I am planning a 2014 trip to Italy and am in the very preliminary phases. We will be traveling with my 8 year old son and 15 year old daughter. We're thinking 10-14 days as we want to see as much as we can but need to be cognizant of work schedules. We just did a 10 day London/France trip that went incredibly smooth so I'm hoping I can plan a similar Italy trip.
I'm thinking of flying to Rome. Staying there for 3 days and then taking the train to Florence and staying there 2 days. From there, I want to rent a car and drive to a Villa where we can spend 5-7 days exploring Tuscany and potentially the Italian Riviera or Cinque Terre area. Not really sure but think that the kids may like the coast and the slower pace of Tuscany after exploring 2 cities.
I was really set on staying in Siena as I've heard great things but in looking at the maps, it looks like the best place to stay is in and around Lucca because it's within driving distance to Sienna but also within driving distance to the Italian Riviera towns. Also want to see Pisa just because I need to see the tower :)
What do you think? Is Lucca a good base or should I look in the Siena area because it will be nicer?
Is Cinque Terre even worth seeing? Or should I just spend the remaining 5 days exploring the Tuscan hill towns?
Finally, if we end up staying in a hill town, is it better to stay in the town itself (and forget about a pool) and worry about parking or stay in a country villa where we will have to drive to the different hill towns but will have a pool? We are going in June/July.
To be honest, a pool is not necessary as we have other vacations planned that are all about pool/beach but thought that having a pool and visiting a beach town might break up some of the heavy sightseeing we plan to do in the bigger cities.
Any insight will be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance for your help!