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Trip Report Milan, Venice, Bellagio, Piedmont wine country, a day in the Cinque Terre

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Milan, Venice, Bellagio, the Piedmont wine country and a day in the Cinque Terre - May 2012

My wife and I along with another couple visited parts of Northern Italy for two weeks in mid-May and had an absolutely fantastic time everywhere we went. In a landslide victory - Italy retains its #1 position as our favorite country to visit. We did more walking, climbing, eating and drinking than we thought possible. It seemed no matter where we were – the “Oh My God - look at that” statement was flying fast and furious. We met wonderful people and had so much fun on this trip that it should probably be illegal. It was our first time travelling with the other couple and we all got along great.

Yea I know many of you are saying too many places in too short of a time but it worked for us. When asked which of these places we liked best, we have to say that each of the five is so different from the others that they are hard to compare. But if we were forced to choose, we would say our time in Bellagio has a slight edge over the others – but all were great. I don’t know if our weather was normal for mid-May in the areas we were in but for the most part we had good weather. Most days were sunny with only a couple of them being a little cloudy/windy/chilly and we only had to pull the umbrellas out twice for a few minutes each time.

So is it possible to not have anything go wrong on a two week vacation with lots of logistical challenges? The four of us did a lot of advance planning and research over several bottles (maybe even cases) of wine. My wife and I used Delta frequent flyer miles for our tickets – our friends bought theirs. After lots of negotiation, we all agreed on an itinerary and the places where we wanted to stay (they all lived up to their good ratings) and we bought (Last Supper, La Scala and train tickets) or reserved (all places to stay, rental car and limo) as much as we could online in advance. We re-confirmed all our reservations a couple of weeks before we left.

We had a good idea of the things we wanted to do and were able to do most of them. But it was the spontaneous little things that either just happened to us or that we decided to do on the spur of the moment that made this such a great trip. We had one waiter in Venice with a really bad attitude and one flight attendant on the flight back that was just plain rude. But everything else went pretty smooth. We brought our own GPS that worked great, had some good regional maps for backup and some decent city maps. Even though we were pretty well prepared, we were still incredibly lucky to have everything work out as good as it did.

I had taken a trip with my college roommate in the 70s and we came up with a motto that we referred to whenever a decision had to be made. It was “This is no time to be conservative – let’s pull out all the stops”. Before we left, our group decided to adopt this motto for any decisions that would have to be made on our trip. Surprisingly enough it turns out our normal vacation mode pretty much follows our motto so we rarely had to refer back to it for help when we were making decisions. Too much fun!

I usually just jump right in and start writing a very detailed day by day report of our trip but this time I think I’ll try (notice I said I’ll TRY) to just write a quick paragraph or two for each day so you can get the cliff notes version of what we did without having to read a long and boring report where I would probably describe in nauseating detail how absolutely fantastic everything was. I had originally thought that this would be a more relaxing vacation than what we normally do. But somehow we were up and going fairly early every day and just seemed to keep going. Maybe our next trip to Europe will be relaxing – yea right!

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