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My northern Italy itinerary - your comments are appreciated!

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I’m in the process of planning a trip next May to northern Italy and would appreciate your input. We’ll stay around 12-14 nights, and limit ourselves to four overnight locations. We can go either just before or just after Mother’s Day (May 8th, 2016). We will be taking trains, not renting a car.

We’re in our late 60s, good physical shape, and enjoy architecture, history, walking, gardens (we especially love gardens!), good food and pleasant hotels and surroundings. I’ll ask on another post about specific hotels, but I would like to get ideas on the number of days to stay in each location. We have been to Venice on a prior trip and will not include it this time. While we went to Florence several years ago, I’d like to stay again for three nights.

Here’s my tentative itinerary:
LAX - Genoa, cab to Santa Margherita Ligure in the late afternoon

SML: three or four nights (how many do we need?)
Walk around that area, take a day train to the Cinque Terre to hike, see Portofino, I really want to see the Abbey Girolamo/ La Cervara, which I take it is only open on Sundays.

Bellagio or Varenna, three or four nights
Gardens and villas, take a boat tour, relax, maybe train to Milan for a day

Verona, three nights
Verona, train to Padua (the Scrovegni Chapel, we’ll get tickets ahead), Vicenza/ Palladio

Florence, three nights
See things we missed last time, re-visit the Uffizzi, etc

Fly out of Florence - Lax via CDG

Questions: Should we allot the four nights to SML (figuring jet lag and giving an extra optional day for the CT, in case of rain) OR Bellagio? Or AND Bellagio?

Is there an advantage or disadvantage to going in late April (we would be departing April 20th, and would be in Verona on May 1st) versus May? I have heard that there can be more rain in April, so I’m leaning towards May - and the flights are more convenient in May.

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, and I look forward to your replies.

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