We were two families (4 grown-ups) travelling with a total of five kids (age 6, 11, 12, 13 and 14). We stayed four days in Rome and one week in Cortona at the end of June/beg. of July 2009
We rented two apartments in a back street to Via del Governo Vecchio, right behind Piazza Navona - in the heart of Rome - with walking distance to everything. Phenomenal location and spacey apartments. The only thing missing was a roof terrace. The landlords were extremely helpfull with everything. Apartments, Palazzo Olivia
We spent four days in Rome. Visited Colosseum, Forum Romanum, St Pete's basilica where we went to the top of the tower (but skipping the Vatican Museum), the Pantheon, fontana di Trevi, the Spanish steps, piazza Navona and Campo dei Fiori.
Basilica di San Pietro
Climbing the stairs to the cuppola of st Pete's cathedral
Romulus, Remus and the she-wolf
Piazza del Campidoglio created by Michelangelo
We had a memorable lunch at Ristorante del Pallaro (near Campo dei Fiori) http://www.frommers.com/destinations/rome/D33589.html. The inexpensive restaurant has a set menu of antipasti, pasta, main dish and desert, served by the sweet old couple that owns the restaurant. House wine comes with the food. The kids loved it.
We had pizza at La Bafetto - best pizza in Rome - where you have to wait in line and feel lucky when you're seated. (You can buy the cute wine carafes from the restaurant). http://www.igougo.com/dining-reviews-b142735-Rome-Pizzeria_Bafetto.html
We had lunch at cafe Gina, by the Spanish steps, they only have tables inside, but the people watching is still great, young Romans go to this place. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d970195-Reviews-GiNa-Rome_Lazio.html
But mostly we had our meals at neighborhood trattorias and pizzerias where the kids could easily go back to the apartments to do their stuff.
Tuscany - Cortona
We rented two cars in Rome and headed for Cortona, Tuscany (South-East in Tuscany) where we had rented a villa for a week.
Cortona is the little town featured in the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun". It is is situated on a hill top from where you can see the whole world, and it has everything a little Tuscan town should have, including history, cobbled streets, cafes, restaurants and it even has an old movie theatre (cinema paradiso...).
Our stone house was a typical Tuscan farm house, a twenty minute scenic walk from Cortona center.
Our Tuscan dream house
View from the house
Mr. Lapo and his wife own the villa, and the land is part of their farm. Lapo makes his own olive oil, wine, cheese and ham, and grow fruits and vegetables, which he gladly shared with us. Lapo is such a great character, we will never forget the way he and his family made us feel so welcome.
Mr Lapo - with his home made cheese and ham and prunes from his garden
Mikkel with Mr Lapo's donkey (who lived in the garden)
Partying with the Lapo's
The most memorable night was when the Lapo family threw us a party. They fired up the pizza oven and made amazing pizza, grilled the best salsici and served us his home made wine etc.
The kids enjoyed the pool - night and day
The people of Cortona liked to party; there seemed to be some kind of event every night (spettacolo).
Visiting other parts of Tuscany
Although we mostly just wanted to stay around the house, and spend the nights in Cortona. We took a road trip and visited Sienna and San Gimignano - which were both amazingly beautiful places.
Lunch at our house was probably the peak of the day - enjoying Tuscan food, and the view.