also drive easily from Meiringen to the upper (hikers) carpark at Giessbach (no parking at the lower carpark if you aren't staying at the hotel). Good food choices in Meiringen, a very nice mid-sized Migros and a very small Coop. Trains from Meiringen to the Aareschlucht, Luzern via the Brünig pass and to Interlaken.

A good choice.

Posted by
2932 posts

Glad to hear it Nigel, and thanks for the specific recommendations! That all sounds wonderful.

We're doing two nights in Neive near Alba, then on the way back we found an affordable appartment in Cernobbio, near Como. Apparently friends of mine just planned almost the exact same trip because it's easy from here and not filled with Coronavirus (yet).

Posted by
25766 posts

Be aware of the "Free-Flow" toll roads around the lakes of Como and Maggiore. They look like normal motorways but there are billboards at the entrances and where the road changes from free to toll. There are no tollbooths. It is camera controlled and you need to pay on line only.

Check out the website (in English) before you drive on it; I think it is 3 days to pay after you do. https://apl.pedemontana.com/en_US/scopri-il-free-flow