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6 weeks in Italy with a toddler!

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Hi everyone. We are trying to organise a trip to Italy and France for around 6 weeks in February/March 2014 with our just-turned-3 year old. We are thinking of staying in a self catered apartment for 4 weeks in Italy (? Near Rome or ? Near Florence) and then 2 weeks in France. We don't want to do the Mecca touristy trip because this would be hard with such a young child. We would love to spend time in a lovely village-like place, get to know the people and culture, still with easy access to the touristy places and public transport. Not thinking of hiring a car. We want to take it pretty easy, but not so easy that we get bored with the surroundings. I am struggling to find suitable locations as I don't know enough about the area. Does anyone have any suggestions or has anyone done something like this recently? Thanking everyone in advance for their helpful comments.