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Amazing Amazing Vacation in Switzerland (1st time) and Italy

Good Morning ! We just got back from an amazing, and safe and active trip in Switzerland and Italy. I will rush through now and give the basics, and come back and add more info later. We are already planning to go back for a week in the BO (probably Murren) and then fly to Iceland for a week from Bern (i hope).

Arrive in Zurich and walk across to train to Luzerne. Stay at Hotel des Alpes (room with balcony) for 3 nights. Lunch outside at the brewery on the water. Check in. Then take a 1 hour boat cruise (free with our daily Rail pass). Next day to Mount Rigi (my favorite...we went the the grocery store on the mountain and had bread, cheese and beers!) Next day to Mount Pilatus (my husband's favorite). Views and Gondola rides were thrilling!
Train to Pontresina to stay at Romantic Hotel Muottas Muragl for 4 nights. (Got a room with terrace.---amazing) We adored our stay here. Ate 2 lunches and 2 dinners here. There's a wonderful restaurant a 3 minute walk from the hotel that offers wine and beer, cold platters and amazing fondue called Alp Muottas.....Acclimated to altitude the first day with some local hikes. Next day did the Panorama Trail....stopped off for a beer. This is the hike to take! Then a chair lift down. Next day took the hike to the glacier. This was a really nice hike and like a walking museum seeing the posts noting how the glacier has receded over the years.

Bernina Express to Tirano then train to Varenna and stayed 4 nights at Hotel du Lac (just lovely). We took the ferry and stopped off at 2 villages for the day and visited villas. Pizza Lunch in Belaggio. Next day we hiked to the top of Varenna to see a crumbling fort...this was the hardest hike of all! Next day we took the panorama walk to Pino, where we ate at a cool hillside 'authentic' Italian restaurant. And took a cab back.
Car service to Milan then Train from Milan to Florence to return and stay 6 nights at Villa Cafaggiolo. We just love this Villa in Pontressieve. It's owned by the Pucci's. They offer tours, meals at home, and meal in their formal dining room. There are 3 villas on acres of land on the side of a hill. There's a gorgeous cement pool. The villas are authentic and large with fireplaces. This is one of those hidden gems.
THANK YOU to all who have offered advice on our trip in Switzerland. I planned that part of our vacation with lots of your advice, in terms of travel and covid19. The day before we left, my sweet husband turned to me and said, "Did I tell you I wanted to hike the Swiss Alps?"!!! Too funny! He loved it. And so did I.

Posted by
659 posts

What a wonderful trip! Your report is perfect timing because I am helping my college daughter plan a hiking trip in Switzerland. She is coming from Florence.

Do you recommend Luzerne as a base for hiking?

Posted by
27709 posts

Thanks for your report.

Just a quick question - you took the train from Tirano to Varenna, and the train from Milan to Florence.

Why did you use a car service to get from Varenna to Milan? Was there a problem with the train at Varenna?

Posted by
26 posts

From Florence I would take the train to Milan and from there take the train to Pontresina and hike there. Luzern is a lot further.

Posted by
26 posts

We used a car service because the train connections weren't working well. We would have had to wait at the Milan train station for over and hour and a half. It was a splurge, but we really enjoyed the convenience and comfort. Well worth it for us senior citizens! We stayed in 4 different places and had a lot of travel time....so the car ride was much better than another train ride and paying for a cab to the train in Varenna.

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks so much for all this detail! I'm just starting planning a trip for my daughter and I to Italy and Switzerland and possibly Austria for this summer so it's all very helpful! We've been to Italy twice (Lake Como was ethereal, we stayed at Bellagio) but never Switzerland so that part is particularly helpful!