Itinerary help -- Rome to Switzerland

I'm traveling to Italy and Switzerland in late May/early June and would like some feedback on the itinerary. Here's what I have so far for an itinerary: Fly into Rome Rome 3 nights Tuscany 3 nights Cinque Terre or the lakes 3 nights Murren, Switzerland 4 nights
Zurich 1 night and fly out early the next morning We've already purchased plane tickets and will be flying into Rome and out of Zurich. I have a few questions: 1) What hill towns should we visit and/or use as a home base in Tuscany? 2) Should we go to Cinque Terre or the lakes (probably Lake Como though open to other suggestions)? 3) Should we rent a car in Tuscany? I've already been to Florence so we're planning on spending all our time in Tuscany in the hill towns. We're interested in eating good food, taking a cooking class, wine tasting, relaxing, hiking, and visiting some museums or historical sites. I'd love to hear any advice you have! Thanks!

Posted by Brendon
Auburn, Washington, USA
513 posts

HI EM, I will be in the Hill Towns aswell in June. Some good towns are: Spello, San Gimignano, Volterra, Assisi, Siena, Montelcino, Todi, Terni, Civita, Gubbio, Spoleto, Arrezo, Orvieto and Urbino. We will be using Assisi as our home base. Rental is a must when seeing the hill tonwns. The Chianti region near Tuscany and Umbria has great wine.

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1968 posts

Choosing between Cinque Terre and Lake Como is tough, so we did both. But if you have to pick one, I would say Como fits in your trip better. (specifically Varenna). It breaks up the journey from Tuscany to Murren. From CT you would have a very long travel day to get to Murren. Also, there is a very good cooking class at Varenna, at Il Caminetto. We loved it. Afterwards they drove us to the old castle nearby and we hiked down from there.

Posted by Sharon
2727 posts

I agree with Sasha that Varenna on Lake Como fits your trip better. We also loved the cooking class at Il Caminetto. We did the opposite trip this fall flying into Zurich and home from Rome. We took the train from St. Moritz to Milan but made a brief stop in Varenna - it was a beautiful train trip. Near St. Moritz we stayed in Pontresina and had a great time hiking in the region. It looks like you could go more directly to Murren (from Varenna) by going back to Milan Central. Renting a car to visit Tuscany is a good idea. Our favorite hill town is Orvieto but it's in Umbria. We also loved our visit to Civita de Bagnoregio nearby.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21697 posts

EM, Regarding your choice between the Cinque Terre and Lago di Como, travel time is one consideration. The trip from the C.T. to Mürren will take about two hours longer than from Lago di Como. If you buy tickets for that trip in Italy, they will probably only provide transport as fare as Spiez. You'll have to go inside the station when you reach there and buy your ticket to Mürren (which will be good for all modes of transport - you'll also be using the Cable Car to Grütschalp and then the small BLM mountain railway). I travelled much the same route in September (C.T. to the Berner Oberland) and it was actually quite pleasant (although the departure was rather early), and also returned home from Zürich. If you decide to rent a car in Tuscany, note that each driver will require the compulsory International Driver's Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. Failure to produce an I.D.P. if requested can result in fines on the spot! You may also want to read some of the other posts here regarding the Zona Traffico Limitato areas (ie: expensive tickets) that are becoming more frequent in many towns and cities in Italy. Happy travels!

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
758 posts

My husband and I drove from Frankfurt, Lake Como, to Tuscany via car rental. We decided on Cortona for several reasons (1) Close to the autostrada 2) Relatively close to several other hill towns by car (under 1 hour to Sienna and Montalpulcino) 3) great hill town to hang out and enjoy 4)found a farmhouse with pool to rent for a week. Also took an all day cooking class in Cortona-Alesandra's Cooking class. We had to make a decision on visiting Veranna and CT, or Verrana and Venice. We skipped CT trip due to the extra driving time/logistics. We loved Lake Como and stayed at Eremo Gaudio (mentioned in RS Italy). The view from the top terrace and watching the sunset with a good bottle of wine was one of the highlights of our trip. Definitely take the Ferry around the lake visiting other towns.