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Northern Italy-Switzerland help

Hello...I am new here, thought I would first share my itinerary and then ask for some help.

13-Mar: 8 AM flight arrival in Milan...see 'The Last Supper' and Duomo...train to Portofino, stay for a few hours before train to Deiva Marina (Cinque Terre)
14-Mar: The Cinque Terre
15-Mar: AM train to Pisa, stay for a few hours, train to Florence
16-Mar: Florence
17-Mar: (a Monday), train to Venice (early AM or late PM--see question below)
18-Mar: Venice
19-Mar: Venice, PM overnight train to Montreux, Switzerland via Bologna
20-Mar: AM Golden Pass train to Interlaken, afternoon in Berner Oberland region
21-Mar: Berner Oberland
22-Mar: Berner Oberland, PM train back to Milan for flight home on the 23rd.

Here are my questions (thanks in advance for help or suggestions)

1) I am undecided about the 17th...either will rent a car and spend the day in wine country before a late PM train to Venice or will take an early train to Venice and leave for Switzerland on the night of the 18th instead. Any opinions? Is it feasible to rent a car and take a ride out to wine country before returning to Florence for a late PM train to Venice (8 PM-ish)?

2) Any suggestions for booking the overnight train? Trenitalia website is a nightmare and I've had two accounts locked. lol...I'm going point-to-point and will book all other trains in Italy, but really want to get the overnight train booked. I called "Hello Italy" tours and they said they will book for me for $25 and issue paper tickets. Good deal? seems like a rip-off to me, plus they have incomplete timetables.

Thanks again for any help and expertise!!

Posted by
389 posts

I know exactly where you're coming from. 7 yrs. ago, my husband and I were in Austria heading to Switzerland and we also couldn't resist dipping into Italy. We went from Salzburg to Lake Como for a couple of days before heading to the Swiss Alps. Best move. Your message is a little confusing though. The way I read it, you are talking of only 1 day in Venice no matter which way to go. Your friends are right, go 2.

Posted by
389 posts

Christopher, why are you rushing thru Venice? Stay there a couple of full days and enjoy this "magical" city before heading out.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi Linda...a lot of people I've spoken to have suggested that a day and half or two days is adequate time to for Venice. Have I been given bad advice?

My family is originally from Molise in the south, and we plan on returning for a nice long, relaxed, tour of the south next year...Unfortunately this whole trip will be rather hectic as this was originally supposed to be SOLELY Switzerland but I just couldn't bear being so close to Italy while ignoring it completely, so it then became a hybrid trip, emphasizing Italy.


Posted by
6898 posts

This is really not quite a "blink and run for the train" itinerary but it's close. There's not really enough time in any location to really enjoy the sights.

I see that you want to take a night train to Montreux to ride the Golden Pass train. The trip from Venice to Montreux is normally 6.5hrs. On the night trains, it's 10.5hrs. Plus, you have the normal 2-3 train changes but these are in the middle of the night. On one night run, there's a 2hr. layover in Bologna beginning at 2:17am. My question is why take a night train and miss looking at the beautiful alps when you could take a Venice to Interlaken train during the day and see them. You would save hours of train time and still see the alps.

I haven't really looked at the numbers but I'm guessing that you have about 1 hour of train time for every 2 hours sightseeing in your selected destinations (not counting time in the hotels). I would suggest keeping your luggage packed and handy.

Posted by
416 posts

I just looked at the Trenitalia website and don't understand why you don't go from Venice to Bern. You can leave Mestre @ 5:30pm and be in Bern just before midnight on the same day. If you are going to the Berner Oberland, I think this is much more direct and cuts your travel time down considerably.

Posted by
934 posts

I think that if you take a early train to Venice and arrive by noon and then have a full day before leaving you can get a feel for it.That gives you two evenings after the daytrippers have left

Posted by
9 posts

Here's what I've decided:

17-Mar: Tuscany day-trip, 8 PM train to Venice
18-Mar: Venice
19-Mar: Venice, 8 PM train to Milan
20-Mar: 7 AM train from Milan to Interlaken, nearly full day in/around Grindelwald/Interlaken
21-Mar: around Interlaken (Lauterbrunnen Valley)
22-Mar: around Interlaken, (Wengen or Murren), 6 PM train back to Milan for flight home on the 23rd.

Now we have almost three full days around Florence, nearly two full days in Venice, and nearly three full days in the Berner Oberland. Thoughts?

P.S. Thanks to everyone for their help and caring!

Posted by
31465 posts


Your revised Itinerary looks a lot better, although it still seems like a bit of a "rushed" trip. Spending a bit more time in Venice and Florence is a great idea.

Regarding the Switzerland part of your visit, you'll have lots to explore in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. From Interlaken it's an easy trip to Gimmelwald, Murren, etc. If you have time, take the Cable cars to the Schilthorn and enjoy a meal in the revolving restaurant - the scenery is incredible!

There's so much to see in that part of Europe (northern Italy, Switzerland, southern Germany & Austria), I could spend YEARS exploring that area!

Happy travels!

Posted by
389 posts

Christopher, I ditto what Ken says....much better itinerary. You will absolutely love the Berner Oberland area. Try to stay the whole 3 days in one of the villages in the Alps instead of in Interlaken. It's so easy to get from village to village but use one of them as your home base. Have a great trip!

Posted by
9 posts

We will be staying @ Hotel Lauberhorn in Grindelwald. I've read it's a little less charming than some of the surrounding towns, but wonderful nonetheless.

I posted a question in the other forum about footwear...can we get away with the same shoes we'll be wearing in Italy, or do we need to buy or pack boots (which is perhaps the obvious answer). I would say we'll walk some trails but nothing too intensive.

Posted by
389 posts

Hi Chris, We were there in late September and had no problem just wearing our regular shoes, no boots. Weather was in the low 70's, beautiful weather so the fields and trails were all clear for walking. Only snow was up in the higher Alp area. Towns were all clear. Grindewald is a good choice...views from there are out of this world. Oh, just talking about it, you've made me very jealous.

Posted by
486 posts

Aahh! How can you go between Italy and Switzerland and not take the Bernina Express. It goes between Tirano and St. Moritz and is unbelievably spectacular. Imagine a train that makes a 360 degree loop on a trestle! That's right, you look down and you can see the tracks you were on only a few minutes before. And that is just so it can get enough altitude to approach the mountain.

To die for!