We recently started a thread on this site about the difficulties in selecting an escorted tour/custom vacations tour company for a proposed trip to Italy after hearing horror stories from friends about their experiences with various companies. Would it be realistic to plan such a trip on our own? We have planned our own trips to national parks in the US and Canada, but have been reluctant to do so for one to a country in Europe. Any suggestions, recommendations, ideas, or thoughts? We would be especially interested in hearing from folks who have planned such a trip on their own and their experiences - good or bad - that we could profit from should we decide to take this route.