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Itinerary review: Croatia/Italy

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Just in the earliest stages of planning, and have a rudimentary itinerary in mind (far from final, so would love input). Timeframe mid-June of this year. We are fairly flexible on how much time we have, thinking 2.5-3 weeks.

Thinking of some portion of the Croatian coast (Dubrovnik, Split), Venice and Cinque Terre (and possibly Florence, see below).

Looking for suggestions about:

- Best way to set up itinerary for departure/return flight. For example, fly into Dubrovnik, fly home from Florence? Or fly into Venice, rent car to drive through Croatia and back to Venice, and then train from Venice for the rest?

- How best to get to Dubrovnik? Per the above idea, driving from Venice would give us plenty of scenery/sightseeing along the coast, but from what I read on WikiTravel, there could be plenty of summer traffic (particularly transiting through B-H @ Neum). And car travel just sounds like not a great idea according to this page:

- Is travel from Venice to Cinque Terre (La Spezia) fairly straightforward? Or should we plan to do Venice to Florence, and then separately Florence to La Spezia? This could determine whether or not we choose to spend any time in Florence.

These are broad questions, I know. Like I said, just in the early stages of planning, so I wanted to tap into some of that amazing Fodors expertise.

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