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Rome early October 2014

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Sister and I, mid 50's in age, planning first European trip of 7-9 days to Rome with 1-2 other cities added. Want to minimize flying time and make the most of our leisurely touring style. Considering a vacation rental in Rome, renting a car and touring via day trips beyond Rome. Of course, we'll purchase in advance guided tours of Vatican and other attractions in Rome and elsewhere. Also looking at at hotels and rail travel between stops A and B with return flight from our second stop. Our travel style stateside is to immerse ourselves in the culture of a community, staying a few days in the same place to experience the touristy stuff and the local style at a relaxed pace. Shopping, museums, restaurants, parks, sports, long drives into countryside....a little of it all, ideally.
Rome with day trip to Florence? Rome with train to Venice for 2-3 days and flight home from there? Any experiences or suggestions??

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