Subject: Re: Advice on Italy
Hi Mark.

Mark A. Schwartzman said about his forthcoming trip to Italy:

We will spend probably 3 or 4 days in Rome, so that only leaves about 9 days for the rest of the trip. I am trying to decide on either Venice and the Emilia-Romagna region, or Naples and the Amalfi Coast, because I do not think I will have enough time to do justice to both.

I think you are quite right in choosing, which will allow you to take in the sights with some leisure, rather than attempting to do both.

We have been to all three areas (Emilia-Romanga needs be separated from the Veneto or land area surrounding Venice). We were in the Veneto last year and plan to return to Naples this year. I started writing this to suggest the Veneto over Naples with Emilia Romagna lagging), but wound up completely conflicted between the first two.

The Veneto has several wonderful cities besides Venice that are easy trips: Padua (our favorite for its academic history), Verona, Vincenza, and, what was the total surprise of last year, Bassano del Grappa. Personally, I like all of them better than Venice, and most would agree that you get more bang for your buck, especially regarding food and lodging, outside of Venice. Obviously, though, you don't tire of Venice that easily, especially if you get outside Piazza San Marco.

Naples, in turn, also has Pompeii, Herculaneum, Positano, The Amalfi Coast, Capri (and perhaps Ischia), the archeological museum, and Sorrento, among others. If you want to go further South, there is Paestum. You can easily spend at least a half a day at each of the excavation sight and the Museum, although most choose Pompeii, at least for a first trip. Capri was fun. The Amalfi Coast is awesome. I found Amalfi itself rather touristy. We are going to spend a bit more time in Sorrento than we previously did, but it too is primarily a tourist Mecca (albeit a wonderful one). Also, many of these sights can be taken in fairly quickly--most of the thrill of the Amalfi Coast comes from the trip itself, with apologies to Positano. Naples itself has great food (try Brandi's and have a dessert down the street at the famous Caffe Gambrinus). The bay is beautiful (but sorely and visibly polluted).

When you mentioned Emilia-Romagna, I thought of Bologna. We took a day trip a couple of years ago but picked a day when most things were closed. I still don't understand why since it was neither a Monday nor a holiday, but we will try it again.

To further confuse the issue, what did you see of your previous trip to Tuscany? IMHO it has far more than Emilia-Romagna. Did you go to Siena or the other till towns? Personally, none of us in my family can ever tire of Florence itself.

Don't think of this as possibly making a wrong choice. You can only make right ones and come back later to complete the task!

Ira Bernstein Dallas, Texas