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Short stops - worthwhile or too frustrating?

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Hi Fodorites,

I'm planning a 7-week trip through Italy and Spain in Sept-Oct this year. While 7 weeks *sounds* like a long time, it turns out that it isn't - because I can't fit everything in.

As a little background, the only parts of Italy I've had a decent look at previously are Rome, Florence and (to a lesser extent) Venice. Everywhere else is basically greenfields. I'd like to see lots and lots but I'm conscious of not spending one night here, one night there etc. I'll mostly be catching trains to get around and am starting to consider the idea of breaking train trips up for a few hours by stopping en-route. On the one hand, it will at least give me a glimpse of some cities that I'd otherwise have to bypass. On the other hand, I'm sure it will be very frustrating to have to leave these places after a couple of hours and am also conscious I'll have to be clock-watching a lot of the time.

The towns I'm thinking of treating this way include Bologna, Verona and Padua. But this is more of an in-principle question than one related to a particular city. What are your thoughts - a 2-hour sampler is better than nothing? Or worse?

I should add that staying overnight in any of these towns is not currently an option. I couldn't bear the thought of giving up a night anywhere else!

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