2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

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2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby JusNoGood » Sun 20.10.2019, 11:47

My planning tips and things to be aware of

France and Italy Road tolls
I didnt want to stop, queue and pay at every toll booth so I rented etags for Italy and France. The barriers automatically open as you approach. Quite a few times there were large queues at the toll booths so I think I saved quite a lot of time and hassle. I rented the tags from tolltickets.com and return them when you are finished.

Swiss Vignette
You need a sticker on your windscreen to travel on the Swiss roads, called a Vignette. You can buy it at the boarder. I saved time buying it in advice. In their own words “Validity: from 1 December of the previous year to 31 January of the following year”

ZTL
Most cities and towns have ZTL. These are zones that limit cars from entering or moving around in them at certain times. As a tourist you can drive into them but only in certain situations or times.

If you have a booking with a hotel you are allowed 10 mins of parking and offloading. If you have parking allocated at the hotel or a parking garage then the establishment will take photos and submit your car details so you don’t get a fine in the post.

Majority of cities and larger towns were controlled by an automated camera system. So you were free to accidentally wander into the zone and receive a hefty fine without knowing it. Some smaller places, Rio Maggiori for example, the zone was controlled by barriers.

Best to check with your hotel before you travel into a Zone.

Parking
There are three types of parking bay I saw:
- White. Either free for a period (e.g. 1hr with a time dial set to your arrival time) or free to park indefinitely. Blue signs below the P sign advise you on the hours (Ora) if appropriate.
- Blue. Either pay for a ticket at a meter or display your blue euro parking dial (bit like the disabled dials we have).
- Yellow. Residents only.


SATNAV’s

Great for finding the fastest way to a destination. They’re not perfect when you are on a driving holiday and at times want the most scenic route. For this trip I used three free SATNAV’s.

ViaMitchelin

There is an app as well as the website.

Use: I used this for planning the larger journeys. My initial three day journey down to Lake Como for example.

Strengths:
- Can easily calculate long distance drives that Waze fails at.
- I didnt find a limit to the number of stops you can add on route.
- You can add you car and it will calculate fuel costs.
- It will also advise you on the fuel and toll costs of the multiple routes it calculates.

Weaknesses
- No speed camera and up to the minute road warnings like WAZE.
- I didnt like the satnav part of the app
- The website is a bit clunky to use.
- No ZTL warning



WAZE

Use: Every day driving. It warns you of speed cameras. Italy has quite a fair few speed cameras which are often quite difficult to spot.


Strengths
- Free crowd sourced traffic updates so often more up to date than my Garmin
- The community can warn others users of literally anything on the road. Car broken down, speed camera, police.
- It warns you if you have planned a route through a ZTL.

Weaknesses for a trip like this:
- It struggled and often fails to calculate longer journeys (UK to lake Como for example).
- You can only add one stop on a route.
- Quite difficult to force it to use the scenic route.
- When you add a stop to force it to use a scenic route it only gives you the arrival time for the first stop. So you cant easily how changing the route or adding a stop has affected you day. Gets even harder if you want to add multiple stops.
- It doesn’t give you any toll costs.
- The speed camera/police warnings are very accurate but I did see some not entered into the app so there’s no replacement for driving safely within the speed limit if you dont want a ticket.
- Can struggle at times to find hotels or landmarks if you just have the name and no address.
- Can sometimes take you strange routes. Like down narrow rough single lane roads



Google maps

Use:
- My wife used Google maps on her phone when I was using Waze to drive. She kept track of the route we were taking to make sure we were taking her preferred picturesque route and not just the quickest and also to advise me if Waze was taking one of it’s odd routes.
- When we were in areas we couldn’t drive: cities, Cinque Terra and needed to walk or use public transport

Strengths
- easily find places without their address.
- Great to use street view and see a place you are going to so you can spot it easily or check it out to see if it looks nice.
- You can change it’s route by dragging the blue route like to the road you want to use.
- Can help with walking and pubic transport routes too.
- Gives you accurate public transport times. i.e. Cinque Terra it will give you both boat and train times for moving between the towns.

Weakness
- No speed camera and up to the minute road warnings like WAZE.
- No ZTL warning


Types of Hotel in Italy

We used a mixture of accommodation. Typical hotels or B&B’s, AirBNB and also Agriturismo. We booked while we travelled. This was very easy to do and allowed us a lot of flexibility with our plans. Locals travel and stay at agriturismo a lot at weekends so can be tricky to get your first choice if there is a local festival on.

Regions apply a tourist tax. This seemed to vary from 1 - 1.5 euro a night per person and is paid in cash. Booking.com seemed to be the only exception to this but not at all properties (!?).

Agriturismo is typically a house or farm in a rural location. If you choose wisely they can offer exceptional value with great home cooked food.

Worth considering AirBNB. You can get some quite stunning locations in very interesting properties. Also a lot offer cheaper accommodation with great amenities if you are travelling for a longer time. We were away for 6 weeks so these often gave us a break from continually eating in restaurants and often gave us a washing machine too.


Some sites we used to find our accommodation:

Sawdays is a lovely website site. We found every properly we used from their site to be exceptional, although that does mean their selection is limited.
https://www.sawdays.co.uk

Agriturismo.it only lists those type of places. It has a great map so you can see where the property is. We found the review scores to be far too high. So we would check the more realistic reviews on Trip Advisor and Booking.com.
https://www.agriturismo.it/en/?gclid=Cj ... sfEALw_wcB

Ok site with lots of of options. Good as the payment often covers the local tourist tax so you dont have to find the cash.
http://www.booking.com
Last edited by JusNoGood on Sun 20.10.2019, 14:54, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby JusNoGood » Sun 20.10.2019, 11:48

*** what to take.
Last edited by JusNoGood on Sun 20.10.2019, 13:11, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby JusNoGood » Sun 20.10.2019, 11:48

Recommended roads & Hotels .

Here is a rough map of our drive around Italy. The colour changes show the journeys we did. So when the colour changes that is where we stopped and stayed. We entered italy at the top, the burgundy line, and stopped and stayed at Griante at Lake Como. Depending on the location we drove around while we stayed at places but I've not covered those with the map. I'll try to cover the memorable places in the write up.

scaled down italian map.jpg



Well I couldn't find a way to convert the spreadsheet to a table so images and attachment...

1 of 3
SCREENSHOT 2019-11-02 AT 09.06.17.jpeg
Last edited by JusNoGood on Sat 02.11.2019, 10:10, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby scotlan » Sun 20.10.2019, 14:13

Well done JusNoGood. I envy you your trip. I lived in Italy for 5 years and found your summary to be excellent, as a resident I had an autostrada electronic pass but would definitely hire one to take with if I were travelling in holiday season, queues around Garda, Venice and similar resorts were massive especially at weekends, could save you an hour of waiting. Not on your route but if travelling by Austria you can pre buy toll tickets for the long tunnels, again avoiding the queues.

I used Tomtom and found it excellent. Has speed Camera warnings too.
In the area where I lived the parking regs were as follows:
White lined bays: You can stay free for the period it says on the lamp posts, e.g. 30, 60, 90 mins. BUT you must leave the clock disc on the dashboard which gives your arrival time.
Blue lined Bays: You must pay at the ticket vending machine, you can pay for as long as you want to stay. Often there is free parking in lunch hours so the machine allows for that when you pay, thereby extending your time.
Happy trips in the future, if you went in the Elan I envy you, I couldn't use mine as I couldn't get the wife and dog in an Elan... (Tricky choice!)
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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby JusNoGood » Sun 20.10.2019, 14:53

scotlan wrote:Well done JusNoGood. I envy you your trip. I lived in Italy for 5 years and found your summary to be excellent, as a resident I had an autostrada electronic pass but would definitely hire one to take with if I were travelling in holiday season, queues around Garda, Venice and similar resorts were massive especially at weekends, could save you an hour of waiting. Not on your route but if travelling by Austria you can pre buy toll tickets for the long tunnels, again avoiding the queues.

I used Tomtom and found it excellent. Has speed Camera warnings too.
In the area where I lived the parking regs were as follows:
White lined bays: You can stay free for the period it says on the lamp posts, e.g. 30, 60, 90 mins. BUT you must leave the clock disc on the dashboard which gives your arrival time.
Blue lined Bays: You must pay at the ticket vending machine, you can pay for as long as you want to stay. Often there is free parking in lunch hours so the machine allows for that when you pay, thereby extending your time.
Happy trips in the future, if you went in the Elan I envy you, I couldn't use mine as I couldn't get the wife and dog in an Elan... (Tricky choice!)


Thanks very much :) Yes I did it in the Elan. We took it quite easy and there was so much to see and enjoy anyway. I drove 3,000miles over six weeks with glorious weather. We had the top down for pretty much every journey. It really was something special driving around the incredible landscape (coast, country lanes, vineyards etc) and medieval cities in it.

We left on the 8th September and returned on the 17th October. So we travelled after the uk and Italian kids had returned to school. The locals said it was still peak season. Some of the towns and cities were over run by tourists, Florence was just too busy for me tbh and part of Verona was too. We hardly had any traffic on the roads. Parking and booking hotels at weekends was tricky once or twice, we hit Alba in Truffle season and both Neive and Impruneta when they had wine festivals :-D

White parking. Ah yes, forgot about the dial thing. tbh I mainly parked at the hotels or in the white bays with no time limit. I think I paid for parking about three times.

Wow, where did you live? Must have been an interesting experience. I really enjoyed trying to learn the language too. Not really tried since doing french for a few years at school but thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby scotlan » Sun 20.10.2019, 15:21

That sounds like a great road trip, I have done the route through both Switzerland and Austria. Switzerland is probably nicer for a tourist. Just getting to Italy after a visit to UK, Austria is easier with more free Autobahns (well , up to now).
I retired early in 2011, sold my Elan S2 in b.r.g. :( and moved to Italy, 70km east of Venice. Loved every minute but had to return due to my wife's poor health.

I don't remember seeing an Elan in the whole 5 years there, nor on my numerous journies so your car must have attracted a lot of interest. Good for you!
Why not post a couple of pics.
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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby JusNoGood » Sun 20.10.2019, 15:30

scotlan wrote:That sounds like a great road trip, I have done the route through both Switzerland and Austria. Switzerland is probably nicer for a tourist. Just getting to Italy after a visit to UK, Austria is easier with more free Autobahns (well , up to now).
I retired early in 2011, sold my Elan S2 in b.r.g. :( and moved to Italy, 70km east of Venice. Loved every minute but had to return due to my wife's poor health.

I don't remember seeing an Elan in the whole 5 years there, nor on my numerous journies so your car must have attracted a lot of interest. Good for you!
Why not post a couple of pics.


Sorry to hear that Ian but sounds like you're making the most of retirement.

Yes, it felt very special driving around in the Elan. It turned heads everywhere we went and had lots of petrol heads ask about it :D I think the two memorable car moment for me was driving from Florence to Sam Gimignano in convoy for about an hour with a UK registered Aston Martin convertible we met on the motorway. The second was arriving in Verona, we had to drive right through the centre of the city (and ZTL) to our hotel that had parking. The drive through the medieval cobble streets attracted a lot of waves and smiles from tourists and locals, it felt very special :D

Pics. yes, just need to work out the size as I think I'll have to resize them all for the forum!
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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby TrevorB » Mon 21.10.2019, 15:11

Justin, that looked like a fabulous experience and something I would love to do in 'Merlot'.
Thanks for sharing it all with us.

:D :D

:cheers:
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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby JusNoGood » Wed 23.10.2019, 20:14

TrevorB wrote:Justin, that looked like a fabulous experience and something I would love to do in 'Merlot'.
Thanks for sharing it all with us.

:D :D

:cheers:


I'd highly recommend it Trevor. Really was special. :-D :cheers:
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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby sideways » Thu 24.10.2019, 01:20

Great - GREAT - story and one which evokes so many distant memories...we did a similar thing back in the early '70s in a Fiat 1200, camped all the way there and back, used 'paper' nav and slept in the car more than once.

A lot more than once :D

We subsequently went back in our Innocenti Mini Cooper 1300 Export but did NOT sleep in that, by that time we had bought a tent.

One with windows, a 'kitchen' AND a separate bedroom :D Call us "Tenties", the forerunner to Yuppies.

I was SO fortunate to have been sent to Europe as a member of the RAF, to somehow force back the communist hordes in the early '70s... (apparently we did so :shock: :?: :D ) and while some who went there huddled down for what they saw as their 3 year punishment, we, my new wife and I absolutely embraced that event and took every opportunity to wander blindly around Europe, happily enjoying the majesty and history of it all.

That, those memories, I put in a bottle and sip from on occasion.

As I did here.


Thank You.
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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby Steve A » Thu 24.10.2019, 09:49

:clap: Thanks for taking the time to write this up Justin, I'm sure it will prove to be very useful to anyone thinking of venturing into Europe. :burnout:
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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby Fredjohn » Thu 24.10.2019, 10:01

Great trip, glad you had a fantastic time and all went well.

I did something similar 4 years ago to Stelvio and Lake Como: I posted under "Historic Events/Touring" HERE. Maybe a mod could move it to the new Travel section???

I too would have some lodging suggestions if needed, as well as having done 14+ trips to French Périgord (is there another one?) in my old Elan DHC S4 over the period 1989 to 2007. I also took the M100 to Carcassone and Nimes in 2016, but that is an area well covered by lotusflasherman (Phil).

If anyone wants to join an "organised" tour, we (CL North West) have used Scenic Car Tours for our 3 trips: Stelvio 2015, Germany 2017 and Spain 2019. Can thoroughly recommend them. It is likely we may go again somewhere in 2021, but with the Brexit issue this may prove harder, even to do the Scottish North Coast 500 may be entering a foreign country by then!!!

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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby lotusflasherman » Thu 24.10.2019, 11:31

Great write up Justin. I hope it inspires others to venture abroad ..

As a 'frequent flyer' I'll share my thoughts here too ...

French Tolls:
I've travelled through France in both my Elan and Evora and an e-tag is essential as the payment facility is usually too high and always on the wrong side so the passenger has to do the business, tricky if you don't have one.
In the Elan alone, I found it easier to get out, run round and shove my credit card in, the barrier lifts, jump back in and drive through, stop and put seat belt on. Found some barriers come down quickly, whether you've gone through or not...
I put my seat belt on and missed one once and it delayed me somewhat and was embarrassing holding everybody up while an official came across to sort it ...particularly embarrassing in a Lotus! After that I bought an e-tag.

I've used a Liber-T tag for years and it's left clipped in position in the Evora windscreen and the contract charges 6€ per month only in the months it is used. If I do not use it there is a 6€ annual charge made, but I go frequently.
I believe tolls are also slightly less extortionate too.. ( I cannot use the word cheaper!) You can get them here ..

(Good post Justin, just checked my account for the URL and see I have a warning to swap to a new tag as the battery may be getting low :D )

The majority of Toll Booths in France now have 30kph lanes so with a e-tag you can cruise through at 30kph and the barrier flicks up just in time... but I'm always prepared to brake in case of a communication error, or flat battery . :lol:
30kph Lane is in the outside lane so a rolling exit gets me up to cruising speed quickly with much less strain on the transmission and mpg..
but be warned that approaching the Toll Booth the speed limit reduces in stages with speed cameras, often in each stage, and local drivers do not like to queue so last second lane changes are frequently made (with little checking what's behind).

Switzerland:
Good move to buy in advance if you plan to go through Switzerland. Years ago we went to Italy via France but on the return there was a horrific crash and fire in the tunnel we planned to use so diverted up and over an old mountain pass into Switzerland.
Beautiful trip in summer but the pass led onto a motorway so needed to buy a Vignette en route.

The official told me there was a very big charge for a credit card but he could take Euros so I gave him a big Euro note and he gave me change in Swiss Francs. I had no idea what the Swiss Franc was worth but when we got home found he'd massively short-changed me.
I did not expect dishonesty from a Swiss Official ... but I do now. Be warned!
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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby GeoffSmith » Fri 01.11.2019, 23:07

Shame you didn't make Rome Justin!

https://www.facebook.com/LotusCars/

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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby JusNoGood » Sat 02.11.2019, 00:58

Nice pics. Yes the m100 testing was the inspiration for the trip. Thirty year anniversary of my car to the day! We’ve been to Rome recently so didn’t really have the urge to go, seeing those pics again perhaps I should have just to recreate the pictures. Quite sure the story I read the trip to Rome was completed more than once.

We do intend to do another trip around southern Italy. Not decided whether to do it in the Elan but it’s definitely an
option :)
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Re: 2019 Trip from UK to Italy via France and Switzerland

Postby GeoffSmith » Sun 03.11.2019, 09:40

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