Subject: Re: Italy help please

In my opinion, Pompeii is worth a visit if you are in the area but we've been to Italy many times, visited Pompeii over 20 years ago and wouldn't bother with it again. Why not rent a car for the day and head up into Umbria? Spoleto is about 1-1/2 hour drive north of Rome and it's a charming town to walk around in and eat a great lunch.

Not sure if you will be driving or training from Venice but you have a couple of options. You can drive the eastern coast and as Gail has suggested stop in Ravenna (it's a marvel), then turn inland toward Bologna (great food in that town). Or you could drive west to Verona and explore the town and wine region around it. In the Veneto area you may want to visit the Serego Alighieri winery. It's been around since the mid-14th century, first acquired by the son of Dante. We met one of the descendants of the family during an Italian wine-tasting here in Toronto a few years back. She was utterly charming and invited us to visit the winery and stay with the family in the small hotel operated on the site.

As for the Siena leg, as you plan to rent a car, whatever direction you head in, you can't go wrong. Head south to the area around Montepulciano. Check a map of Italy to see where Gubbio is located. If it's on your route, I'd suggest you stop there. The area south of Siena is beautiful countryside to explore and you can spend the better part of a day (weeks or months actually) meandering through the area.

Don't discount Cinque Terre. You can drive north from Siena and spend a full day exploring. We had heard countless stories about how difficult it is to get around the area and found that this isn't so. The highway will lead you to the secondary roads and, yes, they are winding and take some patience but you are on holiday so relax and enjoy the scenery as you manoeuvre around. We have found the Italian highway system to be excellent, particularly in the areas that you plan to explore. If you miss Cinque Terre it's only one other reason to return to Italy in the future.

Looking forward to your Italian journey report.

Lucy, Toronto