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France/Italy Drive vs Train

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In Sept. my husband & I will be coming from the U.S. and either starting in Paris & ending in Rome (preferred) or vice versa. We only have 3 weeks. We are most interested in seeing scenic landscape and visiting small towns & walking around them to sample local food, markets, shopping, etc. more so than historic sites or museums. We will do a little of that, but not our main focus on this trip. This is more of an overview & will return to favorites. We have never been to France. We would like to go from Paris down through the wine/champagne region to the cote d' azur. We know the train would be quickest, but are thinking we should drive to be able to see the small towns & stop where like & move on if not overly impressed with an area. From France the big question is either drive or take a train and see a little of northern Italy, such as Milan or Lake Como, or just take train or plane to Rome to reach the Amalfi coast,. ( We have been to Venice & Florence & Tuscany. Love it, but not wanting to spend too much time repeating when we want to see sights we have not seen.) We have been to Rome so that is just a departure (or arrival) city. We previously only spent one day on the Amalfi Coast and want to spend a few days there to better see it and also go over to Capri and spend a night there. I know a car could be a hassle for parking in the towns along the coast, but have heard the bus is also a hassle to get to the stops & follow a schedule so maybe best to keep the car. Appreciate thoughts on (1) keeping the car the whole time or use a train in France, as well as(2) should we take time for northern Italy or save that for another trip & just take quickest way to Amalfi & Capri? Thank you!

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