Err -- how about a Minolta CLE? Aperture priority autoexposure, and full manual control. It has the 40mm lines for your 40mm lens. Nice viewfinder, very clear RF patch. I have a CLE, M2 and M3 -- OK, the Minolta isn't a Leica per se, but it is smaller, easier to carry, has the framelines you want, and fits your budget.
Terrific idea, for all the reasons mentioned by the OP.
If you're just going to leave it in Italy anyway, why not. Not that an M6 or MP is terribly hard to carry on a trip anyway, but if that's your thing then this fits the bill.
"Never criticize someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. That way, you're a mile away and you've got their shoes."