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Winter 2016. 6+ weeks. More rural than urban with car - where? (LONG)

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We usually leave Toronto for the winter - going somewhere different every year. It seems every other year we are somewhere in Europe. We were unable to travel in Winter 2015 due to health issues (and of course it was the coldest bloody winter in Toronto since the year Dot).

We're determined to go away this year but Richard's recovery from his knee replacement surgery has been slower than expected (perhaps our expectations were a bit optimistic). It means we're wise to shape our travel style around his current mobility (and any improvements will be a bonus).

Ordinarily we would spend several weeks in a town/city in an apartment and explore it - then spend a few weeks on the road with a rental car exploring the countryside. This year we will likely have a car the entire time and stay rural. That way we can drive right up to a rental villa and do day trips from there. (driving is fine for him - walking is coming more slowly - committing to being in a town right now would be a major mistake. And we love day trips - happy to go up to 90 minutes in one direction)

We'll keep it flexible and possibly add time in a city if Richard's mobility improves closer to departure (and traveling at that time of year it's easy to book at the last minute). Right now I'm trying to decide on our broad geography.

Note we do not mind resort/beachy places in the off season - we're used to towns being quiet - and the best restaurants are the ones still open in the off season we've found. Overall flatter terrain is likely better than a massive number of hill towns for our day trips. Also weather isn't a huge deal - above freezing is our hope and not too rainy (that last part is a wish but often the reality of winter we realize)

Following are considerations:

Italy:

- we've spent a lot of time north of Rome ... love it but would like a different area
- have recently spent time in Sardinia so also not on the list
- Sicily is a consideration although we spent over a month there in a similar fashion
- Puglia is also a consideration - have spent some time there but its geography is large and we did love it
- probably the most serious contender right now is Calabria/Basilicata - other than two nights in Tropea haven't spent any time there
- Up the east coast - Pescara etc? Have never been but weather might be a consideration

France:

- Nice area? Maybe base near Menton and we could travel into Italy for day trips/overnights? Know the area well from multiple trips but never have had extended time there
- we loved Corsica - spent a week there in January a few years ago. It's a consideration for at least part of the time and could twin well with Nice/et al
- Provence/Burgundy/Dordogne - also know these areas well from multiple trips but not extended stays - a consideration

Spain/Portugal

- Southern Spain - base in/near Malaga? This is the hardest one I think. We were booked to go to Spain and Portugal this year and we had to cancel it. Our itinerary was full of the wonderful sites in Southern Spain (Alhambra, etc) and I just don't know if we will be able to visit them right now. And I don't want to add pressure/stress by having all these wonderful sites so nearby. I think it will wait
- same thing with Portugal - we had a great itinerary in Lisbon and north but it's very hilly and not a practical choice for us - I think?

Croatia:

- spent over a month there in March 2012 in a similar way with a car - loved it

UK

- haven't spent any time in the UK for years - I suppose the most significant barrier we see is cost. The Canadian dollar is so weak versus the Pound. Also rainy weather is a bit of a consideration.

If you're still reading - thanks!

Any suggestions most appreciated.

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