Tag Archives: Train Travel

How I Navigated My Way to Lake Como and How You Can Too

Lake Como (or Lago di Como, in Italian) is one of the most beautiful places in the world.  lago di comoThere are few places in the world where it feels like God actively spends his free time.  Especially when we are talking about Italy, the place where beauty is born.   The lake is everything it’s cracked up to be and more. It’s a peaceful mountain top retreat, accessible through a sleepy passage of cottages, and small cities.  Looking back on this trip, there’s a reason why a Las Vegas casino, George Clooney, and artist throughout the ages, claim this lake as part of their identity.

Here are five tips to consider when navigating your way to Lake Como.

  • Getting to Milan. Wherever you are, I recommend getting to Lake Como (lago di Como) from Milan. Whether you fly into Milan, or take a train to get there, the city gives you the best launching point into the mountains. It’s a short forty-five minute train ride through the Italian alps, before reaching the edge of the lake.
  • Train to Como. The train to Como departs from several train stations in Milan. Not to mention, there’s more than one train with service to Lake Como. The main train station on the lake is called Como Nord Lago.
  • Cost: Of all the pricy train tickets in the country, the ticket to Como is very economical. The average ticket costs €4,50 for a forty-five minute trip.
  • The lake towns and beyond. Como, is the gateway town the lake is named after. There are several other cities on the lake, accessible by the roadways around the lake, or directly by ferry. There are two types of ferries that service the lake. The lake is serviced by a hydrofoil (the fast) ferry, and a normal (slower) ferry. The difference in ferries is time and price. Both ferries are not cheap – as far as ferries are concerned.  The normal ferry is €28,00 for an all-day pass.  The hydrofoil cost €15,00 for each one-way trip. (Stepping off the dock at one station and stepping onto the dock at the next station.)  For example, a round trip ticket, on the hydrofoil, from Como, to Bellagio, is €30,00. While the all-day pass will carry you to an unlimited amount of cities. Click here for ferry timetable.
  • Set your watch. The atmosphere around the lake is intoxicating, and often, time seems to fall by the way side.  If you spending the evening in one of the cities around the lake it’s a great feeling of bliss, but for those returning to Milan be sure to keep an eye on the time.  When I was there, I had not secured my spot in Milan, and almost didn’t get back before the sun went down.  Trying to find a place to spend the night, in an unfamiliar city, in the pitch black, with full luggage, is not a recipe for success. (Although, often a recipe for adventure. However, due to my timeline, I was not in the mood.)

These five tips are taken directly from my travel notes.  If you find any other suggests would be helpful, please leave them in a comment below.

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The Cost of Train Tickets

I’m helping lead a mission trip to Italy in a few short weeks.  One member of our team came up to me early in our training and asked “How much does a typical train ticket from Rome to Naples cost?”   I answered with my standard response “It depends.”  I directed her toward the trenitalia website.  As I thought about it, I realized, the site isn’t very straight forward and it might be helpful if we covered how to look up train prices via the website.

First go to trenitalia and look at the top right hand side of the page.  There click on the British flag to change the language to English.

  • Pull down fields.  On the left hand side of the page there are fill in menus to indicate where you are going to and coming from.
  • Dates.  Fill in the dates you plan on traveling. If you just want to get an idea of the price, the date does not have to be exact.  To check the departure times of a train you want to at least include the exact day of the week – I’ve found most schedules run them times on the same days of the week.
  • Time.  This is the field that often confuses people. In Italy they require you to indicate the time of day you wish to travel. Most of Europe uses military time, so keep that in mind when you fill out those fields (one for the hour, one for the minute).
  • Trains. It can get very difficult to understand the differences between trains.  There are two main trains you must be familiar with: the Eurostar, and the intercity.  The Eurostar trains, indicated by the red ES*A category, stop at main stations that run along a north to south route.  The six major stops are:  Milano, Bologna, Firenze, Roma, Napoli, and Salerno. Any stop along these routs you can get there fast and in style.  Any other city or stop you will need to take an intercity train, indicated by the bold iC category.

The Eurostar trains are fast especially is you want to get between major cities quickly – but it costs more. It’s a great way to travel.  I have always said the intercity train is ridiculous for one reasons. It stops at every vineyard, Roman ruin, and castle in the country along the way your destination.  The one draw back to the iC trains is they aren’t cheap.

Ticket prices often remain the same throughout the year per route.  This is the method I use when I am budgeting for my in country transportation costs.  I highly recommend it.

* The photos were screen shots taken from my computer the day of the post.

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