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Mom + 2 teens needs help asap with trip to Florence, Tuscany, Istria, Malta

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We have had a travel opportunity come up quickly, with unchangeable (but free) flights into Florence arriving 18 July and departing Venice 1 August. During our visit, one of the teenagers will attend a camp in Istria from 23 July to 30 July, during which time other teenager and I will fly to Malta for 4 days (Ryanair flights already booked).

I am looking for Italy experts to suggest an itinerary for our first five days, the 18th through 22nd of July (we land early on 18 July and must be in Istria, rural location so need car for that) by morning of 23 July. We love history, museums and archeological sites more than anything, so Florence is a definite must at the start, but should we then tool around Tuscany (where? Pisa?) or head on up to Venice for a day or so, or just get on over to Istria for a couple of days? Such mixed opinions on Venice! While I love natural beauty and great food, and teen daughter loves beaches, we all three are obsessed with historical sites so that is the priority.

In addition, if there are any Malta experts out there, would appreciate thoughts on hotels and a 4 day itinerary. I promise that I am doing research and reading other posts, but need a heavy hand and strong opinions given this late planning.

Would appreciate advice on train versus rental car for various legs of the journey, and hotel suggestions as well. Because we leave in a week, I need the Fodors' experts to jump in and do their thing. This is the best site I have ever found!

Thank you!

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