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7 days spare in Italy, any suggestions?

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We have set our sights on a 3 week (not including travel time) family holiday in Italy in September.

With tips and hints from well travelled friends (and great suggestions from Fodorians) we have set aside a week for Rome (in an apartment) and a week in Lucca (also in an apartment within the walled part).

So now we are (again) asking for suggestions; we have been advised that not to go 'south' with a vague comment about safety. Please reply with your experiences here or any travel advice.

We do anticipate travelling through our stomachs through Italy (eating everything as we go) and we are all interesting in ancient sights.

We are in discussions about pompeii and its 'sister' sites....

advice please, we are a family of three (DS would be 13 when we travel) and like to be self guided, we wont be hiring a car and we do like basic to intermediate walks and being in the outdoors. Museums are of interest (depending on the attention of a 13 year old) and food and history and interaction with locals/being involved in everyday life, which is why we rented apartments so far....

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