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Trip Report Four weeks driving thru Italy October 2014

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Headed back to Italy next week. Thanks again to Fodorites for help in planning this trip.
Flying in and out of Zurich like last year due to fewest frequent flier miles. Interesting for us as it changes the focus of places to see and causes us to visit new places.
We are starting with 4 nights in Lake Maggiore and 4 nights in Lake Iseo. Our two favorite lakes from visiting 4 lakes last year. Longer stays in both places this time.

This time we are meeting 4 couples in Tuscany (Greve, Siena and Montalcino) later in October. So that left us 6 days to fill up before Tuscany. Based on research and help from this site, we decided on 2 completely new cities for us--3 nights in Mantova and 3 nights in Bologna. Already have places to stay and great suggestions for restaurants from Fodor postings. Any other suggestions for dining greatly appreciated as well as unusual/less well known places to visit in (or nearby) Mantova and Bologna.

After 10 nights in Tuscany with our friends including seeing the Sagra del Tordo festival in Montalcino, we head back north. 3 nights in another new city--Milan. Then back to Zurich.
This is our first time in about 12 years to spend so much time in cities rather than the countryside. We are looking forward to the change and seeing new places.

The path from northern to central Italy gives us a good change of pace back and forth from quiet countrysides to urban cities during the trip and results in most drives around a reasonable 2-2.5 hours. We have also learned that staying a minimum of 3 to 4 nights makes moving from place to place easier.

Will try to update as we travel, hopefully better than last year when it "only" took 11 months to complete the report!

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