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One week in Italy before 1 week in Croatia

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My husband and I are planning to take a "splurge" trip to Italy and Croatia this summer. The plan is to spend one week in Italy and the second week in Croatia. We've been to Rome and Tuscany and would like to see a different part of the country. We love cities, beaches, food and wine. We enjoy sitting at cafes, walking around and exploring local haunts. We are avid runners and always run in the cities we visit. Planning our routes is lots of fun. We also don't mind driving. We rented a car when we were in Tuscany and enjoyed exploring the countryside and happily drove to/from Rome. Finally, we firmly believe "less is more" when traveling-we like a slower pace and don't need to see EVERYTHING. There's always the next trip….

Some of our ideas include: Northern Italy and either seeing Milan and the Lake District or Bologna/Parma. If we do either of these regions, we would probably end with a day or two in Venice (my husband has already been and does not want to spend a lot of time there) before heading to Croatia.

The other idea is the east coast of Italy- Puglia specifically, but again, are open to suggestions. Not sure what else is a must do/see in that area, as I am less familiar with it than other areas of the country.

This is a special occasion vacation for us and we have a pretty nice budget so we are interested in higher-end accommodations. We prefer smaller, boutique hotels to mega-hotels and resorts.

Look forward to hearing your suggestions, ideas, and recommendations for itineraries, hotels and dining.

Bob the Navigator, you were instrumental in helping us plan our last trip to Italy, so if you happen to see this post, I'd love your input!

Thanks in advance.

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