Salutations! I'm a newbie to this whole forum thing, so many, many apologies if I'm not doing this right. Although I've been addicted to travel for most of my (ahem, young-ish) life; it's only in the last couple of years that I've broken away from the group tours and done the 'back door' thing. I'm planning a trip to Italy in October with a friend and am desperate for ideas, hints, advice, etc, etc from any and all experienced travellers. My friend has never been and I'm excited and a wee bit anxious to show her all the wonders of Italy. No pressure there eh? I'm kicking around the idea of Lucca and Florence and then up to Venice. Is this too grand a plan for a weeks stay? Is October a good time? Has anyone tried staying in a monastery? I've seen some books online and wondered if they were worth purchasing. We'd be most interested in b & b's, farmhouses, etc. as our travel notions often have to be checked by our bank accounts. Whew! Well, I think I just broken my own rambling record. Will stop now and give everyone a break. All thoughts welcome!