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I'm not a big traveler and this trip would be a once-in-a-lifetime as we plan on taking our mothers (ages 78 and 84, both in excellent health) with us as well as our kids (15 and 12).

Very brave!

I'll start out, but I'm sure many will disagree with my view.

I wouldn't spend 7 days in Rome -- I liked it well enough, but really feel there are many, many other "must-see" places in Italy.

So, for me: perhaps 4 days in Rome, perhaps 4 in Sorrento (with easy day trips to Pompeii, Naples, Capri, Sicily, Amalfi Coast -- Note that I'm not suggesting that you "hit" all of these, but they're possibilities), 3-4 days in Venice. That's 11 and perhaps you'd be interested in a couple of days near Florence (perhaps staying in Montecatini) or Milan or Siena or Bolgna or a day or 2 getting a glimpse of the Italian Alps.

My favorite guidebooks are the Eyewitness Guides. They run $20 and give a wonderful overview of a country with terrific pictures. They don't go into a lot of detail about restaurants and hotels, but that can wait until you decide where you're going (IMHO).






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