Travel from Rome to Switzerland (and possibly France)

We are planning a trip (honeymoon) from July 21 - Aug 16, 2013, starting in Rome and working our way up to Switzerland (and then possibly ending in France if we have the time). We'd like to travel from Rome to Tuscany to Venice/Murano (for a very short stay as we know the crowds will be plentiful) and then head up to Ticino. I see the William Tell Express is quite popular from Lucerne to Ticino, but I'm wondering if there are any scenic tours/routes travelling in the oposite direction that are worth looking into (From Ticino to Lucerne)? Any suggestions on routes, cities etc. to stop at throughout this trip would be greatly appreciated! Neither myself or my fiance have been to Europe before and we're finding the planning process to be a little overwhelming. What is the best mode of transport to take? Would it be best to rent a car or take the train during this time of year? We understand that Italy, in particular will be HOT and packed-full of tourists and vacationing Italians, but this is the only time that works for us to take the trip.

Posted by Jim
Dallas, Texas, USA
495 posts

First of all, congrats on the upcoming honeymoon ( didn't say marriage). Not as familiar with this area of Italy, but other posters will be. However, once you make your mind up, it's never to early to make reservations, this is a busy time of year, you don't want that fabulous Hotel you've researched to be taken.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Lisa, First of all, congratulations on your upcoming wedding! As this is a first trip to Europe for both of you, I'd suggest reading Europe Through The Back Door, as that provides a lot of good information on "how" to travel in Europe. After that use the country-specific Guidebooks for detailed planning on Hotels, transportation, etc. As you have almost a month, it should easily be possible to get to France as well. I'd suggest using open-jaw flights, perhaps inbound Rome and outbound Paris? As you noted, it will likely be VERY busy in Europe, so pre-booking accommodations would be a really good idea! Travel by train would be the easiest and most efficient method (IMO). The "fast" trains travel at about 300 kmH when they get going, so it's an efficient way to minimize travel times. While a car can be helpful to get to smaller towns in Tuscany, there are some potentially expensive "caveats" that you'd need to be aware of if renting a car. Driving in the cities (ie: Rome or Florence) is NOT advisable. The transportation details can be worked out when you've compiled a list of cities. Getting from Lucerne to Paris is very easy, using TGV from Basel (about 3 hours). There are also some potentially expensive caveats regarding trains in Italy, but we can cover those later. Do you have any idea which locations in Tuscany you want to visit? Also, which locations in the Canton of Ticino? We aware that Switzerland is expensive so be sure to budget accordingly. The well-travelled group here will be able to help you sort the details, so the planning won't be "overwhelming" for too long. One final point - Rome can be a bit of a "culture shock" for those that haven't been there before. It's a wonderful city with so much history and lots to see! Cheers!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8756 posts

Congratulations on your big day Lisa, ... I'm surprised that for a first visit to Venice and Europe you would stay off the main islands and go for Murano. There is so much to see on the main islands, and even when it is peak season there are ways to get away from the pressing crowds and really enjoy the buildings and canals. It is such a wonderful place. Most people save Murano for a longer trip. Like Ken, I wonder where in Ticino you want to go. Its not the usual place for first time visitors to Switzerland. Luzern is a really neat place and will likely be considerably cooler than Ticino. Do you not want to go into the Alps? Like Ken, I agree that if you want to use a car, especially in Italy, you should be ready for all the extra costs that come with using one, including the possibility of big fines coming to your home many months after you return.

Posted by Angela
Sammamish, WA
403 posts

I agree that the train will be a handy and easy way to go. No need to rent a car on a first trip, and the train is such a fun experience in itself! Your Italy itinerary sounds goodall doable by train. Use this trip to visit the "biggies;" they are "big" for a reason,and plenty romantic! Assume you will return, and then perhaps rent a car to get off the beaten track a bit more. One way to get a sense of possible itineraries is to read the tour descriptions on this website. Just remember to add timeyou don't have a guide and driver to speed you from one place to the next. The William Tell Express travels in both directionsdoesn't really matter which way you go. Your head will be hanging out the train window admiring the scenery! Yes, Italy will be crazy hot. You can wear shorts, but remember to cover your legs and shoulders when visiting churches. They won't let you in if you are too "bare!"

Posted by Lisa
Delta
10 posts

Thank you all for your replies! I hope they keep coming! I've included our VERY rough itinerary below, however, we are definately open to suggestions, additions, changes or comments. I don't know if this looks like something that is do-able, it's difficult for us to tell as we have never done this before. To answer some of the questions above, I have read on a few occasions that Murano in the summer busy season would be a better bet, just due to the crowds in the larger islands.... This isn't a MUST see spot, it was just another suggestion I received. My fiance and I both really wanted to see Venice, but we keep hearing not-so-exciting reviews from travellers who have been there in the heat & business of July/August. As far as Ticino goes, I'm not sure what drew me to it. I came across it and the more I looked into it, the more I wanted it to be a stop on our journey (I think it looks like a nice transition from Italy into Switzerland). Yes, I do want to see the alps as well!! Travel July 21 Arrive Rome: July 22-24 Tuscany (Florence, Siena, Chianti): July 25-29 Venice & Murano: July 30-Aug 1
Ticino (Lugano): Aug 2-4 (& then take the William Tell Express, or similar, to Lucerne) Gimmelwald (?) A friend & Rick suggested this, but I'm open to suggestions on this as well: Aug 5-8 Paris: Aug 9-11 Nice, Cannes: Aug 12-16 (extra days here to absorb any delays if other stops go long before this)

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8756 posts

just to note that this is a duplicate posting.
splitting the question and topic between posts becomes confusing to helping posters and can confuse Original Posters too.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Lisa, Thanks for the additional information! I have a few more comments and suggestions. Would something like this work..... > July 21: Flight to Rome > July 22: Arrive Rome; Leonardo Express from FCO to city (DON'T forget to validate!); jet lag recovery > July 23-24: Rome > July 25,26: Train, Roma Termini to Siena (~3H:20M, 1 change); tour Siena, perhaps day trip - I believe Chianti is a region; what other places do you want to visit in that area? > July 27-29: Bus to Florence (~1H:35M); tour Florence - reservations for Uffizi and/or Accademia advisable! > July 30-Aug. 1: Train, Firenze SMN to Venezia SL (~2H:05M); you could stay in Venice and visit Murano as a day trip. > Aug. 2: Train to Lugano (~4H:20M, 1 change) NOTE: For this part of the trip, another option would be to stay in Locarno rather than Lugano. Either place will get you to the William Tell Express and Lucerne. You could travel from Venice to Domodossola and then take the scenic Cento Valli Railway to Locarno. I find Locarno a bit more interesting. > Aug. 3,4: Lucerne (what are you planning to see?) > Aug. 5-8: Train, Lucerne to Berner Oberland (2 hours to Interlaken Ost). At Interlaken Ost, you'll transfer to the local Berner Oberland train to Lauterbrunnen and Gimmelwald. There are two ways to get to Gimmelwald from Lauterbrunnen. Post another note if you need more details. NOTE: Gimmelwald is certainly one option, but keep in mind there's not a lot to do in the evenings, unless you want to just relax or hang around the Hostel and "socialize". You could also consider staying in Mürren or Lauterbrunnen. continued.....

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Lisa - Part 2.... Gimmelwald, cont'd. - I was just in that area in Sept., and found Lauterbrunnen very convenient for transport (but not many night life options there either). Which place to stay will depend a lot on what you're planning to do in that area, as you'll need to consider ease of transportation. > Aug. 9-11: Train, Interlaken Ost to Paris Lyon (5H:07M, 1 change at Basel SBB). You'll arrive at Gare de Lyon, and can get from there to your Hotel via Metro. Which area of Paris are you planning to stay? NOTE: The trip to Paris will take the better part of the day, so you won't get much touring done on Aug. 9, leaving only two days to see Paris. There's a LOT to see and do there, so you might consider adding at least one day. What are you planning to do there? A Paris Museum Pass would be a really good idea to minimize time spent in queues at major sights. If you're planning to visit the Eiffel Tower, reserving a time would be prudent. If you want something unique and memorable to do in Paris, you might consider a Segway tour. They're a lot of fun and it sure beats walking! > Aug. 12-16: Train, Paris Lyon to Nice Ville (~5H:40M via TGV). NOTE: My suggestion would be to skip Cannes, unless there's some overwhelming reason you want to stop there. Nice makes a great "home base" in that area, and from there you could take day trips to Villefranche, Eze. Monaco & Monte Carlo or other spots in the area. Nice has a great old town area with lots of small markets and good restaurants. There are some good Museums in Nice. The Guidebooks will have suggestions on Hotels, but if you want specific names post another note and I'm sure the group will have lots of suggestions. Cheers!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Lisa, One final comment..... You may have to return to Paris for one night prior to your flight home. You'll probably find more availability of flights from Paris to your area, rather than Nice. I'd travel back to Paris by TGV, as it will be a more pleasant trip than by air.

Posted by Lisa
Delta
10 posts

Ken - Thank you so much for all of your help! I will look through all of this in better detail with my fiance when I'm at home later this evening and will be sure to let you know if we have any questions. I really appreciate all of your tips and advice!!! :)

Posted by Stephen
Manchester, UK
6 posts

Lisa, I'd echo what Ken says about Nice versus Cannes. Nice is much better in itself and the nearby locations are much more interesting than those around Cannes. You also have better transport options from Nice.
Cannes is good but skip it if you're on a tight schedule.

Posted by Stephanie
Vashon Island, WA
42 posts

Venice is so magical and historical-very romantic. I would Definitely recommend staying on the main island we rented an apt thru VRBO in venice and loved it. We also loved Lake Como area. All the best
Stephanie

Posted by Judy
Adelaide, SA, Australia
802 posts

We had 4 nights staying right on the Lake in Lugano. Very romantic destination. We caught the William Tell Express to Lucerne from there. A word of warning. The William Tell Express from Lugano to Lucerne, as you are probably aware, includes a 2 1/2 hour paddle steamer trip from Fluelen to Lucerne. When we boarded the train, we were met by a guide who told us that wer were to disembark at Fluelen and catch the boat. We expected she would advise us when we had to get off. She didn't and we couldn't understand the call for the next station. Consequently, we missed the station and had to continue the journey to Lucerne by train. I am noramlly on the ball and know which station comes before the one we need to get off. I trusted the woman to let us know. Never again!!!

Posted by Geraldine
New Salem, Massachuse, USA
11 posts

I would become very familiar with the train schedules: www.sbb.ch and the map of Sw. because sometimes what sounds good or looks like a possibility on the map may require hours on a train. Some times, you can't get there from here, kind of thing. You can indeed get just about everywhere you want to go over there, but it may take as much a 4 hrs. out of you day. Some tunnels go for miles and you see nothing!!