Q. We want to book a relaxing summer holiday, but as we are expecting our first baby this month, we don't want to travel too far, or anywhere too hot. We love the lakes in Italy and don't mind not being on the coast as long as there's a pool. We want to avoid a long airport transfer, but don't mind hiring a car and since we live in York, would prefer to fly either from Leeds/Bradford or Manchester. Our budget is no more than £700 per person for a week so we'd rather self-cater. And my husband is a teacher, so we have to go during school holidays. Leah & Daniel, via email
A. Italy is a good choice for a first family holiday. Flying time is barely over two hours, and your local airports have direct flights to several destinations. Baby-friendly hotels and villas are numerous, and families can expect a warm welcome in restaurants and hotels – Italians are truly family-focused, and welcome children with practised ease.
August is Italy's hottest month, when locals flee to the coast. In some places, the beach brings little relief from the heat. Along with packing a mosquito net, booking a place where at least one room has air conditioning or a fan may be prudent. Check that travel cots are provided if you're not taking one.
As long as you book in advance, you can expect a good choice of accommodation for your budget. Cool, hilly Umbria is a great destination in August, with a wide choice of accommodation within reach of Pisa or Rome, which you can fly to from Leeds/Bradford and Manchester. Real Holidays (020-7359 3938; www.realholidays.co.uk) is a leading Italian property representative, with many rentals in Umbria.
Il Fagione, on a hill above Lake Trasimeno, is one of six apartments that make up the San Feliciano residence. It has 18th-century features and modern fittings (including air-con), a double bedroom and smaller room for the cot (on request), a tiled kitchen/dining area and a terrace. There is shared use of shady gardens, an outdoor wood-burning oven, and a swimming pool overlooking the lake (which you can bathe in). A week's self-catering in August costs £730.
Departing 14 July, return flights from Leeds/Bradford to Rome Fiumicino with Jet2 (0871 226 1737; www.jet2.com) cost £163 per adult and £14 for the baby. Four-door car hire costs £221 through Real Holidays, bringing the total price to £639 per adult and £14 for your baby. Rome is about two-and-a-half hours' drive from Il Fagione. Across the border, Invitation To Tuscany (0845 838 7421; www.invitationtotuscany.com) suggests Luna Rossa, a hillside cottage 20 minutes' drive from the Ligurian coast. This two-bedroom property has sea views and is walking distance from the medieval hill-town Castelnuovo Magra. There's use of a swimming pool, shared with the villa's owners (one of whom offers excursions in his motorboat to Cinque Terre). Fans and a cot can be provided. Seven nights' rental is £826 in peak season (28 June to 30 August).
Flights from Leeds/Bradford to Pisa (an hour's drive away) with Jet2.com cost £111 per adult and £14 for infants in mid-July, rising to £171 per adult a month later. A week's car hire via Invitation to Tuscany costs another £160, taking the maximum total to £743 per adult.
If that's too much, try Miglio, a one-bedroom ground-floor apartment in an old farmhouse on an organic farm estate near San Gimignano. Simple but comfortable, it has a private outside seating area under a pergola and shared use of a pool. Rental through Invitation to Tuscany is £554 per week in peak season, bringing total cost with flights and car hire to £1,070.
If you felt like returning to the lakes, The Owners' Syndicate (020-7381 7491; www.ownerssyndicate.com) has availability in the smart two-bedroom, ground-floor Monte Pico apartment overlooking Lake Garda. It comes with use of a shared pool, and gardens (cots can be provided). Seven nights in August, flying from Leeds/Bradford with Jet2.com to Milan Bergamo (an hour's drive), accommodation and car hire with Europcar is £675 per person.
Finally, the Gargano Peninsula, the "spur" of Italy's boot, is a beachy outpost of Puglia backed by pine forest and national parkland, cooled by sea breezes. Bari and Pescara are the closest airports, about 100 miles away, both unfortunately not accessible direct from Leeds/Bradford or Manchester. Naples is within reasonable driving distance (two to three hours) and is served from Manchester. For a wealth of holidays to this region, contact the southern Italy specialist Long Travel (01694 722 193; www.longtravel.co.uk).
Send your family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, 'The Independent', 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or email firstname.lastname@example.orgReuse content