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Italy: 12 Days Itinerary Suggestion Wanted: With 8 and 6 year old daughters

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We are planning our first ever trip to Italy (and first ever to any European destination together as a family) at the end of june 2014: 25 June through 8 Jul. Want suggestions for a relaxing vacation in Italy. I am currently thinking of doing Rome, Florence and Venice. Nothing set in stone yet only thing is that we have booked our flight: fly in and out of Rome from San Francisco.

1.Keep my daughters reasonably engaged,happy and interested through the entire trip.
2. Also want us (me, my wife and kids) to relax/indulge and experience countryside and Tuscany village(s).

* Which cities/places/hotels/villas can be recommended to stay in Rome, Florence (or any surrounding cities) and Venice? Particularly that are family/kids friendly. Can we rent a villa with a pool in one of the town/village in Tuscany area - would that be too expensive for single family?
* Is Venice must? Can we simply do 4-5 days in Rome and rest in Florence/Tuscany area?
* What could be good locations/places/day trips to visit apart from these three big cities in this 12 day visit?
* After doing some initial research - thinking of traveling between cities by train. Is there a need to rent a car if we want to experience Tuscany/Florence area?
* Is end of June/First week of July too hot to roam/walk around?

Thank you!

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