I'm an older woman who has been to Italy three times for about three months total, and I love the place. I didn't start taking italian until I went there for a month the first time. I knew a few phrases having studied up a bit before I went.
At this point, if I had the wherewithal, I'd still pick Italy since I've never gotten enough of it.
My cousin was an exchange student in Italy a long time ago, and still is friends with the student that stayed with my cousin's family in Los Angeles. I get that being an exchange student isn't what you are talking about, am just mentioning another person who liked it when she was a teen.
On the other hand, I've always wanted to go to Spain and have read a lot about it over the years. The most recent and useful book I've read is Giles Tremlett's Ghosts of Spain, a book that might have more than you want to know with an emphasis on what might not now be your interest; it filled in a lot of blanks for me. He's a writer for The Guardian newspaper, their spanish correspondent. I probably know as much spanish as you know italian, but I can read it (more or less) with a dictionary nearby for help. Anyway, I expect I'd love Spain.