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Pre tour for Best of Italy in 17 days

Hello! Looking for some advice on our pre tour plans for the Best of Italy tour in September. We are leaving the states on Friday, arriving in Milan Saturday morning around 10 a.m. I had planned to take our luggage to the Milan train station and store it so we could go to see the Duomo, the site we are most interested in for Milan. Then we would head on to Varenna and spend the night, and have the next morning and afternoon to ourselves before the tour begins on Sunday evening.
I was looking at an option to do a walking tour with Walks of Italy that starts at 1 p.m. and lasts three and a half hours. It covers the Last Supper, the Duomo and rooftop, the outside of the Milan castle, and a few other sites that would be interesting but are not must sees for us. This is an intriguing option, with an opportunity to see the Last Supper easily, but I'm not sure about the logistics. If we land at 10 a.m., do you think we would have time to make the 1 p.m. start to the tour? And if we took the tour and it ends at 4:30, would this put us at arriving in Varenna at a comfortable time? I'm not sure if this would be too much to try to do on arrival day, but we would have two full days to see Lake Como on Sunday and Monday before moving on to Venice.
I am aware that we would run the risk of losing the cost of the tour if our plane were delayed. Would this be rushing too much? I'm not sure how long it will take to get from the airport to the train station after going through customs. We do plan to carry on. Would this tour be worth the risk, or do think it would be better to stick with the original plan just to view the Duomo and then move on? Thank you for your help!

Posted by
4991 posts

We don't like to lock in any activities or transportation arrangements on the day of arrival. First of all, there is the jet lag factor which will have some people just operating in a daze and not really enjoying the activity. Secondly, while many flights from the U.S. arrive on time, many do not. We've had arrival times delayed as much as two and a half hours for various reasons. In addition, clearing customs / immigration can be a very quick or very long process -- there's just no way to tell ahead of time. Just food for thought.

Posted by
1 posts

We're taking the Best of Italy tour end of May.
We decided to stay in Milan 2 nights and Varenna 1 night pre-tour.
For me, jet lag is a problem, and we figured we'd need some extra time.
From past experience, the airline schedules can be undependable.
Sounds like you're as excited about the trip as we are!
Safe travels.
Puanani

Posted by
16894 posts

IF you land at 10:00, then just in round numbers I assume one hour to get to the airport train station and one hour to get to the Centrale train station, leaving an hour to meet up with the tour group. But any real flight delay messes up the plan. I also suffer from jet lag, coming from Seattle and rarely getting any sleep on the plane.

The train from Milano Centrale to Varenna also takes an hour and departs at 17:20 and hourly thereafter. The 17:20 would get you there in time for dinner. The 18:20 currently includes one train connection, but that could change by September. www.trenitalia.com

Posted by
610 posts

Thanks for your advice. We are leaning away from the organized tour, but it was very helpful to have a breakdown of times for each section of the journey into Milan. I appreciate your help!