I'm a school teacher and this summer my 11 year old, wife and I have decided to head to Florence for a month in mid June to July. When we were there last summer as part of a tour, we loved the city and just couldn't wait to get back. Last summer we stayed very close to the historical center in which everything was within walking distance. This trip, we will obviously want to see some of our favorites but is the historical center the best place to stay? I really want my son to get a feel for living in Florence.

Should we look on the outskirts or even the countryside?
What about transportation? We walked everywhere last summer. How does the bus system work and are most e]areas easily accessible? What about the trains? If I have a Eurail Italy pass, is that enough? Or does it make more sense to rent a car?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.