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Bernina Express- if we can't go into Italy

In Sept., we are planning on taking the Bernina Express route [regular train] after leaving Lucerne. However, if one can't go thru Italy, what does one do? Just get off at one of the last small towns in Switzerland and turn around? I really want to ride this route, and don't know if I'll ever have the chance again. Covid kind of teaches the importance of doing things now, if possible.

Our flights go thru the UK, so as of now, that would require quarantine in Italy.

Earlier today, I posted a very detailed question regarding this under General Europe, but it's already been "buried" my more recents posts, which probably enjoy wider audience interest. This is a very specific problem. I was hoping maybe someone on the ground in Italy knew when the current covid policy is expected to be reviewed.

Safe- and healthy- travels to all.

Posted by
12139 posts

If you cannot enter Italy, you can ride the Swiss regional train over the Bernina Pass and down to the border at Tirano and get off on the Swiss side. The Swiss train ends there. Then you turn around and go back.

Posted by
1270 posts

Lola, is the stop named Tirano in the Swiss side?
Thx for taking the time to reply.

Posted by
15945 posts

No Tirano is in Italy, but the Bernina Express stops at Campocologno in Switzerland, just a couple miles short of Tirano. Not much of interest there.

Posted by
12139 posts

As I remember from our last visit there, the Swiss regional train ends at Tirano, but one must walk from the Swiss train through a building to connect to the Italian train to continue to Varenna. It seemed the station had a “Swiss side” and an ‘Italian side”. I do not think you technically enter Italy, not for the pur[poses of covid regulations like quarantine.

Maybe Nigel who know the trains well can clarify.

Posted by
15945 posts

Yes, you technically enter Italy, even at the Rhaetische Bahn station in Tirano. "Swiss side" simply means that trains from that station go only to Switzerland. Just look at the border line on google maps.

Posted by
2102 posts

Even though you do miss the Brusio spiral viaduct if you do so, I would get off at Poschiavo, which is an interesting village.
But if you want to maximize the route, then do as suggested above!

Posted by
13 posts

Another option, if you want to do a lake walk - get off at either the Le Prese or Miralago station, walk around Lago di Poschiavo to the other station, and pick up the train to return.

Posted by
1270 posts

Balso and Kraken, thx, I will research that.

Posted by
25565 posts

I like the Miralago option just above.... it is quite a nice lake and the trains cross there...

Posted by
1270 posts

Nigel,
Thx.
Have you seen the Smithsonian "Mighty Trains" series? The 60 minute show on the Bernina Express was quite interesting. Altho sometimes the narration seems at the grade-school level, the [winter] scenery is beautiful, and the history of the building of the line plus the winter maintenance required , is fascinating.

Posted by
15945 posts

If you take that 9:04 train, as I mentioned in your other thread, you can go all the way to Compocologna, you can catch the same train on its return trip 17 minutes later. Then you can go to Miralgo, get off and hike around the lake to La Prese, and catch a later return trip back toward Pontresina. If you go all the way to Campocologna, you will do the Brusio Viaduct where the train does a 360 deg turn crossing above and below itself.

At Miralago, you must notify the conductor that you are stopping there. At La Prese, you may have to press a button at the station to signal the incoming train that there are passengers waiting to board. At least that was my experience on another RhB line.

Posted by
1270 posts

Sam, if we go to Campocologne, I THINK we then have an hour wait for a return train, in an area that looks pretty empty. Am I understanding that correctly?
I am printing all of this and taking it with us- I am so hoping this trip happens.
Thanks so much for all the details!

Posted by
1270 posts

Sam, oops, you just said 17 minutes later.

Posted by
15945 posts

Works for the 9:04 am departure from Pontresina, but I don't think it does for 10:08 am departure.

Posted by
1270 posts

Sam, thx, I meant I had read your post too quickly and I asked a question you had actually previously answered.
Sorry

Posted by
1270 posts

Sam and Nigel,
How do I find a schedule for the Bernina Express [regular train] route? My searches only turn up a schedule for the posh trains. You all are so patient.
Thx once again.

Posted by
15945 posts

https://www.sbb.ch/en
Just put in start point (Pontresina), end point (Campocologna or other), date, and time of departure, then click "Search connections".
Regular trains show up as "R" and the Bernina Express trains will show up as "PE" in a red block.

Posted by
1270 posts

Impressively fast answer! Thanks

Posted by
55 posts

Hi Pat,

Were you able to book your train tickets? I just spent hours booking (not as simple as pre-Covid days!!!) and have some tips for you!
We are taking the Bernina Express to Tirano on 14 Sept. 2021.
To successfully book a train from Tirano to Varenna I had to use the Rome2Rio site: https://www.rome2rio.com/map/Tirano/Varenna
This is LITERALLY the only site I had success with.

If you are vaccinated you will have no problems entering Italy from Switzerland. You must have an EU Digital Passenger Locator form to enter: https://www.rome2rio.com/map/Tirano/Varenna
Be sure to put your phone # in as: +1 (area code) 7 digit number...for example +1 234 567 8910

From Varenna it should be easy to catch a train to Milan and fly out from there.

Best wishes,

Diane

Posted by
1270 posts

Diane,
Because we are transferring thru Heathrow, we can't go to Italy without quarantine. Therefore, we will get off at the last stop before Italy, and the above OP's have said the train returns in 17 minutes, if we get the right morning train. We are doing the regular train cars on the route, not the Bernina Express cars, so do not need seat reservations. We will probably ride two stops and then get off at the lake for lunch. I figure the views are so fantastic that riding the route twice will be fine.
Thanks for your info, I'll Bookmark the info for future access.
Safe travels!

Posted by
12139 posts

Pat, are you still planning on going to Switzerland? I thought you were facing so many flight cancellation on the LHR to Zurich leg that you were thinking of just staying in the UK.

Posted by
1270 posts

After our 6th or 7th flight BA change/cancelation, we THINK our current flights have been flying and are somewhat dependable, so we are sticking with Switzerland. I have researched the Swiss Air flights to Heathrow which leave from Geneva and Zurich, so if our BA short hop gets canceled, we hopefully have options.
Still lots of moving pieces, we are under 10 days, keeping our fingers crossed.
Thx for asking!