Hi, all terrific TA co-members. This is a first for us, and, although I read and gather great information, I have never asked questions of the board - this seems like an appropriate time. My husband and I are travelling to Italy for the first time in May of 2011; this is also our first time to Europe. Our first week is taken care of - we will be staying in Positano, and visiting some of the surrounding towns as part of our package. I am designing the second week myself, and want to spend 4 nights in the Tuscany region and 4 nights in the Umbria region. We chose those areas mainly to proximity to Rome (although we are not visiting Rome) and because we want to experience the food, wine and culture. We are travelling from Rome to Naples by train to the Amalfi coast, and returning via train to Tuscany, then onward to Umbria, returning to Rome for our flight back.
I'd love to get some feedback on some places to stay. We love the water, so the coastal towns would be preferential in the Tuscany area. We are not visiting the tourist areas on this trip - no Rome, Florence, Venice, etc. We love peace and quiet, are not partiers, and tend not to go out late at night. We also tend to migrate away from crowds, and I love to cook, so a kitchen would be put to good use. (This probably sounds out of the norm a bit, doesn't it?)
Any feedback and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I have already gathered such great info, but more specific suggestions from those who've been there/done that would surely be even more appreciated. Thanks in advance!