I suggest you get a good guidebook, like the DK Eyewitness Travel series, and do some careful reading to see what interests you.
The rookie mistake is to try to see it all. Just try to see what you want to see well, and with plenty of time, and don't go racing all over Italy as if it will evaporate next week.
It can take years and years just to see what Rome has to offer.
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Probably the hardest thing is deciding how you want to experince Italy and where. What are your interests? Skiing, hiking, water sports? Then not in Florence. Art history, great works of art, statues that you have only ever seen in books? Not in the Dolomites? Do you paint or draw? What, buildings, landscapes, food, people? What is it you want to see. Sometimes we go food tourng: Cerignola for olives, Parma for prosciutto, Modena for balsamic vinegars.
A good cross section would be Rome, Florence and Venice in 10 days to two weeks for a first trip. that will help you plan your second trip when you begin to see how many choices you have. Only have one week? Try only two towns. Don't care for cities, go to the countryside, or the seashore, or the mountain lakes. Each are magic in their own way. All you have to do is decide what is important for you to experience and how to capture and bring home those memories that you will carry with you for a life time.
Verona is a town with historic Roman remains but it can be seen on a day trip from Venice very easily, as can Padua, Mantua or Vicenza.
As people have said, read a guide book or two to get an idea of what interests you most, plan no more than three places in 12 days or so, then start looking at accommodation. Look well in advance as inexpensive places to stay often book out quite early and train fares are cheaper 60 days out from your date of travel.
Just to be a bit contrary, here are some places where we have stayed that were very enjoyable and interesting, but not on the usual tourist track:
Mantova, Aosta, Parma, Matera, Monte Sant' Angelo, Scanno, Norcia, Urbino, Volterra.
Go to any of these, and you can probably be sure that none of your friends have been there.
....... and Venice can be done as a day trip from Lake Garda. It all depends on your personal interests as to what would you like to see, how much (or how little)...... not what Auntie Elsie or Uncle Bert did.
Ask 3 Rabbis the same question -- you will get 6 different answers. Much the same here.
What time of year.
You may find if it is hot you may choose to have some down time at a lake or beach in between your cultural part. You may as someone initmated want to mix culture with mountains.
If peak summer the lakes and beaches will be packed and the cities empty.
Lots of possiblities
I agree with Nick – Pair the top cities with some lesser known (and sometimes more local cities) for a mix of tourist and genuine experiences.
The Michelin Green Guide ranks destinations, and may help you gauge which destinations would be the most significant to see.
VagabondaEdited: 28 November 2011, 16:36
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