We spent 16 days in Italy with our 13 and 15 year olds, and had a fabulous time. Started with a couple of days in Venice, renting an apartment in Dorsoduro. Small but functional, and in a great quiet campo. Walked around and got lost a lot. Then to Tuscany for a week in an apartment in Montespertoli, Le Torri, about 30 minutes outside of Florence. This was a great week -- the villa had a pool, and tile floors, and huge windows and thick stone walls -- very traditional Tuscan in feel. We met fun people there, and did a lot of day trips. Our favorites were to Siena and Volterra. We also hiked to Castelvecchio, outside of San Gimignano, to see a ruined town abandoned in the 1300s because of plague. Then to Sorrento for just a couple of days to see Pompeii, which was amazing. We were traveling in mid and late June during the Euro Cup, so joined in the soccer craziness, which was very fun. All the bars and restaurants had the games on their TVs, and people watched and cheered together. Stayed in a bed and breakfast which was ok, not great, but had air conditioning. Very hot there!
Then to Rome for 4 days, staying in a great apartment in Trastevere. We really liked that area, and being away from the crowds. Went to the Colosseum/Forum, Vatican/St. Peter's, and lots of sites related to Caesar and Constantine, because of my 15 year old's interests in ancient Roman history. Things that worked for us: packing light! Everyone had a small rolling carryon bag and a day pack, and it was great. We had a washing machine in all but one place that we stayed, and the laundry dried amazing quickly in the strong sun. gelato every day! The kids really liked seeking out great places trains! While the car was necessary in Tuscany, driving definitely added to our stress. It was great to give up the car and take the trains, which we found to be great. No problems at all on the Circumvesuviana from Naples to Sorrento. eating vegetarian. We're vegetarians and had no problems eating anywhere in Italy. renting apartments. For a family having the extra space was great, they were reasonably priced, and we had kitchens and washing machines. drinking fountains my daughter especially loved finding these all around Italy. We didn't know that there were fountains all around Pompeii to refill water bottles, so had double loaded with water bottles. Next time, I'd just take one each and refill. I'd be happy to answer any questions about what we did or give contact information about the places we stayed.