|Subject: Re: Italy|
You wrote that you would enjoy being in some of Italy's larger cities, but would like to avoid tourist traps. Italy is visited by many tourists, but since all of its attractions are of great historic, artistic, or natural beauty, I would not call even the most visited church or museum a tourist trap.
In my mind, a tourist trap is something manufactured on purpose to entice travelers. This can hardly be said of any of the things travelers like to do in Italy.
That said, I am sure each of us here has a favorite destination in Italy. I personally love Venice and think it is just about the most magical place imaginable. A nearby city that I also greatly enjoy is Verona.
My husband just chimed in to say that you shouldn't miss Florence. A trip that begins in Venice, takes you to Verona, then perhaps Florence, and maybe a day or two in Siena, with perhaps Padua or Bologna on your way back to Venice would certainly more than fill 12 days.
I urge you to do a little research and find some places that intrigue you. A trip from California to Italy is a large undertaking and a little research in guidebooks and websites will make it much more worthwhile.
One piece of reading that helped me recently on my fourth visit to Rome was the City Secrets book. I believe they are also available for Venice and Florence, but I'm not entirely sure. Before I invest in too many guidebooks, I often visit the library to start my reading.
Ziners are a great mine of information, and the more specific your questions, the more likely you are to get helpful answers.
Happy Thanksgiving, Debbie in Pittsburgh