I know there are a lot of forum topics out there regarding France and Italy trip planning, but I have a few specific questions, and wonder if any of you Europe experts out there could help us out.
My husband and I (in our late twenties) plan to spend 2 full weeks in France and Italy this fall (September/October), our first trip to Europe proper! We know for sure that we want to fly into Paris and spend a good chunk of time there, getting to know the city, maybe 5 days? We plan to save money by staying in an apartment instead of hotel, and skipping the Louvre for the D'Orsay and perhaps some free activities like the Tuileries gardens and picnics by the Siene. We also know we want to spend some time in Florence, as I am an artist, and we are both art enthusiasts. Maybe 3-5 days? Now, we would love to fly out of Rome, if possible, as it looks like it is the cheapest to book open-jaw tickets. So, if there isnt time for Rome (and I am assuming there isnt, as it could be its own trip!), where else can we visit either along the way (Nice, Cannes, Cinque Terre?) or after Florence and before flying out of Rome (Naples, Amalfi Coast, ??) It looks like it is pretty easy to take the train to any of these, but I'm looking for recommendations on what is most efficient/cost effective, as we are on a budget, and dont want to get too worn out. For instance, would it be better to fly straight from Paris to Florence (and cut out some travel time), and go down the coast of Italy from there, versus stopping on the Cote D'Azure via train? We are looking to get some relaxing beach time in addition to the hustle and bustle of the cities, as my husband gets pretty stressed during travel! Plus, it would add another facet to seeing Europe than just seeing the cities.