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8 days in Italy, only.

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Hello!
i am scattered and cannot decide what to do. may be you know something that you can suggest.
we have 1 week in Italy, well, 8 days maybe. i am traveling with my aunt, she is 75. i am slightly younger. we arrive to Milan, but will not stay there.

i want to see Florence and Venice, so we can spend 2 days in each. i do not want to to go to Rome as it too big and we have no time for that. i better will go there separately.
so remaining 3 days (maybe 4) we can spend traveling in a country side (that is what i wanted) and see endless small towns and villages. i thought to rent the car for that, but many people telling me that Italians driving fast, tailgate and honk all the time. i do not like it. i do not mind to drive a distance, but do not want to speed up because of some hot head wants me to. my aunt is no use. she cannot navigate and read the map either.
our general plan (somewhat flexible) is
Sept 3 arrive to Milan,
Sept 3-6 somewhere (see below)
Sept 6-8 Florence
Sept 8-10 Venice
going by train and spend a night in new place every day is not appealing as it time consuming and demanding. it feels like we will have to see every railroad station, but nothing much else.
i guess i am trying to fit my American traveling experience into Italy. here i usually drive from place to place and have a place to stay arranged as we go. i have usually general idea where we start and finish and what exactly we want to see. i never was in italy before and i know that everything is interesting to me.
perhaps we have to go to Rome after all... but what about Genoa, Bologna and San Marino?! not to mention the rest of it. :-) it is hard to make choices. i am thinking of two general places:
1. Genoa and the Cinque Terre for 2-3 days, rent the car locally there and take small roads. have the option to stay on the beach. than return the car, go by train to Florence and later to Venice.
2. Stay in somewhere in Parma, rent the car locally, drive around,fro 2-3 days, return the car and then go to Florence and Venice.
does anybody can suggest the 'best way' to spend 1 week in Italy?
baskalla

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