I recommend you travel by train - regardless of what you'll see. . . .
It's economical. Get a Eurailpass. It's NOT Amtrak. It's on time and clean.
When I lived there I went everywhere on weekends . . . by train. I could leave Wiesbaden (Germany - just outside FRA
) and be in Paris for sun-up (or Copenhagen, or Munich, or Madrid, or Vienna . . . you get the idea). Since you'll be in Italy, the overnight travel to another destination might take a night and a short morning.
Most of these major European cities have train stations in the airports. Just hop off there and take your photos.
Don't miss seeing a castle - a real castle. For the Europeans, it's no big deal, they live there - kinda like moose and bears for us Alaskans. If there is time a river cruise in Germany up the Rhine. Can't beat that. There are day cruises. Copenhagen is a beautiful city. Madrid is awesome. In Barcelona, there is this Cathedral - been under construction for 200 years. In Portugal, the home of Port wine. In Germany, wine country. Make sure to see Paris.
What can I tell you - if you've the time see everything you can see. Get some guides from "Lonely Planet" where they'll list hostels and cheaper places to stay . . . .you could always book your travel so you're on a train at night - asleep - and visting during the day . . .
Always look up a local Mom and Pop place to sleep or eat. . . 100% better than the big hotels and chain eateries. In Germany ask "haben sie ein zwie-zimmer frie?" . . . "got a double room free".
Enjoy the food. The food is the best . . . well, okay, the scenery is the best, well, okay, the scenery is the best . . .as you can see I am confused. . . .
Europe is a fantastic place. Get all you can.
Too many possibilities . . . I envy your trip . . .
[Edited 2005-02-05 10:22:09]
FOR THOSE THAT FOUGHT FOR IT, FREEDOM HAS A FLAVOR THE PROTECTED WILL NEVER KNOW OR UNDERSTAND