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N Italy/Switzerland/S Germany

Author: Ann Fitts
Date of Trip: September 2012

We enjoyed a fabulous 17 night trip to Northern Italy, Switzerland, Southern Germany in late September 2012.

We flew into Milan and returned from Frankfurt. There really is nothing we wish we had done differently and we cannot pick our favorite spot - they were all wonderful!

Hotels: All hotels were booked based on Trip Advisor reviews. We are not super picky but do always look for a good location. And we never took a taxi. Able to walk from the train station to the hotel in every city. I have reviewed all of the hotels, except Des Alpes in Luzern, on Trip Advisor.

Trains: We traveled by train in second class. Total cost for all rail for 2 people was $908.00 plus substantial discounts on special cable cars and such in Switzerland. Included in the $908 was 2nd class Swiss Saver Flexipass, fall promo 2 for 1, 4 days within 1 month, $280 plus shipping $298.00 total. For the most part we bought the train tickets as we went along and it was helpful that I had printed out train schedules at home to show to the ticket window. And we always used a ticket window (real live person!) rather than a ticket machine because we were chicken!

We arrived Milan Malpensa airport (MXP) at 8:45am. Bought train tickets to Milan Centrale 10 euro pp. Should have validated the ticket before boarding and was reminded by conductor on board. One hour train. At Milan Centrale bought rail tickets for 12:05p Eurocity to Verona. 42 euros for 2 of us. Train was jam packed with people and luggage probably because final destination was Venice and it was a Friday. Arrived Verona 1:30pm and walked to our hotel.

VERONA, 3nights
Hotel Giulietta e Romeo, Room #210
Hotel is an easy 20 minute walk from the train station and perfectly located near the arena and the center of everything. Comfortable room and great breakfast.
Enjoyed delicious meals at Osteria Verona, Piazza Erbe  Ristorante, Pizzeria Impero on Piazza dei Signori, Osteria Sottoriva, La Taverna di via Stella

Took day trips via train to Vicenza and Padua.

Train Verona to S. Margherita Ligure-Portofino
Departed 10:02am, arrived 2:20pm, changed train in Milan Centrale
Cost: E82.00 = USD106.00 for 2 pax

Hotel Metropole, Room #107
The hotel is located literally 2 minutes from the train station (exit the station, walk down the tiny hill on the left and the hotel is across the street). Helpful staff, and excellent breakfast that is served on their terrace in good weather.

We had dinner 2 nights at Trattoria da Pezzi  - it is sort of a "hole in the wall" place filled with locals and offering very reasonable and delicious local specialties. 

The last night had a very good dinner at Trattoria Baicin.

Our first free day we walked to Portofino. Took about 90 minutes because we stopped for lots of pictures. Once in Portofino walked all the way out to the lighthouse. We were planning to take 2pm ferry back to SML but found all afternoon ferries had been cancelled. Checked into bus but didn't want to wait so we ended up walking back- briskly in 50 minutes. A great day!

Second free day we went to Cinque Terra : train to Vernazza via Monterosso E21.60 roundtrip=$28USD for 2 pax
Due to inclement weather and landslides we were not able to hike Cinque Terre but took train to Monterosso and Vernazza for the day. Surprised by the huge crowds on a very rainy Wednesday in late September.

Train S. Margherita Ligure-Portofino to Varenna, Lake Como
Departed 11:22am, arrived 3:23pm, changed in Camogli and Milan Cost 56.00E = $72.00USD for 2 pax

Hotel Olivedo,  Room#12
Easy walk from train station, and we really liked our room with balcony overlooking the ferry and spectacular Lake Como. It is a funky old hotel and owner Laura gets mixed reviews. After visiting both Bellagio and Menaggio we were very happy with our decision to stay in Varenna.

Bar Il Molo : outdoor cafe overlooking Lake Como. We ate two dinners here. Also a great place for drinks. They have free wifi too.
1 dinner at Del Sole Ristorante Pizzeria - excellent seafood pasta

First free day we had beautiful clear weather. Hiked up to Castello di Vezio for spectacular lake views.Took different path down to town which landed us at the Villa Monastero where we visited the gardens. Then ferried over to Bellagio for lunch at
Ristoro Forma & Gusto

Our second free day it was pouring rain but we took the ferry over to Menaggio and had a fun day exploring, and enjoyed a great lunch at La Trattoria di Nogara - (fabulous osso bucco with polenta)

Train Varenna, Lake Como, Italy to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
4 trains (changed in Milan, Spiez, Interlaken) departed 8:37am arrived 3:25p
Bought  rail ticket at travel agency in Varenna - evidently ticket window is never open in Varenna rail station
Varenna-Milan E12.90, Milan-Spiez E31.80, total for 2 USD58.12 plus Day One Swiss Rail pass

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