• Colosseum in Rome
  • Volterra
  • Wine Tasting in Tuscany
  • Tuscan Hillside
  • Bicycling in Lucca
  • Vernazza in the Cinque Terre
  • Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Tour Questions? Call 425-608-4217

Heart of Italy in 9 Days Tour

Tight on time? This tour is Rick's personal "best of" distillation of our Best of Italy tour. Beginning with the "must see" sights of the Eternal City of Rome, your Rick Steves guide will help you experience the very heart of this remarkable country: the Tuscan hill town ambiance of Volterra, the pedestrian-friendly streets of Lucca, harbor-hugging villages of the Italian Riviera, and the amazing art of Renaissance Florence. Along the way, you'll enjoy Italy's distinctive culture, wine and cuisine. Join us for the Heart of Italy in 9 Days!

What's Included

  • A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of Italy come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 16 group sightseeing events • Ancient Rome walking tour • Colosseum tour • Roman Forum tour • Pantheon • Evening walk through Rome • St. Peter's Basilica tour • Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel • Volterra walking tour • Guarnacci Etruscan Museum tour • Alabaster workshop • Wine tasting • Lucca walking tour • Orientation for "vacation" day on Italian Riviera • Renaissance Florence walking tour • Florence's Accademia (Michelangelo's David) • Uffizi Gallery tour...and more
  • All group transportation from Rome to Florence
  • 8 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Free stuff including Rick Steves Italy guidebook, Italy Sightseeing Supplement, Italian phrase book, moneybelt and earplugs
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2015
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above

Itinerary

Daily Activity Key
  • Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
  • Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
  • Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.

Day 1: Welcome to Italy

We'll have a get-acquainted meeting at 3 p.m. at our hotel in Rome. After an orientation walk through our neighborhood, we'll learn about the city's transportation system. Then we'll enjoy a fountain-splashing, la dolce vita trek through the heart of Rome, soaking up the city's evening ambiance at the classy Piazza Navona and the remarkably-preserved, 2,000-year-old Pantheon before enjoying our first Italian dinner together at a favorite restaurant. Sleep in Rome (2 nights). No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 2: St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museum

Today we'll focus on Renaissance Rome. We’ll meet our local guide on the other side of the Tiber river and introduce you to the greatest church in Christendom, the awe-inspiring St. Peter's Basilica, home to Michelangelo's sublime Pietà. Then we’ll take you to the sprawling Vatican Museum, where you’ll see an endless collection of treasures as you make your way to one of the world's most famous works of art: Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Your afternoon is free to explore more on your own. Don’t forget to taste some delicious gelato along the way! No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 3: Ancient Rome and the Heart of Tuscany

We'll devote today to Ancient Rome. A local guide will take us on a walking tour through the ancient heart of Rome, telling us vivid tales of the larger-than-life Colosseum and the birthplace of Ancient Rome: the Forum. Then we'll leave Rome and drive to Tuscany, ending our day in the hill town of Volterra, enjoying a Tuscan feast together at a favorite local restaurant. Sleep in Volterra (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 4: All Day in the Hill Town of Volterra

This morning we'll take a walking tour with a local expert who will make Volterra's traditions and history come alive. We'll also visit an alabaster workshop and tour the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum, one of Italy's best places to learn about this mysterious pre-Roman civilization. Then you'll have time to poke around the ancient lanes on your own. We'll regroup later this afternoon to learn about and taste some of the region's famous wines, followed by dinner on your own. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 5: Lucca and the Italian Riviera

Today we'll head west, stopping in the charming and prosperous town of Lucca, home town of Puccini. We'll take a walking tour of Lucca's elegant pedestrian streets and many Roman reminders, with free time to explore its impressive outer walls on foot or by bike. Later this afternoon we'll complete our drive to our seaside getaway, nestled along the harbor-hugging villages of the Italian Riviera. You'll have plenty of free time to explore before we gather this evening for dinner at a local family restaurant. Sleep in or near the Cinque Terre (2 nights, may be split between two hotels). Train: ¼ hr. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 6: Exploring the Cinque Terre

You'll take a "vacation from your vacation" today in our Mediterranean getaway. You may choose to hike the famous cliff-side paths, taking in lots of fresh air and panoramic views between Cinque Terre villages. Or pick a village where you can spend your day exploring the stairways and alleyways, sunning yourself on the rocks, or sipping cappuccino or vino, and catching up on your journal at an outdoor café. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 7: Florence and David

Today we'll drive straight to Florence and take a Renaissance walking tour of the city's historic center. We'll see and learn about Brunelleschi's magnificent cathedral dome, Ghiberti's Baptistery doors, and other creations that helped define this world-changing era. We'll end our tour at the Accademia Gallery to marvel at works of sculptural genius: Michelangelo's rough-hewn Prisoners and his greatest masterpiece, David. Then you'll be free to find a special trattoria for dinner on your own. Sleep in Florence (2 nights). Train: ¼ hr. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 8: The Uffizi Gallery

This morning we'll devote our time to the breathtaking Renaissance art of the Uffizi — home to the finest collection of Italian paintings anywhere — including masterpieces by Leonardo, Botticelli, Michelangelo and more. The afternoon is yours to visit more of the city's art-filled churches and museums, or browse the colorful markets. As it's our final night together, we'll have a grand dinner to share travel memories and toast new friends. Salute! No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 9: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today.  It's a breeze to reach Florence's airport by taxi or train. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Grazie e ciao!

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Activity Level

Our tours are physically active! It’s an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Heart of Italy in 9 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...

  1. Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
  2. Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to four hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
  3. Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
  4. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.

Reviews

Craig

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 07/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tomasso was an excellent tour guide. By staying in everyplace for 2 days we were able to settle in. The amount of museums and the variety made the experience good and not overwhelming. Having free time to explore the Cinque de Terra allowed us to go at our own pace. Highly recommend it to others.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was all a wow, but the fireworks at Levanto were amazing."

Carol

Richmond, TX

Tour: 07/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Heart of Italy tour exceeded my expectations in all aspects. First, the tour group was a delightful mix of ages. My teenagera and I enjoyed the variety of ages and experiences on the tour. Our primary tour guide, Tomasso, was funny, insightful, witty, and informative. We also had the benefit of expert guides at each location tour. These guides brought the locations to life with history and perspective.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our tour of the Colosseum was incredible. The pile of rock and stone came alive with our guides interpretation of the reality of the Roman experience."

Cindy

Mill Creek, WA

Tour: 07/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wow - the tour experience was beyond our expectations. We adored Tommaso - so approachable, so knowledgeable. Having someone do the arranging of hotels, touring agenda, restroom stops, dinners took away so much stress, yet there was also plenty of time to ourselves. As long as I showed up in the hotel lobby at the right time in the morning, I knew it would be a fantastic day.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Roman Colosseum & Forum. Rounding the corner in the Uffizi (sp) museum and seeing David."

Wendy

Sherman Oaks, CA

Tour: 07/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour surpassed my expectations. I wanted to see the art and architecture of Rome, Florence and the beauty of Cinque Terre, and since I was traveling alone, I wanted nice people to share the experience with. I got all that and more. It was my first visit to each location, and I was delighted. The local tour guides were inspiring (especially Francesca) and each allowed me to see so much more that I would have seen had I been on my own. Finally, I totally enjoyed our leader, Tomasso.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Well, I can't just pick one. Michelangelo's David literally took my breath away. I also loved not just seeing the Coliseum, but gaining insight into how it fit into the Roman culture and how it and other Roman structures were cannibalized to become parts of later buildings. Volterra was a complete surprise. I had never given a moment's thought to the ancient Etruscans, but I now find them fascinating, and I loved the story of the Etruscan Gate saved by the residents at the end of WWII."

Christy

Cincinnati, OH

Tour: 07/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was wonderful. Tommaso was great, and we had a really good group of people, which helped tremendously. It was more than I had hoped for for my 13-year-old son's first experience of Europe.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Coliseum tour with Francesca. She is the best tour guide I've ever had. Her knowledge is extensive, but it's her ability to evoke the past and make you FEEL what ancient Romans felt that made it incredible."

Mina

Redmond, WA

Tour: 07/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our family really enjoyed this tour in Italy. From our tour guide to our fellow travelers, to the beauties and delicious food of Italy, there was not a moment of disappointment. I was impressed at the organization and planning that had taken place by the tour to make our experience seamless, comfortable, and fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were a lot of "wow" moments but one of the outstanding ones was seeing the statue of David at the Academia in Florence. It surpassed all my expectations."

Dave

Mill Creek, WA

Tour: 07/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My family and I had so much fun making this trip together! Our Guide worked very hard to make sure we learned about the sites, the people and the culture of Italy. He and the local guides could not have been any warmer or more helpful! Perfect mix of guided and independent travel - great tours, guides and meals together but also plenty of open time. Our 18 and 23 yr olds were glad 10 of 28 group members were their age or younger. Great food, nice hotel staff, rooms simple but clean.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francesca's tour of the Coliseum and Ancient Rome - so much more than pictures alone could tell!"

Don

Modesto, CA

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I were celebrating our 30th anniversary with our trip to Italy. After searching and discussing serveral different options, we decided on Rick Steves' Tours. What a great decision it was! The people of the group made our travels that much more memorable. We loved the small town of Volerra the most. Our guide, Ann, was the best! She was so helpful in so many ways. Our next big trip with definately be with RS again. Thanks for helping us make an mmorable anniversary. :)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our time in Volterra was an excellent surprise. Small, historical village iwith an awesome feel."

James

Camillus, NY

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Absolutely wonderful!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra and the Cinque Terra...spectacular!"

Kerry

Camillus, NY

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was everything we had hoped it would be. The sights, people, guide, accommodations, food, etc were all outstanding!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think we fell in love with Tuscany! Driving up the mountains to Volterra, the fields of sunflowers and olive groves...I felt like we were on a movie set. Our other favorite "wow" moment was the views on the Cinque Terra. Again, the views and scenery were breathtaking!"

Kimberly

Palatine, IL

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed this tour very much! Ann our tour guide was wonderful and the people on the tour formed a group bond which made so many great and fun experience for all. The city guides in every town were excellent and so well informed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Going and seeing the Sistine Chapel!!!"

Andrea

Athens, GA

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We loved our cheerful and knowledgeable tour leader, Ann. We were pleased with the intro. walks and then the free time in each place. We saw such different places that we feel we know Italy much better from this trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The consistently delectable dinners even though I eat a Gluten-free diet. The colosseo up close!"

Randy

Palatine, IL

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was outstanding, we really got a very good taste of Italy over the 8 days. I believe this was made possible by the fact that we had an excellent tour guide in Ann. She was simply outstanding, her personality and passion for what she does was outstanding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "wow" factor hands down was Cinque Terra, I can't wait until I can go back and visit this area of Italy."

Lana

Boise, ID

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We loved our tour. So happy we decided to go with Rick Steve. Can't imagine doing this trip on our own. Some of the things that made this trip-- Wonderful tour guide (Ann Long) The perfect mix of cities visited (large and small) Hotels in the heart if the cities Great attractions visited ( tickets included--didn't wait in the long lines,wasting valuable time)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We loved Volterra. When the bus dropped us off at the bus stop, where you couldn't see much, I thought to myself."what will we do here for two days?" As we walked a few yards into town, I said, "This is exactly what I have pictured Italy should be". I could have stayed there for a month!"

Robert

Athens, GA

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As an avid photographer, until now I have shunned organized tours because of the rigid structure which severely curtails my ability to create gallery quality photos. The Rick Steves' tour offered free time so I decided to give it a try. I am very pleased with both the free time, and flexibility while with the group to wander for photography while listening with ear buds to a local guide live in real time. We are looking for other destinations to tour with Rick Steves again.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Three "wows": 1) seeing the huge stone Pantheon dome built 2000 years ago. 2) seeing the huge complex, sophisticated construction of the stone Colosseum built almost 2000 years ago. 3) finding spring fed free water dispensers in most public piazzas all over Italy."

Caitlin

Lynnwood, WA

Tour: 07/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful time on this tour! There was a great balance of time with the tour group and time on our own. The guides were fantastic throughout the trip. There was such a variety of experiences...bicycling in Lucca, swimming in Cinque Terre, walking tours of so many amazing cities and all of the art. We feel so blessed to have gotten this experience. I know we never would have been able to plan such an amazing adventure on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My very favorite tour was the Coliseum and Roman Forum with our guide, Francesca. She really brought the place and the stories to life. Her passion for Roman history shined through her stories and explanations of everything that happened there."

Carole

Tacoma, WA

Tour: 07/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had heard from friends that Rick Steves tours were great, and this trip confirmed their reports. The travel itself went like clockwork, our main and local guides were wonderful, and our group of varied ages and backgrounds was very congenial. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn from the guides and then to have "time off" just to explore and relax.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Probably the view from the balcony of our hotel room in Monterroso, one of the Cinque Terre towns. Unbeatable!"

Alan

Hamilton, OH

Tour: 07/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour group size and pace of the tour was outstanding. Time to explore sites in depth and no tour bus fly-by's! Our tour guide Caterina was engaging and informative and bent over backwards to ensure we all got the most from our experiences. The local guides were all top notch. Would certainly consider another Rick Steve's tour in the future.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The trails of Cinque Terre as we would round a corner and see the next hill town were an unforgettable experience."

William

Tacoma, WA

Tour: 07/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great because it freed us from the fretfulness of foreign travel (finding places to good places to stay and to eat; transporting us from city to city; securing advance tickets to museums that allowed us to avoid waiting hours in line to enter; hiring knowledgeable local guides). Then, in the time freed from fretting, we were able to devote ourselves to enjoying fully the Italian experiences made available to us. I wouldn't tour Italy any other way!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many great moments, some of them much anticipated, such as seeing the statue of David and walking through the Colosseum and Roman Forum. But perhaps the ones I'll remember most fondly are the ones that I hadn't expected, especially the wonderful group dinners during which we got to know our tour companions in convivial conversations that rose to high hilarity when fueled by great food and wine."

Trever

Bothell, WA

Tour: 07/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Caterina was truly a special person. She not only was a wonderful tour guide, but someone who cared about tour members. She went the extra mile to care for my wife when she got ill on the trip, and we greatly appreciated to care and sincere desire to assist. She is a great representative of Rick Steves.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Despite all the "huge" things in Italy - the coliseum, St Peters, the Duomo - my 'wow' moment was upon entering Riomaggiore by boat. The quaint seaside fishing village, opening into a local "working town" street with markets and walk-up fish eateries, was very, very special to me."

Charles

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 07/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the original David was amazing. I just had to stand and soak it in."

Thomas

Homewood, IL

Tour: 07/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great overall tour. A good plit between scheduled events and free time

Patricia

Homewood, IL

Tour: 07/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have been dreaming about visiting Italy for YEARS and this tour was everything I hoped for. The Heart of Italy tour was very well paced and we were able to experience so much variety over the nine days. I was hoping to get a real taste of the culture while there and thanks to our wonderful tour guide, Caterina, and the way the tour was structured, I felt engaged and not just an observer wherever we went. I had expected an adventure of a lifetime, and I was not disappointed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"How to choose a favorite?....a near impossible task, like trying to choose a favorite gelato flavor. It just can't be done. There was a "wow" moment for me each time I was in a new place. St. Peter's, the Sistine chapel, the inside of the Colosseum, the Medieval streets of Volterra, the stunningly beautiful Ligurian Sea, the first look at Florence. I will treasure the memories of all these places in my heart forever."

Chipp

Boise, ID

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent! I was very impressed with the flow/tone of the entire experience. I never felt rushed or bored. The days were divided up between guided tours and free time, in just the right proportion. the hotels were great! Location, hotel staff, and facilities were ideal. Tomasso (SP) was the best! His knowledge of Italy and ability to make tour decisions based upon the groups' attitude was amazing. It just alawys felt right. Also, he was very clear in his directions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Traveling to and spending time in Volterra after Rome was special. The local guide was very good. I found myself thinging about taking a Art History class because of her enthusiam."

Randall

Chippewa Falls, WI

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Perfect balance of following the group and touring vs time to do what you want. Guide was outstanding fit for our family, as he was pleasant and not overly loud or boisterous, and good at his job.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Favorite wow was seeing the statue of David. There were so many oohs and ahhs when seeing the cities we visited, but that was a "wow". It also came at a good time in the tour where we had time just to sit and look."

Amy

Wylie, TX

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was great. The amount of prepared tours each day was perfect and gave us enough time to do whatever we wanted in each location.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Probably climbing to the top of the Duomo in Florence and looking out over the city. After completing the climb I understand that it could never be an included activity with a group since so many wouldn't (and shouldn't) complete the climb, but it was pretty spectacular."

Melinda

Murphy, TX

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

There was a great mix of group tour and time to explore on your own. The 9 day tour had a nice balance of big cities and quaint smaller gems. The local guides were terrific in sharing their vast knowledge of the particular town or meuseum we visited.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Vatican City, specifically the basilica, was more than I could have imagined."

Kenneth

Metairie, LA

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Rick Steves literature says their tours are not for everyone - well, our tour was perfect for us! We liked staying two nights in each place, the mix of guided and free time, the restaurants, the hotels, and especially the local guides. The hotels were in great locations. We had a great tour group and Tommaso is a fantastic guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We decided to climb to the top of the dome of St. Peter's in the Vatican. What I did not know was that, after climbing up part of the way, you emerge from a doorway at the base of the dome, at the level of the roof of the cathedral, on the inside of the dome looking down at the cathedral. It was breathtaking! You could see mosaics and artwork that you never could see from the floor - fantastic!"

Jessica

Chippewa Falls, WI

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a great group! Everyone was friendly, prompt, and fun. Tommaso did a great job organizing all the tours and dinners, the food was wonderful. We hit all the highlights in Rome and Florence, but really enjoyed the small towns. Volterra was quiet, interesting, and allowed the kids some time to explore safely on their own. At first, I was disappointed we were staying in Bonassola because I couldn't find it in a guidebook or Trip Advisor, but it was a genius place to stay! Much less crowded.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view of Manarola from the vineyard walk was even more beautiful than I expected! Foodwise, the first time I had a "plain" sandwich of bread, ham, tomato and mozzarella I couldn't believe how perfectly simple and delicious it was. And of course, David."

Sybil

Vashon, WA

Tour: 06/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A delightful tour guide (Virginia);a comprehensive and well paced itinerary; great food and hotels were fine. Groups members bonded well and really enjoyed each others company. I felt it would be a challenge to have the time of this trip during high tourist season but I thought it was carried off in great fashion and I truly felt immersed in the culture and high points of Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting Volterra and Florence both were the high points for me."

Amy

Mount Pleasant, SC

Tour: 06/27/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We had a great tour. Enjoyed Virginia, and especially liked all the fellow travelers on the tour!

Lana

Westfield, IN

Tour: 06/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Virginia made the tour! What a wonderful tour guide! Many have asked since we've been home if it was worth it and we've wholeheartedly endorsed your tours. I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Rome and the coliseum. Amazing that everything is so old."

Nancy

Issaquah, WA

Tour: 06/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

it was delightful. everything from Virginia our tour guide who was excellent to the fun group. the pace was great and down time was wonderful also.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"seeing some of the sites that I had not seen ever. Cinque Terre was amazing"

Laura

Bellevue, WA

Tour: 06/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was such a relief to have someone else plan our day-and make arrangements to entry into popular exhibits. I liked having the big bus with few people on it so that we could each have our own window-or stretch out to fall asleep if we couldn't help it! I enjoyed most of the stops, although the stop in Lucca wasn't too exciting-except for the bike ride around the city wall. I am wondering if there would be another point of interest that could be added in the place of Lucca?

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Turning the corner and seeing some of the ancient Roman structures pop out in front of us!"

Timothy

Escondido, CA

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a great experience for my wife and myself. I felt the pace was good. I think on whole, it had a good balance of planned activities and free time. This was a very active tour ( over 60 miles of walking) but I feel the pre tour information prepared us for that. In fact, the pre tour materials for tour preparation is very good and critical. Documentation required is clear and concise. The Rick Steve's books are excellent aids and added to the experience. This was our second Steve's tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Colosseum."

Jeff

San Jose, CA

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The quality of our tour can not be overstated. Though hotel accommodations were sometimes modest, every other aspect of the trip was top notch. Our guide Caterina was helpful, charismatic, and extremely knowledgeable. The sites selected for visiting were managed in such a way that the main focus points were those of highest significance in terms of historical and artistic preeminence. We can't wait for our next RS vacation.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It would be hard to top the Roman Colosseum on the wow factor meter. Our guide for the day, Francesca, open up our hearts and minds to envision the spectacle of every day events over 2000 years ago."

Julia

Thousand Oaks, CA

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was nervous, since I was traveling alone. Worst case: endless hours on a bus, with drivel commentary of poor jokes, endless hours of waiting. None of my fears were realized. This was an excellent tour. 1) I learned a lot- just the right level of teaching, interesting things 2) the tour guides at the sites were excellent. 3)our guide was a delight: charming, knowledgeable, taught us a lot, "made" the tour.3)excellent tempo of sites, rest (bus rides), time together and time alone.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Impossible to say, there are too many. Loved the Etruscan arch in Volterra, and how the citizens protected it in WWII (Annie was guide). Loved our group dinners, especially the last one, accompanied by a thunder and lightning storm."

Patrick

Milford, CT

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It far exceeded our expectations, which were pretty high to begin with. The tour host, Caterina, was the perfect guide and helped us every step of the way. The other guides, Francesca, Annie, Maria were extremely knowledgable and passionate about their topics. The hotels were excellent!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Pope! As we were staying right across from the Vatican, we took a stroll on Sunday morning around our neighborhood after breakfast to explore the area. When we saw people streaming into St. Peter's Square, we followed, curious to find out what was going on. We learned that Pope Francis was in town and that he would be saying mass at St. Peter's and then giving his blessing in the square at noon. We were in time for the blessing and saw him from his balcony!"

Robert

Camby, IN

Tour: 06/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thought our tour guide was excellent. He was very knowledgable and helpfull. The hotels fantastic, and the meals were wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting the Vatacant was one of my bucket list items. I was not disappointed. St. Peter's was far more then I expected."

Richard

Helena, MT

Tour: 06/20/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We had a wonderful trip. Jamie was terrific; knowledgeable, enthusiastic and a good teacher. Other local tour guides for our group were outstanding as well. Each was impassioned with their subject and truly conveyed a feeling for "place". The food and wine were great. The hotels were very nice.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The duck was delicious."

Cynthia

Menlo Park, CA

Tour: 06/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The genesis of this trip was a bucket list item to take my family to visit their Italian roots and relatives while I could still travel and translate (husband obligingly went along though already overwhelmed by my family here). I chose "Heart of Italy" because it was near to our other destinations and so I wouldn't have to be tour guide for the whole trip. Great decision. The mix of small and large cities was just right, the tour group congenial, and our guide was a perfect fit for my family.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a trick question, right? Any visitor to Italy should have many "wow" moments A bit to my surprise, my most emotional reaction on the tour was at the ancient Etruscan gate to Volterra where Annie related a story about the locals saving the structure during the war. It encapsulated the real Italian experience of living with so much history. You find this sense of place in many regions there but don't always experience it as a tourist unless you make an effort to find out."

Tracy

Monrovia, MD

Tour: 06/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was better then expected. The itinerary was well balanced and hit a good variety of experiences and locations, but also left us time to explore on our own. I liked not having to stand in line too long at the big attractions like The Vatican Museum and the Uffizi Gallery. I also really liked having a smaller group too! The tour guides were also all awesome and very knowledgeable!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Tasting and drinking awesome wine in an authentic wine cellar in Volterra. Also seeing Michelangelo's David and other Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces up close and personal."

Margo

Camby, IN

Tour: 06/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Jamie, was absolutely fantastic. If we would have done this tour ourselves we would NOT have seen 98% of what we experienced. The meals, hotel rooms, buses and drivers were absolutely fantastic. We are already searching Rick Steve Tours for next year.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cinque Terre was one of the most beautiful places I have seen."

John

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was first rate. All activities were well planned and executed. The provided dinners, each preceded by a "happy" social hour were excellent. The local guides were top notch. I would recommend a Rick Steves tour to anyone and I plan on joining another one in the future.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each stop had it's own "wow" moment, it's really hard to select one over the other. I enjoyed both Volterra and the Cinque Terre."

Debra

Troy, MI

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall a good experience. Glad I went.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Colliseum.Being in the Sistene Chapel came close . But I lost my breath seeing ancient Rome."

Stephanie

Dublin, OH

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was the perfect tour for our family: small group, good balance of structured and free time, immersive activities similar to what we would normally plan for ourselves(bike riding, wine tasting, pesto making, etc.), and not touristy at all.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This trip was filled with "wow" moments for me being a lover of art and history! But even for my husband and son, it was special and meaningful."

Stephanie

Sunnyvale, CA

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is our family's first experience traveling with an organized tour. It is really nice not to worry about many of the logistics. We are particularly grateful that many of the tickets/reservations were taken care of prior to our arrival. But most important of all, we impressed with all the tour guides we have encountered and the wonderful tour members we have met. Finally, we were surprised how much our two teenaged daughters have enjoyed the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Definitely the Colosseum tour with Francesca. Her amazing story-tell skills helped us visualize the Colosseum 2000 years ago. It was not only a learning tour, but an emotional experience to stand on that historical ground and consider the different mindsets of various perspectives (i.e. the Emperor, the spectator, and the gladiators). We also fall in love with Cinque Terre and would love to go back soon."

Sheryl

Seminole, FL

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I absolutely loved this tour. In 9 days, I experienced so much more than I could have imagined. The artwork in the churches and museums was breathtaking. I loved hiking in the Cinque Terre, biking the wall in Lucca, visiting historical sites, and just wandering. I took over 900 pictures. The tour guide, Lisa, was terrific, and we had a really fun group. When the tour ended, we enjoyed 2 days in Venice before returning home.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I knew that this trip would be educational for my teenage son, but I was astonished by how much both of us learned."

Elizabeth

Saline, Fife

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Thoroughly enjoyed being on the other side of an RS tour! Loved the whole experience.....and learned a lot in the process!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our guide (Francesca?) at the Colosseum in Rome. She was a model of good practice in setting the context for the group and drawing them in to her stories and information. As a fellow guide it was a joy to spend time with her!"

Olivia

Sunnyvale, CA

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I thought the tour was very fun. I got to meet lots of new people. However, at times I felt a bit rushed because of the busy schedule. But I thought getting to learn about the culture and experiencing what it is like to live in Italy was really fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment of the tour was going to the Colosseum and realizing that we were actually there and able to see it for our own eyes because up to then, I had only saw it in books and magazines and such."

Bennett

Dublin, OH

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I had a really good time and especially enjoyed Rome, Volterra and the Cinque Terre.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Definitely the Colosseum and Forum in Rome. I also enjoyed the beach at Monterosso."

David

Troy, MI

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Florence"

Scott

Dublin, OH

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Rome hotel breakfast/wi-fi was poor,front desk staff was very helpful & a great location. Rome guides were excellent, would be really nice to see Vatican at some off peak time. Would of been nice to have the group photo by the coliseum or at Monterosso. The bus and driver were very nice and professional. Volterra hotel the ac didn't work & room was noisy. Lucca was fun. Life was good in Monterosso. Florence was fun, but busy, good guides & hotel.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Listening to Elizabeth and Brian sing us their Tour Trail tune. Taking extra time to see David and spending extra time in the Ufizzi. The RS dinner in Florence. Hiking the Cinque Terra, I would of enjoyed another day or staying later and arriving in Florence later."

Diane

Fort Wayne, IN

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was a good mix of organized, tour time and you're-on-your-own time. Lisa did a great job making suggestions of things to do in Rome and Florence and help reassure me that we could navigate the city on our own. There was just not enough time to do all I wanted to do. Food was great, hotels were conveniently located. There was a lot of walking and museum time, but the tour description warned of the activity level. So I was ready for that. Good shoes are a must.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The scenery of Tuscany could take your breath away. The narrow lanes in Volterra seemed like they were from a storybook. Also, I was so happy to see Vernazza from the trail we were hiking from Monterosso--picture postcard perfect."

Sandy

Blacklick, OH

Tour: 06/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first tour experience this is what I liked, the tour guide, the interesting people I met on the trip. It was an interesting way to re-learn history in a much more meaningful way. The buddy system was a wonderful way to meet a fellow traveler instantly.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I cannot say I had a wow moment. I came home with some wonderful memories"

Lew

Gainesville, FL

Tour: 06/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Nina and the individual guides were all superior. The group meals were very good and lots of fun. Good selection of cities to visit. We especially enjoyed Volterra and Cinque Terra. It was good to do Rome at the beginning of trip and not at end of trip. The only complaint that I have was a lack of wifi at most hotels. We were very pleased with the tour and will do more Rick Steve's tours in the future.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking around the towns of Cinque Terra."

Priscilla

Las Vegas, NV

Tour: 06/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Roger AND Priscilla are commenting here as a couple. In a word WOW! The Rick Steves' team delivered beyond our expectations. Our guide Nina made us feel welcome and cared for. Her expertise, passion and commitment to the group were genuine and her knowledge and ability to share Italian history brought the past to life. The accommodations were delightful and the itinerary was well planned. The "no grump" policy proved effective. All our tour mates were fun to travel with.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seriously, we only get one? Most impressive was the "hidden value" of the tour guides in Rome, Volterra, Lucca and Florence. We so much appreciated the quality of the folks selected to enrich our experience of what we saw. More than sight-seeing, the tour was a rich education in both history and art. We also loved our hiking to the cemetery and vineyard in Monterosso."

Julie

Gainesville, FL

Tour: 06/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It's difficult to describe what a wonderful experience this tour was! I went to the Rick Steve's website for help with planning the trip, and when I discovered that y'all do tours, my planning was done...what a great decision! I must admit the "one carry-on and a backpack" was almost a deal-breaker for me, but I was inspired by all the commentary about "you'll never go back to checked baggage". Your packing cubes were THE best investment, and it was so liberating to travel this way!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing all the fun being had on our dinner together that first night in Rome. You probably hear this often, but our group dynamic was just wonderful...Nina was the most awesome guide I can imagine, and the "cast of characters" was perfect. My concern that the boys would be bored with only two other "kids" on the tour was put to rest when they were falling out of their chairs over RG(age 65)informing the waiter that the eggplant was so good he'd "like his wife to lick it off his chest". Hahaha!"

Edward

Huntsville, AL

Tour: 06/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great; informative, educational, scenic and all the rest but at the core it was simply fun. It felt like an extend party.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chasing down and viewing Caravaggio's paintings was definitely my "wow" moment. I have read about and studied him and his paintings for more than 40 years. I have more than a dozen books on Caravaggio but to finally be there standing three feet in front of the painting literally produced goose bumps and took my breath away. It's trilling to be such a nerd."

Jeri

Missoula, MT

Tour: 06/13/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our trip was wonderful. In a short time we hit all of the high points of cities I wanted to see, Rome & Florence. We were introduced to places about which I knew little. Volterra was an amazing city & our guide outstanding. The food and especially the vino was all delicious. With the Rick Steves plan we tasted dishes we may not have tried ourselves. They were delizioso! All the vino was a treat. Even the least expensive was comparable to expensive wines at home. It was a true gourmet trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many. The wine tasting in Volterra was a real treat and fun! It was number one. The alabaster factory was fascinating, but too short. I would have enjoyed staying there longer."

Dick

Blacklick, OH

Tour: 06/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very good. Nina was great and very helpful especially in some difficult circumstances. I particularly enjoyed the hill towns and the group we were with.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Better understanding the real, more-people-centered history of the Roman Empire and the nature of the city states and the competition among them. The more one learns of the real past, the more we can see human history as a constant repetition of the same human tendencies and social patterns."

David

Silver Spring, MD

Tour: 06/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Would rate it overall between Outstanding and Very Good, but lean toward Outstanding. I really had a wonderful time- our group was great, Nina was a joy as our tour director, local guides were excellent, and range of experiences were more than I expected in 7 full days and 2 partial days. My only complaint is there was not enough time in Firenze - wished I had known that we were only going to spend about 1.5 days there so that I could have planned an extra day on there on my own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have more than one but if I have to choose just one I guess it would be the views of the Cinque Terre on the hike from Vernazza to Monterosso - so many superlative, breathtaking views first in the direction of Vernazza and beyond and then coming down to Monterosso. I have had a professional picture of the Cinque Terre in my office for over a decade and getting to see where that picture was taken for myself and taking numerous pictures of my own was truly a big "wow" moment for me!"

Linda

Hubbardston, MA

Tour: 06/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

seamless, well organized, from the pretrip planning and education to the trip itself I felt prepared and energized. The "no grump" mantra worked like a charm: there was not a deadbeat in the group!!!!!!! Our guide Nina was exceptional in making every person feel like they were her only concern. Pace,every other night meals kept the group co hesive and the free time suggestions and maps were invaluable in allowing us to feel like capable travelers

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was moved to tears at Cinque Tere My room was PHENONMINAL and the Hotel family was so committed and artful. Just loved the pesto demo and will fondly use the lesson in the future w wonderful remembrances The water, beach, conviviality of that place will reside in my heart!"

Barbara

Los Angeles, CA

Tour: 06/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I chose the Heart Of Italy tour for our honeymoon. We had never traveled with a tour group before, but we watch Rick Steve's t.v. show almost every night and knew it would be a great experience. The tour was very organized and well balanced with free time and group gatherings. Nina was an absolute delight to have as a guide and our group was a lot of fun. I also very much enjoyed the local tour guides in Rome, Volterra, Lucca and Florence. The food and hotels were excellent!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is so hard to pick a favorite "wow" moment. The Pantheon in Rome was so spectacular. Also the view from the hotel in Cinque Terre overlooking the Mediterranean."

Donna

Silver Spring, MD

Tour: 06/13/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was very good. Our guide Nina was wonderful. Very knowledgeable and just a great person. The additional guides like the one in Rome, Volterra and Florence were wonderful. We had a great group of people on the trip. (that you cannot plan for) ONe issue was that I wish we had more time in Florence. Not enough time. The hotel in Volterra had wonderful views but the room itself was very old.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The statute of David was my WOW moment. Also the town of Montorossa was very nice. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been."

Jim

Lone Tree, CO

Tour: 06/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A great experience from several perspectives: a single older-person traveler, a single traveler with a tour group, and a first time out-of-the-country traveler. Nina our guide was superb, and the entire 28 person group of several age groups meshed very well, and looked out for each other. The expert guides for each location were the best. The group dinners were excellent and entertaining, and the restaurant owners were fantastic. A great tour, a great experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard question to answer, can't say just one: 1. With Elaria the expert guide - visiting the Roman Coliseum and nearby ruins and listening to her expert narration. 2. Seeing The Duomo in Florence - was the single most impressive building I saw on the tour. 3. All the group dinners in wonderful restaurants with great hosts."

Brent

Alpine, UT

Tour: 06/08/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We had a wonderful trip. We enjoyed getting to know the other travelers in our group, and Robin was very helpful. We had read so many rave reviews prior to our trip that we probably had unrealistic expectations. I wouldn't say the tour lived up to every rave review, but it was a great experience, and I would certainly recommend the Rick Steve's tour to others.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I would say my favorite wow moment on the tour was the hike between Monterosso and Vernazza. When we got near the top of the trail you could see the small Cinque Terre villages along the Italian Rivera, and it was absolutely breathtaking."

Robert

Meridian, ID

Tour: 06/08/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great group of people. I was a little concerned since in the introduction meeting the tour group had two sets of people traveling together; one group of eight and the other of six. However, these folks interacted wonderfully with the rest of the tour group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we visited the Medici chapel, you first go through a small museum which had some interesting artifact. Then through the rear of the museum you enter the Medici chapel - WOW - the visual effect was amazing!"

Robert

Harlan, IA

Tour: 06/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful first time tour because Robyn was a great tour guide; the pace of the tour was ideal; good bunch of co-travelers; never waited in line(thanks to Robyn); and beautiful sights.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"David in the Accadamie in Florence and St. Peters Basilica in Rome. Their beauty in beyond words."

Kimberly

Tacoma, WA

Tour: 06/08/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was a great tour, and will do it again!

Marie

Smyrna, GA

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really enjoyed the trip to Volterra. It was incredible."

Michael

Faribault, MN

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steves tour and it will not be our last! The Heart of Italy Tour was amazing, not only did we see Italy but we meet a great group of people and had a great guide in Nina. The group dinners, hotels and transportation were first class.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Stepping off the bus in Volterra and seeing the hill country and getting off the train in Cingue Terre Villages."

Andrew

Smyrna, GA

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Good mix of scripted and unscripted tour events.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Swimming off the coast of Cinque Terre."

Lauri

Beaverton, OR

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The balance between arranged tours and individual exploration time was wonderful. It was great to experience the Rick Steves philosophy in action, and I appreciated everything about the tour planning and execution.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The winetasting event in Volterra. Our tour group members had reached a level of comfort with each other to start bonding more. With enough familiarity and wine, the silliness and laughter started, and just kept going :)"

Michael

Santa Barbara, CA

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a really nice time. First time on a travel tour, so that was pleasant outcome. Nina did a great job and the local guides also added a lot to the experience. I thought the mix of organized and free time was good. I am glad we had organized group meals. They were some of the best times.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cannot even come close to picking. People, art, architecture - so much of it was incredible. The tours and time in Volterra and Lucca were great. I love to walk cities, and they were all so memorable. Listening to the monks in San Miniato al Monte, then watching the sunset glint off the face of the church - wow!"

Allison

Golden Valley, MN

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have never been on a tour before and wasn't sure what to expect, but I absolutely loved it! I loved learning about the cities we were in from Nina and then having a lot of time to explore them on our own. It was a perfect mix of information and adventure. I would definitely do another tour through Rick Steves.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many wow moments with the amount of history that is in Italy, but I think my favorite was Cinque Terre and just the beauty of being by the sea. We loved Vernazza and spent a lot of time lounging on the rocks and jumping into the sea. It doesn't get much better than that!"

Deborah

Salem, OR

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really enjoyed the tour. We had such a great group and I loved everything we did.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Going to Volterra. There is something about that old Italian town that made me feel like I was home. I was sad that we only were able to spend two days there. Visiting Volterra makes me want to go back and spend more time in there. My other "wow" moment was stepping out of the train station in Cinca Terra. It was breath taking."

Kerry

Dallas, TX

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

the time of our lives... very much appreciated the RSteve's philosophy of experiencing as much "non-touristy" stuff as possible... nice blend of scheduled touring & on-your-own time... happy to recommend to anyone... and we'll take another Rick Steve's tour again... LOVED Italy!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"hard to choose... Volterra, the whole thing... David, in Florence ... Pieta in St. Peter's Basilica"

Donna

Granbury, TX

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had never signed up for a tour before but I've been a fan of Rick Steves for many years and always thought that one of his tours would be fun. I was looking for a mix of free time and structured time and the chance to see Italy beyond the large cities. All of my goals were met by this tour and it exceeded by expectations. It was probably the least stressful vacation we've had in a long time because we didn't have to worry about logistics other than getting to Rome on the first day.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Looking out at the Tuscan countryside initially from the bus and then from Volterra were "wow" moments for me. I had only seen those iconic landscapes in movies or travel magazines and it was surreal to see the perfectly manicured villas and tree-lines roads. It was magical."

Paul

Granbury, TX

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing The David sculpture in the Academia in Florence."

James

Mill Creek, WA

Tour: 05/23/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Absolutely wonderful. The tour itinerary was clearly well thought out, timed and [INVALID]d by the Rick Steves group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Looking down from the hillside hiking trails to the various towns along the Cinque Terra."

Ginny

Village Mills, TX

Tour: 05/23/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well organized. Appreciated tour guides expertise. All participants were friendly and eager to work together to have a positive experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Stepping into St. Peter's. Awed. Loved the view of the Med at Cinque Terre. The David."

Rosemary

Fairport, NY

Tour: 05/23/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Enlightening enthusiastic guide who truly loved her vocation. Very excellent group of people with a range of ages. Extremely active which is what I wanted to keep up my stamina and future ability to travel. I am 67 and want to maintain a very active lifestyle as long as I am able.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Taking my day off from vacation to relax in Levanto by sitting at the wonderful Mediterranean watching the surfers, walking along the streets looking in shops, having a caipirinha at a beach bar with my niece, having lunch with my new friend Honey in Levanto who was also taking vacation from vacation. My hotel in Levanto had a wrap around balcony where I could see the Mediterranean , feel the breeze, and observe all the hikers with backpacks walking below."

Dana

Mill Creek, WA

Tour: 05/23/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had an awesome trip. We balanced out the tour with two add'l days in Rome, one add'l day in Florence and three nights in London. So we had the perfect balance of a portion of our trip totally on our own, and the rest with a group. I would recommend a Rick Steves tour to anyone - absolutely great!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many great moments, I appreciated each place we visited. I think hiking from town to town in Cinque Terra was great, the views were awesome!"

Daniel

Cleveland, OH

Tour: 05/23/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It more than met my expectiatons.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Manarola Vineyard Hike and the whole Cinque Terre area. Volterra was a great city to visit and stay at. Groups dinners were nice."

Cathryn

League City, TX

Tour: 05/23/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fantastic family vacation! This was our first RS tour and it truly exceeded our expectations. Karin shared so much information as she led us through a great educational, cultural adventure. It was a perfect mix of education/entertainment and excitement/relaxation. We will always remember the amazing sights of Italy, the delicious food and the wonderful fellow-travelers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many WOW moments! I literally gasped when I saw some of the beautiful views in Cinque Terre. The artwork in the many museums took my breath away. Viewing the city of Florence from the tower of our hotel was stunning. Dancing late at night with our tour-buddies was a blast. The endless quest for the best gelato provided many "wow" moments :)"

Cheryl

Boise, ID

Tour: 05/23/14

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Blend of history, culture, nature, cuisine and art.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Viewing David in Florence"

Lucretia

Richmond, VA

Tour: 05/23/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Heart of Italy was truly outstanding. Karen was an excellent, knowledgeable and fun guide. In addition, we had excellent specific tour guides at museums, locales, etc. I truly enjoyed everything that we did on the tour [INVALID] the choice of places to visit, the museums, discovering the local culture and the food! I was very impressed with the balance of group time and individual time [INVALID] just perfect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting Volterra and viewing the Tuscany countryside!"

Mary Beth

Nashville, TN

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We enjoyed every aspect of our Heart of Italy tour, led by the fabulous Virginia ! The locations were interesting and beautiful and everywhere you looked you felt the need to take a picture. The hotels were very nice and the staff were always friendly and helpful. We loved the variety in our meals, from the multi-course dinners to our special group lunches at the Italian Autogrill, they bonded our group together. It was a fun-filled, educational week that exceeded our expectations!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think my favorite "wow" moment was opening our room window in Cinque Terre and finding the most beautiful view of the sparkling ocean below. It was an amazing way to wake up each morning, especially knowing that we got to go downstairs and enjoy the tasty breakfast at Hotel Pasquale!"

Janet

Torrance, CA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The guides on the Rick Steves' tours are amazing. Virginia was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. She was right - the food at the Autogrill was really good. A great group of people and great hotels and food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Cinque Terre was so beautiful and having time to explore on a lovely day was a wow. The view from my hotel window was amazing. Also - walking in and seeing the David for the first time was overwhelming - even if people have been telling me how amazing it is. Has to be experienced to really feel it."

John

Cameron Park, CA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Guided tours through the museums were all outstanding with knowledge. The free day to explore the Cinque Terre was placed at just the right time in the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Arrival in the Cinque Terre and first seeing the ocean view."

Paul

Edmonds, WA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide, Virginia, was just so nice and full of information. And Fun!! We enjoyed having the afternoons as free time to do as we wished and also enjoyed meeting with our group later for dinner or some little tour. I think we would recommend this tour to anyone especially if they don't really like planning and making reservation on their own. Perfect for us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really like the Tuscany region. I loved the3 countryside and the fabulous views. I'm not sure of one particular Wow moment though."

Maureen

Richardson, TX

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour guide was amazing! Everything was carefully planned out. The hotels and restaurants were great. I would (and have) recommended your tour to all my friends and family.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being in Cinque Terre."

Margaret

Brentwood, TN

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was an amazing experience. It included an expertly put together itinerary that ensured that we saw the highlights of our destinations. We had so much fun and learned so much about the language, culture, and history of Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is incredibly tough to try to answer. My sister and I hiked from Monterosso in the morning of our second day. After climbing one of many staircases, we rounded a bend and suddenly saw Vernazza's charming colorful rooftops, standing out in the beautiful tree-ed hills with the waves crashing. It was stunning."

Roger

Wichita, KS

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was very well thought out. The pace was great, with restful days and afternoons interspersed at just the right times. Tour group size was perfect and bus travel was very comfortable, with Virginia making it fun. I'd do a Rick Steves tour again and again; this was top of the line. It's hard to imagine a tour being better than ours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wow moment: The first moment I saw Michelangelo's "David." A month later I was still getting choked up telling people about it. (By the way, having read the first chapter of Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath added to the experience.) Wow moments: Sitting down to dinner each night. I had no idea dining could be that tasty and fun all the time."

Amy

Clackamas, OR

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were so impressed with the Rick Steve's tour of the Heart of Italy. It exceeded our expectations! Neither my husband or I have ever been on a tour and we were very reluctant to take one because of the thought of being herded around like cattle. It was so not like that and that is what we loved about it. We had a great time getting to know everyone on the trip and loved that there was such a variety of ages.Our We loved every part of the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our favorite "wow" moment I would have to say was Volterra. We had never even heard of this place and were excited to see it. It was beyond amazing. The history of this town alone and the fact we were in such an ancient place was surreal. Our tour guide did an excellent job walking us around the village and giving us detailed history of all the significant places."

Janice

Cameron Park, CA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Smooth. Tour went without any real hitches and when one almost occurred our guide was prepared and no glitches occurred.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing David. The guides set us up for a spectacular first sighting."

Timothy

Setauket, NY

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Best vacation I've had in my 54 years. The hotels were situated ideally close to major attractions and were clean, comfortable with pleasant personnel. Our leader Nina was full of knowledge and advice that helped us make the most of our time both with the group and on our own. the guides at the attractions were energetic and fun to listen to and had passion about the places we were at. The food was good and healthy, and the rest of the tour group was fabulous.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to list"

Bobbie

Huntersville, NC

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

WOW! I could stretch that out to 500 characters, but I couldn't say it better! The length of the tour and depth of information was excellent and about all I could take in at one time. Also, I was glad we started with Rome, as it was intense and I was ready, but it also laid the groundwork for so much of the history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved Volterra, and also Lucca. It was fascinating to experience that much history still flowing and appreciated by modern inhabitants. All of our guides were excellent and shared our enthusiasm; it was just fantastic!"

Lorraine

Elmwood Park, NJ

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall, the tour was a great experience. We had a wonderful group of people and Nina was exceptional. Besides offering information about the sights and places, she was able to share experiences of living in Italy. There was a good balance of togetherness and being off on our own. Nina provided valuable information and guidance to help us enjoy our own time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was wowed in Volterra when we looked over the wall and saw the Roman Amphitheater. Nina did a good job of ensuring the surprise."

Kathie

Lenexa, KS

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The whole experience was wonderful. We stayed at very nice, comfortable hotels. Everything went right on schedule and transport from one place to another was efficient and comfortable. The dinners that were provided were delicious and fun. Our group could not have been better. Everyone was cooperative and friendly and they would be people I would love to travel with again. The Heart of Italy tour took us to wonderful cities although we added Venice on our own after the tour.

David

Leawood, KS

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Just the right mixture of planned activities and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The coliseum."

James

Okotoks, AB

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The overall experience was excellent, we will definitely do it again! I liked the blend of group activities and free time. If you wanted help or information, it was always there, but you could do your own thing at times. One of the guides talked about being a traveller, not a tourist. That really hit home for me - this type of tour will let you be a traveller, and get to know the places you`re visiting a little bit better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The time we spent in Volterra was the best for me. The local guide Annie who lives there, married to a local man, really brought the history of the town to life for me. The combination of the beauty of the area, and the history of the area was very powerful. When we learned more about the town's history during the sacking from Florence, and the occupation during WWII, I really got a sense of the people's pride in where they lived and who they are, and what it might have been like."

Ray

Alachua, FL

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Another great Rick Steves' tour that delivered everything as promised and met my expectations. There is much value in time and more sightseeing opportunities when someone else makes all of the arrangements.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Cinque Terre definitely! I have been watching Rick Steves' travel shows for 20 years and always wanted to visit the Cinque Terre. Everything was awesome - the mountains, the sea, the hiking, the weather and the food. Such incredible views on the Vernazza-Monterosso trail and a cold beer waiting at the end of the trail in Monterosso!"

Mark

Elmwood Park, NJ

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

the tour was everything and more than what I expected. Our guide (Nina) was exceptional, the local guides very informative and the tour group all jelled like family

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Vatican was my wow moment. The Sistine chapel is something that has to be experienced to fully appreciate it. Saint Peter's is so enormous that photos don't do it justice"

Sam

Santa Rosa, CA

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

First tour for me as all previous travel on my own. Good value, excellent tour guide and nice mix of hectic and relaxing. Nina's charm, sense of humor and ability to quickly define the Italian culture was refreshing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Voltare was pleasant surprise. Rome is necessary evil...overwhelming but so necessary if visiting Italy for first time."

Dominic

Belmont, NY

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Taking our first trip to Italy we thought a RS tour would helps us navigate through the business details of the experience. We were right! Great hotels, smack in the middle of the action, museum and bus tickets ready for us, a comfortable bus between cities and fantastic dinners took care of virtually all the details on the tour. Experienced guides, fantastic meals and our group's camaraderie made this trip an unforgettable experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It REALLY is difficult to pick one moment that stood out but if I had to pick just one I'd give the nod to the dinner in Levanto. It started with our host (and cook) Carlo, who welcomed us with a glass of Prosecco and a pesto-making demonstration. A seafood lover, I was knocked over by the variety and number of seafood dishes that he had prepared for us. Every taste bud I had was awoken at that meal...and the limoncello!"

Veronica

Setauket, NY

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was very happy with Rick Steves' Tour. Our Guide- Nina was friendly, knowledgeable and truly passionate about her work. Our experience was going to be a good one!. I enjoyed everyone in our group. Our hotel experience was positive- accommodations were neat and clean and the attendants were friendly and helpful. The city guides were excellent. Food was delicious and mini excursions like wine tasting were great. I will definitely recommend Rick Steves' to others!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Vatican in Rome- was so amazing, the history, St Peter's Basilica, The Sistine Chapel- breathtaking."

Paige

Okotoks, AB

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first tour ever and I was so impressed with the experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow moment was the great group of people in our tour group. Italy is a fantastic country and I loved seeing the `Heart` of it and I was so impressed with the people I was able to share this experience with."

Mary

Leawood, KS

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed the tour immensely. My expectations of the overall Italian experience was very high since I had been waiting many years for my "dream trip". I wasn't disappointed. Our guide, Nina Dierckx was very knowledgable, intuitive and fun. Having some planned activities and a block of free time each day provided a good balance. The group was very cohesive and really bonded. Choices for cities and sites met our needs. We did add extra time in Rome and Venice to the trip on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved hiking the trails of Cinque Terre. My many wow moments were looking down on the cities after a challenging climb. I was happy to go back to Levanto to stay since the main cities were so crowded."

Barbara

Huntington Beach, CA

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steves tour and definitely not my last. This was by far the best vacation I have ever been on! I was kind of concerned going solo, but not to worry! I had the very best group of travelers I could have ever dreamed of, and had a fabulous time! Besides the best group, I had the best guide, the best hotels, the best group meals, and the most fun and educational experiences! I'm almost afraid that no other trip could top this one!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several, but walking into the little town of Volterra was like someplace out of a storybook. Loved it there! Also, walking the trails in the Cinque Terra and seeing the Mediterranean for the first time. Beautiful! Also, David and the Duomo in Florence were definitely WOW moments. Honestly, the whole trip was a "pinch me" experience!"

Diana

Woodbridge, VA

Tour: 05/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour experience was excellent. We had just the right mix of group time and personal time. Nina was an excellent guide. She provided support as we needed it and was always sharing information as well as, personal stories. The restaurants that we ate at as a group were outstanding. We would not have been able to find all of these restaurants if we had been on our own. I would definitely encourage others to take this tour and I would consider taking another Rick Steve's tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many!!!! A "wow" moment for me was spending time at the colosseum and the forum in Rome. The history and time span for this area was amazing. The town of Volterra - the history of the Etruscans and the history of the town. Cinque Terra was beautiful. We had perfect weather and we were able to hike between the towns."

Kathryn

Tucson, AZ

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful tour guide, wonderful group of fellow-travelers, wonderful sites. I loved my tour

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved Volterra and Cinque Terre (but then I loved the whole thing)"

Laura Lee

Kaysville, UT

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great experience, I will defiantly use Rick Steves again when I travel to Europe!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow moment was seeing the countryside of Italy. I loved Tuscany, it was so beautiful and peaceful."

Robert

Lilburn, GA

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had high expectations for an enjoyable tour having followed Rick Steves on PBS for the past few years. I was completely surprised by the experience because it far exceeded my hopes. The planning and professionalism displayed were awesome.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A couple in our group had celebrated their fiftieth. The Rick Steves people were notified by the couple's daughter and we had the opportunity to share their moment thanks to our tour guide Karin. It was a very touching scene at one of our group dinners and very much appreciated by everybody in our group. This was not the only personal touch during the tour. It seems the Rick Steves people go out of their way to make their tours special experiences."

Louis

Minneapolis, MN

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The entire tour was fantastic - it was a perfect balance of scheduled activity and free time, of seeing historical sites and experiencing the culture of the region. We had a terrific group of 28 people, got to know each other well and had a lot of fun traveling together. This was my first Rick Steves' tour - but I'm a huge fan. We will definitely do another one soon.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We visited an alabaster shop in Volterra where we watched an artisan create a bowl for our group. It was my wife's birthday, and without our knowledge, our tour guide, Karin, arranged to have the bowl given to her as a surprise birthday present. It was a very special moment thanks to Karin."

Cheryl

Commerce Township, MI

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was the first group tour we had ever taken - two previous trips to Europe were on our own. We had a wonderful time and really loved our tour members. Our group clicked right away and we had a blast. It was great to have someone else do the heavy lifting so we could just show up and enjoy! Clearly, being on a Rick Steve's tour brought much clout based on the reaction of shop keepers, restaurants, hotels. Can't wait to sign up for another trip!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow was when we first saw Cinque Terre - breathtaking!!"

Debra

Minneapolis, MN

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Destinations were all fabulous. There was a nice balance between art and historical sites in Rome and Florence with the more peaceful, beauty of the smaller towns and countryside of Volterra, Lucca and the Cinque Terre. This tour also was well balanced in the amount of tour group time and on your own time. What made this tour great was the special events like the wine tasting, the alabaster demo, the pesto demo and the special dinners, none of which could have been experienced on our own!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I celebrated my birthday on the day we were in Volterra. After the alabaster demo, I decided I wanted to buy the alabaster bowl that was made while we were watching. When we went back to the studio to buy it, we discovered that it had already been sold. Later that evening at the wine tasting, I discovered that Karin found out it was my birthday, purchased that bowl and gave it to me as a birthday present from the entire tour group making it the best day and the most memorable birthday ever."

Gary

South San Francisco, CA

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was better than our wildest expectations! All the tour guides were infomative,personal, and fun to be with. Especially Karin. We enjoyed the history and art expertise of our guides. Very enjoyable and educational for me. We saw more of Italy in a better format than if we had tried on our own. Yet still had enough time to ourself. Outstanding! Thank You and all your staff. Sincerely Gary

Favorite "WOW" moment

"2000 year old arciteure,the skill of the craftsmen and artists. Michelangelo!s DAVID."

Shelly

Temecula, CA

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Heart of Italy Tour was nothing less than spectacular! This was my first time to Europe, and it will not be my last. The people we met, the food was incredible, beautiful country. The tour provided excellent planning for what we came to Italy for, and ample free time too. We as tour guests met as strangers, and said goodbye as friends. The overall experience exceeded any expectations I had; it only kept getting better along the way! Wonderful experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"ALL of it !! The Italian culture, the FOOD, the people. Ancient Rome to the Vatican! Sistine chapel To be able to walk on a road that Julius Caesar walked on; to be inside the Sistene Chapel where Michelangelo spent 4 years painting! Volterra and Lucca's charms. The people of Italy. Cinque Terre to Florence. The Italian countryside was gorgeous! And again, the food!! The entire tour was a "WOW" moment!!"

David

Commerce Township, MI

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Karin is an exceptional tour guide, knowledgeable, experienced and fun to follow! We had exceptional weather (I've already forgotten the 2 hours of light rain just before we left Rome). Our tour group was exceptional, ready for adventure and fun. Did I mention that everything was exceptional? This was our first Rick Steves Tour and it won't be our last. What I liked most was that the tour insures you experience the "must see" sites, while providing plenty of time for on your own exploring.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every single day was a "wow" moment day. If I must pick one moment, I would say that the half day we spent in Lucca was my "wow" of "wow"s. It was so charming! To some extent, I think the city walls keep this beautiful town isolated and protected from the hussle and bussle of today's world."

Vanita

San Jose, CA

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Outstanding experience. Excellent local guides and Karin is awesome.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"During our second day in Rome I thought about how there are real people living real, modern lives among all the history of the place, and the juxtaposition of the "now" against the "ancient" is something that we don't experience in America. Walking in the Colosseum and the Forum and realizing we were following the footsteps of people who lived there over 20 centuries ago -- that was a "wow" moment."

Lexie

Arlington, VA

Tour: 05/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were very impressed with our guide and with the local guides that worked with our tour group. They were all excellent. I very much liked the pace of the daily activities and the variety of activities. I appreciated that we got a good bit of time for our own explorations, as well as the great tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There are just too many "wow" moments, but walking into the Accademia and seeing the statue of David was breathtaking. Then so was approaching the Cinque Terre by boat and seeing the Sisteen Chapel ceiling."

Susan

Temecula, CA

Tour: 05/09/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I really enjoyed the whole tour. Donald White was an excellent tour guide. The only difficult part of the tour for me were the local guides. At the Vatican Museum tour the local lady was hard to understand because of her strong Italian accent. There was a lot of standing in one place while she spoke and it was boring since she was so hard to understand. The same at the Colosseum. That lady was also Italian and her accent was difficult to understand.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved going to Lucca and riding a bicycle on the city wall. Another WOW was going to Cinque Terre. I hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza and it was fantastic. Also the hotel in Levanto made us an amazing buffet dinner. It was so delicious!"

Janet

Cincinnati, OH

Tour: 05/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide Donald was great. He made the most of the time we spent on bus and pre-tour to make sure we would all get the most out of every visit and place. Kudos to him for making us a cohesive group who enjoyed meeting new friends while we visited so many wonderful locations. And the weather cooperated nicely! Italy in May is a treat, sunny days, cool evenings, it was just perfect. The meals on our tour were feasts, each one providing great local tastes with food and wine.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Sistine chapel. It really does meet all expectations, and thanks to our guide we were able to see so much. a real joy."

Mary

Fallbrook, CA

Tour: 05/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Each day was packed with interesting sights and facts. The meals were fantastic and hotels well appointed and in very close proximity to the areas of interest. There is no way we could have experienced the flavors Italy in such a personal way without the tour and fabulous guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"While in Volterra, we were standing in the archway of the ancient city gate. The guide was explaning the heroism of the citizens during the seige by the WWII German forces. I looked at the "still intact" gateway and the plaque honoring the valient Volterran effort and felt the chill of history beyond a textbook!"

Frank

Anaheim, CA

Tour: 05/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well organized and well paced. Saw a lot in 9 days.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Michelangelo's David."

Laurie

North Richland Hills, TX

Tour: 05/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Donald White was an excellent tour leader-very knowledgable-would have liked to have had a little more time with him but I understand he is trying to please 27 people and checking on arrangemetns for other upcoming tours. I am not a "tour" person but the way your tour was constructed I felt I had plenty of time away from the group so my husband and I could venture on our own without any of the hassles of transportaion and accomadations.The dinners we did have together were excellent

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cinque Terre - strenuous hike but worth it- breath taking view around every corner! Runner up Uffizi Gallery - Cindy was a Great guide - massive change in the museum since I last saw it 30 years ago!"

Randall

Buffalo Grove, IL

Tour: 05/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved it. The guides were all very knowledgeable, the scenery (both urban and rural) were spectacular. The relatively small group (27) made traveling as a group enjoyable. And nearly everyone in the group was a joy to know. The days were a nice mix of group activities and independent time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The group dinners were one of my favorite parts of the tour (I love trying new foods), though some of the other activities (e.g., the wine tasting in Volterra) were quite memorable as well. The drive through Tuscany on the way to Volterra was gorgeous. Actually, most of the tour was spectacular (we had great weather, which helps immensely)."

David

Fredericksburg, VA

Tour: 05/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have toured major European/Asian cities on our own before. We wanted to see the major cities in Italy but also some of the smaller towns. We found ourselves with a very short travel window that was coming up fast. We went with the Rick Steves Heart of Italy Tour and it met what we were looking for. We enjoyed the other people we met on the tour. We found the meals to be something to really look forward to. Our guide was really first class!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Sistine Chapel. I had seen TV and articles on it but just walking in and looking up..."

Martha

San Diego, CA

Tour: 05/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful group of people, excellent guides, great itinerary!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Fantastic guide of the vatican and sistine chapel. Our guide made me so appreciate something that I had seen before but never really understood! That and our fantastic group meals...such fun and so fantastically delicious!"

Denise

Fredericksburg, VA

Tour: 05/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was a wonderful experience. I would recommend Rick Steves tours to my friends. We will most likely try another tour. Everything was well organized and all details were taken care of for us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was seeing Michelangelo's David. It was very beautiful and pictures do not do it justice. It is magnificent!"

Edward

Fallbrook, CA

Tour: 05/09/14

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

I think there were pros and cons of the tour. In my opinion 27 people is too large a group. I also feel that there has to be a better way to transport baggage from the bus to the hotels. It is not you fault that the Vatican does not limit the number of people allowed in at one time. So the Rome experience was not so hot. The rest of the trip was really good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking down the street from our hotel in Levanto and seeing the Mediterranean."

John

St Joseph, MO

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Good to Great

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chinque Terra and Rome night walk"

Jim

Youngsville, LA

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great trip. We had a great tour guide (Stephanie) and a fun group of people. Lots of walking but that is the best way to see the sights. Rick's phrase book really helped and it was fun to try to use Italian with meal ordering, transportation on our own and with shops and vendors. Using local transportation as a group with our guide, eg the Metro and city buses, in Rome instilled confidence and was fun. The local guides we picked up in Florence, The Vatican, and Voltera were great also.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"walk from Monterosso to Vernaza and exploring towns on our own. Also the "feasts" we had as a group"

Jean

St Joseph, MO

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very organized. Delivered more than was promised.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cinque Terre...relaxing and beautiful. A nice respite from museums."

Paul

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Our Tour was VERY GOOD and the best part of our trip to Italy. The tour is so compact with information, education and experiences. The term tour is exactly what is. You can not call it a relaxing vacation. Perfect for me!

Frederick

Irmo, SC

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

trip was as advertised and more than what we wanted, including a great group of traveling companions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"No particular moment, our first trip to Italy and first Rick Steves tour, entire trip rated a wow moment."

Gail

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We loved the experience. We traveled for another week and a half after the tour ended and we missed having things planned and run smoothly.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This was a trip we planned on taking for years they were all wow moments in there own way."

Mike

Kerrville, TX

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

All aspects of the tour were handled with professionalism. Very enjoyable time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"All of the historic sites in Rome."

Carrie

Allentown, PA

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Magical! The perfect balance between organized activities and free time. Meals together allowed friendships to develop and generated lots of laughter. Perfect combination of big cities and small towns. Excellent choices of towns for historical reasons--I never would have gone to many of them on my own--good flow of busy days and relaxing days.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a tough question--there were so many. In the end, the thing I remember most are the people, the conversations over meals and the stories and laughs we shared together. I'm still smiling everyday as I think about this trip. I wish I could repeat it again and again. It was truly a special time. I miss saying Bongiorno to everyone every morning at breakfast."

Deborah

Irmo, SC

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our Heart of Italy experience could not have been better. We were blessed with the perfect tour guide, exceptional food and accommodations, and wonderful fellow travelers. The tour was everything I hoped it would be. The pace was perfect for the active traveler. For anyone contemplating a Rick Steves tour, I would say read his books and watch his documentaries. What you read/see is what you get.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved it all. So many great memories to savor."

Patrick

Kailua Kona, HI

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great organization, very tightly scheduled to maximize experience and number of sights. Guides all very professional and knowledgable. Good mix of free time with advice on other sites and experiences to see. Accommodations were all very nice, clean and extremely well located. I would say that the locations all allowed for easy self navigation of areas and also cut down on travel time either walking or transiting to areas. Ideal for walking to sites and neighborhoods.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cinque Terra - location of hotels, and 'feast' night with the owners of the hotel. 'Pesto' experience was great! Having dinner in Volterra at local eatery Annie and Stephanie recommended - we turned on Andreas Bochelli song at our table for more ambiance and one of the owners/daughters came by and said ="oh you like him? We went to school together...when you leave you'll drive by his mother's house, you should stop and say hello to her for me."

Arnie

Edmond, OK

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed the tour very much. I liked the educational aspect, especially the "classes" on Pesto, Alabaster and Wine. I definitely felt I got my money's worth.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Florence was great. Smaller city than Rome and easier to navigate with an abundance of art to appreciate."

Gail

Apopka, FL

Tour: 04/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We've been traveling on our own in Europe using RS books, but decided to tackle Italy on a RS tour. This tour reinforced our good practices, but more important, took us to Tuscan hill towns and the Cinque Terre, which we might not have done on our own. I also learned the value of a good local guide; quoted prices always seemed high to me but now I realize how much time a local guide can save while also providing valuable insights on artwork that make a museum tour that much more enlightening.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Entering the Colosseum blew me away. Local guide Francesca prepared us for the size and grandeur of this architectural wonder, but she kept telling us that photographs and videos can't do it justice. She was so right! Standing inside, I could imagine the roar of the crowds and see all the seats filled with colorful people. Other favorite moment was spotting Rick as he was filming in Monterosso. We asked if we could take a picture with him, but he said he was rushing to catch the fading light."

Robert

Apopka, FL

Tour: 04/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Glad that my wife and I did this tour. We've been traveling on our own (using the RS books), but we felt that Italy was overwhelming. Now we are much more confident about tackling hill towns and the Cinque Terre. We also learned how to use an establishment's restroom. Just order an espresso! The tour was well organized and the members were an interesting mix of folks. At the first evening meal members got to know each other, but I never felt that we had too much togetherness.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Entering the Colosseum and feeling very small. All of our guides kept explaining how the size of the buildings and statues were built to impress visitors and enemies with the rulers' power and wealth. Even with half the walls gone, the Colosseum still impresses."

Elizabeth

Dayton, MN

Tour: 04/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour definitely exceeded our expectations. The small group size was a real plus - we could see and hear without difficulty, and it wasn't a struggle to stay together (even in Rome). I thought the pace of the tour was good - the best that could be expected for the time available. (We would have loved a longer tour but couldn't take more time off work.) With two nights at each location, we weren't constantly packing/unpacking. There was a good balance of "group time" and "on our own time."

Favorite "WOW" moment

"If I absolutely have to pick just one "wow" experience, I think it would be the Etruscan arch in Volterra. It was a combination of impressions that made it extraordinary: the beauty of the arch, the skill of the builders who constructed something that has lasted so long, and the sense of ongoing history in the community. The local guide, Annie, did a very good job of telling the stories in a clear and lively way. She provided enough information without overwhelming us with details."

Cheryl

Encinitas, CA

Tour: 04/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first tour and I did go alone, and I have to say it met all my expectations and more. The tour guide was outstanding. She had a great sense of humor and ability to guide all of us without seeming overbearing. She was very knowledgeable and gave us many extra tidbits about life in Italy. Her assistant was also very helpful, and a nice compliment to Nina. Sarah was quieter, but very capable and always ready to assist. The itinerary was complete and full.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Watching the sun rise in Volterra. Such a beautiful village."

Ella

Grapevine, TX

Tour: 04/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Nina and Sarah were wonderful, they made the trip so meaningul! The places we stayed, the tours we attended and the food was all great. The people in our tour group were also a fun group to be with, so it added to the experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"That is a difficult question...there was so much WOW. The tour of the Colosseum...WOW. The journey to Volterra and then how beautiful the town and the wine tasting...WOW. Cinque Terre beautiful village and beach...WOW."

Gary

Columbus, OH

Tour: 04/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful experience with a small and lively group. Tour guide and site specific guides were great with lots of knowledge. Everything always felt very organized and according to plan, even when plans changing.

Eileen

Dedham, MA

Tour: 04/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour guides were outstanding!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Vatican"

Marlo

Houston, TX

Tour: 04/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I kept an open mind about this tour since I had only heard via the grapevine about them. I can definitely say that I will consider trying another Rick Steve's tour in the future and have already recommended them to others. I truly enjoyed the sites we saw, the people we met, and the time it took for to get it all in. For me it was just the right pace. Jamie and Laurel were great and truly appreciate them sharing their passon and expertise with me and my family that I toured with.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My Wow was getting a birds eye view of the Cinque Terre. Me and a few others ventured up the trails by Vernazza and as we came upon a nice scenic view, my breath was taken away from the shear beauty of view. The steps going up did a nice job of that too, but I was truly in awe."

Norma

Alamo, CA

Tour: 04/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall wonderful! Great food, wonderful group and I learned a lot. Jamie is very knowledgable about the local food and wine.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow was probably the Vatican. So much history and powerful stories."

Debora

Sedona, AZ

Tour: 04/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I fell in love with Italy[INVALID][INVALID][INVALID][INVALID][INVALID][INVALID]- the people, food, sights, history and art combine in a kaleidoscope of whirling senses. Rome dazzles with its old and new dancing together with elbows poking into tummies, backs, and shoulders at a wildly pulsing pace. Oh, the lovely Tuscany countryside... both soothing and thrilling with Spring flowers and baby grapes climbing fragile branches. Hiking along the Mediterranean on a cliff path between Cinque Terra's villages that cling in a rainbow smear o

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "Wow Moment" shook me to the core in increments; over the course of our journey in Italy, I realized that a gigantic wonderful world awaits me beyond my own little country's borders. We are one gigantic family!"

Nathan

Humble, TX

Tour: 04/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was GREAT!. We had a great time, and the tour was everything we wanted and more

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Can't figure that one, the whole tour was a wow moment. Italy of course can make the wow moments easy, just by being there. But the Tour was great, toure guides were excellent. ***JAMIE*** Where is the ketchup !!???? :)"

Diane

Mercer Island, WA

Tour: 04/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded my expectations. Nice hotels with bathrooms, excellent food & wine, plenty of time at all sites except David, great value, super tour guides in each city plus invaluable Jamie & Laurel. The weather was perfect except one short day of rain while on the bus to Florence. Good amount of free time to break off in smaller groups with our new best friends. I learned so much about Art, History and the culture. The trip of a lifetime.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking the Cinque Terre down into Monterosso with a view of the Mediterranean. Finishing the hike by taking our shoes off and walking in the water then finding sea glass in the sand. Afterwards a lovely lunch, wine and gelato. Life doesn't get much better than that."

Adam

Tualatin, OR

Tour: 04/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was great! This was my first group tour, and it was so nice to have everything planned for me. I was able to relax, go at my own pace, and enjoy my time in Italy. The tour was the perfect blend of informative content as well as entertainment. I would go on another Rick Steve's tour in a heartbeat.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was when we arrived in the Cinque Terre. It was so visually stunning, it's hard to put into words. When people think of Italy, I doubt they picture a place quite like that. Staying in Monterosso al Mare was perfect. A close second was seeing the Colosseum in person. The ancient Romans were so impressive and this structure speaks to that."

Ellen

Redmond, WA

Tour: 04/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful family vacation. How fantastic that there were SIX (very nice) high school kids on the tour, four new friends for our daughters to eat group meals with! The mix of "formal/informational" tour and our-choice free time was perfect. Stephanie's excitement for knowledge and understanding of the history, art, and modern life of Italy was infectious. She turned every moment into an opportunity to understand more about the country, inc. food, language, culture, etc.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking around Florence, turning the corner of a regular street and seeing the Duomo for the first time. I had no idea it was so ornate, spectacular, and right there in the middle of everyday life."

Ellen

Bellevue, WA

Tour: 04/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very nice fellow travelers and great locations and activities. Very packed schedule.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Riding rented bicycles around the walls of Lucca on a beautiful spring day - fabulous!"

Toni

Lyons, IL

Tour: 04/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was outstanding! The smaller group and lots of free time for exploring made this a great vacation. It's clear that a lot of planning and thought went into every day: the selected hotels, restaurants, tours with local guides were all just right. Everything was perfect.Stephanie and Sara were great! ALL the tour guides were clearly passionate and dedicated to sharing their Italian heritage. I would have never seen as much in so little time on my own.I have the pics to prove it!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Entering the grounds of the Forum, at 8:30 ona Tues morning and being the first ones to arrive. There was an ethereal quality surrounding the experience."

Catherine

Seattle, WA

Tour: 04/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour exceeded my expectations _ it was exceptional! This being my 9th RS tour, I had several experiences to compare it to and enjoyed every minute. Our tour guide Stephanie and her assistant were very warm and engaging and worked hard at providing some fascinating background. I would love to travel with them again.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Entering the Forum early before any other groups were there and having it all to ourselves. It was truly like stepping back in time - the silence was eerie as well as magical."

Madelyn

New Bern, NC

Tour: 04/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As first time tour participant, I was very pleased by level of organization as well as flexibility for free time with helpful suggestions and encouragement to venture out on our own from tour staff. The expertise of the specialists as well as their passion for the subject matter really made the tour extra special.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking into Piazza Navonna in the evening after a group dinner;entering St Peter's Basilica; emerging from stairs in Florence Basilica to be feet away from frescos, and walking out of train station with the view of the sea in Cinqe Terra."

Peter

New Bern, NC

Tour: 04/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have been to Europe a number of times, travelling on our own. This was our first time joining a tour group. Pretty much every aspect of the tour exceeded our expectations. The guides who directed the overall tour and the local guides were EXCELLENT !! The tour group participants were of all ages and backgrounds and got along extremely well. In fact, you found that you were looking after each other as though you were family.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment had to be climbing the Duomo's Dome in Florence. While the climb up was certainly a challenge, the views from the top were spectacular."

Rhonda

Prescott, AZ

Tour: 03/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steves tour and we were not disappointed. I was a little concerned about the accomodations before the trip began, but was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the rooms. Lisa was great, very welcoming to all members of the tour and the information and insight she provided was exceptional. We also enjoyed very much the mix of big city and small town experience. Overall, a wonderful experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we opened the french doors from our room and took in the view of Monterrosso, I was blown away. A great place to sit and take in the scenery. It was a welcome contrast to Rome. (although we thoroughly enjoyed Rome as well)"

Kimberly

Carol Stream, IL

Tour: 03/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My very first experience with Europe - I chose Italy and Rick Steve's tours to be my 'traveling companion.' What a wonderful trip - the sights, the guides, the people on the trip, the conversation, food, culture, art. All a study for me, all taught me much more than I ever would have learned by myself. While it's important to see the sites, it's more important to travel quietly and blend in with the local people. This tour allowed that and more.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra was my favorite portion. Anna described the Etruscan way of life and I fell in love with these fascinating people who rebelled against the Romans, against the Germans, salvaging as much of their way of life and their city they loved so much. Celebrating it's history, partaking in its arts, drinking its wines, eating of its wonderfully simple and pleasurable foods, tapping and humming to its music, it was a delight for body, mind and soul."

Connie

Kent, WA

Tour: 03/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a fantastic experience; I enjoyed every minute of it. Everything was very well planned. The guides, Lisa and Colin, were absolutely wonderful, and so good about answering every question. They have so much patience. The hotels were clean and comfortable. The dinners are continuing to live in my memory; so tasty. The group that I was with was exceptionally nice. Thank you for a life-time of memories.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow moment" was opening the windows in our hotel (Hotel Pasquale) in Monterosso Al Mare, and hearing and seeing the beautiful sea. It was magical. I thought to myself; I really am in Italy on vacation! There were many "wow moments" when seeing the statue of David, the painting of Venus, and Michelangelo's Pieta, but there was something magical about the Cinque Terre, walking the hill path near Vernazza."

Marjorie

Asheville, NC

Tour: 03/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful! Fantastic! Great! Both Lisa and Colin were great, and I enjoyed spending time with every tour member. The additional guides were also great. Every place we visited was wonderful, and the guides made it even better. Our tour dinners, and other tour activities were so much fun!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I didn't have a specific "wow" moment. It was an overall concept for me: that I was seeing art in the spaces it had been created for, as well as seeing Roman ruins. Since I've seen pictures of much of the art and encountered the Romans throughout my education, seeing it all was an incredible thing for me."

Cathie

Las Vegas, NV

Tour: 03/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was really a wonderful tour. I was so impressed with all that we were able to see and do in a day but still have time for ourselves.

Sandra

Flushing, MI

Tour: 03/16/14

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Good describes it but I was not left with the overwelhming sense of WOW as I was when I traveled to Ireland and France. Some of that is because those trips were longer - I felt in Italy I was just getting warmed up and it was time to go home so the lesson for me is perhaps longer is better. I also misunderstood our time in Florence and was very disapointed at not having time to climb Brunelleschi's dome.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view of the sea from our hotel in Montorroso was unbelieveably beautiful. That coupled with the food and the trail made that my most memorable location."

Susan

Reno, NV

Tour: 03/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our overall tour experience was all we had hoped for and more. It was our first time to Europe and we are very happy we decided to book with Rick Steves. We will be return customers. It was fantastic! The pace, amount of structured activities along with "free" time was perfect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me, I enjoyed it all, however, there was one moment...seeing Michelangelo's Pieta inside St Peter's Basilica. I got chills and tears in my eyes instantly."

Barbra

Sandpoint, ID

Tour: 03/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My experience was fantastic. The tour was well organized. Can't imagine any area that needs improvement. Guides, hotels, and food all perfect!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was in "WOW" mode from the time we landed in Rome, until we departed Venice. Italy is a wonderful country full of charm and beauty."

Mary

Liberty Lake, WA

Tour: 03/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Lisa and Colin were organized, knowledgeable, professional, and very fun to travel with. I had total confidence that they could handle any issue that came up. Their language skills were excellent - I marveled at how Lisa could go so seamlessly from English to Italian. They were always polite and pleasant, even when we got a bit rowdy....they just said something like 'order in the court' which made us all smile. Loved Lisa's local connection and stories of her transition to living in Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many!! Loved the history and beauty of the art galleries and basilicas, but also loved the beauty of the rural areas of Tuscany .... but being a water person, the Cinque Terra stole my heart! I could plant myself there for a long long time!!"

James

Prescott, AZ

Tour: 03/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was such a pleasure overall, from the choice of hotels near the city centers, to the skills of Lisa & Colin, to the effortless access to museums, the Vatican, etc. Lisa was an energetic guide who provided insights into real life in Italy, made us take the city transportation and encouraged our interactions with the locals. The choice of the towns was wonderful, and in addition to the smaller towns, I was surprised at how much I liked Rome aside from the ancient wonders.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In the Cinque Terra the choice of hotel Villa Steno in Monterosso al Mare with our great room/porch views was a definite wow, as was the view from above Vernazza from the trail into town. Culturally, always having known of the statue of David by Michelangelo for so long but actually seeing it there in Florence was amazing. Sorry - three wows here."

Mark

Reno, NV

Tour: 03/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first experience with a guided tour and it couldn't have been any better! Lisa Anderson our guide was terrific. She had a assistant this tour learning the Rick Steves way and he (Colin) was great also. We are confirmed to repeat a tour with Rick Steves. I thought the hotels were fine, the guest tour guides were fun and informative, the group dinners were very nice. We hope to travel to Scotland with Rick Steves tour group next!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The basilica was jaw dropping to me. TV and photos doesn't do it justice. It was amazing. Volterra was also just wonderful."

Dianne

Houston, TX

Tour: 03/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I love the smaller group size and more active aspects to the tour compared to other tour groups. The hotels were all so convienently located and provided all of the services of much larger hotels. The choices of food provided was excellent, and our guide provided great choices of restaurants when we were on our own. Our Rick Steves guide was better with information of history, locations, etc. than any of the city guides we had.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walk from Vernazza to Monterossa in the Cinque Terre and all of the wonderful food."

Carolyn

Houston, TX

Tour: 03/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I could not have asked for a better tour, its tour guides, Jamie and Patricia, and our specific group of wonderful people. Also, the local guides were tremendous! I feel we saw more than I could ever have seen had it not been for "Heart of Italy in 9 Days Tour".

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think seeing the statue of "David" and the Cinque Terre were my "wow" moments!"

Susanna

Toronto, ON

Tour: 03/09/14

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

This was my first group tour and overall it was a positive experience. I was the only solo traveller but found all my fellow group members to be friendly and welcoming and I always felt I was part of the group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had previously visited Italy 12 years ago as an independent traveller and chose this particular tour as it re-visited a number of my favourite places and works of art. So, this time I didn't have the "wow" moments e.g. seeing David and the Botticelli paintings in Florence; however that didn't diminish the joy at seeing them again!"

Robert

Allen, TX

Tour: 03/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Was reluctant to do an organised tour, as I generally like to do my own research and make my own plans. My family and I loved this tour. Our tour guide organized and planned all the logistics, and also served as an expert narrator of the places we visited. With so much to see in Italy, it is vital to understand the history of all the cities, monuments, churches, museums and ruins that you visit and the guides made this possible. Excellent trip!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking into the Sistine Chapel. Walking into St. Peter's Basilica. The Pantheon, The Coliseum, Uffizi Gallery, Michelangelo's David, Trevi Fountain, The Spanish steps, Vatican museum, Ancient Roman ruins, Florence, Brunelleschi's incredible Dome in Florence; Cinque Terre...how do you pick one? I'll go with the Gelato."

Kimberley

Baxter, MN

Tour: 03/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

First thing, it was absolutely fantastic!! We were blessed with 9 days of SUNSHINE and perfect temperatures!!Cool in the morning and night, lovely during the day!! Jamie knew soooo many things and was very helpful and organized! Patricia was a sweetheart to help us out with the language barrier and the "unplanned" train strike up at the Cinque de Terre!! All the hotels were great for their locations!! near train stations, metro stops and just being able to find them once we on our own!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing on the Levanto boardwalk watching the sunset!!! Strolling down onto the beach to feel the sand on our feet and breath in the smell of the SEA!! All the people from 80's to babies sitting and running around speaking in Italian! Laughter and smiles have no language barriers to worry about to just ENJOY!! Grazie!!"

Charlotte

Seguin, TX

Tour: 03/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had an absolutely wonderful experience on the Rick Steves Tour. The hotels were great, the food was amazing, and the guided tour time vs. free time was perfect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was riding bicycles on a medieval wall. You just don't get to do that everyday. We were lucky that the weather was perfect when we were there."

John

Nevada City, CA

Tour: 03/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The knowledge of Jamie was outstanding, It was more like sitting and conversing over each piece instead of a teaching. It was so enjoyable. We laughed we walked..... and soaked up the scenery.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow moment was getting to touch the walls of the Collesium. to be able to touch something so old and full of history, I wanted it to fill my bones. Its so amazing to have this time captured."

Kenneth

Greer, SC

Tour: 10/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour from start to finish. Daniela and Andrea were excellent and knowledgeable tour guides. Really appreciated the expertise and passion of the local tour guides. They added greatly to the tour experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Experiencing the Coliseum and the Forum under the outstanding guidance of Francesca provided the most outstanding highlight of the tour, though other moments such as David in the Uffizi and Saint Peter's were wow moments as well."

Dwight

Jacksonville, FL

Tour: 10/27/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

We have been on many (9) previous Rick Tours so knew what to expect. We were not disappointed with the experience. Our tour ran like clockwork and everyone we encountered associated with Rick Steves tours--including the local guides were excellent. My one disappointment was with the wifi in the majority of our hotels. Today most people want to stay connected and it was difficult at most of our hotels--you could only receive wifi signals in the lobby. Would be an easy fix and so much better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our wow moment was seeing the David. Seen it before but it is always beyond expectations."

Judith

Seattle, WA

Tour: 10/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Going on tour gave us a. worry-free transportation. b. guides who prepared us to thrive on our own for our next trip. c. knowledgeable, friendly local guides - without them, we would have come home relatively impoverished of information. And they were such fun. d. unexpected experiences, such as watching a master alabaster craftsman at work, a lovely wine-tasting in Volterra, feasts in Rome and Levanto. e. wonderful folks with whom to share friendship, experiences, and knowledge.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Can't pick one. It was a perfect trip. But prior to the tour, I can state that our first perfect moment in Italy was when we successfully managed to get ourselves seated outdoors at a restaurant in Rome and then ordered dinner. All made possible by the Rick Steve's Italian phrase book!!! We knew then that we would not only survive, but thrive in Italy. Thank you, thank you, thank you..."

Catherine

Apo, AE

Tour: 10/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a really great group. Super inquisitive but not overly so and it was very easy to get along with everyone but I think that's what Rick Steves' tours are all about; just letting your guard down and being open to new people/things/ideas. Our guides were REALLY great and had such a unique perspective on buildings and artwork in general because of their backgrounds and what they're working towards so I think we actually got a little more information out of it then if we had be with othertours

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really loved seeing Florence's Duomo. The colors were SO unexpected then all of a sudden BAM! pink and greens! I think the guide really got a kick out of watching our faces as we rounded that corner. I know she laughed at me because I was SO taken aback!"

Shawna

Newcastle, WA

Tour: 10/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The abundance of art, history is overwhelming. Not only Rome and Florence, every little town and village has it's own treasures and history to tell. I wish I had studied more western history before the tour so I could have appreciated more what I saw.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was struck by the little towns endurances, histories and treasures as much as by the art works and Cathedrals of big cities. Be it the grape yards, the beaches or the wines, each town is a little country on it's own. Years ago I read a novel,"Secret of Santa Vittoria", about a little Italian hill town, on the way of retreating Germans, toward the end of WWII. The mayor and townspeople hid a million bottles of wine from the Germans, successfully. Santa Vittoria is real and well."

Florence

Manhattan, MT

Tour: 10/20/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Overall it was a very good trip and we were able to cover a lot of territory.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The wow was visiting Cinque Terre and especially the boat trip back from Riomagiorre to Montemoroso."

Deborah

Durham, NC

Tour: 10/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall tour experience was everything we hoped for and more, despite a minor health issue. We felt very well prepared thanks to the pre-tour communications from the home office. The guidebooks were so valuable, especially when we were on our own. Even still, it took a few days for us to feel confident in our ability to get around.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cinque Terre and lunch at Trattoria dal Billy! Uffizi Gallery"

Laurie

University Place, WA

Tour: 10/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was really a great experience. Starting from our visit to Test Drive a Tour Guide, right down to sharing a taxi to the airport with other members of our tour. I really could not have hoped for a better experience. In reality every experience is based on the people and each and every person was someone I would enjoy a bottle of wine with. Does it get any better than that?

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The David!"

Sharon

Fort Worth, TX

Tour: 10/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Rewarding. I enjoyed all the walking, seeing, learning, and from central locations. It was a great overview at a good pace for a first-time visit to a region. It was fun to hike the hillside vineyard (and other places-). The tastes are important, too, so really enjoyed that part. A RS tour affords the valued op for experiencing a culture without having to handle the details, personally. Guides are great people!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra! felt like stepping back centuries in time with its cobbled and narrow streets and its complicated and convoluted history. Wished for a peak into a dwelling - AND Monterosso al Mare, perched beside the Mediterranean Sea. The colors, sights, sounds, tastes (Anfora Belvedere) and smells. Buildings clinging to vertical walls: How did they DO that, given when they were built?"

Lilly

Athens, GA

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our 5th RS tour. We keep thinking we will do Europe on our own but RS does such a great job of booking nice hotels in good locations, providing excellent guides, quick access to the biggest sights, and giving super information is hard to pass up. We had been on a RS, Rome 7 days tour in the past, this tour gave us a chance to see another part of Italy's culture, art, and history. The smaller towns of Volterra, Lucca, Cinque Terre, and big Florence. We were not disappointed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Getting to see in person the art and architecture that you only have seen in books or movies is thrilling. The explanations by all our different guides really made a difference in being able to appreciate what you were seeing. The David, Colosseum, Sistine Chapel, Pantheon, . . . wow, wow, wow."

Gary

Athens, GA

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour, great guides and great traveling companions. My 5th Rick Steves' tour and I have never been disappointed. Thanks for providing these back door tours!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Ludivica in the Vatican, Francesca in the Forum, Ciindy in the Uffizi and Annie in Volterra - Those crazy Etruscans set the stage for Rome."

Tom

West Linn, OR

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very well organized, excellent tour guide, the right balance between organized stuff and on your own time. We saw and did things that it would have taken much longer to do on our own - no lines, dedicated transportation, a guide who knew what to do and where to go all made a big difference. The local guides were exceptional - really brought where ever we were to life.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were lots, but 3 stand out - St. Peters Basilica, the David, and the little Tuscan town of Volterra."

Richard

Kingston, WA

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Heart of Italy Tour was just what I wanted, big cities with museums and churches balanced with small villages with local artisans and family dinners. Our group was a pleasant mix of independent thinking, considerate camaraderie, and constant inquisitiveness.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had thought the Uffizi Gallery and Michelangelo's sculpture of David was the best. It was. Then, we entered the Museo Galileo. Inventions through the ages engage my interest near to obsession. I was on a high point after Rome, discussing Roman concrete, sunbaked brick, and column origination with our Roman Forum guide. To my amazement, I was light on my feet, with lively eyes, ready to roam the halls of genius. Telescopes, great and small; lens grinding machine, gears and all. Oh, My!"

Nancy

Richmond, VA

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was a little worried that a group tour was not for me, but was pleasantly surprised to learn how much I did enjoy it. I think some of it was luck...the group dynamic was great and the weather was just about perfect. But most of it was due to the professionalism and joy brought to the party by Rick Steves' tours. The guides were incredibly knowledgeable, the accommodations were comfortable and centrally located, the itinerary was well planned, and I had a wonderful time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I can't pick one wow moment. I think the best part was all the storytelling by the guides. They brought art, history, and politics into the moment for us, and made it really interesting."

Michael

Palatine, IL

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My first trip to continental Europe and Italy in particular and I was exceedingly pleased. Our tour group was small enough to be quite manageable and we were very compatible as a group. In addition to just "seeing" the myriad sites and art works the guides gave us a real insight into the history, culture and times, as well as some insights into current events also. Accommodations were quaint; meals were plentiful; travel was comfortable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I'm not much of a "wow" guy. I rarely give "better than expected" reviews because I expect outstanding and I was not disappointed by my Rick Steves experience."

Marlene

Torrance, CA

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Local Guide Francesca's tour of the Roman Forum and everything about our visit to Volterra. Bike riding in Lucca was a refreshing break."

Hillary

Potomac, MD

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my third Rick Steves tour and it was definitely the best. The destinations were lovely and enriching; our guide was excellent, and all the tour members were just delightful, which also enhanced the tour experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me, it was when our local Lucca guide took showed us the facade of the old roman ampitheater and then took us behind the facade into the "arena." It opened to a beautiful sunny scene of tables and umbrellas, shops, art, people having fun. It looked like paradise..."

Sandra

Green Cove Springs, FL

Tour: 10/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful. All I hoped it would be.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cinque Terre."

Darlene

Saskatoon, SK

Tour: 10/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. There were many Wow moments.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit to the Vatican & St. Peter's Basilica"

Anne

Saskatoon, SK

Tour: 10/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first guided tour and it surpassed all my expectations. Tour delivered what it promised & more. It was a delightful experience, and it was great to leave the planning details to someone else. Many people comment that other tours are "Europe through the windows of a bus", and clearly this cannot be said about this tour. We had a great group of travelling companions that bonded well & we made some lifetime friends.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Cinque Terre. Such picturesque area and so relaxing."

Steven

Everett, WA

Tour: 10/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Rick Steves' tour took care of the logistics of the trip - hotel, transportation, schedule, etc. This saved the effort of stress and logistics of travel. Members of the tour group were great! We had exceptional guides - Nina was exceptional as our overall tour guide. The local guides in our travel were exceptional as well. Location & service at our hotels was great! I couldn't think of a more perfect trip! Tours of museums saved us a lot of wait time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was the tour of the Rome coliseum and the realization that any salvageable marble was removed and hearing the historical aspects of that time. The self sufficiency and survival of Volterre through all the conflicts was pretty amazing. The other aspect of the time was the number of individual city-states that existed during that time. Another incredible moment was the tour guide's explanation of the composition of art and how the Renaissance changed the way of life."

David

Saskatoon, SK

Tour: 10/11/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

As this was the first tour I have been on, it is difficult to compare to any other tours. However we have used Rick's books on other European junkets. My over all feeling was one of enjoyment. It was nice to have someone else arrange most of the details, allowing us to sit back and enjoy. Having knowledgable guides greatly increased the educational value and gave us a much better grasp of different cultures.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The scale and grandeur of the Collesium and the surrounding Roman ruins."

TerriLee

Anchorage, AK

Tour: 10/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We loved the cities visited. Every tour specialist was extremely knowledgeable about the area they were presenting. The guides presented with personality and telling the story of each place which made it very interesting. The tour was well organized. Nina, our tour guide was fabulous. She was orderly, kept everything on time and went above and beyond to answer any questions we had. When we had a question regarding places to see after the tour, she provided us the information.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We loved Volterra. This was such a quaint place! Even though we have been educated about the history of Rome, it was incredible actually experiencing it. It is amazing how they have preserved the history and all the buildings."

Valerie

Anchorage, AK

Tour: 10/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very well supported tour with efficient organization and good use of the buddy system; enlightening program. Appreciate each hotel being a two-night stay, and the mix of crowded touring with individual touring.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra"

Walter

Palo Cedro, CA

Tour: 10/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was very good as well as the places we stayed at. Our tour guide was excellent, with a vast knowledge of the areas we visited. Our first tour after our initial meeting was a little rushed in trying to see the many places that was on the agenda. In the future, I would suggest allowing more time to cover the same agenda. Other than that, the food was great and the experience was unforgettable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The coliseum in Rome."

Mike

Green Cove Springs, FL

Tour: 10/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Exactly what we were looking for. The right mix of led vs. free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"St. Peter's rome"

Kristen

Basking Ridge, NJ

Tour: 10/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first tour and I decided to do this for my 40th Birthday. What a great decision! I thought the tour was extremely well run and very organized. My tour guide's knowledge of the areas we visited exceeded my expectations, plus she was fun, charismatic and very interesting to boot and offered a lot to our group in the way of information outside of the scheduled tours. I learned so much more about Italy than I could have imagined or read about in a text book.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Unexpectedly getting to see the Pope and attend a mass was the highlight of my Vatican experience. It was surreal."

Judith

Seattle, WA

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was quite a rapid pace , as you indicated. I found it helpful to practice my walking skills prior to going. I enjoyed the people, as well as the sites we visited. There were places that I wish we could have had more time to spend...but then again, that is a reason to return.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have been to Italy before (5 years ago). My wow moment was learning new information...so Volterra was it for me."

Stan

Barrie, ON

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Tour was good, but had better tours with Rick's people it lacked wow moments for me. Our guide did not offer up any information on the history or customs of the people, walks where awkward with her reading from her little orange book.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Enjoyed ancient Rome and guided tour of the Colosseum. Loved Cinque Terre."

Donna

Bellevue, WA

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thought the trip itinerary was very well planned out... hotels were centrally located, and our guide, Margaret was jus delightful! She did a great job!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The trip in general was surreal for me... seeing the Sistine Chappel was amazing, as was the Statue of David. the people ere great!"

Heather

Seattle, WA

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A great tour with lots of experiences packed into busy days. Really fun group of travelers, excellent guide, comfortable and colorful hotels. Full but flexible itinerary, engaging local guides, great shared meals. Countless learning experiences: art, history, food, language culture, etc. Overall, a delight.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Feeling thousands of years of human history, creativity, and struggle expressed in the structure and design of St. Peter's Basilica (and, especially, Michaelangelo's Pieta). Greek culture, Roman culture, Jewish culture, Christian culture, Italian culture, today's world culture--human culture endlessly re-inventing itself in a search for peace and belonging, sometimes remembering and appreciating what has come before, sometimes disregarding or discarding it, but always, unavoidably, deeply human."

Gary

Sonoma, CA

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

it was great tour,had a lot of fun

Favorite "WOW" moment

"the pantheon"

John

Carnegie, PA

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a tip of a lifetime for us. Prepared by reading the tour information answers from tour staff we hit the ground running. Our guides were wonderful. Each time we went to a location or site we were given a lot of information on what it's history meant and what to do. Due to what was a frenetic, jam packed tour it did become quite rushed at times. The museums and countryside were great. The people in our group were really cool and that added to it. I embraced it all and am inspired.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"As we cascaded down from the top of town with the clickedly, clack of tourist baggage bouncing off the narrow streets and walls my wife and I fell in love with the beautiful Tuscan town of Volterra. Out the window of our hotel I peered down on the little shops and up the walls over the tiled roof across the street out over the countryside down the valley out to the mountains. I said to our tour guide who just happened to look out his window at the same time, "This is exactly what we wanted""

Jim

Houston, TX

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great. The hotels were a perfect blend of proximity to the city, clean, and full of character. Our guide Reid was very helpful and knowledgable. The other members of the group were a unique compilation of individuals from across the US. We made some friends that will be lifelong friends.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is so very difficult to list one. How do you order the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo's David, Cinque Terre or the Pieta? If forced to list one it might me David but......."

Marleah

Portland, OR

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was exactly the experience I was hoping to have on my first trip to Europe. It did not disappoint! From our great guide, Reid, the local "expert" guides, accommodations, meals, excursions - this was a really wonderful experience. What a great time, and a really great group of people to share the experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the statute of David, followed closely by seeing the indescribable beauty of Tuscany. These memories will stay with me forever."

Nancy

Bismark, ND

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

I have a very favorable memory of the trip. I would like to comment on the advertising of a 9 day trip. It seems that a more accurate description would be a 7 1/2 day trip. Our guides were outstanding. They were very knowledgeable and informative.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The beauty of the Cinque Terre was my "wow" moment."

Tom

Perry, GA

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The overall experience was grand. Getting the feel of life so long ago gave me a renewed appreciation of our debt to those who have given us the covilization we enjoy. I enjoyed both our guide and the people with whom we shared this experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was pretty much a "wow" from start to finish. If I had to pick only one (or two) I would call it a toss-up between the morning in the Coliseum and the town of Volterra. In both I felt I was living my history."

Lora

Perry, GA

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We could never have experienced so many must-see sights if we had attempted this trip on our own. Our guide Reid did his best to assure that we saw as much as possible in the seven (not really nine) days we toured (First day began at 3:00 p.m. and the ninth day ended with a very early breakfast). The local guides that joined our group were outstanding...my favorite was the very passionate fellow at Lucca....but they were all GREAT!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many wow moments, it's hard to choose just one, but I'd say that the most astounding site for me was walking into the jaw-dropping duomo in Florence. The most amazing town to me was Volterra. If I had to define the wow factor of this trip in one word, it would be "overload.""

Paul

Redwood City, CA

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Such a great experience- the trip of a lifetime. We saw so many beautiful and interesting places, learned so much, and very much enjoyed our fellow travelers. The diversity of locations was great- from the vibrancy of Rome and Florence to the rugged beauty of Cinque Terra, and beautiful vistas and interesting streets of Volterra. There was a good mix of tour time and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Just one? There were so many. Rounding the corner in Galleria dell' Accademia and seeing the David for the first time took my breath away."

Christine

Miramar, FL

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Awesome

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved Volterra and monterrossa .. Hard to choose one."

Joseph

Calgary, AB

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent from the word go! The tour was well planned, the other tour members were fantastic to travel with and I had been introduced to Italy in the best possible way.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many moments to list here... standing in the Colosseum where millions have passed over two millenniums , the forum, rounding a corner and being shocked by the size of the Pantheon, wine tasting in a centuries old cellar. However, my wow moment of all wow moments came when I discovered how the Colosseum in Rome was financed and then what happened to the riches. Are you kidding me? WOW!"

Sherry

Huntington Beach, CA

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

First tour ever and first time to Europe. The hotel choices were nice and our tour guide was excellent.

Nancy

Auburn, CA

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We all had such a great time. Our group all got along so well and I think it is because of the tone set by our fearless leader Virginia. She was fun and enjoyed herself and it was infectious on all of us. I liked the mix of locations chosen from the bustle of Rome to the wonderful narrow streets of Volterra, to the pretty town of Lucca, the wonderful beach town of Levanto and finally to the city of Florence. All so different and loved them all.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was so wide-eyed the whole time, I don't think I had one wow moment."

Lori

Calgary, AB

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I recently took part in the Rick Steeves Heart of Italy tour. Not only my first Rick Steeves tour but my first 'tour' of any kind. I have always chosen to plan my own trips in the past. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour overall, really blessed with the a wonderful, diverse, compatible group of co-travellers and our surprise laden guide Virginia : )

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing under the oldest arch in Italy - in Volterra - the rain pouring down - our local guide Annie telling the story of how the villagers had lifted all the stones off the cobblestone road in one long night, used them to pack the tunnel tight to prevent the germans from blowing up their beloved arch. Beautiful tale of human courage, determination and community."

Jean

Charles Town, WV

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Met all my expectations. Hotels, food, transportation, guides, sights--all exceeded expectations, really. Great mix of independent time and guided time. So wonderful not to have to wait in line for museums.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Unexpected "wow" moment was the coloseum and forum in Rome. I had been looking forward more to the Tuscan, Florence experience and found I had a real visceral (positive) response to these old ruins. Our guide made the experience flow as well."

Martha

Canton, OH

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Heart of Ilaly tour was jam-packed with great cultural experiences, beautiful scenery, great food, and wonderful company. Some days were, in fact, overloaded to the point of exhaustion. But there was just the right amount of structure and freedom. The cities were well chosen to represent the "heart" of this part of the country.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was seeing the David in the Academia in Florence. A close second was the charming hilltown of Volterra and the views from all around."

Carmen

Mill Valley, CA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Since this was our first organized tour, we cannot compare it to others but we were very pleased.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Civita and Bagnoregio."

Julianna

Houston, TX

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were slightly skeptical about going on a tour however this was our first trip to Europe and we were overwhelmed with travel planning to a place we had never visited. We were pleasantly surprised at how professional yet personal our Rick Steves tour was. The itinerary was well thought out and we felt like we were able to see the best of the cities we we visited both with the group and on our own. The best part of the tour was our guide Nina. She truly made our experience wonderful!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many on this trip but one that stands out is walking into the Academia and seeing Michael Angelo's David. It was a dream come true to see it in person. It was raining outside the day of our visit but we walked right passed a very long line of people waiting to get in, walked right through the main lobby and ticketing area, were ushered around the corner in the museum and there it was...Michael Angelo's David. Wow!!!"

Herb

Canton, OH

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Being , in the past, independent travelers I wasn't quite sure that a tour was right for us. We enjoyed every aspect. Nina , our guide, was outstanding and added much to the trip The group was made up of like minded people that worked well together. The tour was well organized and first class.

Alan

Charles Town, WV

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was all I had hoped for and more. I loved learning about Italy and Italians through our guide Nina's eyes. I loved the "tour" parts of the 9 days (including museums, churches and other sites, and especially our meals together) as well as the non-"tour" parts when we explored, and dined, on our own. I loved learning and practicing Italian. I loved spending time with our fellow travelers. I had expected all that. Had not not expected that I would enjoy so much our guide and our fellow travelers

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I enjoyed every destination: Rome, Volterra, Lucca. Cinque Terre, and Florence. Honestly, though, my true "wow" moment was the taxi ride from the hotel to the Florence airport. Wow."

Dianna

Olympia, WA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My overall tour experience was amazing! Our guide, Nina, was the best! If you've never been to Italy before, this is the way to go! You check off all the coolest places you've dreamed of, and there are special moments and experiences that will make it memorable for a lifetime. Of course, in a way, it was a survey of sights. I will definitely have to go back and spend more time at the incredible places. In Rome, there's something spectacular everywhere you turn!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite 'wow' moment was the Vatican. You have to stop and study/appreciate every intricate, gilded detail. There's modern art and Michelangelo. I was surprised, even confused in the Vatican. Despite a history Catholic clashes with alternate religious beliefs, there were statues of Roman gods/goddesses in the halls. I found myself in awe, and yet melancholy. With wealth and splendor on showcase, there are people in the world who don't have food or access to clean water and sanitation."

Kathleen

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour involved everything I wanted to do. I really wanted to taste "real Italian food" and the four meals we had with the group were outstanding. Besides sampling the local cuisine I was able to get to know the other people who were on the tour. Easting together was a great way to build group solidarity. I wanted to see the great art and we were able to visit the galleries with ease, especially when they were crowded.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really enjoyed the restaurant we visited in Florence with the two brothers who seemed to delight in presenting the food with great flare and taste. It was apparent they enjoyed what they were doing and wanted to share it with us. Charming hosts!"

Paul

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Good pace, including enough "down" time to do anything - or nothing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The high winds and driving rainstorm during our first night at Monterosso. We were enjoying hearing the waves from the sea as we went to sleep, and then were awakened around 12 or 1 (I think) by the marvelous storm."

Cynthia

Stillwater, MN

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

HMMMMM, where do I begin? That's the hardest part. I've been raving to everyone upon our return what a fantastic "adventure" this was. And that is truly what it was[INVALID]an adventure. It was an educational experience we would not have had on our own. We were treated as adults with NO DOG TAGS hanging around our necks advertising we were part of a tour group! I never felt like part of a herd being shepherded around or led by the hand being fed what a large organization felt I should know.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many! The Colosseum and Forum stand out, as well as just the plain ole' good fun of riding bikes on the wall in Lucca! In general, all the architecture in each city stood out--always hard to imagine something took hundreds of years to build and is still standing after thousands! Attending a Mass in Rome was quite surreal. All WOW moments."

Dean

Stillwater, MN

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The people we met on the tour were exactly like we hoped they would be. We made new friends that greatly enhanced the trip. The overall experience was very good. The hotel rooms, breakfasts, bus and train travel, and tours were all handled very well. We saw many of the main attractions and were given enough free time to relax and do the things we wanted to do, often with new friends in the group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In Rome, it was seeing the Coliseum. In Lucca and Volterra, it was the walking tours. In the Cinque Terra, it was the views. In Florence, it was seeing the David statue and the city views."

Linda

S Reading, VT

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Our tour guide, Nina, was very efficient and well verses in all subjects. She earned whatever she is paid, accommodations were great. I was a bit disappointed in the food . I think Boston's North End superior! Now, for the crowds!!!! Too many people, lines everywhere!! Didn't get to enjoy the Vatican tour because we shuffled from one area to another! Guards in Sistine Chapel SHOUTING "Silenco!" Very disappointing! Rick Steve's guides were all excellent! Best part of trip-Volterra!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Etruscan Gate in Volterra!"

Jolene

Gurnee, IL

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had wanted to visit Italy when my husband retired and we're so glad we did, and so glad we did it with a Rick Steves Tour. We were not disappointed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Although Vatican City, ancient Rome, the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchio in Florence were certainly on my bucket list and were absolutely awe-inspiring, my favorite "wow" moment was opening the french doors, stepping out onto the balcony of our hotel room in Monterosso, and standing amidst the tops of the orange trees, looking out over the Mediterranean..."

Stephen

Hartland, WI

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The coordinated transportation, access to museums, excellent tour guides, and like minded participants made the trip a great experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"David in Florence. no picture can do justice."

David

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The guides were amazing, the tour group itself was filled with people that were a joy to hang out with. The structure of the tour was just right, with enough free time that my wife and I never felt like we were constrained by any arbitrary decisions. It was the perfect combination -- you guys took care of all of the things that drive me nuts, and we were able to find our own way during the free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Oh gosh, there were more than one having an emotional moment while seeing the David for the first time, seeing Vernazza as we descended the trail from Corniglia (best beer and pizza ever), and group dinners that were always filled with laughter and wine."

Karen

O'fallon, IL

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was all I could have hoped for and then some! It was a fun group to tour with and our guide, Margaret, was great. I enjoyed the "tourist sights" and the out of the way spots we explored. It was educational and casual, all at the same time, each and every day. We were never bored! The food was very good at each stop and it was fun enjoying with our group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Our guide was very good and helped me appreciate the art he was showing us."

James

O'fallon, IL

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was as promised and frequently better. Only things over which the company has no control were disappointing. On self-guided tours (using your books) in London and Paris, including all the major sites and museums, I felt a part of the city. The crowds, especially tour groups, in Rome and Florence were overwhelming and distracted from the overall enjoyment. It was difficult to appreciate these cities as anything other than a tourist destination. Lucca is a bad afterthought, drop it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery. The postcard places (Vatican/St Peters, Colosseum, etc) were as expected, but the Uffizi was an unknown to me. The breadth of the art and the insights of the art historian guide held my undivided attention every moment."

Charles

Reynoldsburg, OH

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Seems like every aspect would rate at least an "8" on a 1-10 scale - including all the tour guides, time spent touring vs free time, group meals, hotels, other guests, even the weather mostly cooperated.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pick any of the following - David, first glimpse from the street of the Duomo, or the Forum / Coliseum tour."

Ken

Custer, WI

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a great group and that made the whole experience so much fun. Our days were well planned, with a good balance of scheduled sites and free time. It never seemed rushed. The only thing that could have made it better would have been less time on the plane getting there and back.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Colosseum was a big "wow". Volterra at night with the fog rolling in was a quiet "wow"."

Ron

Madison, WI

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed my tour. It was simple , you show up and they have this wonderful tour all set to go. Our guide Virginia was truly a delight. She was great at keeping the group organized and On time. She was also great at springing little surprises along the way. The other part I really enjoyed was the amount of free time we had to explore on our own. I never felt that we were being rushed from one tour to the next. it was very relaxing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My personal favorite moment was the architecture. I come from a building back round which really gave me an appreciation for what it must have taken to build all of these grand structures. The craftsmanship was incredible where ever you looked."

Carol

Madison, WI

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We couldn't have been more impressed and thrilled with our first, but not last, Rick Steves' tour. First of all, Virginia our guide was bubbly, full of information, and so much fun to spend time with. The balance of planned versus free time was just right. We appreciated the Back Door philosophy teaching us how to navigate the metro, trains, and buses. The daily activity rating was accurate. We felt fortunate to benefit from the knowledge, wisdom, and deep expertise of the local guides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Although it's hard to select a favorite, I would say that arriving in Volterra was a wow moment for me. This was my second trip to Italy but I had not visited any small towns on my previous trip. I loved this quaint and picturesque town and it was a lovely relief to decompress after the hectic business of Rome. I especially loved our walking tour with Annie, especially the Etruscan history and Museum which I knew very little about."

Sharon

Port Gamble, WA

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The experiences just kept coming. Great food, great local guides and a terrific tour guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being in Cinque Terra. It can't be described in words or pictures, it has to be experienced. The hike from Vernazza to Monterossa was the highlight of the trip. The cold beer afterwards wasn't bad either!"

Susan

Dolores, CO

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had thought when reading the RS website and books that Rick's emphasis on packing light and being fit/active walkers would cause people to self-[INVALID] and that we'd likely have a lively group that matched our interests. And what a terrific group! It was like a traveling party! Because the tour was so well organized and led by our guide, Virginia, we alternated between stepping lively (like Americans) and "floating like Italians," all without any worry on our part. It was lovely.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The ancient city of Volterra was a "wow." We loved the hidden away feel of the place, the thick stone walls, the extra narrow streets, the grand view out to surrounding countryside. Local guide, Annie, made the Etruscans come to life for us. Her husband, who hosted our evening of tasting wines deep in his vaulted cellar, was a delight - his motto seemed to be "wine is not so serious, wine is for drinking!" We loved, loved, loved the Volterra experience."

Jo

Vancouver, WA

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I don't know where to begin! This was my 2nd RS Tour and it was fantastic. As usual, all of the tour guides were outstanding, and by the end of the tour we all wanted to adopt Virginia (our primary guide). She did such a wonderful job explaining Italian culture and her sense of humor and enthusiasm were infectious. The tour itself was perfect for my first time in Italy. I really wanted to experience "a little bit of everything" and this tour did not disappoint. Oh, and the food!!! :)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Boy, that's a tough one...to pick one favorite moment?? When I left Rome, I thought "Oh, I can't wait to go back!". Then I went to Volterra and thought "Oh, I could stay here for a month!". Sestri Levante..."The food! I can't get enough of the food!". I am still dreaming of Florence. This whole trip was one big WOW moment for me."

Vivian

Newcastle, WA

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was everything we were hoping for and even more! We weren't sure how things would be traveling with a group of strangers, but we soon all became good friends. We had a great mix of people and personalities, but most of all, an outstanding guide, Virginia. She was awesome, made the trip a lot of fun, and give us great tips for traveling skills we needed when we ventured off on our own. The sights we visited were awe inspiring, breathtaking, unforgettable, and more.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had no idea what I was agreeing to do, and probably wouldn't have done it if I had known what was all involved, but it was the Cinque Terre hike between #5 and #4. It provided us with spectacular views, comradarie with our fellow tour members, and I proved to myself I could be a hiker! Just wish parts of the trail weren't so narrow!!!!!"

Dawn

East Hartford, CT

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Outstanding tour and tour guide! Highly recommend to anyone who has never been to Italy or others who are looking to return.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Cinque Terra! Simply beautiful!"

Jeannine

Churchton, MD

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

If we had handpicked our tour companions, we couldn't have had a better group. Virginia made the trip very enjoyable. We saw many cultural sites but also just enjoyed each other's company. The guides were very knowledgeable adding to the overall experience. We really enjoyed the Heart of Italy tour as it allowed for both the cultural and people side of Italy to shine through. It was a good balance of tour time and our time allowing us to wander on our own and get back with the group later.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many it's hard to pick one from seeing the Coliseum and skipping the line to an amazing dinner in Volterra. The late night, boisterous dinners with our companions drinking much vino to meeting Lorenzo in Monterosso and sampling his wares to the postcard view from our room on the Italian Riviera."

Edward Lewis

Dolores, CO

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

In a word, the tour was "wonderful." It met or exceeded our expectations in every aspect. Our fellow travelers were all cheerful and eager to go each day. Our guide, Virginia, could not have been more professional. She was friendly and accommodating. Group activities and travel days were well planned and executed. Our skillful driver, Roberto, got us to our destination safe and sound and on time. The hotels and meals were excellent. The weather cooperated too. I'd love to live it all over again.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We had been to Italy before, so I knew what to expect from the countless churches, museums, paintings and statues that we would see. I was looking forward to hiking in the Cinque Terre, and I was not disappointed. The view from high on the trail between Monterosso and Vernazza was the highlight of the trip for me."

Wilbert

Groves, TX

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really had a wonderful time. I was a little skeptical at first about going with a tour group but we couldn't have had a better group of people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was when we came around the corner and there stood the Duomo Cathedral. It was almost overwhelming."

Robyn

Silver Spring, MD

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My experince was that it was the BEST of everything; guides, people, food, wine, destinations, weather, and humor. From the first day orientation to the "last supper", I felt not only well taken care of, but lead on a journey that was unique and exceptional.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many. However, it made a huge impact on me personally as to how Alfio had us see Michelangelo's David for the first time. Approching while walking backwards, hearing the history of and seeing his Unfinished Slaves, then turning to see David, was a very powerful moment for me. Also, the dancing after dinner in Volterra.... such a wonderful charming memory. We had such a wonderful group of tour buddies!"

Ashley

Highlands Ranch, CO

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall excellent. The tour guides, Alfio and Amanda were great, and we had a wonderful group that meshed really well-felt like one big family by the end of the trip. It was so nice to have all transportation and site reservations taken care of, which took a lot of the stress away from the trip, and left more time for enjoyment. Rome was crazy and crowded with tourists, so it made it even nicer to "escape" to the charming towns of Volterra and Cinque Terre that were not as crowded/touristy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There are so many - it's hard to pick just one. I would say maybe thinking about how much the scenery can change in such a short distance. In a matter of a couple of hours, we went from the rolling hills of Tuscany to the Renaissance walls of charming Lucca, to the Mediterranean Sea at Levanto on the Italian Riviera. All equally wonderful and full of unique personality in their own ways."

Dean

Mercer Island, WA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I have never traveled together in Europe and the initial thought of participating in an organized tour was far from our initial planning. We attended an open house and with a positive attitude decided to join a 9 day tour of Italy, Our group of 28 was at best organized choas, but somehow our guide Alfio brought it to life. Alfio as a native Sicilian was nothing short of fabulous. His insight and respect for what he was sharing made the trip tangibale and real.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pantheon and the feat of architecture. The Doumo in Florence. The statue of David that was presented to us in a way that everyone should expereince. Alfio placed us in a tight group facing the other direction and walked us backward towards David and when we were very close allowed us to turn and experience David up close and personal and not from the far doorway leading into the exhibit. Alfio treats the history and exhibits with a level of respect."

Kari

Mercer Island, WA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had an amazing trip! The passion and enthusiasm of our guides Alfio and Amanda only enhanced our experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Alfio carefully orchestrated our viewing of the David in Florence, it was an incredible moment, not to be forgotten."

Gail

Bowmanville, ON

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide Afio was fantastic and very knowledge and also was Amanda who will be a very valuable addition to your team. Had a wonderful trip and a trip of a life time. I learned. A lot about Italy that I didn't know about. I can't say or express enought how Afio and Amanda made us all feel like family and got to know the whole group anew all got to know each other and all got along and had a great time. I would recommend a tour like our for it was a good time and full of great memo

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The cathedral in Florance The church looked like It was covered in lace. Also the statue of David was breath taken All of Rome was unbelievably I love the trip"

Arlene

Winchester, CA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Alfio made our tours more eventful with his passionate descriptions of all that we saw and his selection of hotels and restaurants were wonderful. As I was the oldest on our tour, I had a harder time keeping up with the walks and the stairs, however, I would not have missed it for anything. I learned so much and saw so much beauty in Rome, Fierenza, and especially Volterra (which was my favorite place).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow moment was when we turned around and saw the statue of David for the first time. I didn't realize he was 14' tall and so beautiful. The Vatican and Sistine Chapel were elegant and elaborate, however I felt we were herded in like cattle. The crowds were very large and pushy. I just went with the flow and managed to see everything though."

Bill

Kent, WA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I can say that from the start we felt very comfortable with our tour guides and got to know our fellow travelers at the orientation. I felt that we had a good mix of people and Alfeo and Amanda brought us all together well. The tours were very well organized and we had plenty of free time as well. Traveling by bus was comfortable as we had plenty of room the spread out. We stopped often and were able to stretch our legs often.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The dinner we had as a group at Volterra , and afterwards we went out in the street and did Italian folk dances. It was totally unexpected and a very fun night."

Patricia

Bowmanville, ON

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was amazed with all the history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really enjoyed Volterra."

Carolyn

Kent, WA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our overall tour experience was, in a word, excellent! From the time we signed up, to the end of the tour, everyone was so helpful and knowledgeable, the details of the tour were well planned, and it seemed that no stone was left unturned. During the 9 days, we learned about and experienced a wide range of places, history, art, culture, food, and people. From the big cities to the little villages, it was a wonderful taste of Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"While there were many wonderful and memorable moments, it's difficult to top our evening in Volterra. The welcoming atmosphere at LaLa's restaurant (La Carabeccia), the chianti, the delicious food, the laughter and conversation within the group, more chianti, followed by our "surprise" of folk dancing with Luigi outside under the stars all added up to make one of my favorite all-time memories."

Terri

Cincinnati, OH

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My overall tour experience was wonderful! This was my very first tour experience and was not really sure what to expect. It completely exceeded my expectations, from the preparation before the tour, to the departure on the last day of the tour. The itinerary and the interaction in a different culture was great. I will definitely look forward to booking another tour in the future.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "wow" moment for me was the hike between Monterosso and Vernazzo. The views were breathtaking and the weather was perfect."

Jean

The Woodlands, TX

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I hoped that the tour was going to be in line with our expectations but it ended up being much more. From our first night in Rome to the last evening in Florence, we learned so much about life in Italy.Thanks to encouragement from Lisa, our tour guide, we explored the best sites in each town, tried local food and learned how to get around using local transportation to maximize our experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were a number of "wow" moments but our stay in Volterra was amazing. The town was a nice break after the intensity and energy of Rome (which we also loved). I loved the charm of this town and my husband liked the story of their stand against the Nazis during World War II. We also loved Cinque Terre. We hiked between Corniglia and Vernazza which we thought was fairly difficult but the scenery was spectacular."

Philip

New York, NY

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

What we did I could not have done without the tour. The balance of city, small town and beach area was perfect. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the group. Lisa our tour guide was born to do this. She was great. I wish we didn't have to start each day so damn early. It prevents us from enjoying the nightlife as we generally have to be in bed early.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I studied renaissance art a bit in college. One of my favorite sculptures, which I had only seen in art books, was Antonio Pollaiuolo's, 'Hercule's and Anteus'. Well one day on the tour we were walking through Florence on our own during some free time and I opened a church door to peek inside. And there in a glass case staring at me was this very statue. Amazing!! Stuff that you only seen in history books is waiting for you behind every door in Italy."

Catherine

Kirkland, WA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first tour with a group and we had some reservations. But we found this to be a great way to learn a lot more about a country, its culture, art and history. Lisa and the local guides gave us many insights we would have missed if we had not been on the tour. Our fellow tour members were friendly, good spirited and on time. We enjoyed having a good amount of time on our own. The vacation day from the vacation was needed and fun. The day before was overbooked and tiring.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Riding bikes on the walls of Luca. Seeing St. Peters Basilica at night. Vernazza in the sunshine!"

Joe

Memphis, TN

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first experience as members of a group tour and it was terrific. We were a bit anxious about the tour format but the experience was better than we imagined. Lisa Anderson was super - knowledgeable, personable, adaptable and totally organized. The "no grumps allowed" caution worked to perfection! Meeting the tour members and making many new friends was a real pleasure. All meals and accommodations were just great - much as we would have planned on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Touring the Coliseum in Rome with an excellent local guide!"

Jerome

New York, NY

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The "Heart of Italy" tour was very well organized and rewarding. Our tour guide, Lisa Anderson, was truly magnificent. I can't imagine a better guide than her. She made the whole experience entertaining, information and fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several highlights to the tour. I loved the special local guides that were lined up as well (eg: Volterra and Lucca)."

Paul

Kirkland, WA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our overall tour experience was excellent. Our guides were great, very knowledgable and full of energy. We came to see the art and architecture (which was great), but we also loved the scenery of the cities and countryside. We also enjoyed getting to know our tour members from all over the place.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, the "David", Rome's antiquities, and the Italian Riviera."

Joanne

Martinez, CA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

we loved Lisa and sharing with the other couples. There was so much information given, maybe a bit too much. We would have liked a little more leisure time at some spots. Other tah that we had a great time and ate well!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra and Lucca was amazing! we loved the area and it was very memorable"

Leonard

Prince George, BC

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

To this point, it has been the most memorable trip I have ever been on. The history, architecture, scenery, people and the tours were outstanding. It was very well organized and for the time available, a lot was covered. Our Tour Guide, Karin Kibby did a fantastic job, as did the local guides. I would do it again at the drop of a hat!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The favourite "wow" moments were MANY. I would not have beleived that a country was able to build around its history as the Italians have done. The churches, cathedrals, antiquities and beaches we visited were amazing. A "wow" moment at every turn. One can sure see why they have such a HUGE influx of visitors! What a beautiful place."

Michael

Qualicum Beach, BC

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent all-round! Good balance between activities, rests and free-time exploration.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to choose a favourite!"

Peter

Houston, TX

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was well planned, the hotel locations were well vetted, our main guide Karin was excellent and the local guides for the major attractions were truly value added.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Pantheon, the Colosseum and David were all "wow" moments. The Pantheon due to its size and age, the Colosseum due to its size and David due to its size, perfection and ability to stir emotion."

Cindy

Greenbank, WA

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many, museums, galleries, cathedrals, incredible architecture and the views in the Chinque Terra. But after a week home and still processing it all, I look back and see the sunset from the top of the Hotel Torre Guelfa."

John

Nashua, NH

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was great! Italy is a wonderful place! I would go back anytime! The hotels were comfortable, the guides informative, the travel well-organized, the other travellers interesting and friendly. I particularly enjoyed visiting Volterra and riding a bicycle around the town wall of Lucca. Both would have been harder if I'd not been on a tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being in the Pantheon and realizing that I was in a building that was almost two thousand years old and it was still in good shape."

Wayne

Kirkland, WA

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was truly our 'Trip of a lifetime'. A great group of 'travelers' but the main reason this went so well and was such a wonderful experience was our tour guide - Karin Kibby. She was simply great at what she did and seemed to truly enjoy guiding us thru our journeys. Her knowledge about the regions and history was amazing and added so much to our experience. We ended our vacation with a look back that was ...... that was perfect - I wouldn't have changed a thing!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our favorite 'wow' moments (sorry, have to include 3) were 1) the Sistine Chapel with the guide and Karin giving a great history of the events leading up to the painting and 2) seeing David in Florence and the great history of the art work in the Academia Gallery. 3) The Colosseum and Roman Forum. Awesome!!"

Douglas

North Vancouver, BC

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As this was our 4th Rick Steves' tour our expectations were high and you did not disappoint. Our group was excellent this time as with the previous 3. The No Grumps policy certainly works. The sites, locations, pre-paid admissions, breakfasts, dinners were all excellent. We will have a 5th Rick Steves' tour, and soon we hope.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Very difficult to choose one, but the wine tasting in Volterra was an eye-opener for me. My wife found the large waves and surfers at Levanto and the lovely sand beach, a wow moment. The views on the hike to Vernazza were special as well."

William

Alpharetta, GA

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I had never been to Europe before, so we went to a well-respected provider, Rick Steve's ETTBD. Our tour well exceeded our expectations. Our guide, Karin Kibby, was superb in her planning, organization, knowledge, and demeanor. The choice of destinations and the tours/events at them was great. Local guides added to our learning and enjoyment. The daily pace of tour and on-your-own time fit us very well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My biggest "wow" moment was entering St. Peter's Basilica."

Susan

Carlsbad, CA

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I really enjoyed our tour. We have always traveled either by ourselves or with a few other family members and/or friends. This was our first guided tour and we decided to try the 9 day tour to see if we would like this type of travel. We had a great group of very friendly, fun, and cooperative people. Our tour guide was excellent and the schedule was well planned. We were tired after the 9 days so we think that a 9 or 10 day tour may be the just the right length for us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My husband and I cannot think of just one "wow" moment. He is a builder and was really in awe of St. Peter's Basilica, the Pantheon and the sculptures. As I stood in the buildings or walking through the streets and piazzas I thought about the history and tried to imagine what it would be like. My favorite city was Volterra and my favorite "Happy Hour" bar was on top of the Hotel Torre Guelfa in Florence."

Tracy

Houston, TX

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

WOW, we had a wonderful trip. There was not a negative thing that you all could control. I would have liked to have been the only group in the Sistine Chapel for example and it would have been nice if it hadn't rained us during our tour of the Colosseum. We loved our guide Karin and all of the local guides were wonderful and Italy was wonderful. We are already planning on our next trip!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Oh, this is tough, so many "wow" moments to choose from. I got goosebumps when we walked in to the Pantheon, I wasn't expecting that kind of emotion. And seeing "David" in person was pretty incredible!"

David

Lake Oswego, OR

Tour: 09/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a great trip through Italy, and loved every minute of it. Our guide, Catarina, was fantastic - so organized, knowledgeable, and helpful in every respect, and our local guides at each location were also terrific and added so much to the experience. Our group was very compatible and we enjoyed meeting everyone and sharing stories and experiences. We can't wait to take another RS tour!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a tough question to answer, as there were so many - the Sistine Chapel, David, the Vatican Museum, the Uffizi Gallery, hiking the Cinque Terre, our night in Lucca during their annual music festival. I might lean toward the Sistine Chapel."

Diane

Wolfeboro, NH

Tour: 09/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well done !! I liked the size of the tour. The mix of free and planned time was great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many-each day had at least one " WOW" In addition to the ones you planned for us I also found out why pine nuts are called pine nuts. Florence at night from the top of our hotel (Torre Guelfa) was amazing. The Fountain of the Mostaccini, the Pegasus,the Grotto,etc at the Boboli Gardens. ( It was nice to get away from the crowds for a while). Anita Garibaldi's Statue and the view of Rome from up there. Watching Chloe's alabaster birthday bowl take shape. The list goes on..."

Ron

Menlo Park, CA

Tour: 09/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour guides were excellent, knowledgeable and attentive to tour needs. The makeup of the tour group was outstanding and the entire tour group of 28 travelers plus two guides got along very well and all interacted and mixed up groupings during the tour to not have just small cliches develop. The hired tour guides at each location were excellent in their specific knowledge of the subject, whether it was the Vatican Tour, the Forum/Coliseum, Volterra, Levanto, Lucca, etc. It added great value!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"See in the Forum and Coliseum in person and getting to tour around and inside both. Awesome sense of history, aided by the excellent guide we had for this adventure."

Bonnie

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 09/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The food was terrific, the tour guides were super! I loved the free time as well as shopping hints, sightseeing hints and help at the end of the tour. The hotels were great! The special dinners were unbelievably good. We are now R.S. tour believers. The folks in our tour were a lot of fun, always prompt, respectful of each other and enthusiastic.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was all wonderful, but I think the special events such as the amazing dinners, wine tasting, alabaster carving, excellent hotels, living history lessons were the best. The folks that provided the dinners were so proud to share their culture and special foods. I noticed that as the dinners progressed, the laughter and interaction of everyone on the trip increased as the evening went on. You might even call the group "Rowdy!". What a party!"

Richard

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 09/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

An eye opening adventure with a huge amount of information presented to us. The opportunity to make new friends while touring this fabulous area was a wonderful experience. The tours, the great [INVALID]ion of hotels and guides, and the sites we were shown as well as the opportunity to have plenty of time on our own to explore made a wonderful experience. We extended our stay by 3 days and traveled to Venice. The experience gained from the tour helped us with a great additional city visit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many. Understanding the history of the coliseum was a wow. The Cinque Terre area provided a huge wow."

Annette

Washington, MO

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The pre-tour communications were certainly accurate in describing the level of physical exertion to be expected daily. I think this contributed to a well-prepared group of travelers. Some days the walking seemed rushed as we made our way to reserved tours. Days in Rome were strenuous.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Etruscan ruins in Volterra."

Pamela

Mill Creek, WA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was a perfect mix of time spent with the group sight seeing and down time to do what I wanted. Cecilia was wonderful, as were all of the guids we had. Cecilia made you feel that she really cared about you having a wonderful experience. I was also really happy with all of the hotels we stayed in. They were all very diffrent but very nice rooms. The staff at each hotel were helpful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sitting in the tower in our hotel in Florence (Torre Guelfa) at sunset having a glass of good wine and being surounded by beauty. Every way you turned there was a beautiful view that was so"Italian". This kind of took my breath away."

Patricia

Rockledge, FL

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was all that we anticipated and more. The guides, the sights, our fellow tour members, the food, the accommodations were all just wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There are too many but one that stands out is the view of Florence from the top of the tower at our hotel. Taking in that view with a glass of wine and new friends is a memory I'll cherish. Also the view of Vernazza from high on the C.T. trail towards Corniglia was pretty spectacular."

Becky

San Tan Valley, AZ

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

So impressed by the whole tour. Our guide was outstanding. Just the right amount of balance between group and free time. Was more than I had expected. Had a great time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Cinque Terra area had the most spectacular views. Loved the more laid back feel in that area. If I ever return to Italy I will go there."

Thomas

The Villages, FL

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I liked it all!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Throwing the coin in the Trevi fountain in Rome, and climbing the tower in "The Castle" in Vernazza, cinque Terre."

Marie

Chicago, IL

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Trevi Fountain. Cecelia had explained all of the history and I had seen it in movies and pictures but nothing prepares you for its beauty and size. I wish I had gone back at night to see it again but we ran out of time-next trip!"

John

Rockledge, FL

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide was charming and genuine, the local guides knowledgable and the hotels comfortable. The pace was challenging at times but never extreme and the itinerary had a nice balance between organized activities and personal time. We consider our traveling companions to be our "tribe" in the sense that we were all looking for an atypical travel experience and were willing to react to unplanned events without complaint. A good time was had by all.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sitting above the rooftops of Florence watching a beautiful sunset with a great glass of wine...pretty hard to beat."

Daniel

Snohomish, WA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour experience. This itinerary was perfect. It was a good combination of big cities and small towns and gave us a well rounded introduction to Italy. This tour was also a good combination of scheduled and free time. Hotels were well located and comfortable. Included meals were very good. All guides were excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This being our first trip to Italy, the wow's were everywhere! If I had to pick one I would say touring the Colosseum would be at the top of our list."

Robert

Dudley, MA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was somewhat of a "do over" for us. We had been on a Rick Steves' Tour (Venice, Florence & Rome) about two years ago and, unfortunately, my wife was sick for much of the trip. When Pope Francis was elected earlier this year, it brought back memories of Italy, including how many things we didn't get to see. I decided that we would go back and hoped that this trip would create pleasant memories of Italy. I have to say that this trip more than exceeded my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several, but I would say that the visit to the Vatican was my favorite. Even though I had been there before, having Paolo as our guide made the visit exponentially better. His knowledge was amazing and his passion was infectious. I had a solid plan as to how to absorb as much as possible while at the Vatican. I'd need more than 500 words to tell you about my other "wow" moments."

Tamara

Bismarck, ND

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first tour and my first time in Europe. I'm so grateful to have had a first-time experience as positive as this one. Our guide was amazing. I felt she truly cared about us. She was engaged, responsive and really seemed to love what she was doing. I really can't rave enough about my overall experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have to choose one? Seriously? Well, as an art history major, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museum, the Uffizi, the Academia, the Pantheon, the fountains and sculpture and church/basilica art everywhere, need I go on? But then there was the Ruins, the Medieval towns, the Italian Riviera, the food in Lavonto (OMG!), our guide, Nina and the tour members - loved every single one!"

Linda

Dudley, MA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our third Rick Steves' tour and our second Rick Steves' to Italy ( VFR 2 years ago) and this trip far exceeded our expectations. The success of a tour is determined by many factors but I would say that most importantly, it is successful due to the leadership of your guide. Nina was extraordinary in so many ways.She was focused and organized and yet was funny,warm and personable. Our tour mates were friendly and engaging! We never wanted this vacation to end!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a tough question for me as there were so many "wow" moments! Seeing the David and the Sistine Chapel still gave me goosebumps even after seeing them 2 years ago but a special treat for me this time was something that Nina and our local Uffizi guide Ricardo made happen and that was for my husband and I to see the Vasari Corridor. We had arranged a tour with Artviva well in advance but cancelled on us when we arrived in Florence! So...thank you Nina & Ricardo ! You are the best!"

Fran

Atlanta, GA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Enjoyed the variety of experiences, from large cities to the countryside. Liked the mix of structured time and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A very pleasant experience, but no wow moments. On free day, vineyard walk in Manorola was special."

Margaret

West Linn, OR

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Good experience. Good leadership and group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Florence Uffizi and the Colliseum in Rome."

Connie

Mcminnville, OR

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I were part of a "Heart of Italy in 9 days tour". We both were pleasantly surprised with the whole experience. It met and went well above our expectations. I found it to be the perfect balance between group time and individual time. I can honestly say this is just the first tour of many more to come.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I'm not sure I realized my "wow" moment at the time but I do remember thinking after we met everyone at our first group meeting how friendly everyone was and how I finally was able to relax and not be so nervous. Nina had everyone laughing and talking and I thought "Yes, this will be fun." What I realized was that these 20 plus people also saw what Rick Steve's tours had to offer so we already had something in common WOW!"

Mary

Niles, IL

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Absolutely wonderful! This was my second Rick Steves Tour and -- once again -- the memories are delightful. Our guide, Nina, prepared us for every adventure. Our hotels let us sleep soundly. Our breakfasts and dinners kept us well-fed and ready for each day's activities. I like the way the tours are described -- so that anyone who signs up is in good shape and ready for fun...and never crabby about a teeny, tiny shower!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"At least six people on our tour had mentioned Cinque Terre as the reason they chose this particular trip. Imagine our sadness when most of that day was rained out. However, my intrepid sister-in-law and I climbed the somewhat slippery stairs of Vernazza and were rewarded with a fantastic photo from the top looking down. It's like something from a storybook."

Richard

Billerica, MA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed the small numbers of fellow travelers on our tour. The sights we saw were quite interesting and Nina was great as she tried (and many times succeeded) to educate us on the history of each venue. Because of my illness I tired a lot quicker than I anticipated. I took the option of skipping one or two of the tour highlights to rest. This proved to be of no problem at all. Of this I am grateful. I would strongly recommend a Rick Steves tour to anyone who wishes to see Europe in a relaxed

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Florence. All of the attractions were within a short walk; they took your breath away, and it was flat!"

Elgin

Atlanta, GA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour gave me a flavor of Italy, from the large historical cities to the small village towns nestled on the cliffs and in the mountains. The tour guides provided the history and experiences which gave a prespective of the life of the Italians over 2000 years.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The views of the town and shoreline from the vineyards hiking trail over Manorola."

Dan

Mcminnville, OR

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

After attending the Rick Steve's seminar in Edmonds last year we planned our trip with high expectations. Without question our trip successfully exceeded those expectations. Our guide was trully wonderful, humorous and objective. She managed our group with great fun and vital information at each opportunity. The tour experience could be called nothing but outstanding. We'll do it again. Dan & Connie Homeres

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our favorite 'wow' moment was the time spent in Volterra. We had long looked forward to the Cinque Terre, Rome and Florence, but this bonus stop far surpassed our expectations."

Gary

Austin, TX

Tour: 09/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded my expectations. The guides were outstanding and I felt I learned a LOT more from them than from a book. Their passions were infectious! Enjoyed the days when we would do guided tours in the morning and have free time the rest of the day. Spending the afternoon in Borghese park was the perfect compliment to a busy morning touring!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me the Pantheon [INVALID] it just took my breath away! So many other buildings were large and beautiful - but somehow they were overdone. Everywhere you looked there was art - no surfaces were unadorned. The dome of the Pantheon is an intact building from antiquity the dome is beautiful without excessive adornment. Aren't most great buildings humans build whether to one god or many gods really just monuments to us? Look what we can do! Well this jaded 21st century American was certainly impressed!"

Ted

Cincinnati, OH

Tour: 09/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My tour experience was excellent. From our fantastic tour guide, Nina, to all of the subject-matter experts, to the nicely spaced free time, I had a great time and wonderful mix of education, culture, and fun. I brought my wife for our 30th anniversary. I had traveled extensively for work, but she has not had that opportunity. So, this trip was meant to be for her - to share all the wonder I had experienced in my few trips to Italy. It did not disappoint. Thank you.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In Italy, my favorite "wow" moment was the Vatican, St. Peter's, and the Sistine Chapel. As a devout Catholic, these are beyond explanation and simply validate my faith. Outside of religion, I just love Piazza Navonna, Volterra, the Italian Riviera, Florence's St. Croche... I'm being no help -- I loved it all."

William

Severna Park, MD

Tour: 09/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Taking this tour was absolutely the best choice we could have made. The choice of areas fit exactly our priorities for a first Italy visit. The balance between group activities and "free time" was, for us, a perfect balance. Our group guide (Nina) was outstanding/extraordinary. knowledgeable, fun, enthusiastic, just a great leader. The special guides to a person were also extremely knowledgeable and entertaining- great choices. Walking is the only way to really appreciate.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many choices- the first Roman building we entered, the Pantheon, was astonishing, St. Peters was so far over the top that I appreciated the Reformation as never before,"

Kimberly

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/04/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Our guide was an excellent guide and I am very satisfied with my experience on the 9-day, Heart of Italy tour. I thought the tour offered a great balance of city and rural experiences and a wonderful mix of history, pop culture, organized touring, and time off to do what I pleased. My suggestion would be to take one more day on the Cinque Terra. I would have liked to have hiked more and had some more downtime in this locale. I think we could have done with less time in Volterra.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the David. I also enjoyed hiking the Cinque Terra between Lovanto and Monterossa very much."

Jerry

Bryson City, NC

Tour: 09/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Exceeded all expectations!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The hike from Monterossa to Levanto"

Mary Beth

Waltham, MA

Tour: 09/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I felt like I knew every person on the tour already (including Nina)--as if we had planned to meet in that space in time. We got along so well--still do. Everything was well organized and well planned. The tour guides were fantastic. The food was incredible. The art moved me in unexpected ways.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The David. My jaw drops open just thinking about it."

Karen

Kennewick, WA

Tour: 09/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I can't stop looking at pictures of this trip and reliving the wonderful memories. Italy, of course, is beautiful and so full of history and art, but we know this. Our guide was the perfect guide with so much knowledge and personality. She was an excellent leader who also became part of the group making the whole experience fun and educational. That brings me to the group itself. I can't say enough about the laughter, comraderie, consideration and kindness of this group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a hard one. It has to be the whole day in the Cinque Terre, hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza. I didn't think I could do it, but with the encouragement of my old and new friends, I did! It was beyond amazing! From Vernazza, we took the train to Riomaggiore where we watched the waves crashing in the rocks at the beach. The day ended back in Levanto after dark, playing with the waves in the Mediterranian that kept teasing us out just a little farther into the sea. Pure magic."

Andrea

Loveland, OH

Tour: 09/04/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

The tour was a great balance of structured time and free time. I could tell that the itinerary was very well thought out with the goal of creating a great experience for the travelers. There was great variety in the trip. The trip ran smooth and there were no hiccups at all. Our group got along very well and by the end were all friends. I truly was able to experience the culture and I learned so much more than I would have if I were on my own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Arriving in Volterra and getting my luggage was the biggest wow for me. Volterra was so quaint and the sites and sounds were so perfect. We had lost our luggage and it finally arrived after 4 days so that made our Volterra experience even sweeter. You can't emphasize enough the need for carry on only luggage!"

Cecil

Beebe, AR

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

More than what I had expected. Very close to what I had antipicated. This was a trip we made celebrating or 50th wedding anniversary. [10/27/1962]. We had some concerns about some of the activities but Virginia worked out a wheelchair on a couple of occassions, that worked out great. We will certainly look to Rick Steve's tour for our next tour experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cinque Terre, Hill Cities, cannot do justice in trying to describe them. Everything written and published still leave unsaid the feeling you get from being there."

Wayne

Des Plaines, IL

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Was outstanding and would recommend to anyone to sign-up. You won't be disappointed. Can't wait to go on another of Rick's tours

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Duomo in Florence among many others."

Sheila

Arlington Heights, IL

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

BELLA ITALIA---I loved my HEART OF ITALY tour and hope to go AGAIN!!! Rome was so full of antiquity, Volterra so charming and quaint, the Cinque Terra was the beautiful Mediterranean Sea and Florence was ART. I was happily exhausted each and every day with soooo much to take in.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra was my favorite city on the tour. I wasn't expecting so much history and a charming square that made you think you were back in time by a thousand years. Turning a corner and seeing the DUOMO was breathtaking---it almost looked like a screen had been pulled down and a painting was before you---and it kept going around another corner too."

Teresa

Minneapolis, MN

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was great being in the heart of the cities. All of us travellers were on the same page as far as the experience we wanted. Nice to have no complainers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have been to Italy several times and am still amazed at how many different things I learn and see each time I visit. The history lessons are wonderful"

Courtney

Wichita, KS

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour surpassed my expectations from the beginning. The level of knowledge of the guides were top notch. I found the mix of guided tours and free time to be perfect for any type of traveler. I will only go on Rick Steves Tours in the future and recommend them to all!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "WOW" moment was in Rome when our guide explained to us about Rome being like a lasanga and how ancient structures are placed throughout the modern buildings(if there are any in Rome;). She told us about the Pantheon being one. She told us that her FAVORITE structure was the Pantheon and how we rounded the corner it took our breathe away. Very moving!"

Silvia

Glendale, CA

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

What an experience! I cannot say enough how great this trip was. It went beyond my expectations! Not only the description of the tour in the website was so accurate, but there were many other great things done for the group, that was not mentioned. I loved all the guide's surprises with chocolates, special gifts, tips and care taylored to everyone's needs. it was really a vacation! I had piece of mind to have fun and forget the daily/routine life for 2 weeks. I just loved and had an AMAZING time

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment was a sunset at the sea in Cinque Terre. First of all, what a place! The followed by the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. I appreciated every single minute with French strangers on top the rocks, also doing the same, until the sun really disappeared. Not only the sunset was gorgerous but I got to meet the French people, and we talked how great vacations are.... Nature beauty and interactions with human beings. No price!"

Becky

Ridgewood, NJ

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Virgina our tour guide was the best! She always took the time to speak to everyone and answer everyone's questions. We really felt as though she cared for each one of us. The tour was wonderful but she defiantly made it even better. We were all thankful she was tour guide!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to count. I was wowed by how much I enjoyed all the stops, not just the one's I thought I may like. Rome and Volterra were really great!!"

Anita

Pittsburgh, PA

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Awesome, fun, and a tremendous learning experience!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had quite a few "wow" moments. But my favorite parts of the tour is, after being given lessons from our guides on how to get around, where to eat, sightsee, and shop in the cities, I was able to find my way to where I wanted to go – of course, I got lost many, many times, but that was the best part!"

Samer

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was an awesome+++ trip! This was only the second time that my partner and I have been to Europe. First time on our own with the help of RS travel. What a DIFFERENCE a very energetic and knowledgeable guide (Virginia) and very enthused local guides make. Local guides were so passionate about what they do: some of stories take your breath away as you admire the monuments, art pieces, and fantastic giants of architecture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra guides tour with the local guide was beyond passionate. As she told the stories of the survival of the oldest standing Etruscan gate, my heart wept with the locals as they decided to block the gate and finally triumphed in doing so."

Terrie-Ann

Bothell, WA

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Perfect! Exceeded my expectations in every detail. The care and detail put into your planning made for a great experience. Each new city began with a walk introducing some treat like the Trevi Fountain and giving you bearings for exploring on your own. There was just the right mix of time together and time to find your own adventure. I loved it!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour of Volterre with Annie. I fell in love with the place. Rounding the corner with the Etruscan Arch in full view, that was a WOW moment (tears included). And then standing in that arch, touching it, and hearing the details of June 30, 1944 from Annie who has such a passion for this place and these people, I wasn't sure I wanted to leave Volterre."

Shaun

Richardson, TX

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My overall experience was spectacular. Our tour was well prepared, organized, informative, and the group was fabulous. Age ranges were mid 20's up through people in their 60's and 70's. It was great. Our guide was Italian which is an obvious advantage and she explained things very well, helped us on our day off itineraries and always went above and beyond her call of duty. Bravo!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The wow moment for me is when toured Florence. The art was amazing, the churches were incredible and the guide we had for the artwork tour was the best I've seen. He knew everything there is to know about the Renaissance period of art/painting. I was wowed by th e beauty and the food!"

Carol

Minneapolis, MN

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steves tour. The tour itself and the guides were great. They generated excitement and anticipation at each element. Besides guiding us through the historic elements of the tour, I loved the tutorials on how to get around on our own. I've been to Rome twice before and never considered taking public transportation to get around. And, learning to use the train in Cinque Terre and then going on our own was good - I will be less hesitant in the future.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Finally being able to visit Cinque Terre."

David

Greensboro, NC

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

excellent. Our guide and co-guide were EXCELLENT- FRIENDLY, ORGANIZED and Knowledgeable. Tour sights and accommodations excellent!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Rome- all of it."

Gary

Denver, CO

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have traveled independently quite a bit in Europe but had not visited Italy so I thought that a guided tour would be a great way to experience the country and have much of the logistics taken care of. I was also hoping for a fun group of fellow travelers to share experiences with, and my overall experience considering both the sights and experiences of Italy, and the tour guides and fellow travelers, exceeded my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We started the tour in Rome, and the experience of being led through the narrow streets of the old city, then emerging into a piazza to see sights like the Pantheon or the various fountains. I really came to appreciate and value the balance of scheduled group activities and free time."

Mary

Henderson, NV

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The entire trip was outstanding! The "controlled" variables of guide, lodging, sites, meals and venues were extremely high quality. Cecillia, our guide, was extremely knowledgeable and a wonderfully warm and generous person. The "uncontrolled" variables of participants was a real treat. My traveling companions were fun, interesting great people. I was a solo traveler but always felt part of the group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A very hard question, so many wow moments--the sites, food, fun. Loved it all!"

Gerry

Santa Monica, CA

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Your website does a much better job than I can do in describing the experience. It delivered what was promised!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The hike in Cinque Terra. Also the group dinners were amazing."

John

Spring, TX

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Extremely positive. Accommodations, food, and locations all very good. The schedule was a bit rushed because there was a lot to cover, but there was free time available. Guide was very knowledgable, personable, and caring.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"As a general location, the town of Volterra had history and charm, and was a lot of fun to be in. As a single item, Michaelangelo's David. The Sistine Chapel, although very crowded and a little rushed, was amazing also."

Adrian

Kenmore, WA

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were not quite sure what to expect but ended being delighted with all aspects of the tour. The hotels were great, the pace was just right, and the meals were a fantastic end to busy days.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is too difficult to pick a single "wow" moment - every day was delightful new adventure!"

Michael

Princeton Jct, NJ

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was a perfect balance of expertly guided tours combined with just enough free time. All the guides were well spoken and knowledgeable. They added a whole other dimension to this trip. A self guided tour of this destination so steeped in history would not have been nearly as complete or as enjoyable. It is so nice to have the transportation, lodging, food and the tickets to the sites all planned in advance. We felt this may have been the best vacation ever.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Weeks later, I still can't decide which part of the tour was the best. The "Heart of Italy tour" is aptly named. It is one "wow' moment after another. My idle moments are equally filled with thoughts of the Sistine chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, the Colosseum and Roman Forum and Michelangelo's Pieta and David."

Tom

Mt Gretna, PA

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was the second time I've taken Heart of Italy, the first being just last year, 2012. The new itinerary is superior to the previous one. WRT Rome, though the Coluseum and Forum are important, I suggest that some emphasis / assistance be placed on getting folks to see other things, like the National Museum and Galleria Borghese. Cecilia was fabulous!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Free day on Cinque Terre."

Sonya

Asheville, NC

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I am so glad we decided to do a tour. It was wonderful having everything planned for us. The tour guides were fantastic. I feel like we would have never gotten to experience as much on our own. I loved that we covered all the majors sites but still had time on our own. It was also nice to have all the local tour guides arranged and everything paid for.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many I can't pick just one!"

Carrie

New Hope, MN

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I enjoyed our tour immensely. The itinerary was diverse and interesting, with a good mix of structured group time and free time. We learned a lot from Cecilia and the local guides we had along the way. Three of the four hotels were fantastic, and the dinners we ate as a group were tasty, authentic, and filling. We also really enjoyed getting to know the people in our group - they were quite a pleasant bunch.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite parts of the tour were in Volterra and the Cinque Terre. The fresh breeziness of Volterra was a welcome relief after the heat of Rome. After riding down and up the switchbacks to get to the bus stop at the edge of town, we emptied the bus, gathered our luggage, and strolled into Volterra to the beat of "Stayin' Alive." Literally. I doubt this is a traditional Volterran welcome, handed down from the Etruscans, but a street DJ was blaring the Bee Gees. It made me smile."

Linda

Benicia, CA

Tour: 08/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have been on your tours before and this matched my expectations. The tour was full of activity, adventure, and information. The tour leader, Jamie, was outstanding, energetic, helpful and full of extra information of every sort. He helped each individual as well and supporting the group. The sites were varied and balanced. I learned a great deal of Italian history and culture. Each day was different and complimentary to what was available on other days. Jamie's recommendations were valuable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I usually focus on painting as the most interesting art that appears in the museums. This trip I learned to focus on sculpture and gained much appreciation for that medium. I was able to see the statue of David as I have never seen it before. Perhaps it was the way Jamie presented it. All the local guides were wonderful."

Juanita

Basking Ridge, NJ

Tour: 07/28/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had an absolutely fabulous time on our tour! Everything was wonderful [INVALID] our tour guide, city/town [INVALID]ion, hotel [INVALID]ion, mix of guided tours vs. free time, dinners and activities. The quality of our tour guides was exceptionally good [INVALID] knowledgeable, passionate and personable. We came away from the tour feeling as if we truly experienced the real Italy and not a tourist version. We can't wait to go on another Rick Steves tour!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We absolutely LOVED experiencing the Colosseum and Roman Forum with our tour guide Francesca Caruso. She is an absolute gem and we were so lucky to have her bring these historic sites to 'life' for us. Her descriptions, perspectives and passion helped us to get a beautiful glimpse of what it must have felt like to be there at that time in history. Truly breathtaking!"

Kimberly

Tracy, CA

Tour: 07/28/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour is more than I ever could have dreamed of. Great people, great food, wonderful accomodations & incredible sites! Rome and Cinca Terra were my favorites, although Volterra was beautiful and fun as well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we turned the corner in the bus and saw the Roman Forum. Incredible - jaw dropping."

Edward

Portland, OR

Tour: 07/21/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a great time on the Heart of Italy tour and learned a lot, while also having a very positive experience. We really enjoyed ourselves. Nina and Caterina did a great job of seeing to it that everything went smoothly. The food was great. The local guides were great and the hill towns were a lot of fun to visit and tour. Also, our co-travelers were all very nice people and we enjoyed being in their company.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Favorite "wow" moment: Seeing the internal structure of Rome's St. Patrick's Cathedral's dome-within-a-dome while ascending to the cupola at the top is priceless. I was the only one on the tour to do it. Also, the cupola provides a fantastic view of Rome. And.... when you come down from the dome you come out on the roof of the cathedral itself, where there is a snack bar, souvenir shop and rest rooms!"

Barbara

Cerritos, CA

Tour: 07/21/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was on this very tour with my older granddaughter a couple of years ago. That one was Nina Bernardo, but both are excellent. The best thing, I think, are the kind of people these tours attract. By being determined to stay close to the "back door "and the ground, you get the sorts of people who also like traveling that way.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Linz and I got a wonderful recommendations for restaurants, etc We ate meals with all the people on the tour, so different people all the time. Wonderful"

John

Kenton, OH

Tour: 07/21/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The size of the group was perfect. Tour guides were very helpful. The pace of the tour was fast but we were able to see and do many things.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Maybe just the idea that what we were looking at was really that old."

Jim

Portland, OR

Tour: 06/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fantastic. The whole family, including my 16 year old daughter and 19 year old son, had a great time. The amount of activity was just right for everyone to get a guided taste of the history and local flavor and to have time to explore on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Monterosso al Mare in Cinque Terre. The beauty of the town and the beach and the group Pesto pasta dinner were so far removed from our suburban lives in the US, I was able to completely relax."

Sandi

Danville, IL

Tour: 06/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great local guides; interesting "events" in every location; good to great hotels; great food. it is not a trip we could have planned ourselves - we have no way of reaching those resources.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Opening our hotel shutters in Monterosa to find the Mediterranean just outside our window was pretty wonderful. What a view. What a town!"

Weather

Italy / Florence


Italy / Rome

Pre-Tour

We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.

Trip Resources

Learn more about Italy: Check out a collection of Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, plus find a list of recommended books and movies.

Transportation

Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.

Many tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.

There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. Most tour members will arrange to fly into Rome and out of Florence (“multi-city” on flight booking websites). Booking round-trip to one city will require a connecting flight, train trip, or additional overnight stay in Europe. Both Rome and Florence are major transportation hubs, making additional travel before or after your tour quite easy. Milan and Venice are both about three hours by train from Florence, our tour's end point. Siena is less than two hours by train from Florence. From Rome, Naples is two hours south.

For information about flying within Europe, ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines

For information about traveling by train, read Rick's train travel and rail pass tips to decide if your travel plans merit a rail pass. You can get a rough idea of costs from the above guide or Rick Steves Italy guidebook.

If you have additional European travel or tour questions, contact the Tour Department at 425-608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

Sightseeing On Your Own

If you arrive in Rome before the tour begins, use Rick Steves Italy guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of Italian and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.

Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing that we do not do as a group: Borghese Gallery (reservations mandatory, closed Mondays); Spanish Steps; Capuchin Crypt; National Museum of Rome; Ancient Appian Way (great for biking) and catacombs.

Packing

There are great opportunities for hiking in the Cinque Terre. While hiking boots are not necessary, we recommend you bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes with soles offering good traction.

For more advice on what (and what not!) to pack, see Rick’s packing tips.