THANK YOU for compiling Zoe's posts! In a few months I will be beginning to plan a trip to Italy next year. My oldest daughter is coming with me - her first time to Europe.
Here's some comments from Zoe on the private messages we shared about a trip I was planning to Italy. My favorite comment she said in one of our notes back & forth was this one: "Dining alone: restaurants are used to single diners, and Italy wants to feed you, so dine the way you like. " When I felt self-conscious on that first solo trip eating alone, I would think of Zoe's "Italy wants to feed you" comment, and it made me smile.
Sounds like a fabulous trip!
I like Hotel Piccolo Puccini in Lucca - my room looked out on a statue of Puccini in the little piazza below, which had lots of restaurants and bars around it, but got quiet enough at night. I think breakfast was not included, but they offer it for a small charge (or it was small three years ago). Lots of churches, great shopping (excellent olive oil), and The Wall. I could have lived on that wall!
I also prefer the anonymity of hotels, but I have stayed at a few B&Bs that were excellent and not too intrusive, if you know what I mean. So that's kind of a toss-up for me. Location has become more important to me.
Having tours, concerts and opera gives you a reason to be out at night, I sometimes retire too early because I don't have an evening plan. But if my lodging is well-located, I can at least pop out for a coffee or cocktail in the evening.
Do you have a hotel in Milano? I like Hotel Berna, but usually opt for Hotel Garda because it's so much cheaper! Try to go to the Duomo roof, and to Castello Sforzesco museum.
Your packing list looks great, too. Each year I scale back by one piece of something, sometimes more. I travel for 90-100 days, so I take a rain jacket, three pair of trousers, five tops, one very light sweater or pashmina, an extra pair of shoes, and a week+1 day of undies and socks.
I hope you keep in touch!