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Italy in July - how to get away from the heat and the crowds....

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Hi,

My partner and I are beginning to plan a trip to Italy next summer (2013). We'd be spending the whole month of July there (her work schedule does not allow another time of year to travel). I've been to Italy twice before and have visited Rome, Florence, Venice, the Amalfi Coast and Lake Como. She has been once before but when she was a kid and it was just a quick 2 days in each of Florence and Venice.

We have a couple "for sures" that are already on the itinerary - Rome and the Amalfi Coast (Praiano) because I know people in those areas. We'll likely do 5 days in each of those places. Also, we'll be visiting Catanzaro down in Calabria because my partner's father grew up there and she'd like to see his home town outside Catanzaro. So that's likely another 5 days, bringing us to about 15 out of 30 days accounted for.

For the remaining time, I'd like to find us somewhere away from the crowds and, as much as is realistically possible, the heat. We'd like to visit no more than 3 places during those two weeks, ideally two - neither of us likes moving around too much.

We like to eat (a lot!), drink wine (that too!), are both interested in history, culture and (to a slightly lesser degree) art. We both like being near water, given that we don't see much of it living here in the Canadian prairies. We're in our thirties and fairly active, however we're equally good at passing long afternoons just sitting in cafes or bookstores :) Given all this and what Italy has to offer, I'm pretty sure we'll enjoy wherever we choose, but since I have some time and love to research and plan, I'm trying to gather as many options as possible before we have to decide in the next few months and book our flights (going on points so have to book by fall).

I've always wanted to visit Chianti (my time in Florence was too short to get out into the countryside) so I've been looking at agriturismi near Greve and Castellina as those towns seem smaller and a bit less touristed. Other possible destinations include Lake Orta and the Cinque Terre. I had also thought about Matera and possibly Sicily, but it seems like the heat in the south would be pretty unbelievable at that time of year. Using public transportation for at least part of the trip is preferred, however I recognize that for some destinations a car would be needed, and that's fine too.

So, any recommendations of places to visit, or comments on the places I'm pondering?

Many thanks in advance!

Amanda

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