|Subject: Re: Seeking opinions on Italy itinerary|
Having been to Italy only once, and spending roughly the same amount of time, I'd say you're going to be way too tired; and spending a LOT of time driving! For instance, the drive from Como to "Tuscany" (depending where) could be 3 hours, or closer to 5! Doing it in the heat of July won't be much fun either, (despite AC). Having driven in Italy, I can tell you that driving in Tuscany will be fine, but in major urban centres it's hell!
I highly recommend train travel. It's faster, less stressful, and will get you into the centre of town, often within walking distance of decent hotels (See Don and Linda's numerous Italy travelogues! They're a wealth of informaton!).
It may be too late, but frankly, I'd start over, and do Venice, Florence, spend a chunk of time in Tuscany (here a car is ok); use a B&B or Farm stay; we stayed at La Casalta (http://www.casalta.com ) which was very central in Tuscany, and anywhere you want to go is under 90 minutes away (mind you we were there in April, I can't vouch for traffic in the summer). From there I'd move on to Rome and be done.
As for your agents notion of pre-booking tours, it may be a blessing in disguise. I'd generally agree with you, that a concierge should be helpful for last minute bookings, but you're talking about peak tourist season, and any concierge is in the end only human. I'd be inclined to keep bookings that you consider 'must sees', and chance the rest last minute...just my opinion.
Enjoy your trip. Personally, I can't wait to go back to Italy.
John Wiernikowski Hamilton, ON, CANADA