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Val d'orcia alternatives in July?

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Hi
we are visiting Italy for 4 weeks in July (2A2C aged 10 and 7) and we were originally going to spend a week in this area, but I am wondering if there is a quieter, more off the beaten track alternative? (looking at Umbria or le Marche or even Santa Maria Ligure)

We love to travel and are looking to explore Italian towns, eat, and just enjoy the Summer in Italy but preferably not while elbowing our way through the crowds and queuing to enter a popular picturesque town.

Am I overreacting to the possible crowd/peak season/heat situation? we come from a tropical climate in Australia so we are happy to escape our Winter and like the water weather.

Our itinerary may also include:

Rome 7 nights
Val d'Orcia or ??? 7 nights
* Lucca 5 nights
* Verona 5 nights
* Varenna/Orta 5 nights (maybe a combination of this area)
Milan 1 night

* we normally stay a week in each place so my personal feeling is that this will be a bit rushed...

We are also considering Venice and would stay in the Dorsoduro area, but I also have qualms about visiting this area in the Summer...

I would love any opinions on our itinerary please. DH and I have been to Italy before but it was pre children and 15 years ago. I speak Italian, albeit rusty, and we like to slow travel, stay in apartments and just soak in the area we are in, we have highlights we want to see and experience in all of these areas so other than Rome we are pretty flexible.

Our children do not need amusement parks, or child-centred activities that some seem to require, we are all just very excited to be in Italy and trust that whatever we do and wherever we go we will have a blast.

Thanks so much, I have been reading all the TR's and threads which is why I am changing my mind from our original ideas to explore the less touristy version of this gorgeous country.

We also do not want to venture South of Rome this trip.

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