Northern Italy's cities are so rich in culture and heritage that it's difficult to know where to start. Read some Stendhal, Théophile Gautier and Paul Morand if you need help deciding. Cinema fans should make sure to stop in Venice. With its labyrinth of canals, Venice is breathtaking the first time you see it, and remains accessible thanks to the numerous affordable hotels situated around Mestre, which is at most 4 miles from the Grand Canal. Want to go shopping? Head to Milan which embraces new trends long before anywhere else. And don't forget Tuscany and the Lombard Lakes for a good bite to eat and a break from the city.