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Base for Northern Italy 3 nights

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I am travelling to Italy late this August and have a period of three nights that I would really like to spend in Northern Italy. I would have already spent time in Venice and am going on to Vienna afterwards, so a place with good rail connections would be great. I am travelling by myself using public transport and just really want to see as much as possible (vague, I know!). I was thinking of basing myself in Verona, but I'm finding the accommodation is far too expensive and very limited as I did not realise that it was opera season - so stupid of me!! I was wondering whether Bologna or perhaps Padua would be a good base? Or another place I do not know of!!
I would be interested in any sights or scenery, and the reason I was thinking Verona was primarily because of the Shakespearean connections, which I am very interested in. I also am interested in Italian art, architecture, and of course, the food!! I really am open to anything as I know that there will be many wonderful things to see in Italy that I have never heard of!
Thank you very much in advance for your suggestions!!

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