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London and which area(s) of Italy??

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My husband and I are starting to plan a trip to Europe this summer (I know, worst time to go lol… but we’re both teachers and it makes no sense to plan a trip during the year when we have some of the summer to go; either last week in June into first week of July, or 1st two weeks in August).

We decided on London (because while I’ve never been to Europe, my husband has been several times- Barcelona, Paris, Lyon, Nice, Geneva, Florence, Venice, Milan, Rome- and I thought he should get to pick a place he’s never been) and Italy (location TBD because of details below). We would like to go between 10 and 14 days (depending on how well we can budget).

Reason for TBD Italy Location: Husband has been to the major Italian cities; he has no input. For me, this is serving as the big trip before we have kids. That being said, I am touring with my chorus students in February 2015 with the following intinerary:

Florence- 2.5 days ½ day rest when we get there, 1 day seeing Baptistery Doors, Duomo, Piazza Della Signoria, Santa Croce, timed visit to the Accademia, free time for afternoon and most of evening; 1 day Siena for Duomo and Piazza del Campo, San Gimignano, and a concert in Lucca

Rome- 3.5 days- ½ day at Colosseum after we settle in and free time; 1 day attending weekly papal audience and singing for Pope, afternoon is spent at Piazza Navona, followed by dinner and performance at Piazza Navona; 1 day visiting Pompeii in the morning and early afternoon, free time and dinner in Rome; 1 day visiting Vatican City with Vatican Museums, Sistene Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and final concert at nearby church.

As a result, there are things I’m going to see on tour that I don’t necessarily need to see while on vacation with my husband. However, since it will probably be at least a little while until we come back by ourselves (I’m determined to travel with my kids but I know there are a lot of different elements involved with that), I still want to get as much of a real “feel” of Italy while we’re there. I want some major things to see, while still getting a very local feel at times.

Some places I’m considering are:

Florence and Tuscany – I’m technically going there already with my students, but I want to spend more time seeing things like Piazzale Michelangelo, the Uffizi Gallery, spending more time at Accademia, Cupola del Brunelleschi, people watching and exploring the city and places like Ponte Vecchio and Boboli Gardens; plus spend a few days in more rural, quaint villages in Tuscany… go bike riding, wine tasting, just walk around etc.

Cinque Terre- My friend showed me this area and it looked GORGEOUS not sure if we should be spending our whole time there, but it looks like a fun area to explore
Lake Como (or a cheaper equivalent lol) and/or Italian Dolomites- Not sure how it is during the summer, but I thought it would be cool to be so close to the Alps and do some sightseeing

I was thinking about 5 full days in London, including a day trip to Stonehenge and/or Dover, a full day to travel between London and Italy, and then ideally hitting one or two places in Italy (depending how close they are). We want to see a lot of stuff, but not feel overly rushed and also have some time to meander and actually enjoy the vacation!

Any suggestions on how to make this work for 14 days (obviously we’re flying open-jaw)? If we had to make it 10-12 days, any suggestion how to pare it down? We know we can’t hit everything on this trip so we’re not even go to try- just enjoy as much as we can with the time we have. Also, any input on taking the train from London to Italy? Is it cheaper than a plane? More or Less? Thanks in advance!

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