As crowded as places have become, I've come to conclude that nailing
down all our accommodations long in advance results in greater
freedom. While I'm in Europe, I want to be relaxing with a glass of
wine, strolling old streets, and enjoying my time there. The last
thing I want to do is spend precious hours on my vacation searching
for rooms, comparing, checking them out, etc. Some folks are happy
"winging it" but I'm done with that.
Amen to that, David/Seattle!
As much as I'd like to do this--let's call it spontaneous travel--I like to have a plan, and a nice pillow to rest my head at night.
Now--I'm a big fan of the 'base', whether it be Rome, Florence, Salerno, Sorrento, wherever. And from there, I try to leave it as blank a canvas as possible, decide on the day of what to do. This last time in Rome, over a week's time we had a 'Skip The Line' thing for St. Peter's scheduled one day, but other than that it was check our travel books & notes in the morning while eating breakfast at our apartment, figuring out what to do, how to get where we wanted to go, and if we could fit a couple things in on the same route.
Then we'd leave, walk to the bus stop, and off we'd go with our weekly bus/Metro pass in tow. Who cares if we'd get lost? We had a good map to get us back to the apartment, and even if our destinations were a bust, it was still better than being home, and the busts usually ended up being a good story anyway.