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Suggestions for Switzerland-Italy Trip??

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We rather impulsively booked a flight into Zurich (from California) for late August, departing for home from Venice 17 days later. My husband has long wanted to ride the Bernina Express, and I've wanted to spend a little time on Lake Como.

At this point, we'd love some suggestions for Switzerland. We like the idea of seeing Luzern, but Zurich might be fun to explore, too. I've considered Renaissance Luzern Hotel and Hotel la Paix. Of course, I love Hotel des Balances but we'd like to keep the rate under 300 chf if possible. Perhaps there are hotels or other interesting towns we are not aware of? (We will not be renting a car).

So far, our plan is:
Fly into Zurich mid-afternoon
3 nights Zurich or Luzern or ???
1 night Chur (to catch the early morning Bernina Express to Tirano, Italy)
Train from Tirano to Varenna
3 or 4 nights in Varenna
Train to Firenze and/or ???
4 nights undecided (possibly Firenze - we were there last October for 7 nights; still more to see)
Train to Venice
Up to 4 nights Venice (this will be our 3rd visit)
Fly out of Venice 6AM

Any ideas would be appreciated. We will need the most help with Switzerland. Any suggestions for our time between Varenna and Venice are welcome also. We already know where we want to stay if we are in Florence and Venice.

And yes, I know it will be hot, hot hot in August/early September. Sigh. Sometimes the timing isn't the best.

Fodorites have always given us great ideas. Thank you for that, and thanks for any new input.

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