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L'Italia è bella! I had a wonderful trip to northern Italy in September of 2007. It definitely won't be my last. The charm of the people, the fascination of the history and the beauty of the countryside really got into my soul! I was there for 2 weeks and would have loved to stay for 2 more!
For our trip, we flew into Milan and took the train to Genoa to see where one of my travel companions used to live. From there we took the train to Cinque Terre (Five Villages) where we stayed in Monterosso al Mare. I highly recommend hiking between the 5 villages. The view of the Mediterranean is spectacular! After a couple of days there we hopped the train for Florence. But first we took a little side trip to Lucca and Pisa. I was sort of disappointed in Pisa. The leaning tower is really all there is to see.
We stayed 4 days in Florence and I still don't think that was long enough. We ate wonderful food and drank lots of red wine. One of the highlights of Florence was seeing Michelangelo's David. It is jaw-dropping beautiful! Lots of history, fashion and history in this city and very friendly people! Our favorite way to relax after days filled with walking was to get ice cream (the best!) and sit on the steps of the piazza where our bed & breakfast was and watch the impromptu entertainers in front of the Uffizi Gallery. We never knew what we were going to see: mimes, folk singers, opera singers, Danish folks singers.
From Florence we took the train to Venice where we had rented a 2 bedroom apartment. What a great deal that was! It was very nice and we were in a great area away from the crowds that come in every day from the cruise ships. If you go, be sure to walk into the residential areas as well as do the usual St. Mark's Square, etc. Last, but not least, we took the train from Venice to Lake Como in extreme northern Italy. After a scenic boat trip up the lake to the little town of Bellagio we kicked back for a relaxing 2 days of just enjoying the scenery. From our hotel we could see the Dolomite Mountains as well as the Alps. Then it was back to Milan for the trip back to the U.S.
Ah, la dolce vita! (the sweet life!)
I'm glad you had such a wonderful time. We spent 2 years living in Vicenza, about 45 mins. by train from Venice, and the commercial Gold capital of Italy. Also where Palladio did much of his work.
While we were there I traveled all over the country, both with my hubby, and as the escort for Bus Tours. It's a great way to see the country. We were only 2-1/2 hours from Florence, and about 5 from Rome. So I visited them often. And Venice at least monthly. Milan we went to only a few times, mostly because we had reasons for going everywhere else.
There is so much else to see south. But that is for a later post.