Thanks daisan. No need to worry about work. Good internet is the main thing I need in that regard, but I figure any reasonable size city would have access to that right?
Ideally getting around without a car would be great (apart from maybe hiring one for short trips, etc..). Good access to a hospital is important with the little kids, as one of them at least has asthma and just seems to injure himself on the most random things. So overly out-of-the-way is probably not a good idea.
Living an hour out of one of these big cities is fine by me. Technically I live in Melbourne, but in reality it actually takes me an hour to get into the city anyway, because it is such a sprawling place. In other words, living within an hour of somewhere pretty much seems local to me these days
Don't worry adsl could be a problem in some small town but not in the city.
About hospital if you choose a medium size you won't have problem.
So you have just to choose what do you prefer: sea, mountain, countryside or something else...
I'm only familiar with cities to the north of Italy, and of the places that I've been, I could see myself living in Verona. Midway between Milan and Venice, yet close to the lakes (Lake Garda) and to the mountains (Italian alps). It is also well linked to the cities in southward direction, to Bologna, Ferrara, Florence etc. The city is cultured yet have a modern feel to it at the same time. It is quite compact, so easy to walk around.
I believe Verona would be a good place for a family to live in.
[ Edit: Edited on 07-Jan-2010, at 14:33 by lil_lil ]
If logistics combined with scenery are important, the area around Como could be of interest. A tiny hop to Switzerland, an easy train connection to Milan (airports Linate and Malpensa) and the rest of Italy (Venice, Genova, Bologna, Florence, Rome, etc.), good motorway connections, vicinity of lakes (Como, Lugano, Maggiore, Iseo, Garda), and excellent food!
I too don't recommend tourist destinations or extravagant cities. Go in for a suble atmosphere and chill out
Going against the grain - and having travelled Italy from top to bottom and side side many times (wonderful country), I would recommend you checking out Bari. It's down in the S.E. of the country, has a population of over 1/4million, the climate is superb, it has an excellent train, bus 'And' ferry service and has everything you need for both surrounding countryside, excellent beaches and good nights out.