Was starting to consider what to do May'ish of 2017 ... wife pushing for Italy (Lake Como) and friends pushing for Perugia .. and, I want to spend train time with great views, like from Zurich going south.
Who has done a trip like flight into Zurich, couple of days, train or car to Como, couple of days, train to Perugia, 4-6 days, then train back out to somewhere else for flight back (Paris, Geneva, Munich, etc).
Intent is to have kinda the same group - get an SUV for the car times and make train resvs waaaay in advance for great rates (Captain Train was such an eye opener for making reservations).
Love to hear your thoughts ... so many options ...
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They're having refugee problems presently at Lake Como, and you might want to hold off on making concrete plans for May, 2017. It's an incredibly beautiful place, but an alternative place to visit would be Lake Garda.
Most travelers going into Lake Como/Lugano area will go through Milan--45 miles to the south. It's a local train from Milan so reservations are not really needed. If you're going to make reservations on longer distance fast trains, you can go to Trenitalia.com 120 days out.
There are many more cities that are more popular than Perugia in Umbria and Tuscany--like Siena, Florence, Orvieto and San Gimignano. We also loved Volterra.
Maybe your group would be up to staying at a villa or at an agriturismo.
Flying out of Munich would be great, as it's anther incredible European city to visit. And the Austrian Alps between Northern Italy and Munich are as beautiful as Switzerland. Trains go through the Brenner Pass into Austria, a few miles south of Innsbruck.
Slightly off topic, but Munich to Innsbruck to Bolzano via Brenner Pass is spectacular. The area around these towns is stunning and if you are into wines the Aldo Adige region is nearby. We went here once and would love to go back especially Bolzano, Italy.
I love Lake Garda. Several castles around the lake... less of the rich and famous - but still as beautiful (and a bigger lake).
From Perugia it would make sense to train to Rome, Milan, or Pisa to fly home.... at least to me... Unless you are looking to add another city/country to your trip.
I'm not sure about refugees specifically at Lake Como - but Italy (and the rest of Europe) is having a challenge with all the refugees. We saw refugees in every area we went last summer (3 different areas in Italy, 11 cities & 7 countries total over 9 weeks). I don't think Como is the only area impacted.
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No advice but I'm looking at the same region for summer of 2017 too and here to follow along with the tips.
For the Brenner pass train, I see COcheesehead mentioned Bolzano-Innsbruck-Munich. That looks like a beautiful area so we might do that route (or Innsbruck-Salzburg instead of to Munich). We're looking at Milan and/or Venice for our time in Italy, then Salzburg, Hallstatt, and Vienna in Austria afterward. I'd like to visit Munich but not sure which cities/areas of Germany will make the final cut.
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There are a number of great options in the Italian lake region. We loved Bellagio on Lake Como (I suspect no refugees there), the Borromean Islands and Stresa on Lake Maggiore, and Lugano, Switzerland, on Lake Lugano. But for a splendid, out of the way place that is incredibly beautiful, try Orta San Giulio on Lake Orta.
Two years ago, we stayed at an agriturismo (essentially an ancient farm converted to a small inn) right outside Perugia. We spent a week driving all over Umbria, returning to our inn every night. Perugia is a fine city, but there are others nearby that are equally, if not more beautiful. I recommend Assisi and Gubbio in particular.
I, too, would fly home from Rome after visiting Umbria. It is an easy drive to Fiumicino Airport
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We flew into Bern and took the bus from the airport to Zurich. Stayed overnight there then took a train to the Alps. We visited the Alps for 4 days using Wengen as our base. Stayed at http://www.parkwengen.ch/en/ Beautiful, spotless hotel. We did half board and the meals were quite the affair - numerous courses lasting a couple of hours. We stayed in Geneva the last day.
From Geneva we took the overnight train to Venice. Sleeper car sleeps 3 to a berth in stacked bunks. It was an interesting experience! We rented an apt at http://www.palazzettodaschio.it Another beautiful place and out of the fray of tourists yet convenient to the vaporetto, atm, lido, grocery.
From there we flew to Paris on RyanAir for next to nothing - 29€.
We did a week in the Bernese Alps and absolutely loved it. We used the itinerary from a tour company and did it on our own. We bought a Bernese Oberland railpass and stayed in the charming town of Wengen. We rode the trains so much we wore the ink off the pass. We went to the top of the Jungfrauhoch at 11,333 feet. The train actually goes through tunnels bored through the Eiger.
We ate at a revolving restaurant featured in a James Bond movie, and took a steamer down Lake Brienz, among other things
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I have been visiting Switzerland (and surrounding countries) every year for the past 26 years. My wife is from Switzerland. We just spent 8 weeks in Switzerland this past April through June. The best time to go is mid-May through the end of September. You should visit Montreux, Gruyere, Lugano, Interlaken, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva/Lausanne. It's a small country so the drives are relatively short and easy. In northern Italy, I would visit Stresa Italy and Borromean Islands on Lago Maggiore. It is one of the nicest places on the planet. It is just 20 minutes from the Swiss border or a 40 minute train ride from Milan Italy. One trip I did a few years back was to drive from Geneva (near where my in-laws live) to Montreux and then then the Simplon Pass to Stresa Italy (2 nights) and then to Tuscany Italy (Florence, Sienna, Pisa - 5 nights) and back through France to Geneva. My only complaint about Switzerland is that it is expensive relative to France and Italy (and the rest of the world for that matter), and the cuisine is not at par with France and Italy.
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