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Your favorites: Italy: specifically Rome, Florence, and Venice

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Please list your favorites (attractions, museums, churches, paintings, activity, restaurant/food spot, shopping/flea markets, antique, etc.). It can be anything! I just want more than the guidebooks seem to give. I am going with my best childhood friend (we are females in our mid-40's) to Italy for the first time. It is her first trip over the pond from the US and my 4th trip to Europe (first trip to Italy). We will be in Italy March 17th-31st, 2015.

We have 13 full sight seeing days (with the exception of travel time from Rome to Florence and then on to Venice. We are flying open jaw. I love paintings, gardens, antique shopping, and history. She loves hiking, cooking, and shopping.

Tell me your favorites please. It doesn't matter if they fall within our interests. I have scoured these boards and read my guide books. There is enough to do there to last months/years. We will visit the obvious places and I can't wait! But sometimes someone mentions something like a particular wine, or a street that was amazing and I would like to see a few of those too.

Thanks so much for reading! I appreciate any responses!

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