I'm going to Italy for the first time this Friday. It's the vacation of my dreams. I'm flying into Rome, where I'll stay 4 days, and then I am going to travel around Italy, without a pre-planned itinerary, until September 27th, when I'm supposed to be in Milan, for my flight back.
I have read a lot about the country and the tourist spots to visit and take pictures, but since I can pretty much go anywhere, I was wondering if you would have suggestions of special places to visit. I'm sure there are many picturesque locations that are off the beaten path, and which could make my trip even more magical. I'd also appreciate suggestions for the best neighborhoods to stay in major cities. I'm thinking of establishing "base camps" in certain regions. Like, stay in a hotel in Florence for a few days, and use the time to also visit Siena, Pisa, Lucca, Cinque Terre, etc.
One more thing: I find the best part of traveling is in trying out the local cuisine. I was wondering if you guys would be so kind as to recommend some nice places to go. All I'm looking for are nice places with good food. I really want to avoid the tourist trap, and I loathe having to ask the hotel concierge for help, for I invariably end up in overpriced, mediocre places.