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50th Birthday for 6 gal-pals. Trying to find base-camp in Italy.

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My husband and I have been to all of the big cities in Italy, and most of the medium-sized. We did a week in Tuscany (Greve/Strada) for my 40th and now I want to go somewhere in Italy for my 50th and take 5 or 6 gal-pals along. We won't do any sunbathing, we all love to shop and eat good food and would love great views and the ease of day-trips. We've done the Tuscany thing (going to Sienna, Montepulciana, Florence) and would like to explore other areas. We're going to Piedmonte next Fall, so I don't want to do that again.
I've considered the Amalfi Coasat (again) because of the ease of the hydrofoil going to different towns. Any ideas from my Fodorites?
I've also considered Paris and taking day trips to other areas....or Madrid (which I personally love) and doing a few train trips.
I'm have a lot of ideas but feel that maybe someone has done this before and has other good ideas. We're looking for a house that sleeps 6, preferably separate bedrooms; may end up with just four of us going..

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