Getting to Italy via Frankfurt?
May 18, 2013 5:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to get to Umbria, Italy during the first couple of weeks of October, but I hate layovers.

There are nonstop flights from Orlando to Frankfurt. According to the Google I can take the ICE to Munich and the CNL to Florence, then meander toward Umbria, about 19 hours of travel time. (Even if I flew to Milan it would be 18!)

Would this be a cool way to spend a few days? What are the logistical issues and where should I stop? Is there a different route from or back to Frankfurt that would also be fun? Will I be able to sit next to my s/o on the train(s)? Will there be Doppelbock and Spätzle?
posted by RobotVoodooPower to Travel & Transportation around Frankfurt, Germany (8 answers total)
Would this be a cool way to spend a few days?

Depending on how much you enjoy long-distance train travel, yes. You will still have layovers, but IMO the views from the train make up for the longer travel time.

What are the logistical issues and where should I stop? Is there a different route from or back to Frankfurt that would also be fun?

You can go via stations in Switzerland, as well. You should book your tickets in advance for long-distance trains to both save quite a lot of money as well as ensure that you can make your connections. Where to stop depends on when your train from Frankfurt departs - sleeping on the ICE is a miserable experience and from what I recall of Italian trains, those are even worse, so I would personally see how far I could get before late afternoon, and stop there. If your train leaves in the morning, you can probably make it to Milan before it starts to get dark, which would be ideal for overnighting.

Play around with Deutsche Bahn's journey planner to see.

Will I be able to sit next to my s/o on the train(s)?

If you book seat reservations (on the ICE, at least, I can't remember how it works on Italian trains), you'll be able to. If not, then it depends on how full the train is. I've often been on Nuremberg - Munich ICEs that are full to the point of standing-room-only. That isn't so bad for an hour, but I wouldn't want to do that from Frankfurt to Munich or Switzerland.

Will there be Doppelbock and Spätzle?

You can buy the beer of your choice at the train station to drink on the train, or buy rather overpriced beer from the dining car. I'm not sure if they have dark beer on the train, but they certainly will in the train station. I don't recall seeing spätzle on DB trains, it's mostly just cold sandwiches or sausage. If you take a break in Munich or Stuttgart, however, you can certainly find some. Have fun!
posted by cmonkey at 10:35 PM on May 18, 2013

In my experience long distance train travel in Europe is wonderful. Go for it and send us a post card.
posted by BenPens at 11:15 PM on May 18, 2013

Sounds great. Bring your own snacks on German trains, take a train with a dining car in Italy, and have lunch there. It's not cheap, but it is an experience you'll never forget. Sitting at a nice table, being served lovely food as you race through the landscape.
DB is the cheapest way to buy tickets and reserve seats.
If you have time to spend in Frankfurt, it's a city with many great museums.
posted by mumimor at 3:30 AM on May 19, 2013

Where are you getting these time estimates? Are you using Trenitalia for Italy? Milano Centrale to Perugia is only 4-5 hours by train. The slowest trip I found (with long layovers) was still only 9 hours. While train travel is mostly pleasant, but it does depend on which train you are on (the Eurostar can be really cramped) your fellow travelers (some places allow smoking) and when you go (major holiday, you reserved a seat? yeah right) Remember to bring wipes and hand sanitizer since train bathrooms are nasty.
posted by florencetnoa at 4:30 PM on May 19, 2013

Thanks for the good advices, all. I still have a lot to learn about the train system :) I used this page and Google Maps and found a 13 hour trip using the Eurocity instead of the CNL -- I don't want to sleep through the Alps! Still looking for a better planning tool.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:28 AM on May 20, 2013

I got really curious and spent some time searching. It turns out the schedule for trenitalia in October isn't available yet - this is why you get bad results. Still, I think if you want to see both the Alps and Northern Italy, you need to stay the night in Basel or in Milan, depending on when you land in Frankfurt. Both cities are wonderful, each in it's own way.
Personally, I'd go for Milan. Hotels and restaurants can be a little better value for money, with some effort, and it gives you the opportunity of getting a bit of a feeling of the cities you are stopping in on the way.
On the other hand, you'll be jet lagged, and also spending some time going from Frankfurt airport to the main station; maybe going all the way to Milan will be a bit harsh, and you'll find yourself sleeping through the Alps...
posted by mumimor at 11:45 AM on May 20, 2013

Thanks mumimor! I'll look into Basel and Milan, the trip doesn't look as long as I thought. I don't want to sleep through the Alps!

I also found which might be a good rough planning tool.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:21 PM on May 20, 2013

We ended up flying into Rome, then training back through Northern Italy to Salzburg. Then the weather was so nice we rented a car and drove back to Frankfurt :)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:19 AM on November 5, 2013

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