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Italy with two little ones, Summer 2015

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Hi all,
My husband and I, and our two young boys (ages 4 and 6), will be taking our first trip to Italy next summer. We imagine we will be there 3-4 weeks. Because we are both teachers, late June and July is the earliest we can get that (not ideal, we know!) Based on others advice, we've figured out a few pieces:
1. Rome and Florence don't need to be on our itinerary (based on being packed in the summer and age of our kids)
2. Venice does (based on a life-long desire to go!)
3. We'd like to spend some time by the ocean/ a lake
4. We are more interested in being places where we can just experience life in Italy, rather than hitting all the tourists spots.
5. We don't want to rush between locations,and want to make sure that the boys are not getting fried by trudging them through every last museum :)

So, a simple (but hard!) question: WHERE would you go? Which cities/towns/villages do you think would be most appropriate for a first time ramble with two little boys? We are trying to balance weather, crowds, interests of little boys and keeping the itinerary simple against this being, in many ways, a trip of a lifetime. Difficult!

Thanks for the help.
franchesca

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