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1 week in Italy- where to stay and visit

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We need ideas from experienced traverers who are familiar with Italy. We are 2 friends, (ladies traveling without their husbands), in our 40's, who enjoy adventure more than shopping, natural sights more than paintings, and walking or jogging more than taking a taxi. Neither one of us have ever been to Italy. We will be staying in timeshare accomodations, which will limit us to staying at the same location for the entire week. We need a central location that would be convenient to public transportation, while having the capability of visiting the attractions that are only available in Italy. We are looking for suggestions on what month would be appropriate (in 2013), as well as a location to stay and places to be sure to visit.
According to what I've read so far, it seems that Florence may be an appropriate central location, since it appears that there are trains available for travel to Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Pisa and maybe even Milan. We would prefer not to rent a car, but could if there were few other options.

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