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Italy - 18 day trip

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Hi,

I'm hoping to get some suggestions for my trip to Italy. I arrive at Rome International Airport early morning on 8th May, 2015 and will leave on the night of 27th May, 2015 from Rome to Bombay, India. I'll be travelling ALONE and this is my first trip to Italy (Europe, as well!).

I definitely want to visit Naples, Rome (are 4 days enough?), Venice (I've read mixed reviews. Over-hyped, is it?), Siena, Florence, Pisa (worth spending an entire day?), Bologna (oldest university in the world!), and Milan. I realize the list sounds rather ambitious for an 18 day trip; but, there are some things I most definitely wouldn't want to miss.

Interest levels as far as historical sites are concerned - SUPER HIGH
Interest levels as far as food is concerned - SUPER HIGH
Interest levels as far as beaches are concerned - AVERAGE
Interest levels as far as shopping is concerned - MODERATE

Would prefer reasonable (yet safe and feasible) accommodation (hostels and B&Bs). Some of the reviews on Hostelworld are so confusing! I plan to walk around a lot and use public transport - metro, train and buses. Want to experience the "must try"/"must visit" dishes/restaurants.

I'd appreciate any suggestions with regards to an itinerary, accommodation, travel, food and any other tips that you see fit.

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