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Where to spend February and March in Italy... Low Cost

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I have two professor friends who will be in Germany for Sabbatical April/May/June. Very suddenly, circumstances have changed and they are thinking of being gone February and March as well.

We're brainstorming a village or area that would be good to look into hanging out for those months, low cost, doing work. Sicily they say - but suddenly looking at lists of VRBO it's all so overwhelming and worrisome that in Winter it would be a ghost town.

Some access to internet is important
Availability of simple enough apartment (2 parents, 2 kids)
Some shops and restaurants available in Winter
Might be nice not to have to have a car for everything

I suggested the Lucca Area - perhaps a little more going on... but without finding some deals on a longer term apartment it won't be feasible.

I wish it were me, but I love thinking about the travel so much that I'm invested in helping them figure it out.

Just seeking ideas....

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