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Northern Italy experts--slow travel & some active pursuits in 2nd 1/2 May

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One hour ago I bought round trip tickets into Milan for a 3 week trip mid May into early June. (Yes, I am not an early planner like so many of you.) We are pretty completely open except for the fact we know we want to spend a week on a bicycle trip and the rest of the time broken up between 2 or 3 different bases in apartments or small houses (like a gite in France). We like to have a place where we can do some cooking or re-heating of prepared foods from local delis and where there is a nice place to sit outside. For these bases I think we'd probably prefer some place in or on the outskirts of a charming small town rather than being stuck out in the middle of nowhere in an agritourismo place. But, maybe I am interpreting the idea of an agritourismo incorrectly.

We plan to spend one week doing a self-guided bicycle trip in the Veneto area, or Bolzano to Venice or Verona area, or the Dolomites to Lake Garda, or Innsbruck to Bolzano or Lake Garda, or something along these lines. There are lot of different options to choose among from different tour companies. So, that will need to be a first decision. Any comments welcomed on the suitability of various types of locales I've mentioned are welcome. We are in our 60s and have done cycling trips before, the kind of trips that are more leisurely with time to stop to smell the flowers rather than being an endurance contest. All of these trips I am looking into are described at being more leisurely and on relatively flat routes. And, are there any of these areas that would be less likely to have rain at this time of year?

Then, we want to find a couple places as bases where we could just enjoy the ambience, go to interesting local markets, do some day trips, do some half day hiking perhaps, find some interesting cafes or delis etc. Have any suggestions as to possible places for bases or places to stay? And, from past experience on this forum when I was a frequent poster several years ago, I know we travel on a lower budget than many of you. We've done tons of European (and other trips) where we have done VRBO-type rentals and been just fine on our own in relatively modestly priced accommodation.

Other than the bicycling part of the trip, we'll most likely have a rental car unless it would be a place where that wouldn't be necessary. We frequently choose to stay in areas that aren't in the top ten tourist destinations because we are just as happy (and sometimes more happy) off the beaten path. We don't want to run around all day every day sightseeing and ticking places off a list, and super touristy doesn't call to us. We tend to prefer spending quality time in a couple places rather than running ourselves ragged trying to see everything.

We've never been to this part of Italy although we did spent 5 nights in Venice over New Year's a couple years ago. I've been to Florence, Ravenna etc. 40 years ago, but they seem a bit distant from the area we plan to concentrate on. We are not big fans of large cities, and I haven't even had a chance to investigate what Milan has to offer, but we nearly always spend our last night in the city we are flying out of just so we don't run into problems making our return flight.

Thoughts? Suggestions? The lakes? The Dolomites (or too early in the season)? Coastal Genoa area? Places I might not even have though of in the brief time I have had to think about this? Any assistance is more than welcomed. Thanks much.

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