My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy for our 25th Anniversary in August. Our plan is to visit from August 10 - August 19 (anniversary is the 16th). However I have read in several places that is probably the worst time to visit because of Italian holiday. The heat doesn't bother us (we live in southern US and it is HOT in summer), but we definitely don't want to miss out on experiences. While we would like to visit some of the major tourist attractions, we are also equally or more interested in experiencing the culture and food in small towns and countryside. Can anyone offer up any advice?

Thank you!