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Barcelona, Lake Como and...?

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Hello experienced travelers,

I'm in the beginning stages of mapping out a trip for this summer (late July-August, about 3 weeks). We have traveled quite a bit in Italy, France and Switzerland and hear that siren call for a return to Europe.

We love it all: big cities like Paris and Rome, quaint towns like St Paul de Vence and San Gimignano, cultural centers like Florence. We also love the beauty of the countryside in Provence, Tuscany and of course the Alps. Our favorite way to travel is to break it up by alternating 3-4 days in larger cities with time in smaller towns, and often like to finish with a few days in a restful spot by the sea.

We also like to visit at least one new area and return to favorite spots. We have never been to Spain, but I've been reading several guide books, and it looks like there are many beautiful places. I'm sure we could plan a wonderful trip there for the whole time, but we would rather just sample a bit on this trip, and leave time to return to our beloved Italy.

That said, Barcelona looks amazing. We would like to either start or end our trip there, then take a ferry or regional jet to Italy.

One area of Italy that we haven't visited is the Lakes region, and we'd love to stay in Bellagio or Varenna for a few days. Then we'd like to take a train to Florence, spend a few days, and then rent a car to go to Siena, using that as a base to visit Tuscan towns.

We'd also like to spend some time in the Italian Riviera, but it seems so remote from the other areas that I can't find a way to do it this trip. If anyone knows how this could possibly fit in, please help. My thought is that we'd spend an inordinate amount of time on the train to Florence (10 hr???) and the driving looks a bit treacherous.

We would end our trip by flying out of either Venice or Rome. We could also fly out of Milan, but we really aren't that interested in spending any time there. Nothing is booked yet, so I'm totally open to any suggestions, and would be so grateful for your input.

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