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Where to stay in Lombardy?

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My husband & I continue to work on an itinerary for September 2016. So far, we have: Venice > Bassano Del Grappa > Malcesine on Lake Garda.

Originally, we thought we would drop our car off at Verona, stay a few days and continue on to Milan by train. But after doing some research, Verona did not resonate with us. (Sorry Verona fans!) So, that sent us looking between Lake Garda & Milan in Lombardy, new territory for us.

After a cursory look, we are excited about the possibility of staying for 3 or 4 nights in a town/small city. We are looking for a place that is well-located to explore the surrounding area. We've checked out Cremona (if only to try mostarda di cremona & nougat and to see the town in which violins are crafted), Crema (is there a train station here?) and Mantua (UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Any feedback or insights about these places or suggestions of other towns/small cities to consider would be greatly appreciated! We received some fantastic ideas/suggestions on a question I posted about the Veneto recently. So, I am returning for some ideas about Lombardy!

Thanks!

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