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Itinerary for Emilia-Romagna & Tuscany

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Hello!

In a couple of months, we (myself, 15 & 11 year old sons) will be leaving for three weeks in Italy. At this point, all I have is the tickets over - flying into Bologna, and out of Pisa 3 weeks later. The trip was motivated by that gap between the end-of-school and beginning-of-camps and the miracle of finding decent airfare from Atlanta over to Europe during the summer.

We have been to Italy a few times before. We were in Rome when they were small, Sicily six years ago, Milan for a week five years ago, then Padua (including Venice day trips) -Assisi-Rome for a total of a bit over three weeks in the fall of 2012. (We've also spent time in France, Spain, Germany Mexico, all over the US - just to give you a sense that these are experienced travelers. And patient, too. They've been dragged to churches and museums since they were babies, and don't complain about that and might even enjoy it once in a while.....)

In theory, I adhere to a Slow Travel philosophy - I say "in theory," because my excitement over seeing All The Things too often gets the best of me and we end up moving about 50% more than I had originally hoped.

BUT NOT THIS TIME! I am really going to try to keep it to three places. Okay, maybe four. No more!

I'm writing this post, not to pose the "WHERE SHOULD WE GO IN TUSCANY?" question, but...

um...where should we go in Tuscany?

(Kidding. Sort of.)

No, I'm starting this thread just to throw ideas out there and see if anyone has any feedback or experiences. I've read through a few pages of "Italy" posts and have bookmarked those of interest.

My initial plan is to park ourselves for a week in Bologna. Day trips to Ravenna, Ferrara, Parma, Modena....maybe a car factory tour or two? I am contemplating the high cost of the food tours and trying to balance the cost/benefit of all that. They would certainly be interested, but I don't know if it's $150 apiece worth of interest. We are *really* looking forward to the food in the region.

Then what? I am not sure, and am starting to sort it out. They've said they would like to go back to Rome - the younger one doesn't have the sharpest memories of it. So I figure, the fast train gets us there in 2 hours, and we can spend three days revisting and seeing some new things. I'd like to go to Ostia Antica - we have been to Pompeii, but more ruins are always good, and my dad, deceased now, went to Ostia and raved.

My plan then is to rent a car outside of the Rome environs and head to Tuscany. At this point, we would have about 10 days left. Florence, Siena, Pisa, hill towns. What I am trying to sort out is...agriturismo or apartment in a town or city? We had a marvelous experience at an agriturismo in Sicily and gite stays in France, so we are up for that, but I also love the freedom they have to wander in these mid-sized and smaller European towns. I don't know if I can get away with just one more stay - I don't think so. But that's what I'm thinking over....and look forward to any input. I know this is vague, but I'd just love to start a conversation about this trip!

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