I am planning a 14 day trip (not including travel days)beginning April 15. Because I'm using award travel and would also really love to fly non-stop, I'm anxious to book the flight reservations as soon as possible, even before I figure out my itinerary. I know I want to see Venice and Rome so I figured I'd start with one or the other and flesh out the rest of the trip after (I'm having a very hard time deciding where to go since, naturally, I want to go everywhere). My question is whether it makes sense to fly into (or out of)Milan rather than Venice. I can fly to Milan(from NY) non-stop, getting in at about 7:30 AM. Since I don't particularly want to spend any time in Milan,I would take a train to Venice upon arrival. If I decide to go to Lake Como before Venice, then we'd be in a good position to do so I think. Does this plan make any sense? I am also wondering if starting in Rome and working my way north would somehow make more sense.
If you start in Rome and train to Venice it would be a gd route perhaps then you could depart to US from Milan. To see lake Como from Venice the train first goes to Milan Centrale then you take a local train. I have taken a train early AM from Varenna on Lake Como to Milan Centrale then to Malpensa by airport bus. However ck schedules carefully as these trains chg their schedules seasonally.
IN my opinion, if you go to Como then it is a good idea. If not then not so great. It is nice to go non stop, but I consider the train another stop and more annoying moving any luggage. So I would rather fly into Venice with one stop and fly home from rome nonstop. Unless you go to Como
You could fly into Milan and take a train, or fly into Venice. Either would be okay. Starting at Rome and working your way north would also be good. Trains in Italy (Trentalia.com) are inexpensive, fast and frequent. My warning is to just avoid flight transfers thru Heathrow Airport, as their ground fees and taxes are very, very expensive (even on award travel.) If you look closely at To The Boot, you'll find many 14 day itineraries talked about. Many on this forum are very, very experienced in this popular travel route. And April 15th is a great time to go.
Lisa, If you decide to visit Lago di Como prior to Venice, then starting in MXP makes sense. Varenna makes an excellent location to recover from jet lag! It's only 1H:03M from Milano Centrale, so it's not too difficult to get to after a long flight (although that time would be longer as there would be some waiting time at Milano Centrale - I believe the trains to Varenna depart about every two hours). If you're not planning to visit Lago di Como, then flying directly to Venice would be easier and would save the cost of the train trip (which will likely be via Freccia trains, with compulsory reservations). Another thing to consider is that the trip from Malpensa to Venezia Santa Lucia will be at least six hours, which would be a bit of an ordeal after a long trans-atlantic flight. Starting in Rome and working north would be a good option to consider, as you'd be moving north as the weather warms up. Mid-April could be a bit "chilly" in the north, especially at nights. If this is your first trip to Italy, you'll have to be prepared for some "culture shock" as Rome can be a bit "intense" for first time visitors. Good luck with your planning!
I'll just add a quirk to the planning: for some weird reason neither Trenitalia or DB are showing the Trenord hourly trains that connect Malpensa with Milano Centrale directly (hence no need for shuttle buses there at all...) They are shown, however, on Trenord website (www.trenord.it)
The train from Milano Centrale (after the shuttle from Malpensa airport) to Venezia Santa Lucia is about 2.5 hours, not 6. Add another hour maximum for the shuttle.
I've done the train trip from Venice to Milan and it was very good. Book the fast train- it's more expensive but much more comfortable. You get allocated a seat number.
Don't forget to validate your ticket when you travel on any train in Italy. Machines to do this are on every platform.
Thanks so much for all your replies. This is a little anxiety provoking for me because I've never booked a flight this early in the trip planning process. But this is the first time I've racked up enough miles with one airline to cover a trip and it appears that booking early to use them is the only way to do it. In any case, I've definitely decided to to opt for Milan to Venice by train. I know its not the most cost effective, logical way to do it but I'm taking into account everything from the departure airport in NY being more convenient for me (it seems planes to Venice tend to leave from JFK and I'd rather leave from Newark)to the planes flying to Milan typically being bigger (so we can get the two separate seats rather than three across)to there being a good non-stop option to the fact that United doesn't operate many of the ones to Venice and we really like the economy plus option that they offer. On the other hand, I am still considering flying into Rome and leaving from Venice as there are a couple of options that are appealing (though none non-stop).
You won't need to validate your ticket if it has an assigned seat number, since it's only valid for that particular train at that time; you do need to validate any ticket that doesn't have an assigned seat number/time.
@Zoe, "The train from Milano Centrale (after the shuttle from Malpensa airport) to Venezia Santa Lucia is about 2.5 hours, not 6."
I used the DB website using Malpensa and Venezia S.L. for the stations when researching that trip, and that's the information it provided. The actual train journey will be shorter, but when waiting and other times are factored in, I suspect the entire journey will still be about six hours (depending on which train the OP can connect with). One of the points I was trying to make (but perhaps didn't articulate well) was that travel time to Varenna will be shorter than to Venice, so that information might be useful for the OP in deciding whether to fly into Milan or Venice. Cheers!
We flew into Milan & then took the train to Venice which I found exhausting but we flew from L.A. & had 1 stop as well so by the time we arrived into Milan, I was so jet-lagged & tired that I could barely function. Since you're flying from NY (shorter plane ride), I think the train ride probably won't be as big of a hassle. It looks like you've made your case for why you want to fly into Milan but you mentioned that you'll be using miles. You need to book your flights ASAP as you might not have a lot of options only 4 months in advance. We always fly using miles but I always book 330 days (11 months) in advance and even then I don't have a lot of flight options to choose from. I booked our upcoming trip for next August this past September/October & it was increasingly difficult to find seats. I was told by the airlines that there are far fewer seats being released to mileage plan members this year. So, I would book soon. Have a great trip!