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Feb Long Weekend to Paris turns into April Week-ish in Milan and ?

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Well, a very well-intentioned surprise trip to Paris for my boyfriend was inadvertently compromised, which led to a long, involved discussion about travel and places and whatnot. My boyfriend loved the idea, but he said he'd prefer to spend longer in a given country, and that he was really interested in Milan. Yes, I guess I'm Exhibit A why you should approach surprise trips with caution: they may be great in theory, but sometimes things won't work out like you're planning or your partner is expecting/wanting something else.

So February for Milan sounded dismal. Not really in terms of weather, probably no worse than Paris, but if we're going to Italy, a country neither of us have been to before, and we're going to Milan (which I had little to no interest in before research) then I'd like somewhat nice weather. So the plan is now the last week of April 2013.

This has morphed into a 10 day, 9 night trip to Milan and (blank), the other location to be determined. Boyfriend wants Milan for opera, soccer, and people watching/fashion. I'm agreeable, so I'll try to plan something that touches all of those elements. He thinks 3 nights would be enough for Milan.

My question is what to do with the 6 nights following Milan? I don't want to run across the country, trying to squeeze in Florence, Tuscany and Rome because it sounds rushed and not a good way to utilize time or get a sense of those places. We don't want to rent a car at any point either, so we'd prefer easy train access and a pedestrian friendly location. We came up with a combination of Venice and Milan to maximize time on the ground and incorporate some of our favorite activities:

fly into Milan, 3 nights Milan, train to Venice, 6 nights in Venice, fly home from Venice (possible day trip to Padua or Vicenza, possible stop in Mantua on way to Venice for food?)

PROS: engineering marvel, romantic, great museums, art and architecture, no need for car rental, seafood to our heart's content

CONS: expensive? is it truly a large tourist trap, or in 6 nights can we explore areas off the beaten path? staying in the two most expensive cities in Italy seems like we wouldn't necessarily get a good sense of Italy?

I think this might be the best option so that we have an open jaw flight. We floated Florence and Tuscany, but I think we'd want more nights between the countryside and the city, and we'd have to connect in Heathrow if we flew out of Pisa, versus roundtrip nonstop between New York - Milan and Venice - New York (we have to fly British Airways/American Airlines).

I really want to go to Rome, but maybe this is a case where you can't do everything at once, and it makes more logistical and thematic sense to stick to Milan, Venice and a few towns in Veneto or Lombardy, and put Rome on the (hopeful) next trip to Italy?

Would love to hear other thoughts of travelers that have been to Italy before! Is there another option

Thank you!

(In case anyone was curious, here was my initial post: http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/long-weekend-surprise-february-2013.cfm)

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