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driving rome to lake como...please help

Ciao tutti,

We are flying into ROme to celebrate our anniversary in September but really need help. We have a few nights booked in Lake COmo and then would like to drive up to Switzerland for a couple of nights. My cousin (Italian) told me we really should see Orvieto, Sienna etc on the way and we should rent a car!?! It seems like a very long car trip. I was planning on just flying to Milan and renting a car ????Suggestions??

Posted by
3456 posts

Just how many days do you have for your complete itinerary?

Train from Rome to Varenna on Lake Como is about 2 1/2 hours faster than either flying or driving.

Posted by
25 posts

really?? that is amazing. but its only an hour flight to Milan and i thought we should just a rent a car there?

Posted by
1528 posts

If you rent a car in Italy (Milan) make sure you are allowed to take the car into Switzerland

Posted by
6100 posts

12 Days....

Day 1- leave Texas

Day 2- arrive Rome

Day 3- Rome
Day 4 -Rome
Day 5,6,7,8 (few?) Lake Como
Day 9,10 Switzerland
Day 11 return to Rome

Day 12 fly home

This is what I envision based on your description. Do not see how you have time for all the other places.

Driving in Italy is much different than Texas. ( done both) Rome to Lake Como is best done via rail.

Posted by
16761 posts

I'd first think more about where you really want to visit on this trip and work out the transport second. A car may not be necessary for any of it, but you can choose whichever feels easier. Orvieto and Siena have plenty of train service (though not the fastest category of trains) as do parts of Lake Como and much of Switzerland.

Where is your current accommodation that's been booked?

Posted by
3456 posts

While the flight is indeed short, you still need to get to the airport, 30 minutes, you need to be there an hour and a half before, then in Milan you need to get to Milan central 52 min to take the train to Varenna, another hour. 4 changes in transportation.

Driving is 6 1/2 -7 hours. Not counting getting lost. Or driving thru ZTL Zones or other infractions causing expensive tickets.

Train is 4hr24m. 1 change in Milan.

Posted by
11968 posts

If you don’t plan to visit places along the way the fastest way from Rome to lake Como is a high speed train, not a plane. A train can travel from Rome to Milan in less than 3 hours, city center to city center. With a plane nowadays you need 3 hours just to get to the Rome airport, check in, go through security, and wait to board at the gate. If two people leave from Rome at the same time, one on a plane and one on a train, the one in a train reaches Milan before the other person takes off from Rome airport.

I also don’t think you need a car at all to visit lake Como. You can take a commuter train from Milan and be at the lake in one hour. With Milan’s traffic it’s impossible to do the same by car.

For Switzerland it really depends on where you plan to go, but trains would likely work better there as well.

If you plan to visit places along the way, a car might be useful for visit the countryside and the small towns in Tuscany. However it really depends how many days you have at your disposal between Rome and Lake Como. If you don’t have at least 3 days, there isn’t much you can visit, because the drive is too long.

Posted by
25 posts

Many thanks to all for the fantastic suggestions... I suppose fast train Rome to Milan does make more sense... but it looks as if the trains don’t go nonstop Fumicino- Milan.... oddio 😱😰😦

Posted by
1528 posts

Are you spending time in Rome at all when you arrive?
I assume you are, in that case you take the fast train from Roma Termini to Milan Centrale (not from FCO)

And if you are not planning to spend time in Rome, why would you fly into Rome?
Are flights booked?

Posted by
25 posts

Yes, we booked flights to fumicino last month as we found amazing deal
We definitely want to spend s couple nights in Roma but probably at the end of our trip....

Posted by
1528 posts

So you have a RT to Rome?

Land in Rome take the Leonardo Express to Termini and grab fast train to Milan
Don’t book in advance because it’s too risky
You can’t predict what time you’ll actually land, get thru passport control etc and get to Termini

So many nights do you actually have?
I’d skip Switzerland unless you have lots of time cuz you need to head back to Rome

You should figure out exactly what your itinerary is before you book anything

Posted by
1716 posts

Take the FL1 airport train to Tiburtina station, it's smaller and less crowded than Roma Termini (and you will save 6 € pp). At the airport station ask for a through ticket to your final destination, not to an intermediate stop like Milano Centrale. This way all your connections will be protected.

Another option would be a train From FCO to Chiusi or Orvieto. Get a car there and make the famous drive to Siena stopping to sleep somewhere along the way. Drop the car in Siena, take a bus or a train to Florence and get there on the high speed train to Milano.

When it's time to go back south, note that there are a only few no-stop Trenitalia trains to Rome taking less than 3 hours. If you want to enjoy the experience of travelling on the fastest Italian train (with the worst passengers) without going bankrupt, you'd better book asap.

Posted by
25 posts

Mille grazie to all for the great recommendations!! It just seems all so confusing and complicated.. that is why I just wanted to fly or rent a car... all this of and on trains with luggage seems complicated... big sigh! Lots to consider! I did really want to spend a bit of time in Switzerland but maybe that’s not feasible!! Or maybe fly back from Switzerland to rome and just do train/ cars on way up????

Posted by
1528 posts

It’s not really complicated
If your goal was to visit Switzerland not sure why you’d book a RT Rome
But...
Could you fly from Rome to Switzerland on arrival then work your way down?

The extra travel cost you will incur trying to fit in a completely different location/ country will negate any savings you got with a good deal flight fare to Rome

Posted by
25 posts

Actually our goal was to visit northern Italy and Switzerland..( flying in and out of Rome because my husband has never seen it and it’s obviously a must)
I think we will fly one way and drive or do trains one way ( from Rome).. thank you!!

Posted by
8889 posts

Actually our goal was to visit northern Italy and Switzerland..( flying in and out of Rome because my husband has never seen it and it’s obviously a must)

If you haven't bought your tickets yet, have you considered "open jaw". Fly into Milan or Zürich, fly out of Rome.
As Laura says, first work out where you want to go, then work out the transport. Only amend the plan if transport ends up being not possible.

You have also got to put the Switzerland bit into the plan.

It may be logical to use a car around Lake Como, but definitely train Como --> Milan --> Rome. Milan to Rome is high speed, you don't want to drive that.
One way car hire is possible, provided pick up and drop off are in the same country. If in two different countries there is a big surcharge.

Posted by
7735 posts

My two cents: Ignore what your cousin says and plan your own trip based on your interests, not his (her?) interests. What he is really saying is that he really enjoyed both of those places and thinks you would too. But I could easily list 20 other places that you would likely enjoy at least as much as those two. It would take months if not years to visit all the "must see" places in Italy.

If your cousin won't let it go, tell him you plan to go back to Italy in the future and would love to see Siena and Orvieto then.

Happy travels.

Posted by
288 posts

In Varenna you can rent a car (nice place right behind the train station).and drive north into Switzerland. Take the day, make a few stops but then head to Glorenza, Italy. Spend the night, then drive back to Varenna via Stelvio Pass. Glorious views and one of the great driving roads on Earth.

Posted by
25 posts

Michael , i think that is spot on!! i am trying to fit too much in!!
Marc,, thanks .. but others are saying it may be difficult to rent a car in Italy and drive to another country... do you know anything about that?