I only meant to change the question to "where would YOU eat" instead of "where should I eat". I thought this question might be simpler to answer because it doesn't require so much restriction. I am interested in alternate views with differing ideals.
I only ask about location for its relationship to food.
I have done a great deal of research since deciding to travel to Italy, but I did not want to complicate the question with more specific questions.
I thought it might be fun for someone to describe their ideal experience in any italian city. I did not know I was crossing a line with respect to this forum's etiquette and I apologize.
Thanks everyone for such detailed and informational responses.
All of these posts have been fantastic. Because I know so little, every post has been valuable even if off-target from my initial post.
Really, I want to enjoy food, relax, and avoid a highly scheduled and hectic vacation. I don't want to be lazy or avoid an appreciation of culture and history, I just don't want to spend all my time running for trains or spend my money renting cars.
Some of the most interesting replies have been those which suggest a specific schedule. I would like to pose a new challenge which might show me to be lazy and ignorant, but which may also present a unique and interesting challenge to all of you who are so knowledgeable on the topic. Because it is difficult for me to say what I will appreciate and what I will not, I will define my question this way:
Assuming a culinary emphasis and a time frame of a few days to a week (per location), What single city or region would YOU visit?
Basically, design your absolute ideal Italian vacation to ONE basic location, step by step each day. Names of eateries and so on...
If I get some replies, I will simply pick the ones which embody our goals, go to those cities, and follow the proposed plan. Lazy, yes, but I would rather follow educated suggestions than blunder around, confused and wasting time.
Again, thanks for all the fantastic information so far.
My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to europe and I do not want it to be hectic. I don't want to site-see, I don't want to spend much time traveling... all I want to do is relax and eat food.
We would like to focus on Italy with just a few days in France. The trip will either be two or three weeks. What cities are best for long stays and excellent food? My vision is of open air markets and streets full of caffes and restaurants.
I am looking for a place where we can walk out the door every day and start walking, eating and drinking. In three weeks, I would like to limit our trip to only three or four cities maximum. I would really like to allow time to absorb the nature of a place rather than dashing in, looking around, and moving on. What cities in italy are the best for lounging and eating too much?