• 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

from $2,695 + Air

Optional Single Supplement $575

See Tour Dates

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!

Dates & Prices

2015

2016

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, 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

Kristine

Davis, CA

Tour: 08/09/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Exceeded every expectation we had. This was the first group tour for our family. We will not hesitate to book a Rick Steves Tour in the future. Our 13 and 17 year old children were kept engaged and the time with and without the guides was perfect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Actually the 'wow' moment for me with Rick Steves came after the tour when our family was on our own. We had extended our tour and booked several local guided and non-guided tours. It was at this time that I truly missed our Rick Steves group and it came to light what a gem our tour group was."

Jon

Davis, CA

Tour: 08/09/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

not really nine days (more like seven with two halves at the beginning and the end) but a lot of Italy is covered in those nine days; the tour appears to run smoothly so all that is required while on tour is to enjoy and learn arrived a few days before the tour and stayed in Italy after and went on a few organized, one-day tours in that time; difference between them and Rick Steves is pronounced, enjoying Italy with your Rick Steves friends or being herded with occasionally rude strangers

Favorite "WOW" moment

"my selfishly favorite moment was looking out of the hotel window in Volterra, down the narrow, little street and feeling so content in a different world but the best "Dad" moment was in Cinque Terra, after forcing my grumbling daughter to walk the trail, and to hear her thanking me at lunch"

Grant

Parker, CO

Tour: 08/09/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded my expectations in every way. Having never been on such an organized tour, I was a little hesitant about what the experience would look like, but looking back on the trip there is simply no way the trip would have been as meaningful or enjoyable had we not gone on this tour. Everything from the logistics to the other people on the tour - all first-timers as well - made this trip the experience of a lifetime.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"While it had always been on my bucket list to see Rome, the David, the Vatican, etc. - and they were amazing - the highlight of the trip is Volterra. It is a quaint Tuscan hill town with amazing views, good food, and an unbelievable wine tasting experience."

Linda

Corte Madera, CA

Tour: 07/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I went on this tour in 2011 with Nina's husband Jamie. Even though it was the same tour, it was a different experience. Jamie told us a lot of history, but Nina told us funny stories about life in Italy. She was amazing. The tour was great, but I wished we ended in Rome like the last time. Florence is hot, crowded, and not as green and spacious as Rome. I love the countryside around Florence, but it is my least favorite part of the tour. Great food, great guides, great tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our hotel in Monterosso on the beach...opening our hotel window to an amazing view of the sea, the coastline...ahhhhhhhh. Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea... the meals together...Francesca's tour in Rome."

Michael

New Albany, OH

Tour: 07/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was even better than expected. The amount of activities was just right. The cities we went to were a great itinerary. The people on our tour were wonderful and fun to be with.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cinque Terre was a return destination for us, but it was still the highlight. Volterra was also a wonderful experience and riding bikes in Lucca was great."

Suzanne

Rochester Hills, MI

Tour: 07/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I appreciated the convenience, I feel that the tour was crafted to make the most of our time and experience. I enjoyed getting to know the other people on the tour

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Tour thru the colosseum , St. Peter's basilica , beautiful! Seeing the lines at the various attractions for people that were not part of tour groups...felt very grateful we had decided to go with a tour."

Laura

Alpharetta, GA

Tour: 07/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I traveled with our boys 20 and 16. Nina was awesome at including the whole group with facts and basic culture elements. The tour was rigorous so enjoyed the down time. I really enjoyed the major city sites with the quieter village towns made for a great combination. Got to see all the great sites and also get a feel for the people and culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved the colosseum in Rome; the art, sights, shopping and streets of Florence; and Volterra - what a great 2 night stay in such a wonderful town."

Lawrence

Sun City, CA

Tour: 07/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our "Heart of Italy" trip greatly surpassed my expectations. I've visited Italy many times on business but was never able to bring my wife, who'd never been there. The Rick Steves tour (our first) was perfect because we were well cared for and got a tremendous exposure to the beauty and history of Rome, Florence, Volterra, Lucca and the Cinque Terre, as well as the culture and traditions of our Italian hosts. The accommodations we excellent and the mix of activity and leisure was perfect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was the mid-day visit to the Colosseum. Our Rick Steves tour guide, Francesca, was FABULOUS. Her narrative brought what we were seeing alive. She mixed history with culture, past and present, and caused me to deeply reflect on what we were witnessing. Her concluding speech/analysis of the horror and humanity that was ancient Rome actually brought me to tears. Absolute JOY in this part of the trip because she made it all relevant."

Marieluise

Camarillo, CA

Tour: 07/19/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The heat!!! But, all of our hotels had AC and elevators. All very nice people, Ricardo included.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Vatican and how close we were."

Shubha

Chicago, IL

Tour: 07/19/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Got to experience the wonders of Rome, Cinque Terre, and Florence. Tasted marvelous food, interacted with locals, and took in the beauty that Italy had to offer!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I cant narrow it down to one "wow" moment, as there were several - A) Seeing the beauty of Cinque Terre B) Eating freshly authentic pesto pasta C) Daily gelato!! D) Seeing David and St. Peter's Basilica"

Jeff

Grayslake, IL

Tour: 07/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a great time ! Well planned & good balance between scheduled and free time. Not a flaw anywhere.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra Italy was a hidden gem. What an experience to visit and learn the history along with outstanding food and ambiance. Not a place to miss. The visit to the Coliseum & Roman Forum were beyond expectations. The guides knowledge and stories of the locations history were outstanding. Just a few of many ...."

Albert

Middleton, MA

Tour: 07/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour very well organized. Ricardo, our tour guide was awesome. Extremely knowledgeable.Very personable, welcoming & comfortable.We loved your formula of consistency with one guide throughout the tour, augmented by subject matter experts at the high profile sites (e.g., Vatican, Ancient Rome, Volterra, Lucca, etc. We appreciated one dinner with the group every other night (i.e., with one dinner every other night to ourselves). Also appreciated quality of 3 star hotels - great value for the $.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Vatican, Ancient Rome, Volterra, Cinque Terre, Florence. We suggest you skip Lucca and give two days in Cinque Terre."

David

Auburn, WA

Tour: 07/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very well organized, knowledgeable and friendly tour guides and an overall great introduction to Italy that hit some of the biggest highlights in a short period of time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Michelangelo's David was transcendental."

Chris

Folsom, CA

Tour: 07/12/15

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

The tour was a good experience. More good than bad. The food was incredible and the sights were amazing. We are past tour members having taken the paris 7 day in 2012. I do have one criticism and that is not having enough time to take pictures when with the grouup being led by the tour guide. We took the 9 day village Italy this summer and got to experience what it would be like to be on the move in a group. We were told by the tour leader that if we were not at the meeting place on time

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing an Italian melodrama in Volterra. Also experiencing the Cinque Terra."

Mary

Windham, ME

Tour: 07/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was totally awesome!! I loved every minute of it! This was my dream.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Oh my goodness. I loved it all the Vatican, Pantheon, Coliseum, Ruins, and Churches oh and David. The small towns were my favorite part of the trip going to Lucca, Cinque Terre, Volterra! Dipping in the Mediterranean and eating outside at a lovely restaurant having a band playing next door!! Just wonderful!"

Mary Ann

Regina, SK

Tour: 07/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first trip overseas. Our friend had taken your tour of Italy before and highly recommended your company. We had an amazing time and met some fantastic people (both on and off the tour). We didn't have to wait in any lineups to get into the attractions and we got to see some amazing sights! Everything was all lined up for us which took the guesswork out on how to plan the day and how to get there. I will be recommending your tours to others.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"They were all wow moments but to pick just one would be the Colosseum and Forum. Of all the places we visited Volterra was my favorite."

Christy

Regina, SK

Tour: 07/12/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was our 1st time in Italy and 1st guided tour. Overall, it was great. The tour is very fast paced, and covers a lot of ground in the 8 days (it's not really 9 days, let's be honest about that). Karin was an excellent leader. Our tour occurred during a heat wave which made the entire trip somewhat uncomfortable - but Karin did her best to make it as enjoyable as possible by making appropriate adjustments. The tour had a great balance of organized activities and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Having never been to Italy before, my wow moments occurred in Rome - seeing the colosseum for the first time, walking into the pantheon, strolling through the Roman forum, walking trough St Peter's basilica, etc. Other wow moments included things not on the "list", like having Karin point out some "random" roman ruins on a street that have been converted into a cat sanctuary; walking into a random church and seeing magnificent art. An unexpected wow moment is the town of Volterra overall"

Janice

Regina, SK

Tour: 07/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my second Rick Steves Italy tour, with a slightly different itinerary. However, I was fortunate to have Karin as our guide again! I looked forward to meeting her again and having her lead us through Italy, and she didn't disappoint. She and assistant Andrea gave us the best of their knowledge and expertise everywhere we went, always ready to answer questions and offer advice.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Entering the Accademia Gallery and seeing David at the other end, towering over the hall and commanding our attention. You can't look away..."

Linda

Delran, NJ

Tour: 07/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were so happy we decided to do the tour instead of on our own. We were able to get so much interesting information and do so much but felt as if we had a good amount of down time also. Our tour guide Donald was so interesting and told some great stories! We have never been to Italy before so we wanted to see a lot but also be able to stay in hotels more than one night. It was wonderful to see all the main attractions in Rome and Florence but Volterra & Cinque Terra were amazing!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was watching the sun set over Volterra. The scenery was breathtaking and I just loved the little medieval town and all the cobblestone streets and even caught a few minutes of a play in the old theatre watching from the streets above before bed. Also taking the boat from Monterosso to Vernazza was so amazing to see the village view from the sea and then exploring Vernazza and then Manarola. I never dreamed I would be in such an amazing place!"

Ed

Etna, NH

Tour: 07/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As a tour virgin I was impressed. Having all the logistics planned out, an informative guide to keep every thing happening and provide information, great group dinners, a well thought out itinerary, convenient hotels made for a fantastic experience. The limited time in the bus flew by with interesting scenery and stories from our guide Donald. The biggest surprise was how well I enjoyed my fellow group members. It was nice bumping into each other in some of the small towns as we explored.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"After several days days of touring cities, coming out of the train station in Monterossa Al Mar and seeing the ocean and beach vacationers. It was a fantastic vacation within a vacation."

Andrew

Delran, NJ

Tour: 07/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Heart of Italy tour had everything that my wife and I could have hoped for. From the busy streets of Rome to the small towns of Volterra and Lucca, the diversity of the trip was amazing. The history, food, art, culture, and the people in our tour group made this the trip of a lifetime. Our guide was fantastic, and we learned so much from him.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Its hard to pick one, but the scenery in the Cinque Terre is just incredible."

John

Fairfax, VA

Tour: 07/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very well done! There is no better way to celebrate a 36 year wedding anniversary than in the Cinque Terra after a glorious few days in Tuscany. I should have been doing this the previous 35 years.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In Florence, realizing we were at the birthplace of much of the culture of the western world and the birthplace of the scientific revolution. Visiting the Galileo museum and seeing the instruments of the Academia del Cimento."

Wendy

Etna, NH

Tour: 07/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was a great combination of organized and free time -- mixing interesting cultural activities with opportunities for plain old fun. Our guide, Donald, was very knowledgeable. He was able to relay information to us in a way that kept us interested, including interesting historical tidbits and just the right amount of humor.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's hard to pick just one "wow". One of my favorite moments was when we trundled out of the train tunnel and up onto the seashore of Monterosso. The salt air, the blue sky, and the low-key hustle and bustle of a beachside area was a refreshing contrast to the business of Rome."

Deirdre

Welfleet, MA

Tour: 07/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved it! My first trip to Europe, also first vacation to a 1st world country. The schedule was well planned, fast paced but balanced. I liked all the tour schedules & time of. We discovered we wasted the most time & $ when we had free time! I was not well educated about a tour & discovered that I would reco it to anyone of any age if they have a short amount of time to travel. Donald made the entire trip...a trip!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Day after tour ended a couple from the tour handed us a brochure from Museo Nazionale de Borgello. On the bottom of the back page was a photo of the courtyard. I gasped, it was the same photo that's been in my house since the mid 90's after finding it in my grandmother's house after her death. It was her wedding gift. The photo always drew me in but I never knew where it was or had a clue as to how to find the place. We did go & were AWED to be "standing in" the photo. PURE MAGIC!"

Ronald

Frisco, TX

Tour: 07/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour offered a wonderful blend of big city - the art museums and artifacts of Rome and Florence and the quaint beauty of rural small town locations. The tour group size was perfect and it's guide - Donald White was extremely professional, knowledgeable, approachable, personable and a deft decision maker. He represents the Rick Steves philosophy extremely well! In addition, the "subject matter expert" local tour guides were very knowledgeable and personable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Can't say there was a singular "wow" moment that stood out from many on this tour. I'm a retired Navy Captain, who deployed to the Mediterranean on many occasions. We would often port in Naples and take leave in Rome. So even though I have visited the Vatican on several occasions, I'm always taken back by it's sheer majesty and beauty. That said, I had never been inside the Coliseum and greatly enjoyed that tour. Cinque Terra was beautiful in it's own right."

Bobette

Chandler, AZ

Tour: 07/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We loved it! Being a first time international traveller I didn't know where to begin. Choosing a Rick Steves tour was wonderful. All we had to do was show up. Our guide, Donald, was great! So informative and so helpful. The hotel accomodations were nothing fancy, but comfortable with a local feel. The combination of tour activities and free time was just right for us. The mix of city, country and seaside was appreciated. We met and enjoyed time with some wonderful people touring with us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's hard to come up with a "wow" moment but visiting the American Cemetary was something I wasn't expecting. We were given a flag to place on a marker. We were told to say the serviceman's name. It's possible that name has not been said in 71 years. It was quite emotional for me. Certainly, the views at Cinque Terre were breathtaking. Riding bikes on the wall around Lucca was a highlight. Just being in the town of Volterra after learning of the Etruscan civilization was amazing."

Amy

Huntsville, AL

Tour: 07/03/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I enjoyed my tour very much! The guide, Donald, was exceptionally organized. We did not wait anywhere. He always had tickets and we went right in to every museum or tour, even the Vatican. The local guides were exceptional also and just kept getting better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra, a small village in Tuscany. Everything was so picture perfect. We toured and wandered and had a marvelous time."

Lisa

Welfleet, MA

Tour: 07/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Donald was our leader, and he was TERRIFIC! We felt comfortable, looked after, yet independent enough to venture out on our own, as we bonded with some of the other tour members. Donald has encyclopedic knowledge in his areas of expertise and was a professional blend of warm, funny, helpful and a little irreverent! We could not have asked for a better trip! Thanks Rick for doing what you do, and hiring who you hire! Because of this experience, my wife and I will DEFINITELY be back. Lisa B

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Italy has more affluent history than god. In fact, it's where god was invented!"

Robert

Canton, MA

Tour: 07/03/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Exceeded my expectations in that I felt like I saw and experienced everything I hoped to plus a few things more! Donald was an excellent guide. Knowledgeable, personable, and pretty unflappable. Understood we'd be taking public transportation and therefore can't complain, but taking it in Rome was a reminder why I don't use it back in the states. Not a fan of the local buses. Meals in Rome and Volterra were excellent and the wine tasting was a lot of fun. Loved the bike ride in Lucca!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to choose from so many wonderful moments but if I had to pick a WOW it would be a tie between seeing Michelangelo's David and visiting the Cathedral Sanca Crucia. Hard to believe Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli are all buried in the same place!"

Krissie

Nepean, ON

Tour: 07/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was originally hesitant about taking a tour, but this made me a convert! Our trip was amazing, a great mix of activities and down-time. We got to see so many amazing sites and parts of the country, which would be difficult to do on our own. All of the logistics flowed perfectly, hotels were well located, and we never had to wait in a single line. The local guides were amazing and passionate, and Donald was so knowledgeable and friendly. We got to know everyone in the group and had a great time

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many!! Swimming in Cinque Terre, stepping out from the subway to see the Colosseum in Rome, David in Florence, wine tasting in Volterra, riding a bike on the walls of Lucca. So much history and culture."

Lorraine

Hopkinton, MA

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first tour with Rick Steve's and after having such a wonderful experience on our trip to Italy we can't wait to book another tour with Rick Steve's. Our tour guide Nina was phenomenal. She was a true teacher who had an incredible passion and love for the areas in Italy that we toured. Nina was able to enrich all the tours we went on with her dialogue either before or after the tours. She spent time with all members of the tour group and always made the group feel like a family.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our favorite "wow" moment of the tour was "Chinque Terre" ... this area is so picturesque that words do not do it justice. The quaint little towns on the water were absolutely breathless, never mind the vineyards that we climbed through to get from Monterossa to Levantra."

Rebecca

Colorado Springs, CO

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a great experience. We saw and did a variety of different things. I really felt like I had a taste of Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved seeing the David. I also really enjoyed bike-riding on the wall around Lucca. The colloseum was incredible - I would have liked seeing and learning more there."

Jo Anne

Fremont, CA

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was excellent, couldn't have been better. Nina did an outstanding job all round - guiding, maintaining a good pace, imparting an impressive depth of knowledge of the history and culture of the areas we visited and helping answer individual questions that arose. The local guides were also very good. And the individual speaker systems made touring so much more enjoyable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Actually, there were lots, but if I have to narrow it, I will have to give the nod to the Michaelangelo sculptures, both the Pieta and David. To think they were conceived and executed by such a young person. Incredible!"

Clorice

Springfield, OR

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is my second tour through Rick Steves. On both trips I felt safe and secure. Loved the size of the group and the events planned.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"To many "wow's" to count!"

Jeremy

Gibsonia, PA

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was the perfect balance of expert guidance and arrangements and freedom to explore the wonderful sites on our own. The tour guides from Rick Steves were excellent. The local guides in the various locations were almost uniformly outstanding with deep knowledge, personal stories and warm personalities. The group meals were all fantastic with the dinner in Volterra standing out as perhaps the best meal anyone in our family had ever had. The other members of the group were all pleasant.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The dinner in Volterra Swimming by myself in the harbor in Cinque Terra just before sunset. The story about the bridge in the city wall in Volterra near the end of World War II."

Virginia

Portland, ME

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was wonderful ... a perfect balance of busy cities and relaxing hill towns and seaside time. Caterina is terrific, and we were fortunate to have Cynthia on our tour as well. They are both enthusiastic, knowledgeable and full of (seemingly endless) energy. I can't say enough about the local guides...just fabulous. And the food was amazing. Our group dinners were some of the highlights of the trip. Wonderful, local food. Wonderful, new friends.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have been to Italy before with my husband. We did it all on our own that time, and it was great. This time, having the local guides and Caterina and Cynthia there to give us the background and history details, we just learned and saw SO MUCH more! Not sure I can go into a museum again on my own without a guide to help tell all the wonderful stories and really highlight the experience."

Janean

San Diego, CA

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Every moment was very rich in Italian culture, history, art, and food. I am the independent type and this tour had a nice balance between guided group activities and free time. Seeing Italy through the expert eyes of the guides made me realize how my former independent travels of Italy fell so far short of the rich experiences I had on this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francesca brilliantly helped me understand what the Colosseum and the ancient Romans were about; there were several moments when tears welled up in my eyes because of the intensity of the experience."

Riley

Seattle, WA

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall, the tour was quite enjoyable. the food was great, the tour guide was great, the gelato was great, and I liked the way the tour left us to fend for ourselves every now and then, because I enjoy not having someone talk at me the entire time. It was very refreshing. I also liked the choices that they made in terms of efficiency they didn't waste time, and they did a good job of making the most out of every visit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment of the tour was getting off the bus in rome and seeing the colosseum... in real life. (it seems bigger in real life)."

Megan

Austin, TX

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Rick Steve's tour of Italy was by far the best vacation I have ever been on. I was so glad that we could navigate through the country with ease, and that we had our tour guide to translate for us. The tour always found the best guides, attractions, and restaurants!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting the Roman Colosseum and the ruins of the Roman forums was amazing, especially with our tour guide, Francesca! She was extremely enthusiastic about the history and future of the area, and she had thoroughly researched it too. She made us all step back in time by imagining the Colosseum through the eyes of the average Roman 2000 years ago. I found it very inspiring and moving, and I will never forget it!"

Laurie

Palisade, CO

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

From our 1st introductory meeting, I felt relaxed and excited for the upcoming tour. I was not disappointed! We visited some amazing cities and sites led by Alfio, our great tour guide. He was personable, interested in each one of us, and was a lot of fun. In addition to that, our local guides were also excellent. The tour agenda was well planned and included some unique experiences such as cooking lessons, wine tasting and observing an alabaster artist. A great tour! Laurie Jeske

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Sistine Chapel and the statue of David were my wow moments."

Sara

Boston, MA

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Absolutely exceeded my expectations.

Wendy

Hallowell, ME

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had never been on a tour and wondered how I would like it. The tour exceeded all my expectations. Alfio was a great guide. The tour was well planned and had a good mix of tour activities and free time. I really enjoyed all of the places we visited and learned a lot in the process.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's hard to pick a single moment. A few of the memorable moments were: our tour of the Roman Forum/Colosseum with our exceptional guide Francesca; sunset at the hilltop town of Volterra; a fun group dinner in Levanto; walking between towns in the Cinque Terre; and sunset from the roof terrace of our hotel in Florence."

Kirk

Hallowell, ME

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have never been on a tour before , it was much better than I was planning. Had a great time with all the great people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The whole experience was the best part. Good people, good guide, good tour. Very well done!"

Cara

Austin, TX

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I loved the Rick Steves experience. We didn't need to worry about booking hotels or arranging city transfers or getting around. We were able to see the highlights in each city, then given plenty of time to explore each sight more or go off & do something on our own. Guides for each city were amazing & very knowledgeable. The group size was just right- small enough to get to know each other, & small enough to travel & sightsee as a group but large enough to get to meet a wide variety of folks.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The statue of David. Our guide backed us up in the room with our heads down and lined us up facing away from the sculptue. He babystepped backwards through the hall step by step as the coast was clear, until we were right at the David. On his count we turned around and there he was, in all his glory. It was a very emotional moment."

Cindy

San Francisco, CA

Tour: 06/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was about as perfect as we could have hoped for. Our guide, Rainer, was knowledgeable with a good sense of humor and patience. The local guides were amazing. Their expertise breathed lived into what could have been completely overwhelming. The feasts together were the best. All accommodations were comfortable, clean and hospitable. It was a joy to share our experience with our delightful traveling companions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is hard to choose just one! I think I had to pinch myself every day to believe I was actually in Italy. I loved Volterra with it's rich history and idyllic setting. After a rainy night, I woke up and looked out my window to see a huge rainbow stretched over the green valley below my window. That looked like what I had always imagined Italy would look like."

Judith

Chicago, IL

Tour: 06/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Heart of Italy Tour exceeded my expectations. The 3 days spent in each city/location was enough to enjoy the history, culture, and beauty of the sites. Our traveling companions came from all parts of the country and everyone enriched the experience. There was not a "grumpy" person in the group! A great mix of ages ranging from 14 years old to 70 something.

Mike

San Francisco, CA

Tour: 06/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Good tour guide; great travel companions; excellent local guides. The hotels were comfortable with helpful staff. The breakfasts were all delicious and plentiful. I loved having all the tours arranged ahead of time and being able to move to the front of the line.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to say, but it was probably seeing David in Florence. We spent a lot of time in that gallery"

Gina

Palo Alto, CA

Tour: 06/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was well-planned and exceptional from start to finish. We did not have to worry about anything, and were free to enjoy both the guided parts of the tour and the time we had free to explore on our own. We liked that we had about half guided-time, and half free-time. The size of the group was just about right. Small enough to get to know people, but not so small that people got on each other's nerves.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The hike from Levanto to Monterossa was one of my favorite "wow" moments (there were many). It took no time at all to realize we were practically alone on just about the most beautiful hiking trail at the edge of the sea. Our tour guide had said that we could almost see the curvature of the earth at times, looking across the Mediterranean, and he was right."

Marianne

Colleyville, TX

Tour: 06/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded my expectations in every way. Rainer was a marvelous guide. I feel like I learned so much from him, due to his extensive knowledge of Italian history and culture, and his excellent teaching ability. The hotels were all perfect and the tours and choice of locations were excellent. If any problem were caused, it would be that Rainer set the bar too high for any future guide to exceed. Thank you so much!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The sites of Italy are each one more astounding than the other . The beautiful works of art and architecture that deserved a "wow" were too numerous to mention. Having not traveled to Europe before, each town surprised us with its beauty and history. With regard to the "wow" moment of the tour it was the first few hours. As we set off as a group on foot it was immediately clear that we had made a good decision. Rainer lectures like an energetic and enthusiastic school professor."

Cindi

Rutland, VT

Tour: 06/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

What an excellent adventure! New places, new people, new foods, new sights...and some of those were very old! I learned a lot about a lot... Traveling by taxi, train, bus and planes in Italy...ordering food in Italy....viewing artistic beauty and natural beauty...and the best part? People are people and we all can, and do, get along!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"David...and anything else sculpted by Michelangelo. All the amazing churches, attending mass at St Peter's Basilica. Sitting at the top of Hotel Guelfa, with a lovely wine, looking out over the panorama, with my Italian yarn to knit and my sweetie."

Daniel

Oakdale, MN

Tour: 06/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a fantastic experience. The mix of planned activities and free time was about right, however, we found ourselves looking forward to getting back with the group. Our group was very fun to be around, and when we were together, we were always doing or seeing something new.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view from the hiking trail between Monterosso and Vernazza. WOW!"

Blane

Rutland, VT

Tour: 06/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Cindi and I started two years ago planning a special 40th Anniversary trip. The Heart of Italy Tour June 12-20 2015 was the perfect celebration for us! Exceptional itinerary and blend of activities, events and personal time. Beautiful orchestration and coordination of "details", so we could immerse ourselves in the many facets of Italian culture, cuisine, art, history and focus on our experience. Tour and Local guides did a fantastic job adding "color", depth and perspective!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each day presented unique sensory delights in many forms that stimulated and tantalized. The surprise was the unexpected scope of responses that each experience evoked for me. Art, sculpted or on canvas, architecture, ancient or Renaissance, the smell and taste of perfectly paired food and wine or the eye popping first glimpse of Vernazza, on trail through a frame of olive branches; there was beauty at every turn, infectiously engaging, inviting deeper participation. All spectacular Wows!"

Lawrence

Chicago, IL

Tour: 06/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful experience with a great tour guide plus fun and interesting local guides!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to list: the Sistine Chapel, St Peter's, David, and many more. We are owners of a beautiful Irish Setter. In Volterra we ran into a couple from Genoa walking their Irish Setter! She looked just like our dog so we had a fun conversation about dogs and touring. Our hotel in Florence had a tower with a small bar. That was our favorite evening place with an incredible 360 degree view of the city. Felt that we could touch the Duomo."

Scott

South Windsor, CT

Tour: 06/07/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was a wonderful experience. I expected to see, learn, taste and enjoy Italy. We did that and so much more. Nina is an excellent tour guide that got the most out of the tour. We enjoyed meeting the people we toured with that came from all over the US. Certainly, the art, history and sites were so much more interesting than seeing them on tv or magazines. Then best way to experience Europe is on a tour. Thanks for the memories!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's very hard for me to pick a "wow" moment. I enjoyed all of the tour. The mix of locations (cities, country side and sea side) was the perfect touch."

Barbara

Florissant, MO

Tour: 06/07/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first trip to Europe. My daughter and I went to celebrate her college graduation. Participating in a small group was ideal, with just the right amount of tour/group time versus time on our own. We enjoyed both. The participants on the tour were all very pleasant and a nice diversity of ages (including 4 mother/daughter groups).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Driving up to Volterra, which was just everything I pictured Tuscany to be -- hilltop, the wall, so scenic!"

Earleen

Clovis, CA

Tour: 06/07/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

There were five family members in our group ages 13 to 69 and each of us thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip. We loved the structured guided time and felt we had plenty of free time as well. Our guide Nina was outstanding. She took good care of each of us and gave us great advice for the times we were on our own. We enjoyed everyone in our tour group. We were sad to go our separate ways at the end. All the local tour guides were excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Florence and seeing Michelangelo's David. Unbelievable. Really each city had a "wow" moment. The tour was full of unexpected surprises and so much beauty."

Linda

Applegate, CA

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have never taken a group tour before and always preferred to travel independently. I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised and am already looking for my next tour with Rick Steves. We saw the best of the sites in each location in an efficient yet unhurried pace. I feel we saw so much in the length of the tour, our 9 days felt like a 2 week vacation.It was a great balance of History, culture, art, fabulous food and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is so hard to pick one, I had many. Our local guide at the Colloseum gave us a wonderful tour with insight into the culture of the times and even the reason for the games. The Vatican tour was way beyond expectations."

Sydnie

La Mesa, CA

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great fun. Great learning experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Could not pick just one. They all go together to make the whole."

Wanda

Berkeley, CA

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was very good. I was concerned I wouldn't be able to keep up, your pre trip literature was somewhat discouraging, but it all was great.

Karen

La Jolla, CA

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our first organized tour vacation. Exceeded our expectations! It really made the most of our trip. We could not have seen half of what we did had we not had a guide to get us up and going in the morning. Plus no arguments between my husband and I about where to go, how to get there etc, etc. No "lost" days figuring things out or getting off track. The group was awesome and we all really interacted and connected. Good times!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking in Cinque Terre. The beauty was incredible. Also, the enormity of structures and history in Rome. Amazing city. You really can't get a feel for it until you are there and walking the streets and see it's glory on every block."

Rick

Seattle, WA

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was excellent. Very well run, simple Instructions,and very informative. Our tour guide that lead the group David was great! The guides for the Vatican,coliseum, Lucca,Volterra were super. Full of energy and communicated so well. The hotels were good with plenty to eat for breakfast & the organized meals were fantastic. I have a hearing issue so I do wish we had the radios for all cities. It's easier to hear if those are available even though Lucca & Volterra are quiet

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved Lucca & Volterra. The history of these cities is amazing"

Stacia

Matthews, NC

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our Heart of Italy tour balanced assistance and guided experiences with a good amount of free time. Our guide was cheerful, patient, and organized, and our group members seem to really appreciate each other and the group outings, dinners, and time on the bus. We enjoyed plenty of walking and were glad to rest well in the comfortable hotels. (Tiny showers--by American standards--were just a fun challenge.)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The guided tour of the Uffizzi gallery in Florence touched me; the passion and respect of our guide magnified experiencing art of the greats up close."

Rex

Matthews, NC

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour experience exceeded our expectation. Our guide David was knowledgable and did a fantastic job being positive and organized with our group. We were able to navigate large cities far more effective than had we been on our own. the mix of time with our group and time on our own was perfect. What a great experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterre and the beautiful Tuscan countryside as well as Cinque Terre."

Darrell

Chubbuck, ID

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed the trip and all it had to offer. Our guide was excellent, the hotels were great, and the food was terrific. We also had time each day to do as we pleased, which was nice.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to choose from - sorry!"

Elyce

Anchorage, AK

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

David was very exact in his dates and times of events regarding history. It was very informative. He's great at PR and a pleasure to listen to. Our guide in Lucca was very intertaining and a keeper. A pleasure to listen to. Our guide in Rome not so much.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The beautiful museums and their architecture was very impressive especially the ceilings."

Summer

Seattle, WA

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Can't wait to do it again! Every moment on the tour was amazing. From the kickoff in Rome to the final dinner in Florence where our guides band played and we danced and sang. Everything was perfect!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Definitely the cinque terre. The beach town in between the larger cities of Rome and Florence gave a nice little break between the hustle & bustle of the bigger cities."

Douglas

Sartell, MN

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had never done a tour trip before, that being said, I would sign up for a tour with Rick Steves in a heartbeat! We were blessed with a great bunch of folks on the tour, our guide David was superb!!!!!!! I thought the tour was a great balance of history, culture, locale, food and exercise. The hotels were in great locations and staff was great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The vatican tour. Great to get right to the front of the line, awesome guide, hit the must know highlights with awesome discussion. It was overwhelming in an awesome way."

Jud

Berkeley, CA

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Surprised by how much I liked the organized aspects of the tour. We had previously done most of our own organizing but began to realize the amount of effort and even study to get the most out of a visit. This tour provided that along with camaraderie and entertainment. Specialist tour guides were also a giant plus.

Maria

Endwell, NY

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was a whirlwind of history and incredible sights and views. Our guide was extremely dedicated to making our experience in Italy an unforgettable one - being that he was from Italy himself - and this really came through in each and every tour. The format of the tour was set up great. Guided tours were accompanied by free time and group dinners were always followed by dinner on your own so that you could have an individual experience with each city.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was the hike in Cinque Terre. Although it was very tiring, the views were awesome and getting to eat in Corniglia, where there were very few tourists, with a few of the town and the sea, was very special."

Stephen

Endwell, NY

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

David was an Excellent guide - personable, interested to enhance our experience always. He loves his country, and that made us love it! His guitar playing was an unexpected pleasure!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We had a dinner at a restaurant David recommended: Ristorante Bar Per Blucca on the water in Levanto, short walk from Hotel Primavera, which was outstanding freshly caught fish, brought to our table and unbelievably fresh, perfectly seasoned - benissimmo!"

George Thomas

La Mesa, CA

Tour: 06/05/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My overall experience was excellent. My ankles got swollen from the standing especially in the Vatican but I learned a lot about the times of the artists and their motivation. I wanted more time for the Coloseum and Forum since that was my primary interest. My wife had not been to the Vatican so I went with her. After Rome the trip went magnificently. Volterra was an excellent transition. The guides and tour their exceptional. BTW the gelato tips everywhere were great. The food was great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Eating Wild Boar Ragu with Chianti, while enjoying the Corpus Christi medieval parade in Volterra. It was simply magical."

Kim

Portland, OR

Tour: 05/31/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a fabulous time! I was looking for a good balance between my husband, Tracy (who could visit museums, galleries, churches, ruins 8 hours a day)and myself (good for 2-3 hours tops), and our Rick Steves tour did just that. Between the guided tours and Alfio, we got so much more out of our visit than if we did it on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many! I'd say the way Alfio introduced us to David, walking through Volterra, and possibly the "wow, I think I'm going to die" moment hiking uphill from Monterroso to Vernazza."

Thomas

Ardmore, PA

Tour: 05/31/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The trip was well organized, and our guide was in control at all times. Due to Italy holidays and the weekend, several events were out of sequence but handled so smoothly the you may want to reconsider the sequence of events.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Riding bicycles on Lucca's wall was the most fun. I hadn't peddled a bike in 30 years."

Jeanette

Brecksville, OH

Tour: 05/31/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was excellent. The group size was perfect and we were happy that there was a great mix of age groups from young adults to retirees. Everyone got along well. Alfio was a lot of fun, always courteous, good humored, and knowledgeable and he shared with us his philosophy about Italy. He helped us gain a great deal more insight into Italy than we would have had on our own. The travel experience was great as well. All the events, dinners, tours were timed very well with little downtime.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Cinque Terra"

Jeanette

Newport, NH

Tour: 05/31/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The trip was fabulous. I'd do it again in an instant. One of the reasons I chose Rick Steves Tours is the guides. I knew they were well-trained to lead a tour, but also that they are people who know the area and it's history, the difference between visiting a great museum and visiting a great museum with a teacher. Alfio was excellent. He not only told us the facts about the places we visited, but the historical evolution of how those places developed. Made all the difference.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was seeing Michelangelo's David. I still choke up when I remember the first instant I saw him, so huge and perfect."

Cindy

Newport, NH

Tour: 05/31/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was educational without being pedantic. The guides were unique, well spoken, and knew their subjects. Alfio's additions to individual guides' topics gave special insight to events going on in the world during that same time. It was amazing to learn how things all related history-wise. His 'surprises' (renaissance dancing in particular) gave glimpses of things that never made the school history books.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Even though it wasn't my prime reason for taking the tour (I was there researching a novel), I think it was the way Alfio presented the us to the statue of David. Then there was the immense size of the Cathedral of Florence. And the town of Volterra..."

Angela

Everett, WA

Tour: 05/31/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first trip to Europe and I loved every minute of it. The tour was well planned and yet full of surprises. I have never travelled with a tour group and I would recommend that first time travelers to Europe travel with a Rick Steves' group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were too many to pick one. I would say seeing the David was pretty wow as was the colosseum in Rome. The dinners were always "wow" moments as well!"

Sara

Arlington, VA

Tour: 05/31/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fabulous. The perfect mix of planned events and time to explore on your own. We were able to visit multiple locations in Italy without feeling rushed. The hotels and dinners gave us a real taste of Italy and its culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The breathtaking beauty of Volterra and Cinque Terre."

Carol

Ardmore, PA

Tour: 05/31/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

All the information prior to the trip was excellent, from what to pack, phone numbers, what documents to bring. Your excellence in planning this trip makes me confident to plan another trip with Rick Steves. In addition to the sites visited, the BEST part of our tour was our tour guide, Alfio. He was able to integrate multiple personalities with every facet of this trip. He had a sense of humor and well as a depth of knowledge.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There is no single "wow" moment. However I will mention the bike ride in Lucca, dancing in the street of Volterra, the tour of the colosseum and the lessons learned in the Uffizi. Of course every gelato was a "wow" moment, especially the last one which was a treat from Alfio."

Garey

Arlington, VA

Tour: 05/31/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was more than we would have ever hoped for. From signing up to conclusion the Rick Steves team was GREAT. The hotels were charming. The restaurants for our dinners were awesome. The touring and free time combination was just right. Our college graduate daughter found two other recent graduates to pal around with and wonderful older people on tour adopted her as a daughter. Alfio was SUPERB our guides were great. It was a fabulous trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This group totally came together at our welcome dinner in Volterra. The surprise folk-dancing led by Luigi and Alfio in the parking lot after dinner will never be forgotten. It took our entire group who were already good together and melded us into a unified whole. At this point we were family, and a really close happy family, and it stayed that way till we tearfully said our goodbyes in Florence. WE have made friends with people around the country and we will get together again, for sure."

Kimber

Tulsa, OK

Tour: 05/31/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a wonderful time, learned a lot.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Viewing Michelangelo's David, under Alfio's method and information was one of my wow moments."

Mary

Kingstree, SC

Tour: 05/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I knew that the sights of Italy would be spectacular. What I didn't know was the enormous impact a guide would add to seeing those historic sights. With a good guide, like our Rick Steves guide, those sights came to life. We were 'there' as the gladiators fought in the colosseum, we were 'there' on the hilltops of Volterra and Lucca building walls to protect our city and way of life, and we were 'there' in Florence being awed by the phenomenal sculptures and the skill they represent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"One night after dinner, our entire group was sitting on the rooftop terrace of our hotel in Florence with the Duomo lit and violin music playing. It was truly magical!"

Kathi

Beatrice, NE

Tour: 05/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This vacation exceeded my expectations! The whole trip was well organized and carefully planned. Our tour group became a group of friends we enjoyed spending time with each day. The trip provided the perfect balance of "group tour" and individual time to explore on our own. Our last evening together was something I will never forget.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I wanted the whole "wine" experience and I was not disappointed. My WOW moment happened in Volterra - the evening we spent with Bruno and Lucio learning about and tasting wine down in the cave. It was perfect!"

Newsom

New Bern, NC

Tour: 05/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Thank you Cecilia for taking us through the heart of Italy in fine style. While the pace was rapid, we got in stride and stayed with her pretty well. (Never thought I would walk 7 or 8 miles in nearly 90 degree heat for several days in succession.) The food provided as part of the tour was fabulous and the special food treats that Cecilia kept finding for us (such as the buffalo mozzarella that she purchased for us after we toured the Parthenon) was amazing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Best part was our time in Volterra. Great small city to visit for 2 days. We enjoyed finding our way around the back streets and walkways. Really appreciated the local tour given by Annie -- so informative and really interesting. And the wine tasting was quite special -- the location, presentation, selection of wines and appetizers. (Yes, we did purchase a case of one of the wines presented during the "tasting".)"

Sandra

New Bern, NC

Tour: 05/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our second Rick Steves tour and again it exceeded all our expectations; it was well planned, offering us the best of everything, historic sites,quaint contryside villages, wonderful cuisine and the ultimate in wine. We had great combintions of planned tour activities and free time to explore on our own. The guide Cecilia, went out of her way to make us all feel comfortable and providing us with the information we needed to survive on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The WOW factor for me was driving through the hills of Tuscany, seeing the peaceful terraced vineyards and coming into the small village of Volterra and hearing the church bells chiming! It was charming and so perfect. That night around 11:00 pm we heard a choir singing and opened our hotel windows. leaned out and enjoyed the music! It was spectacular!"

Teresa

Saint Paul, MN

Tour: 05/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful tour - loved everything!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cinque Terre and Volterra"

Cheryl

Columbus, NE

Tour: 05/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first trip with Rick Steves. I have been to Europe over 5 times with other companies and on our own. This was by far the most organized and personal trip I have had. The restaurants were awesome, lots of food. The special touches, pesto demonstration, wine tastings, all top notch. The tour guides especially Francesca from coliseum in rome were the best I have ever had.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The night we spent on the balcony overlooking the doumo in Florence. Cecilia arranged a birthday party for one of our group, cannoli's and music, champagne."

Malcolm

Aurora, CO

Tour: 05/29/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Good tour with a nice group of people. Cinque Terra was the highlight and the reason we went. I would have liked an additional day to hike the trails.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"See comment below on Forum and Colosseum."

Janice

Aurora, CO

Tour: 05/29/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our hotel rooms had a lot of street noise and it was diffiult to sleep (We are folks who find ear plugs not comfortable, even though we had them) Recommendion: Request Rick Steves folks get nonstreet facing rooms, even tough it costs a little bit more

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking Cinque Terra Art Museums in Rome and Florence"

Emily

Fairfax, VA

Tour: 05/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's impossible to choose just one wow moment, but taking a moment to pause in the rooftop terrace in Monterosso al Mare, staring off into the Mediterranean as the sun was setting was definitely a wow."

Cynthia

Geneva, IL

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

When craving an escape beyond the ordinary the Heart of Italy is the trip for you! It was amazing and so much more than I could have ever hoped for! The entire tour was expertly put together. A jam-packed tour with plenty of group activities and time to explore the wonders Italy on our own! Rome, Volterra, Lucca, Sestri Levante, Cinque Terre and Florence combined the best of city and country. Colleen, our tour guide was amazing!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many WOW moments - every corner you turn in Rome offers a WOW moment! The enchanting hilltop setting of Volterra was hard to beat! The Renaissance and Baroque masters and frescoed ceilings...wow, wow, wow! The breathtaking terracotta roofs...medieval castles...the spectacular sunsets...and yummy gelato! But if I had to pick "a" favorite it would be Cinque Terre. BEAUTIFUL!!"

Carol

Lexington, MA

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have travelled alot but This was my first tour group and I cannot say enough about Rick Steves style touring. The balance between guided tours and free time was perfect. Colleen was creative and flexible in her ideas when "changes happened". As everyone seems to say, our group was the BEST! I think Rick Steves attracts a culturally curious geoup of people...curious about exploring new places, new people, new foods, YUM!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to choose the WOW moment, but i think being in Florence, turning the corner to see the glorious Duomo."

Keith

Florence, WI

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Having never traveled outside of the US, I knew that a tour would be the best way to experience our first trip to Italy! We have no regrets, nothing but great times, meeting new people, and learning so much about the essence of each city and community. The time on our own was great. We had the confidence after some guidance from Coleen and others in the group to visit parts unknown.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"How do I pick a wow moment when each new experience was spectacular? Volterra is amazing in its authenticity and charm! Annie and Francesco provided a rich understanding of the history, importance and pride of a well loved and maintained community. The wine tasting was spot on."

Wendy

Florence, WI

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As this trip was made in celebration of our 30th Wedding Anniversary, we spent months researching and decided to book the first trip to Europe as a tour. We have absolutely no regrets, had a wonderful time, and treasure our memories of great experiences. The 9 Days tour offered a full spectrum of activities both formal and informal, gave opportunity for "down" time, developed our skills for exploring independently, and allowed us to form relationships with other participants.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wow. So hard to decide. The Italian Riviera, Sestri Levante, and Cinque Terra by the sea were definite "wow" experiences. The opportunity to view the relics, artifacts, statues, and artwork at all museums and galleries was the best."

Sharon

Lexington, SC

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Initially reluctant to join a "tour group," I was outnumbered by my family! Am I ever glad I did join this group! From VIP access to the Vatican and museums to immediate seating at top-notch restaurants to local tour guides to wonderful hotels - I saw Italy the best way! Colleen (and all our local guides) provided history, humor, and too many to count AHA moments!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were too many to narrow it down to just one!!! Personally, my "wow" moment was walking into St. Peter's Basilica - INCREDIBLE! Second - David! Third - turning a corner in Rome and seeing the most incredible ruins dating back over 2,000 years! Voltera, Lucca, street vendors ... and CINQUE TERRE!!!! Does it get any better than CINQUE TERRE?????"

Kimberly

Augusta, GA

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent! Collen was great and set up the best local guides. Hotels were outstanding and close to grocery stores. Bus drivers were safe. Best way to see Europe with this Rick Steves tour, very pleased!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Rome, all of it! The Colleseum and St. Peter's. Loved Cinque Terre as well."

Barry

Burnsville, MN

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first time in Europe. I enjoyed all of it. Ben was a great guide. The locations, hotels, sites, tips, stories, food, made it all fun. I particularly liked the mix of guided activities and unstructured "off tour" times.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The submersion in ancient history in Rome. The views, pace and "hike" in the Cinque Terra."

Linda

Hanover, MA

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour, tour guides and fellow travelers! We liked all of the places we went and appreciated the free time. We particularly enjoyed our group dinners.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sunset on top of our hotel in Florence"

Charlotte

Vestavia Hills, AL

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our trip was fabulous and I would recommend a RS tour to ANYONE (and already have!). It was such a great blend of planned activities and time on our own. Even when we had free time Ben had such wonderful suggestions of excursions, walking tours, or other exciting things to see and do. We love to travel and were so happy with how the trip was organized and laid out.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was not a particular moment, but just walking around through history laid out in front of us. The Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Forum. It was just incredible to me to be able to walk on the Roman Road."

Walter

Vestavia Hills, AL

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was an excellent experience. There was a perfect balance between planned outings and free time. Our tour guide was excellent. He was extremely well prepared and his personality perfectly fits this job. Our tour group was a great mix of people of all ages and areas. A thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we rounded the corner to see the Pantheon for the first time was unexpected and incredible. This was just the first of many "wow" moments as Rome and the rest of the tour were full of them. 9 Days in Italy......WOW!"

David

New Port Richey, FL

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I didn't know what to expect as this was my first tour, but it was excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Appreciating the vast difference in towns and cities just a short distance apart."

Joseph

Bloomington, IL

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our first Rick Steves trip to Spain last year was great, so we decided to try another one. The Heart of Italy Tour didn't disappoint. Guide Ben gets an A+++ for bringing Italy to life. From the hustle and bustle and landmark sites of Rome, the never-ending postcard views on the way to and in the Etruscan hill town of Volterra, the quaint walled city of Lucca, the sensory overload of the cliffs and sea in Cinque Terre, and the elegance of Florence; we were "wowed" from start to finish.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Since this was a "best of" tour, the wow moments were pretty much non-stop. The Pantheon, the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's, the Colosseum, the Forum, Tuscany and the hill town of Volterra, the walled city of Lucca, the Italian Riviera, and the wonders of Renaissance Florence. This trip is a feast for the senses."

Allan

Wesley Chapel, FL

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My family and I went back-and-forth between going on a tour and trying to explore Italy by ourselves. I feel very happy that we chose Rick Steves tour in the end. I feel that when you are in a foreign country and you're trying to get the most out of a short amount of time it is best served to take a tour. My tour experience in Italy was wonderful. Ben, our guide, could not have been better. His passion, knowledge, and personality are all top-notch. I will always use Rick Steves tours!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view of the hills of Tuscany from the top of Volterra. It makes me want to buy a villa that I can't afford."

Debra

Burnsville, MN

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was the perfect blend of structure/guided touring and flexible touring on our own. The highlights in each city were exactly what I would have wanted to have seen, but as part of the tour group, our reservations allowed us to avoid long lines and wait times - a HUGE plus! We had additional guides for some of the sights and they were extremely knowledgeable and for the most part, passionate! Hotels were comfortable and reflected the culture and group meals were well-planned and delicious!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is difficult to pick one "wow" moment since this was our first European trip. The statue of David - amazing. The art and architecture of Rome was overwhelming! Again, the opportunity to see works of art and ancient relics/architecture up close and intimate (no barriers)was impressive. Cinque Terre was beyond beautiful - the Mediterranean Sea coupled with rising cliffs and mountains and villages tucked up the sides was inspirational. Exploring Italian villages was time well-spent."

Vicky

Brownsburg, IN

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was fabulous. Cecilia is very knowledgeable, patient, and has a great sense of humor. It was the kind of trip I would have planned myself, had I taken on the responsibility - but it was nice to have someone else do it for me! Cecilia and our local guides are to be commended for working around a strike that threw a last minute wrench in our sightseeing plans.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was when Cecilia took us around a corner in Florence to see the Duomo. Everyone talks about how significant the dome itself is, but I never realized how incredibly beautiful the rest of the cathedral is."

Lisa

Houston, TX

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We enjoyed the all of the cities, the tours, meals and the guide. It was very fast paced and we moved around quite often. The people we traveled with seemed to enjoy themselves also.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view from Il Vittoriano were amazing!"

Hannah

Medfield, MA

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I think that our tour guide was absolutely fantastic. Incredibly knowledgeable and really worked out to give us a taste of the real Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Ancient Rome."

Jody

Greencastle, PA

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

My tour experience was excellent. I like the itinerary. Volterra and Lucca were terrific choices for smaller towns to visit. The cinque terra area was as beautiful as the pictures I had seen.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment occurred over and over again in Rome. In our free time we visited many churches and were blown away by the art. (Of course I was blown away again when we visited the Vatican with the group)"

Daniel

Lancaster, CA

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was fantastic (just like my tour last year). Cecilia was a sweetheart, very energetic and funny. She was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. She showed her mastery of the city of Firenze(her home town)when we arrived, and took us for a gelatto treat at "per que no?" and I could see why she used to go there as a kid. Despite the Colosseum employee strike, and the Trevi Fountain being closed for remodeling, Cecilia made it a most memorable vacation. She did "little extras"ie:prosecco

Favorite "WOW" moment

"That had to have been the "Bike Ride" in Lucca. What a pleasant surprise that it was included in our tour to my amazement. I took three laps around the fortress wall and even enjoyed a passing rain cloud drizzling a light rain on my face. I would not have done it otherwise, but now I recommend it as "must" to anyone traveling to Lucca. Thank You!"

John

Brownsburg, IN

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thought the tour was very organized and well thought out. I thought Cecilia was great to work with and did an outstanding job of leading us thru all of the exhibits.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have never been a big fan of the arts but the tour guide that we had at the Uffizi gallery did an outstanding job of leading us thru the gallery and explaining the artist and what they were trying to project. In particular, he explained that one of the artist was trying to illustrate in one of the paintings that we all are born and all will die, therefore we should live life to the fullest each day."

Polly

Okemos, MI

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fantastic with lots of sites to see, good food, and lodgings where we slept well every night. I especially enjoyed our tour guide who had a delightful blend of energy, humor, thoughtfulness, and charm. I still hear her voice telling us in her delightful accent everything we wanted to know, granting every request whenever possible, and brightening up the room with her presence. She got to know each of us personally, & made every effort to make everyone bond with other group members.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Patricia was excellent in every skill listed. Having been on other tours, I noticed that she made every problem that arose go away or not matter with such grace and style. My favorite wow moment was hiking the Cinque Terres and seeing the exquisite sights under the clear blue sky of the perfect weather we had."

Dan

Mukilteo, WA

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was the best trip of my life. I had never been to Europe before and the trip opened my eyes to the world.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is difficult to name just one "wow" moment, but if I had to, I would say visiting Cinque Terre. It was magical. The view, the town, the water."

Christine

Bedford, NH

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fantastic tour, our guide, Patricia was outstanding, she went the extra mile to make sure the trip was special for all. The itinerary was a busy one, but we would not have had it any other way. We enjoyed everyone in our group of 28 travelers from all over the US. Hotels were good and we the group meals were delicious. Local guides were all wonderful, adding so much more to our vacation than we could have done visiting on our own. Excellent overall experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"St. Peter's Basilica, the Coliseum and Forum, the beautiful valley of Volterra, and the view of Vernazza and Monterosso from the "Walk of Love" between the two villages."

Marilyn

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was everything promised and more. Our tour director, Patricia, was outstanding! She was kind, knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. In my opinion, Patricia took the tour from good to great! There were no surprises and the tour bus rolled smoothly from town to town.....I enjoyed meeting our tour mates and I have to say that everyone on the trip was truly a joy to travel with! I highly recommend Rick Steves tours....

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Without a doubt, for be it was the Vatican and St. Peter's Basillica.....I loved the coliseum and the forum too. The history portion of the tour was my favorite "wow" moment."

Katherine

Scottsdale, AZ

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great experience! Loved our guide, Patricia!

Edward

Scottsdale, AZ

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great, liked Patricia and we had some outstanding guides.

Sandra

Scottsdale, AZ

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Exceeded expectations. Very well organized. We had an exceptional group of fellow travelers -- everyone was positive, considerate, and flexible. No one let the subway strike in Rome get them down, we just all walked more! We saw and did everything expected and much more. The trip was just the right mix of arranged tours and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have to mention 2 moments -- sometimes it's the simple things. The hill town of Volterra was stunning and so nice after all the congestion of Rome. And I loved the bicycle ride along the walls of Lucca."

Jennifer

Matthews, NC

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had never been on a tour before and were a little apprehensive that we weren't "tour" people but we loved it! The group was so congenial, it was so well planned with plenty of time off,the use of time was efficient- making the most of our time without totally exhausting us. The local guides were so knowledgeable and the education we got was great - enough information to make sense of what we were seeing but not such an overload we couldn't take it in. And Patricia was amazing!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's hard to pick one. My first sight of the Colosseum, St Peters, the beautiful landscapes of Tuscany, the Cinque Terre and the art treasures in the Uffizi. But I guess if I'm picking one I'd say Riomaggiore. It was just so beautiful and charming and I felt not quite as touristy as Vernazza and Monterosso."

Mary Ann

Grand Forks, ND

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As a first time traveler overseas, I'd recommend a Rick Steves' Tour to everyone! Starting with our guide, Patricia, every day was a new, wonderful experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I'm not sure how many times I said "wow" on this Tour, but it was certainly more than a few times!! I was awestruck with the Cinque Terre region. Hiking the cliff-side path was awesome! The fact that on the entire tour, very little time was spent in a bus, made me VERY HAPPY! I love to walk, and we did plenty of that! Again, Patricia kept us moving and interested in all we saw!!"

Scott

Grand Forks, ND

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I can't say enough how great our tour was ! Truly outstanding!! Our Guide Patricia really helped make our tour experience one to remember. She was extremely knowledgeable and sincere in all her efforts to make our tour one to remember. She has a fantastic attitude and was always available for any questions or recommendations. Our attraction's tour guides were also amazing and did an outstanding job of describing in detail, so many of the most interesting points of the sight.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Its' very hard to say what our favorite "wow" moment was since there were so many! I can't say enough how great of an itinerary the 9 Day Tour includes. From the bustling city of Rome with it's attractions to the small towns of Volterra and the Cinque Terre. Great restaurant experiences with the favorite foods and wine from each region and also fantastic tour guides for the major attractions !! Too many to pick just one!"

Tim

Okemos, MI

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Patricia was an outstanding tour guide and so were all the other guides we had on the different tours. The hotels were all very nice and the buses were 1st class.The meals that were provided were very good also.I have recommended your tour to a few people of which 4 of them are probably going to go this fall.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The drive up to Voltere was dramatic. the Vatican tour was also great.The 5 towns on the Italian Riviera were also great. Florence tour guide was outstanding also."

Stephen

New York, NY

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was the best tour I've taken.. Virginia and the local guides were phenomenal. While somewhat physically challenging at times. it was all quite doable. Our service dogs were well accommodated and we are most appreciative. We enjoyed our fellow tour partners.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Uffizzi. While this was my third time there and studied much of its content I was completely blown away. The local guide was brilliant."

Gordon

Denver, CO

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Virginia was a totally professional, approachable, helpful, good-natured and cheerful guide. She was very adept at being all of this while still being firm and clear about necessary structure for the good of all. My wife and I learned a lot and enjoyed the company of our amiable group while also appreciating our independent time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Approaching Volterra and seeing the magnificently green hill country. It didn't hurt that Rick Steves happened to be in town and stopped at our wine-tasting!"

Deborah

Denver, CO

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Absolutely superb guide Virginia & superb local guides throughout the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every moment of trip with Virginia & with all local guides were fantastic."

Bobann

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was my third trip to Italy and sixth RS tour and all went very well. I was unexpectedly traveling as a single but felt comfortable in the group and on my own. The itinerary suited me well and I got to cover new territory in Italy with a very enjoyable group of people. As usual the guide was great and all of the arrangements for the tour went well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing David in the Accademia was quite remarkable."

Thomas

Savage, MN

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

With minor exceptions our tour experience was fantastic. Everything seemed to go according to plan. The overall approach of having half to three-quarter days of planned tour activities and occasional group dinners worked exceptionally well; allowing time for us to explore and do things on our own part of the time. The accommodations and group meals were excellent and the travel to each new location worked seamlessly.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many WOW moments; the first view of the Coliseum in Rome, even before exiting the bus, was very special. So too was the initial view of Michelangelo's David, the shear size and detail of St. Peter's Basilica, and the general atmosphere and charm of Florence and the size and spectacle of the Duomo in Florence. The Pantheon in Rome was amazing as were the views of the Tuscan country-side from Volterra."

Carol Lea

New York, NY

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was beautifully planned to offer us the best sites, the best food and a superb guide. My husband and I did the tour with our two service dogs and Virginia did a lot of extra work making sure the dogs could get into the Vatican, on the Metro and into the wonderful restaurants where we ate our dinners. She was so gracious, warm, well-informed, caring and funny. We just adored her and are so grateful for the work she did on our behalf. All the other guides were great, too.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"After days of long, long walks and stairs and standing and listening to the wonderful guides in the hot sun, we lay on our backs with the dogs in the grass in Lucca, looking up at the blue, blue sky and thought about never going home!"

Curt

Spokane Valley, WA

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Perfect pace, very knowledgeable local guides, Virginia Agostinelli (primary guide) was GREAT! Will do another tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing in 2,800 year old Etruscan ruins above Volterra."

Patty

Custer, WA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our Heart of Italy tour with Lisa Anderson was awesome! It was a great combination of tour time together and time for us to explore on our own. It was nice it covered the most popular places in Italy but it also gave us an opportunity to see the small cities such as Volterra, Lucca and Levanto. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow moment on the tour was the Pantheon in Rome, it was amazing how they were able to build it and how it is still standing today. On our own we went to the Ponte Vecchio bridge during the day and then at night when all the shops were closed down. It was beautiful to see what a difference it makes when all the doors are closed for the night. The Ponte Vecchio bridge at night was so romantic, with singers and all the lights on the water, delightful."

Anita

San Jose, CA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have been on dozens of different tours and Lisa is the very best guide I have had! Not only does she know the area, she makes you feel wanted. Having someone that cares is priceless.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Lisa"

Gregory

Katy, TX

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was not only outstanding, but it far exceeded our highest expectations. Lisa, our tour guide informed us from the start she wanted to transfer her passion for Italy to each one of us through our 9-day tour experience. I can affirmatively state, "Mission Accomplished"! If my wife and I had tried to do the same tour on our own, we would have enjoyed the locations and the sights, but would have missed all the history and context that Lisa provided us over the entire tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each new day provided a new experience and new favorite. But overall Florence was our most impressive and certainly the top of the "WOW" moment for us. Taking in all the beauty and structures and putting it in the context of how many years ago....it still is a WOW moment for us!"

Barbara

Vancouver, WA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Lisa was a wonderful tour guide. She was organized and well informed and did a great job of making everyone feel comfortable. We loved all the places we went and appreciated the combination of structured and free time. We also liked that the group wasn't too large. I felt our group was very compatible, which enhanced the experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many wonderful experiences and beautiful sights it's difficult to choose one. One particularly beautiful sight was the view we had from our hotel in the hillside town of Volterra. Volterra was our favorite place we visited, just because it was smaller and more quiet and less affected by tourism."

Barbara

Katy, TX

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

From the very first meeting to our last breakfast together the tour was outstanding. The number of participants was neither too large nor too small and everyone was friendly, cohesive, and got along well. Lisa had answers for every one of our questions about Italy. Not only did we learn about the history and art of Italy but about current life too. The towns we visited were each so different and gave a wonderful overview of Italy. I'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hmm, too many to choose for one favorite. Learning how to read the bus signs to get around Rome really widened our world. We could get farther than what our two feet could take us and didn't need to rely on taxis. The sumptuous artwork in the Uffizi Gallery was spectacular. Walking into the Accademia Gallery and seeing David standing over everyone took my breath away. The food was always a "wow". Still dreaming about the pork dish with raviolli which we had in Volterra."

Deborah

Snoqualmie, WA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Lisa was a great tour guide - knows her history and she worked well with the locate guides. She was also very accommodating with the needs of people within the group including, directions, special wines, where to shop, how to ask for items in a restaurant, etc. The tour itself was great but wished we had more time to linger at the sites which I know is hard when you are trying to pack in several sites. We didn't visit the last site so we could go back to a church and spend more time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The churches; the amount of frescos and beautiful roman columns."

Augusta

Gates Mills, OH

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The overall experience was fantastic. The small group experience is so enjoyable. I appreciate the 1/2 day of guided time and the 1/2 day of free time to explore on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was all fabulous. Rome--the Colosseum tour with guide Hillary Volterra-wine tasting with Francesco walking tour of Volterra with guide Annie Lucca-tour guide was very good ( sorry don't recall his name ) Florence-the tour guide at the Uffizi museum ( sorry don't recall his name) Cinque Terra-the long boat ride along the coast line the town of Levanto-the perfect base to explore the cinque terra"

Steven

Ojai, CA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Just a treat from start to finish. An excellent combination of tours and being on our own. A great group of traveling companions. I didn't even have to remind myself about the "no grumpy" pledge because there was nothing to be grumpy about. And our guide was always there when we needed her, with just the right mix of helping us out and allowing us to be independent. Having two nights at each hotel made for the right amount of packing and unpacking. Perfect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our evening walk through Rome the first night of the tour. The Pantheon, the Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain and topped off by walking up the Spanish Steps at night and admiring the view. Although the Ufitzi gallery was pretty "wow" too."

Lois

Ojai, CA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed the trip greatly. The balance of sites that are difficult to get into (such as the Vatican and the Uffizzi museum with minimal lines but the tour got us in easily) with our own choice of activities was really just right. The tour guides were a real addition to help understanding what we were seeing and the historical and political importance.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "wow" moment is the coliseum Amazing! New to me and my favorite part of this tour was Volterra and the Etruscan history. The people of Italy have been through so much and hang on with such resilience. I enjoyed the story about the city dump and resourceful use of mental patients to help uncover the ancient forum and baths. What a positive experience for all involved."

Juli

Dallas, TX

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

All details of travel, accommodations, meals, and tours were handled professionally, and with genuine care. Lisa was a superb guide and we loved all that she shared about so many aspects of life in Italy. She extended true concern for our comfort and safety, and she provided every opportunity for us to get the most from our trip. The local guides were the best and we learned so much about the history, culture and art of the regions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Uffizi gallery tour with Ricardo. He was amazing and brought my Art History class of twenty years ago to life! Made me want come home and dig out my text book, which I did. The Vatican will bring tears to the eye of any Christian as did the Duomo in Milan (our extended stay but recommended by Lisa)."

Herb

Dallas, TX

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was my first Rick Steves tour and my first time in Italy. Our tour guide, Lisa, did a fabulous job. She is very friendly, helpful and caring. She obviously has a passion for her job, for Italy and her "tourists". I really liked the fact that she was the overall guide but that we had local guides for several different cities and towns. The buses were great, the choices of hotels and restaurants were well considered and very good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite Wow moment was touring the Coliseum with how old it is and the stories the guide told about the gladiators being slaves and the audience were returning Roman soldiers who were being kept occupied by the violence."

Brittany

Hoover, AL

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I had never travelled overseas before, so this was all new to me. I had a blast! You could tell our tour guide, Lisa, was very knowledgeable about every area we visited and I liked the way she presented the material to our group. There is a lot of traveling that is fit in within a short span of time. However, I felt that the time was very well organized. I felt the local guides did a fantastic job, as well. Most of them even told a few jokes and all of them kept the group's interest.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"That is so hard to pin point. There were many "wow" moments. I would say, to see The Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, the Roman Ruins, it really hits home how all the things we read as kids were right in front of us. But, seeing Tuscany and exploring the Cinque Terre was a great experience. So many things! Also, we had wonderful weather, a great group, and a fantastic tour guide."

Jim

San Mateo, CA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My Heart of Italy tour was great. All of the group was on time and considerate of all their fellow travelers. Everyone was on time and always ready to go. I was traveling by myself, but I was accepted by all the rest of the group. It was great having a group leader, telling us and showing us all the hi-lites of the areas we visited. Also, I like the Rick Steves suggestions to spend extra days before and after the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "Wow" moments were many.But, My main objective was to visit the Cinque Terre. And I was not disappointed. I used the boat transportation to get to all the towns. I was able to hike all over the mountain sides and get spectacular views at vantage points above the towns. Breathtaking! Also, with all the hustle and bustle of Rome and Florence, Volterra was a quiet a contrast. Very pleasant and quiet. My group leader even set me up with a massage in town. It was memorable."

John

San Ramon, CA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Lisa was a fantastic guide. She easily related to both Americans and Italians and brought the cultures of both together in a seamlessly easy, fun adventure. The tour was well planned and allowed enough down time to explore more on our own. Dinners on tour were fantastic, and just enough group time to get well acquainted with the very interesting people in our group. Everyone seemed up for the active adventures we went on and there was a great positive vibe throughout the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The coliseum in Rome and the Vatican tour were the best wow moments. Cinque de terra had the most beautiful sights of small villages, especially from the boat we took to visit them. Really too many great moments for this short note."

Sara

Spokane, WA

Tour: 05/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a wonderful time. I know the time is always a problem but I would appreciated three days in each spot instead of two. All of our locations really could've used one more day to see more fully.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really enjoyed the wine tasting in volterra."

Nancy

Nashua, NH

Tour: 05/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We totally enjoyed it ..David was the best ..He took care of everything for us ..He always was courteous and thoughtful. I appreciated the nice touches he included ..Italian chocolates on our longish bus ride ...the tissues he handed out if the facilities were lacking t'paper..and the songs he sang us playing his guitar .. You do need to be in good physical shape to keep up with lots of fast walking...I think the tour of the Vatican was tiring ..could have used a rest or coffee break..

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking the trail in Cinque Terre. St Peter's Basillica...seeing the Pieta Seeing the country side in Tuscany...spectacular"

Shannon

Camas, WA

Tour: 05/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first experience on a guided tour, and it was fantastic! Both David and Stefanie were friendly and knowledgeable, and really cared about the tourmembers having a great tour. The tour was the perfect combination of guided time and free time, allowing us to rest if we wanted or see things not included on the tour. I learned so much on the tour, the guides really made the sights come alive with history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The bicycle ride in Lucca! Lucca is a beautiful Tuscan city, and after our guided tour of the city, our guides informed us they had rented bicycles for us to use to ride around the city on the path built on top of the old city fortification wall. The path atop the wall is flanked by beautiful large trees that form a canopy; a warm Spring breeze with dappled sunshine, it was a wonderful surprise of a treat!"

Nancy

Hilton Head Island, SC

Tour: 05/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our second Rick Steves tour. We enjoyed it very much & look forward to taking future tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Joe says the food & wine -- I say gelato!!! Volterra & Cinque Terre were also outstanding."

Jane

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/01/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall tour experience was very good and tour guide was very good. Liked Karin very much.28 people are too many and ungainly in getting around. Very conspicuous pulling suitcases through cobblestone streets. Max size should be perhaps 22-24. Was good mix of big and small cities. Really nice "skipping the line" and getting into museums fast. Tour well organized and efficient at seeing sights. Maybe shouldn't schedule this tour when Italy's Labor Day holiday lands on a weekend. Crazy crowded.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sistine Chapel ceiling decoration's nine scenes from Book of Genesis, most notable of which is The Creation of Adam, with the hands of God and Adam reaching toward one another."

Susan

Ebensburg, PA

Tour: 05/01/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

An incredible experience! We surveyed a number of tours before [INVALID]ing this one. We are competent -not quite savvy -travelers. We had a great experience because of the support that Karin gave to us. It was a great combination of free time and activities. We would not have been able to navigate the Vatican or Florence's museums in a meaningful way without the guide's direction. The schedule got us into busy museums early or late in the day to avoid crowds.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cinque Terre. We walked from Monterossa to Vernazza, then went by train to Manorala and hiked the Vineyard Trail. The vistas were truly "wows" and we captured great pictures. One of mine that I posted to Instagram was "copied" by EarthPix a few days later!! Our guide Karin gave us great advice about what to do during that free day. I think that the sense of accomplishment from being able to move among the towns contributed to that "wow" moment."

John

Ebensburg, PA

Tour: 05/01/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour guide, Karen was superb[INVALID]very knowledgable, organized, friendly, and approachable. The accommodations were comfortable and well located. The meals were excellent. The overall experience exceeded my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Rome--now my favorite city."

Jeannine

Avon Lake, OH

Tour: 05/01/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded my expectations. Our tour guide, Karen, was excellent, as were the local guides in each city we visited. The accommodations were all clean and perfectly located for the sights we saw. I especially liked the Hotel Torre Guelfa with it's medieval tower. The buffet at the Albergo Primavera hotel in Levanto was some of the best food I've had in ages! Aside from the sights, I think I enjoyed the company of our fellow travellers the most. What a fun and interesting group of people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many it's hard to pick one. I loved the story Karen told about the Italian firemen sprinkling red rose petals through the hole in the dome of the Pantheon at Pentecost. Seeing the David in person was breathtaking. The history in the Forum, especially the depiction of the sacking of Jerusalem on the Arch of Titus and realizing that the construction of the Colosseum began at the same time and finally, the frescoes in the Santa Maria Novella were amazing - like nothing I've ever seen."

Kelly

Chicago, IL

Tour: 05/01/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was an outstanding experience. Due to the guides' knowledge and expertise, the experience of seeing the sights and locations was enriched greatly.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking the trail in Cinque Terre."

Frank

Ann Arbor, MI

Tour: 05/01/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The overall experience, the tour members, the facilities we stayed, the tour guides (All the individual tour guides were exceptional and an expert on the material, Karen our main tour guide was spectatular), the facility staffs, the locations, etc. were fabulous. My wife an I could not have packed in as much sight seeing if we had planned the vacation on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's difficult for me to choose one favorite "wow" moment, but seeing the Sistine Chapel and the statue of David up close were very inspiring and moving."

Rita

Ann Arbor, MI

Tour: 05/01/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Loved the knowledgeable guides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"the art and architecture."

Karen

Annandale, VA

Tour: 05/01/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Lovely trip. Our guide was friendly, helpful and informative, and other tour participants were a great mix of companions. To top it off, the weather was uniformly sunny and warm.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's really hard to single out any particular moment [INVALID] I would say that some of the group dinners were the most fun."

Deborah

Sequim, WA

Tour: 05/01/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I decided to take this trip because that is what my husband wanted me to do after his death. This trip was very fulfilling. I not only had excellent tour guides, especially Karen who was our main guide, but I learned so very much from everyone I came into contact with at this time in my grieving process. The art lectures, the good feelings of belonging, our family like group dinners, the strenuous walking all added to my overall satisfaction. Not once did I feel alone. Everyone was kind.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Basilica of the Santa Maria Novella was truly a 'wow' moment. The most beautiful alcove, off the main alter, depicting Christ on the cross was so simplistic that it took my breath away. I felt full of love and complete especially knowing my husband was there in Spirit. The Sistine Chapel came in second for the feeling of completeness."

Dennis

Kalispell, MT

Tour: 04/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Exceeded my general expectations. Being more interested in general history vs. art history, I found the tour enlightening and balanced. All of the lodging was fine, meals that were provided were excellent, educational wine tastings, and cooking class was great. The group was good, with only one couple not necessarily completely engaged with everyone. Otherwise, all in the group went out of their way to engage, initiate conversations, invite one another for dinner, etc.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The architecture and feel of Volterra and Lucca, the short hike at Cinque Terra."

Lesly

Port Townsend, WA

Tour: 04/26/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Not having ever been on a tour, and went into this situation a bit leery, I was impressed with my experience. I feel I made a most excellent decision to do a 9 day tour as my intro to Italy, since I had planned on 2 weeks by myself following the tour. I felt relatively comfortable to do so after spending this time with Alfio and the tour. My fellow companions were friendly and as I was pretty much the only solo traveler, appreciated their including me in at times when we had free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Realizing I knew so little about (or at least couldn't remember) the history of Italy and the experience of understanding and taking in all that was presented to us. From the Vatican Museum, David, to the beauty of Tuscany, there wasn't just one "wow" moment I'm able to isolate."

Nancy

Seattle, WA

Tour: 04/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We wanted our 1st trip to Italy to be perfect and it was! Having never been on a group tour before we were a bit apprehensive, so knowing that everyone had pledged not to be a grump was reassuring. We couldn't have asked for a better tour guide than Alfio. He was extremely knowledgeable, passionate about Italy, a super nice guy, and lots of fun. We all wanted to take him home with us! Our local tour guides were great, too. We learned SO MUCH, and feel like we really experienced Italy!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"l. The Sistine Chapel, more impactful than I could ever have imagined. 2. Listening to Francesca, our local guide at the Coliseum, who was the most amazing combination of teacher, historian and philosopher. She set the tone for us to become "travelers" instead of "tourists," moving many of us to tears. 3. "The David," so exquisite it left me breathless. Alfio had a most unique, unforgettable and perfect way for us to enter the room to see it, too. All were spiritual experiences."

Dean

Lenexa, KS

Tour: 04/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were very impressed with the tour, from the planning stages until the very end. The process of booking the tour, paying for the tour, completing all paperwork, and arriving at the starting point was extremely easy and user-friendly. The guide was fantastic, and the value was great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me, the "wow" was really the level of understanding we gained of the history of Italy, the many cultural influences, and the place that the various peoples held in world history. The guides painted the picture so vividly."

Edward

Flemington, NJ

Tour: 04/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had an knowledgeable tour guide that enhanced the experience. The sites of the tour were incredible interesting. The pace of the tour was also appropriate for the length of the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Rome, especially the Vatican and our group dinner in Levanto."

Debra

Dubuque, IA

Tour: 04/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We traveled with a very convivial group, all of whom were enthusiastic and had the energy to keep up a busy itinerary...made it a pleasure for all, I feel. I felt the only disappointment was the Cinque Terre experience, due to cool, rainy weather, primarily. I understood that the hiking trails are unreliable as to access, but might have been nice to understand ahead that nearly all trails were not open, one or two having been closed for about 5 years. Otherwise, a great experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Arriving at the Roman Coliseum...Wow...and discovering Francesca would be our guide...Wow again! Whole tour of Coliseum and Forum were fantastic!"

Lisa

Flemington, NJ

Tour: 04/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thought the tour was a nice balance of activity and free-time. Loved our tour guide Alfio, he was very knowledgeable and personable and made the group come together. Really nice group of people on the tour. We had a fantastic trip and will remember it forever!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing St. Peter's Basilica in person after watching so many midnight Christmas masses on television, truly jaw-dropping. Had goose bumps the entire time inside."

Robert

Elizabethtown, KY

Tour: 04/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Exceeded my expectations

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Vatican tour with Saint Peter's basilica and particularly the Sistine Chapel."

Charlene

Kalispell, MT

Tour: 04/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very positive. Exceeded my expectations. The guides were excellent, especially Alfio. I appreciated the group camaraderie. Also, the Rick Steves philosophy of travel, which drew people who were energetic, friendly, but also independent. Independent exploration during free time. Instructions regarding navigating on our own. Excellent food and wine for group dinners. Comfortable accommodations. Overall, I am highly recommending Rick Steves Tours to my friends.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing in the tower at the Torre Guelfa at night overlooking Florence during a full moon."

Kathleen

Chandler, AZ

Tour: 04/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was absolutely delightful! We felt that the tour guide, Ben, was so knowledgeable and engaging. He really made the trip so fun and interesting. All the local tour guides we had on our trip were wonderful. Their story-telling abilities kept us engaged. The areas we visited on this tour felt like a perfect balance of small towns and big city experiences. We wouldn't have changed a thing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Probably the vineyard walk in the Cinque Terre region. It was so relaxing,a nice change from the big city hustle and bustle."

Mary

Shady Cove, OR

Tour: 04/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had the most wonderful time. It flew by. We saw everything we wanted to see and then some. Crowds in Rome were a little overwhelming, but very glad it was the first stop. Had it been the reverse, I may have had a meltdown. Our group was great and everyone was very pleasant. Ben, of course, was fabulous.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the "David"."

Cathy

Moorpark, CA

Tour: 04/19/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Ben and Antonia were awesome!!! Individual site guides were outstanding. Dinners provided by tour were excellent...don't change a thing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many, many "wow" moments....the Vatican City Tour...the coliseum tour....the beauty of Cinque Terre....Wine tasting in Voltarra was outstanding.....Carlo's dinner in Cinque Terre.... the flam beau sirloin roasts in Florence."

Kenneth

Geneseo, NY

Tour: 04/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have taken tours with other companies, but this tour experience by your company topped them all. The pace, the hotels, the personal touch expressed by our guide(s) was superb. Our next tour will definitely be with your company. The tour of Italy is one great experience whatever tour company is taken. However, we feel the extra effort that your company puts into planning a relax, yet filling experience, it a notch about others. We have told all our friends about your tour company.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Getting away from the big city of Rome (which we enjoyed) and then going to Tuscany region and staying in the quiet little village of Votera?"

Susan

Geneseo, NY

Tour: 04/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Having done tours with 4 other companies and enjoyed them all, our Rick Steves tour was far and away the best tour ever! It was the perfect combination, for us, of planned events, free time and group size.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking in the vineyards above Monarola on a perfect day with awesome views of the village and the Mediterranean."

Susan

St Catharines, ON

Tour: 04/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great group - wonderful guides - Ben and Antonia complimented each other and both were most friendly and attentive as well as very knowledgeable re all we were seeing. Just the right balance of being in group and having time off. Good accommodations. Very good meals.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the hike from Montessera to Vernazza in Cinque Terre. The day was glorious weather and it was lovely to hike and come upon the town at the bottom of the hill!"

Adele

Tichborne, ON

Tour: 04/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We came back having had a marvellous experience. Rome was noisy, crowded and marvellous ! I was enthralled. Tuscany was magical. Ben has obviously built quite a network with local hotel owners and restauranteurs! It always felt like we were going to friends of his and were made so welcome. He is worth his weight in gold.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The hills of Tuscany.the gentle rolling beauty was spectacular and just went on and on."

Bradley

Chandler, AZ

Tour: 04/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was my first time in Europe, and was made so easy, informative and comfortable that I was thrilled.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many, many highlights, but Ancient Rome and the small towns stand out."

Sharon

Ann Arbor, MI

Tour: 04/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

After traveling to Europe several times independently, I decided a group tour would be better since I'd never been to Italy and wanted to see as much as possible. I always use Rick Steves travel books when I travel so decided to join the Heart of Italy tour. I was more than thrilled with our tour. It was so much more than I ever imagined it could be. Our tour guide, Ben, was amazing, as well as the local guides. I definitely will take another Rick Steves tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow moment was the beautiful weather we had for each destination! I liked Rome the best, so easy to get around and experience the history of that great city."

Susan

Lawrenceville, GA

Tour: 04/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was a great balance of structure to learn about the places we were visiting and free time to explore on our own. It was wonderful not having to worry about finding a hotel or transportation. Our guides were extremely knowledgeable and helpful, yet unobtrusive. They made wonderful suggestions on what to do and see during our free time, but they were never "bossy." Everything ran according to schedule. Fabulous trip!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "wow" moments. My favorite was probably seeing the beautiful mountains and countryside as we drove down some very winding roads into Levanto. Breathtaking! The Sistine Chapel also took my breath away."

Carol

Lawrenceville, GA

Tour: 04/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Ben was a great guide. He brought us the flavor of Italy. I embraced the history, the art and the people. Ben brought all of this to us. I love having free time to explore.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra and Lucca.....loved the smaller towns."

Margaret

Bremerton, WA

Tour: 04/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first time in Europe. I've always wanted to see Italy and I will be forever grateful that I took this tour. It was amazing, fun, and sometimes overwhelming all at the same time. I've had 2 knee replacements in 2 years, and most of the time I was "bringing up the rear" when walking, but I did it! That said, I would do the tour again in a heartbeat.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow"moment took me by surprise...I would have expected seeing the Sistine Chapel or the statue of David...but it happened in the Colesuem when Francesca Caruso was speaking. She brought ancient Rome and it's people to life for me. I was seeing with my heart and not my eyes. I could actually feel their presence, and "see" Rome not as ruin, but in it's glory. Amazing!"

Marian

Avon, IN

Tour: 04/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was all that I thought it would be and more. The weather that you ordered was exellent throughout the nine days. Good job on that one!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved it all, But especially Volterra. After Rome it was a treat to be in a small town."

Mark

North Bend, WA

Tour: 04/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

When people ask me about my favorite part of the trip I keep saying it was being on a Rick Steves' tour. Italy was great but the experience we had designed for us made it truly unforgettable!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In Volterra out guide told us a story about lifesavers candy that brought a tear to my eye. Having great guides takes traveling to the next level and Annie in particular did that for me."

Cali

North Bend, WA

Tour: 04/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

While we expected to be on the younger side of our group, we didn't anticipate how much fun we'd have with everyone on the tour! What a great group of people! Nina did a fantastic job bringing us all together and making us feel really comfortable in what could very easily be an awkward situation at best. We were so impressed with the perfect balance of structured time that saved us logistics headaches, and unstructured time that allowed us to really explore Italy!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was walking into St. Peter's Basilica. Wow! The president of Italy decided to visit the Pope for the first time while we were there, and had it not been for Nina's "ear to the ground" information about when the Basilica was opening again, we would have missed it. ...but when I think of our trip to Italy, there were so many special moments with the tour group (dinners in our own little groups, funny stories as we regrouped for group dinners, etc.) that it is hard to pick one!"

Will

Centerville, MA

Tour: 04/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Lovely! The weather was good, so we were able to see and do all that was scheduled and after the scheduled activities, we went out roaming, taking in the sights and did our fair share of getting lost, but lost in a good way, where we saw even more than we set out to see. Our guides were all excellent and we learned very much from them. We did our learning with our guides and then went out on private sojourns by ourselves or with others in our group to enjoy the sights, food and the towns.

Beth

Bothell, WA

Tour: 04/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was hesitant to take a tour but I am very happy that I did. I was not only shown historical sites, but got a very good overview of the Italian people and the flow of their lives. This made it much easier to integrate into their ways, which was especially helpful when we took a few days on our own after the tour ended.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I still can't get over that the ancient Romans had a very colorful city...the statues were painted, not just the white marble we have come to accept as their norm. Picturing it really blows my mind!"

Mary

Kirkland, WA

Tour: 04/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The trip was marvelous! SO much was packed into the 9 days, yet I never felt rushed! Having never been to Italy, I have come away knowing I saw an excellent 'sampling' of the historic landmarks PLUS gained an understanding of the ways of the Italian people yesterday and today! I appreciated our planned group time as well as the time reserved for our individual quests. Our group leader was wonderfully helpful by suggesting things we could do, but never what we should do!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Because Rome that we were SO fortunate to see and hear about (excellent local guides!!) was more what I expected and had read and learned about, when we got to Voltaire, and walked down the cobblestones, then turned around to view the wall, the land below, I was overwhelmed!! This was the Italy I imagined, but never really thought would be there........ or I'd actually see it? And be IN IT?"

Jean

Seattle, WA

Tour: 04/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Four of us joined the group in Rome. We had already stayed in Sorrento for 3 evenings and felt pretty rested. Good thing because the tour kept us very busy! Nina and guides provided a plethora of information. Nina was very much in charge of our group which was nice-no desenters or "problem children". And with 15 of us from the Seattle area, it was like home away from home. None of us had been on a Rick Steve's tour prior but I'm certain many will sign up for future adventures.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We saw so much but I think I have to say the visit to the Coloseum with Tour Guide Francesco (sp?) was such an eye opener. She sked us to compare the human sacrifices of the Romans to events in our lives today and is it fair to judge them according to our standards? Fascinating, thought provoking...."

Donna

Evanston, IL

Tour: 04/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I traveled alone and because of the welcoming atmosphere Nina helped create, I made friends right away and never was alone unless I chose to be. I was overwhelmed at first by all there waste see in Rome, but came away with a wealth of new experience. I loved Volterra, Lucca the Cinque Terre, and Florence as well. Just a perfect trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"As I'm sure many people say, one "wow" moment is hard to pick. I think the beauty along the hike between Vernazza and Monta Rossa would be one. Then, there were the museums, the alabaster workshop, the food...and the more food. And the gelato!"

Ronald

Bothell, WA

Tour: 04/17/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

To sum it up in a few words: Great people, great leader, excellent guides, good accommodations, good meals, no hassles! Deciding to embark on a Rick Steves tour made sense since my wife and are wanting to spend more time in Italy and this gave us an excellent background. My primary goal (which was met) was to learn as much as possible about one of my passions - Renaissance art, and in particular that of Michelangelo. My secondary goal (again met) was to immerse myself in the culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many, but I was truly in awestruck by the beauty of the Basilica in Rome (I am not Catholic BTW). Since that portion of our guided tour was cancelled (due to the President of Italy visiting the Pope) we waited over an hour to get in - but it was worth it. When I saw the Piata I nearly cried! So beautiful - WOW!"

Thomas

Seattle, WA

Tour: 04/17/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Enjoyable and enlightening, but a bit tiring for us 70-somethings. We felt we got a good overview of Italy that will help us decide where to spend more time in any future visits, as well as some unique experiences we would have missed on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several: the expert wine tasting and guidance in Volterra; the dinner prepared by Chef Carlo and wife Daniela, who served us the whole Italian Riviera on our buffet table in Hotel Primavera in Levanto; and Franco and Mimmo, who prepared a scrumptious tenderloin flambe and decadent dessert tray in the Giglio Rosso in Florence. We also loved the hillside hike above Manarola, with its historical vineyards and knock-out views."

Dan

Alexandria, VA

Tour: 04/12/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall a great experience. Well organized. Good balance of activities and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our time in Florence."

Schele

Alexandria, VA

Tour: 04/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Jamie and the itinerary and the pace were all perfect. Terrific overview of the country: Romans, Etruscans, Renaissance, village life, countryside, huge city, great food, small city ....

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra was my favorite spot."

Joseph

Greenleaf, WI

Tour: 04/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"cinque terra hike between the two towns."

Karen

Greenleaf, WI

Tour: 04/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful!

Denise

Portland, OR

Tour: 04/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Had a great time. Enjoyed the sites and tour guides. Jamie was a wonderful leader . Other folks were fun to be with also.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The roman forum definitely. Very informative guide."

William

Portland, OR

Tour: 04/12/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was great! Our group of 26 was a nice mix of ages, travel experience and from all over the US. We really lucked out with the weather having bright sunny days except for a bit showery in the Cinque Terre for one day. The days were very active to get the sights covered but there was a nice mix of free time to do what you wanted. I feel our trip was a great value in both money and time (and a lot less stressful than trying to do it on our own).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many but probably my favorite was biking on top of the medieval city wall of Lucca. Oh, and gelato."

David

Hilliard, OH

Tour: 04/12/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I enjoyed staying in the middle of the cities and not needing to get on a bus each morning to drive into the city.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Forum and Coliseum in Rome."

Corinne

Hilliard, OH

Tour: 04/12/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

My husband and I had a great time on our tour. I liked the itinerary for having a mix of small towns and big towns and a good combination of history, art, culture and food as well as group versus independent time. The hotels were all well located and clean, the included meals were delicious. We enjoyed the museums, history and scenery. Jaime is very knowledgeable and we really appreciated the local guides. Francesca in Rome and Annie in Volterra were particularly good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Can't choose just one: The impressiveness of everything in St. Peter's Basilica, visualizing the past in the Colliseum and the Forum, and with the Etruscan arch in Volterra. I found the alabastar workshop in Volterra very interesting. Really enjoyed bicycling on the city walls in Lucca. The sculpture in the Borghese gallery pre-tour was amazing! Loved the gondola ride post tour."

David

Olympia, WA

Tour: 04/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is the first time in Italy, our guides made it very easy to take it all in.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Great to see 1500 to 2000 year old buildings still intact."

Judith

Grand Marais, MN

Tour: 04/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

First of all, we had two outstanding guides, Karin and Davide, for the price of one, since this trip was David's last intern position before taking on his own tours. Besides being a wonderful musician, from which we benefited from at least 3 times, he will do fine on his own. Karin is truly a great guide and a wonderful person. Italy is such a wonderful place, and I loved going to a less-visited city, Volterra, which may be my favorite memory among many others.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Like most of us, there were a lot of wow moments, but I think the two spontaneous happenings in Florence had to top them all. We were on our way to the Acacemia Gallery to see David when a fully re-enacted honoring of Bruselleschi's funeral day came down the street, music, drums, costumes, all as if in the early 16th century. Then we came upon a large group preparing to hug the baptistery and selling t-shirts as fundraisers for its repair, and our guides bought us each one and we joined the hug!"

Gloria

Olympia, WA

Tour: 04/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Had a fabulous time. Loved the education on ancient history, the personal stories about living in Italy vs. the US, and the tour had just the right amount of free (on your own) time and group time. Guide and apprentice were awesome, fun, and knowledgeable. Our only regret was that the Heart of Italy tour did not include Venice.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Colosseum and Michelangelo's David."

Rebecca

Sandpoint, ID

Tour: 03/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was the perfect experience for first timers in Italy. Our guide was engaging and experienced. She knew the balance between fun through experiences and fun through relaxation. All the guides were so knowledgable about their area of expertise. Their personal stories woven into the historical aspects of each location made the towns come alive! Reading the same information in a book or even listening to it on an audio guide still isn't as meaningful as the shared stories of a great guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The final group dinner was very special. We had gotten to know so many new traveler friends! Sharing the experience with them was quite special."

Bill

Indianapolis, IN

Tour: 03/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We chose to go on this tour to celebrate our 25th Wedding anniversary. We were worried about traveling with a group, as we had always just made our own travel arrangements. However we could not have been happier with the combination of group orientation walks,the advice from Lisa and the amount of time for us to explore on our own. It was an outstanding trip!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many to choose from. As in most things nothing you see on TV ever compares to seeing it in person. Going to the Vatican and actually sitting in the Sistine Chapel was overwhelming. Being in the Colosseum and just walking around the cities of Rome, Luca and Florence were unbelievable. However the hike we took from Monterosso to Vernazza was simply beautiful and one of the best days of the tour."

Leonard

San Diego, CA

Tour: 03/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Italy tour was fun-nominal. The group of mostly "first-timers" pulled together quickly and we enjoyed the entire trip, even the morning storm where we walked for a mile in pouring rain to get to the bus. History, art and culture really came alive. I understand Rome as the eternal city more than ever.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many times I see great sights and I think I'm walking into a book or postcard and I don't grasp the greatness of the experience. Seeing the David in Florence, up close is awe inspiring. I also can't get the sight of the Bronze Hercules out of my mind. Why have history books ignored this marvel? It's not smooth and perfect but the scale of a bronze 2500 year old, 25 foot statue is amazing. How did they cast this? Lighting struck it and saved it for all of human history! Wow!"

Brian

Seattle, WA

Tour: 03/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first family travel experience in Europe. The tour uniformly exceeded my and our expectations. One very important element(to us) was how the tour helped our two teenage sons navigate in a different culture and appreciate the history, politics, and art that were introduced. The walking tours and the exercise opportunities were welcome.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many... Watching our sons experience Roman history and Italian culture with the help of the tour. Climbing up in the tower of the Torreguelfa hotel in Florence and being rewarded with the panorama including profile of Sta Maria Del Fiore. Family hiking to Vernazza."

David

Salinas, CA

Tour: 03/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our third Rick Steves tour and it exceeded all our expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Once again arriving at the beautiful Cinque Terra."

Leslie

Salinas, CA

Tour: 03/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a trip of our lifetime and since my husband and I were the oldest couple we were so proud that we kept up with the group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The wonderful family like atmosphere we all experienced during the group diner the night before the tour concluded."

Amy

Manchester, MA

Tour: 03/22/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall I am pleased with the routing of the tour. The itinerary is solid and gives excellent exposure to that pocket of Italy. The included group activities were wonderful: wine tasting in Volterra, alabaster demonstration, pesto making demonstration...all great extras that made the trip. Time on our own at sites shouldn't be so short that we have to decide to "either use the bathroom or see more on your own". That happened a few times and was a disappointment.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"On the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza, that first time I could see Vernazza from way up on the cliff through the trees was a picture postcard, once in a lifetime moment. It took my breath away. We also were lucky enough to be alone in the Medici Chapels and almost alone with Michelangelo's David just as the Accademia closed. To be one on one with such stunning marble was amazing."

Trisha

Minneapolis, MN

Tour: 03/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved the entire experience. I thought the way Stephanie laid out the expectations in the beginning was wonderful and helpful, got everyone on the same page. All of our tour guides were knowledgeable and so passionate about what their topic. It was wonderful to really be a part of the history of Italy. The dinners were fabulous, a great time to bond with your group and to experience regional dishes in a great atmosphere. We have not been able to speak highly enough about our experience!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It has been a dream to see the Colosseum. My husband I knew we had a guided tour of it the next morning but we wanted to see it at night too, so after dinner in the Jewish Ghetto we walked over to ancient Rome and there it was...beautifully lit and majestic everything I ever thought it would be. We spent time walking around with hardly anyone else there and just enjoyed the view peacefully. The next morning we had the most incredible guide walk us through the history and architecture."

Pamela

Snohomish, WA

Tour: 03/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first tour of any kind. It gave me a feeling of safety in a new country I had not experienced before. I did feel there was too much detail in some of the descriptions of sites. By the end of the week, many of us were weary of standing so long. Perhaps incorporate more sit down experiences of different natures, not just historical exposés of museums.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Rome experience was the highlight with the Coliseum particularly. Having been a Latin student 52 years ago, the ancient Italy all came together being able to touch, confirm stories and see actual ruins."

Jean Robert

Orlando, FL

Tour: 03/22/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

My overall experience was very good. My previous trips to Europe were done solo. Since I am traveling with a group on this trip, I got the benefit of the companionship and camaraderie offered by the group. In addition, the majority of the logistics was taken care of for me so I didn't have to worry about things like hotel, transportation, guides etc.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was particularly fascinated by Cinque Terre. Absolutely loved the mountain adjacent to the beach."

Louise

Indianapolis, IN

Tour: 03/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My sister and I spent 2 days on our own before meeting up with the tour so Stephanie and Stacy were a else one sight. Everything was planned which was wonderful. Stephanie did a great job of using Italian and explaining the art as well as the current culture of the Italian people. We were exposed to art, interesting people, and marvelous food! I liked that there was scheduled and I scheduled time.....maybe could have used more free time. I lived the tour and enjoyed our leaders.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Italian riviera"

Judy

Apopka, FL

Tour: 03/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I had an exceptional time on our tour. Both Stephanie and Stacy were so helpful, accessible, and fun! Earnest and I realize how much better this trip was by taking the tour vs. trying to do it on our own. We stayed in warm and friendly hotels, ate great meals, and learned so much about Italy's history, culture, and art. The local tour guides were also passionate about sharing what they knew with us, it was a pleasure to learn from them.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I especially enjoyed the smaller towns of Volterra and Levanto. We saw the locals create their masterpieces of alabaster and pesto. My favorite story: a shop in Volterra had beautiful artwork, but it was closed every time we went by. I finally called the number on the door and reached the owner. The communication was rudimentary, but she was able to understand me well enough to let me know she would be right there and I was able to purchase an original work of art to treasure."

Julie

Ocean Springs, MS

Tour: 03/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first time in Europe and my first time on a tour. I don't think it could have been any better. I enjoyed every aspect of the tour. Excellent food and accommodations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Viewing the art in the cathedrals. When I walked in the first one, it took my breath away."

Ken

Arab, AL

Tour: 03/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We are having a very busy time in our house now--suffice it to say that Ann was fabulous and we loved the trip--we would definitely recommend the trip to our friends and family and have already done so.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Having our blind daughter get to touch an ancient fountain in Lucca that the local guide got permission for."

Stephen

Ocean Springs, MS

Tour: 03/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Heart of Italy tour was our first Rick Steves adventure and it was everything we dreamed it would be and more! My wife and I booked this tour to celebrate our 30th anniversary. Our tour guide, Ann Long, was a real gem. She and the other local guides really brought the history and art and cuisine to life. Our skilled bus driver navigated the twisting hill roads with great expertise. Each stop was a new adventure and we also thoroughly enjoyed the considerable free time to explore on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were too many great experiences to single out one "wow" moment. However, high on the list would be seeing the breath taking art in the Sistine Chapel, as well as the statue of David. The coastal towns along the sea were something special, as were the small towns of Tuscany. Since I was raised a devout Catholic, the visit to St. Peter's was also quite special and inspirational."

Teresa

Williamsburg, VA

Tour: 03/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was my first professional tour. It was everything I wanted it to be. My guide Ann was fun and funny . She was always on time. I loved that I didn't have to think of anything. Ann did it all. My job is demanding , I'm a boss. I for once in forever that I can remember , got to really let my hair down . Lol . I loved being told when, what and where. It was fantastic. The accommodations , food , intertainment was delightful. The company was suburb.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour guides that specialized in their own area. The knowledge and depth of the history. The love they shared of their art, their statues and their towns. Amazing time."

John

Irvine, CA

Tour: 03/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide Ann was fantastic throughout the whole trip. The specialized tour guides all had a passion for their subject or town, so that made the experience all the better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When our tour guide Francesca at The Colosseum really painted the picture for us of what a day in the life would have looked, smelled, and felt like. She really made that tour pop. The cupola at the top of St. Peter's was my favorite view of the trip, so I would make sure not to miss that."

Kimberly

Austin, TX

Tour: 03/15/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I had a wonderful time on our Heart of Italy in 9 Days Tour. Our days were jam packed with interesting and fun activities. Some days I was so tired from all the walking but it was so worth it for the amazing experiences we were having. My favorite part of the tour was the local tour guides that we had throughout the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our tour at the Colosseum and the Forum with Francesca was so wonderful. I was completely mesmerized by the way she took us back in time to when the Colosseum was built. I felt like I was there with all the sights, sounds, and feelings of that awe-inspiring and terrible place. I can't imagine a better way to experience Ancient Rome. She is a master at her craft!"

Alan

Austin, TX

Tour: 03/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great. The local guides were all excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking by where Julius Caesar was cremated in the forum. Francesca set the scene so well."

Suzanne

Middleton, WI

Tour: 03/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was exceptional. The accommodations were all very well located and very comfortable. Ann Long was exceptional as our tour guide. She was very knowledgeable and attentive to our needs. Having lived in Italy for 30 some years,she has an insight into the culture which she shared with us often.The city guides we had were also exceptionally good.My traveling companion and I both felt the trip was a great value and we look forward to our next Rick Steve's adventure.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Coliseum tour with Franscesca!"

Claudia

Long Beach, CA

Tour: 03/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

First time with Rick Steve's. Not for sissies! Knowledgeable guides. Got to know the cities and countryside well. Plenty of walking which we were warned about. Liked that we stayed 2 nights in each place and had frequent time to ourselves. Buses were comfortable although a little short on leg space (I'm 5'9"). We were told that hotel rooms would be rotated so that you would get a really nice room one night and maybe a smaller room) the next night. We liked ALL our hotel rooms.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Gosh hard to choose. Galleria Borghese (0on our own) The Coliseum (because of Francesca) The town of Volterra The cathedral in Florence The Uffizi"

Arnold

Elizaville, NY

Tour: 03/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Super Ann made the whole experience memorable-Thank you Ann

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many but the docents at each site were truly well studied in their field."

Pamela

Arab, AL

Tour: 03/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Trip was incredible - we are having a very hectic time here now getting back with work issues and school for the kids, so I must be brief. Ann was a great tour guide and very attentive and informative. Our kids got a tremendous amount out of the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Lucca--everything there"

Kelli

Williamsburg, VA

Tour: 03/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour manager, Ann, was very down to earth, approachable and knowledgeable. The tours were pertinent and each of the tour guides was excellent in their presentations. The tour was planned in consideration of the energy levels, with sufficient time to rest, explore on your own and enjoy group activities. The tour also provided variety with big city, mountains, beach and smaller city. Excellent package!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My biggest "wow" was the marble mountains. Never thought about where marble came from and thought it was beautiful to see the mountains. Fascinated by the prospect that those mountains had been chipped away at for thousands of years and still stood tall and magnificent. My favorite spot was Volterra which had breathtaking views, a romantic ambiance and was historically fascinating."

Kristine

San Antonio, TX

Tour: 03/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have been on Italy several times before but I feel like I learned things on this tour that were new and fresh. The ability to tell a story of the art, culture, food or even politics was top notch on this tour. Sarah encouraged everyone to embrace the culture through food, walking the streets, soaking up the art history and learning to be independent travelers. Off-season is the way to go. We had a really great group on this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have two! 1. Hiking the trail in Manarola in the Cinque Terre. We had a perfect day with sun, a breeze and an amazing view of the town and the water. It was a postcard moment. 2. Volterra - The alabaster demonstration, amazing views of the countryside and a wine tasting, combined with a great meal made Volterra one of my favorites. It's just a fun town to wander around and get lost."

Patricia

Ann Arbor, MI

Tour: 03/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide,Sarah, made everything run smoothly. She was prepared, knew when the best time to tour each location, and was so knowledgeable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many: The city of Voltare was a favorite."

Christin

Forest Hills, NY

Tour: 03/08/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was a wonderful trip that was well organized and well packed with great things to see. We only wish it were longer and/or had more time in each of the destinations. Also, very high quality on the group meals and the tour guides in each location - much better than other tour companies we have used.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me it was Cinque Terre. We had the fortune of being there on a beautiful day that was in the beginning of the season so it was virtually empty - something that we could have never gotten during high season. The day "off" was helpful to explore the area at our own pace and to experience everything the towns had to offer. We only wish that we could have been there when the ferries were operating, but it gives us an excuse to go back!"

Nial

Ann Arbor, MI

Tour: 03/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A good balance between guided excursions and free time to explore on our own. Local tour guides were for the most part very good and added value to the experience. Our guide arranged visiting times for various sites that minimized wait time, which was a great time-saver given the relatively short time available in each location.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking to the top of the Vatican dome for a view of Rome."

Merry

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 03/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I cannot imagine a better tour experience. The Heart of Italy provided a great balance between urban, traditional sightseeing and off-the-beaten- path sights. The variety and the mix of scheduled tour time and personal time was just right. Sarah Murdoch is excellent, as were the other local guides. Her professional knowledge and skills made the tour experiences come alive. I appreciated the classical sights,but was even more enchanted by everyday life in Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra was my wow moment because it was such a surprise. The village's setting, its amazing history leading back to the Etruscans and the tradition of its citizens' artistic endeavors were fascinating. Strolling the narrow streets past picturesque shops and houses made me feel as if I had stepped into a storybook."

Lois

Williamsburg, VA

Tour: 10/26/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had an exceptional Italy travel experience. The sites, the company of the group, the time and organization management of our visits, the exceptional site tour guides, the experiences and just the sheer joy we felt being part of the culture and delights of the Italian landscape and lifestyle was a memorable and delightful experience. There was not anything we could suggest to change or improve the experiences.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is hard to pick a favorite because different things were wows for different reasons. The Colosseum and Forum tour because of Francesca, the hike along the Mediterranean coast line for the beauty and the endurance accomplishments, the time spent walking and taking in the visual sites of the architecture, Italian culture and countryside in the Tuscan villages and how could I leave out the meals and wine....so many wows!"

Lawrence

Aurora, CO

Tour: 10/26/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour itself was somewhat tiring but well worth the effort. With a taste of Rome, Tuscany, the Cinque Terrre, and Florence I would definitely like to return to any one of these locals for a more extensive visit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Reclining Paulina statue at the Borghese gallery in Rome and the Statue of David in Florence."

Matt

Malibu, CA

Tour: 10/26/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour guides were very knowledgeable and friendly. Each of the four local guides hired for this trip were great. They did a great job of explaining the history of our surroundings in a dynamic way that helped you visualize the past.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A local guide in Rome, Francesca, led us through the Coliseum and the Forum. She did an amazing job of placing your mind in the past to experience the ruins as the ancient Romans did."

Anne

Bel Air, MD

Tour: 10/26/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed the tour experience. Rainer and Sarah were great tour guides and were extremely knowledgable about the areas we visited. Their suggestions for on our own excursions and restaurants were great, and their [INVALID]ions for group dinners were terrific. I would highly recommend the Heart of Italy tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow" moments, but the most memorable for me was the impromptu tour of the American Cemetery outside of Florence. It was such a nice surprise, and the guide from the cemetery told the heartfelt story of one particular American soldier from WWII. There was not a dry eye in the group. Very moving experience that was not on the agenda."

Susan

Aurora, CO

Tour: 10/26/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Awesome, couldn't have been better! I really appreciated the fact that we spent 2 nights in each city/town (3 when we added our own extra days to the beginning and end). Although I could have spent several more days in any of the locales, I think it was the right amount of time for an introduction to the country; besides, it starts to get overwhelming to see too much anyway. I also appreciated the fact that I didn't have to arrange, on my own, entry and guides for all the sightseeing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think arriving in the town of Volterra at dusk was so special. However, if I have to choose WOW, the ruins of ancient Rome and the forum was most impressive. In retrospect, it was the one site which I wish had lasted longer, and that I might have to go back to on my own someday."

Elaine

Mercer Island, WA

Tour: 10/26/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was great. I think your company did a great job setting expectations and preparing us for the tour (e.g. packing tips , guidebooks, audio tour, etc.)otherwise, we would not have enjoyed it as much as we did.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite 'wow' moment was when Francesca put Rome into perspective for us at the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Rome was extremely overwhelming for first-timers like us. Frankly, we couldn't wait to get on with our tour and leave Rome but Francesca's perspective helped us see Rome in a completely different light and we walked away with so much respect for the city's history and culture. She is truly a gifted educator."

Nicholas

Bel Air, MD

Tour: 10/26/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I had a life changing experience on this tour. Rainer and Sarah were exceptional...perfectly augmented by the local guides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The US Soldier's cemetery near Florence. The Tuscan Steak at Za' Za' wasn't too shabby either."

Robert

Chicago, IL

Tour: 10/26/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent. Both guides were helpful and informative and made things very nice with a wonderful sense of humor.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra for its awesome nighttime atmosphere. The Coliseum for leaving me awestruck. Luca for its "spoils of peace," something that appears to have taken hold in the other parts of Italy that we toured and something we in the United States certainly need to take a bigger hold of. However my biggest wow moment was a result of following your advice by arriving early to meet the group but doing so enabled us to get to Vatican Square where we had the privilege of watching Pope Francis speak."

Margaret

San Diego, CA

Tour: 10/19/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We spent 9 days with 25 of the nicest people. We had never done a "tour group" and thought we were too young and active to do so. We found we were able to get all what we were looking for with this trip. We had great people to share our experiences with; had plenty of free time to do our own thing; had a super knowledgeable tour guide, Jamie; and the ease of having all our transportation planned.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Cinque Terre. Our hotel was literally right across the street from the beach. The next morning we hiked from Monterroso to Vernazza - spectacular weather and views (& steps!)."

Wendy

Cottage Grove, WI

Tour: 10/19/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My tour experience exceeded my expectations. I was a bit anxious before the tour as I have never traveled to a foreign country before and booked this trip only 6 weeks before departing. The pre-trip information and tour guide that were part of this trip made me feel prepared, safe, and at ease. I also really enjoyed getting to know 25 new people (my tour group). A bonus you don't get when traveling alone.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Dinner with 5 others from our tour group in Montorosso. We started off as a few, then as we wandered and decided where to go we ran into a few others who joined us. We found a place to dine and had the best time trying things from the menu we would never get at home. A really pleasant evening."

Sarah

West Pawlet, VT

Tour: 10/19/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were pleased to experience our first Rick Steves' tour and find that it was fairly represented in the pre tour information as well as the other website descriptions. We enjoyed the others on the trip and found them to be of similar interests and easy to get along with. The tour was a nice combination of city and smaller town experiences. Art, history, food all amazing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our favorite day was walking the trail from Vernazza to Monterosso, then bathing in the Med."

Lana

Indianapolis, IN

Tour: 10/19/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Its has been two weeks since I am back from Italy, but still talk about with my friends. I had a great time, beautiful weather, wonderful people around, colorful places and tasty food. So much in a such a short time. But worth every penny and heart of yours! Thank you very much.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"People, places, streets, food, wine. Of course the big "wow" to see an art or sculptures that I have studied at school or read about it at some point in my life. As we went through historic places and towns, at times, I was, in my imagination, pretending I was in 12 or 15 centuries."

Larry

Minooka, IL

Tour: 10/17/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I had a wonderful trip to the Heart of Italy. As novice travelers we benefited greatly from the Rick Steves' program travel kit. Our travel guide Dimitri was outstanding. His direction, wit, and information made our experience in Italy truly unbeatable. The native guides were also outstanding. They provided a residents perspective of the culture and history of Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The 1st WOW moment was experienced upon entering the St. Peter basilica. The 2nd WOW moment was the bus ride up the mountain to Volterra and seeing the pastoral country side unfold. The vineyards and olive orchards were beautiful."

William

Queen Creek, AZ

Tour: 10/17/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Really enjoyed the guide. Very knowledgeable of history and pointed out other things to do and see when we were on our own. Transportation was comfortable. Really enjoyed the group dinners especially the wine tasting in Volterra Also liked the side trip to Vinci, very interesting inventions and views from the top of the tower.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting the Cinque Tera area. So picturesque. The view from each village was breath taking."

Susan

Colorado Springs, CO

Tour: 10/17/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my 1st trip to Europe The RS pre-tour materials gave my spouse & me the info we needed to pack appropriately & prepare ourselves to better understand the sights & culture. Tour guide, Dimitri Rigas, & our "on location" guides, including Francesca, Annie, and Carlo, all made our touring experiences more meaningful. All set us up for personal successes in finding additional great places to dine, shop, and visit. The tour experience exceeded expectations - I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francesca's guided tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum was my large-scale "wow" moment. Francesca brought it all to life, as well as providing insight into construction techniques and conveying background on the purpose of the structures and importance to imperial Romans. A second "wow" moment, this on a smaller scale, was viewing the interior of the Sistine Chapel - ceiling, walls, Last Judgment. I brought small binoculars, so I really enjoyed gazing at the majestic artistry."

James

Marietta, GA

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We could not have asked for a better experience. The tour was so well prepared and the professionalism of everyone involved was unsurpassed. We could not have asked for anyone better than Ferdi and Heather as our tour guides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were a lot of wow's. In Rome the tour guide's knowledge and expertise for the Vatican and Rome Coliseum, Voltara's natural beauty and the Wine Tasting, Cinque Terra Mediterranean Coastline, Bike ride in Lucca and Florence's David."

Cynthia

Bethesda, MD

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour guide, Ferdy, and the assistant guide, Heather, were terrific. I loved the tour of the coliseum/forum, Volterra, Florence, and the Uffizi Gallery. Each of the tour guides were terrific. I thought the first evening was a bit stressful, walking around Rome after our orientation, and think that it would be a great alternative to start with a tour of the Borghese Gallery. I also think it would be worth it to pay more to tour the Vatican at night to avoid the crowds.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The time in Volterra was very special, and learning about the Etruscan culture as well as the Volterrians' long history of "resistance" against power centers from Florence to the Germans in WW II was fascinating. I also loved the time in the Italian Riviera... Florence was also a highlight, especially the tour of the Uffizi Gallery. The tour guide, Cindy, was great at focusing on one painting or sculpture and going into depth about it."

Susan

Ft Lauderdale, FL

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had always dreamed of going back to Italy and always knew if I did it would be on a Rick Stevens tour! The tour took me back to several of my favorite cities AND my favorite region - Tuscany!!! I also experienced Cinque Terra which was always a dream! Our group could not have been more suited with each other - we met as strangers and quickly became great friends. Everything was GREAT! Our tour director Ferdi and his assistant Heather were so friendly with great personalities and knowledge!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I would have to say I had too many to pick just one. Cinque Terra was breathtaking and so visually stimulating! Our bus ride up to Volterra was an experience - the countryside so beautiful it took my breath away!"

Kim

Juneau, AK

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our tour guide Ferdi really made the trip. Wonderful food and experiences. In the future I would take another tour if we could stay three days in each city, the moving every two days did not allow for the opportunities to fully explore each city.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the streets of Volterra and St. Peters at the Vatican. But Italy is so beautiful that many wow moments occurred at every turn."

Vivian

Howard Lake, MN

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a wonderful trip ... my first time to Europe, and my first time on any type of organized tour ... it was really beyond my greatest expectations. Great time!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think I was most "wowed" by the knowledgeable, interesting tour guides we had, including Ferdi and Heather. Every one of the guides was so interesting, I wished I could have recorded their every word to study later! That really made everything we saw "come alive" in my mind. Really appreciated all of them."

Joseph

Burlington, VT

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The experience in Italy was even greater than what we expected. Ferdi & Heather + the local guides were GREAT. Ferdi does need to come out of his "shell" and be more outgoing! (Just kidding!) I felt like I was in a traveling "history" class with GREAT food, wine and Gelato thrown in as a bonus. What an awesome combination. The amount of "group" time and "free" time was a good balance for us. It was very obvious to us that the local guides were good with people and well educated.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was seeing the Roman Coliseum, the Mediterranean Sea and such great paintings & sculpture pieces for the first time. Was very impressed with "how" the heavy marble was moved and put into place in so many parts of Italy."

Laurel

St Paul, MN

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Ferdi was a great tour leader & organizer. The entire trip was well planned. Just enough sightseeing and time on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The unexpected charm of Volterra."

Lynette

Marietta, GA

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful group of people to spend 9 days with; exceptional tour manager; great group dinners; easy transportation; perfect balance of planned activities with free time on our own. Learned a lot of history along the way and made great friends. It made my vacation a pleasant one the I could sit back and really be in the present for it instead of thinking about what's next on my list!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I don't know if there was one "wow" moment as every day wowed us! The way that 28 people got along, had fun together, and became friends without any drama was pretty awesome. The charming town of Volterra was a "wow" in itself and really made me feel I was in Italy! The views of Cinque Terre were breathtaking! And, because I was the pianist in Levanto, the group sing-along was pretty amazing as well!"

Vicky

Shoreline, WA

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

AMAZING!!! I say amazing even though for 5 out of 9 days I had no luggage. (yes I took Rick's advice and only packed a carry on, the airline checked it anyway) The RS guides, local guides, hotels, food, destinations, and my tour mates were all simply amazing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"If I had to pick a favorite part I would probably say the town of Volterra. As I have never been to Italy when I imagine Italy this is what I imagine. It was beautiful, picturesque, quaint, old, inviting. Ugh! I just loved it there. I loved the Hotel there. The staff was so nice. Especially the evening receptionist, who told me about a great cheap little shop that I could get a new suitcase and all new clothes when I had finally decided I was never going to see my suitcase again."

Robert

Lynnwood, WA

Tour: 10/10/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We could not have asked for more. From the initial inquiry and classes to the final day in Italy the experience was excellent. The organization and logistics never failed. Our tour guide, Jamie, was excellent. His knowledge of the local history, restaurants and shops was amazing. It was great not having to think about any transportation or baggage concerns.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"As simple as it sounds, just getting off the plane in Rome and saying, "We are here!" was a very good feeling."

Brenda

Brampton, ON

Tour: 10/10/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The overall tour was amazing. This was my first trip to Italy. I was in awe of all the history and beauty of the country. I was thankful for being part of a tour when I saw some of the long lines for the major attractions/museums as we walked to the front of the line and entered the attraction. The meals included with our tour were outstanding and our guide recommended other restaurants when we were on our own for dinner. We were pleased with all of them.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was when I entered Vatican City. I had seen it on TV with thousands of people in the square, but entering St. Peter's Square took my breath away. The beauty and size of it all is amazing."

Alan

Kalamazoo, MI

Tour: 10/10/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Exceeded expectations especially in Rome and Tuscany. My expectations were already high for Florence which was both beautiful and interesting, but it also seemed like the most commercial and touristy of the places we visited. Excellent combination of planned tours and free time. I felt like I absorbed a semesters worth of information in 9 days but still had plenty of time to goof off and explore. The family atmosphere of the hotels and restaurants was a treat. Our tour group was fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I enjoyed Volterra the most and the breathtaking views of Tuscany from the hotel patio. Our two dinners there were fantastic (even the food at highway rest areas was good) and the Etruscan history lesson was memorable. Highly recommend the Eating Italy tour in Rome which we took the first night before the main tours began. It got our trip of to a great start."

Elizabeth

Golden, CO

Tour: 10/10/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We thought that the tour was very well organized, there were only pleasant surprises. We liked how the tour focused on certain aspects (specific paintings in a certain room of the Vatican) which enabled us to learn something in greater depth, rather than having no direction, trying to focus on everything, and missing it all in the end. The free time was wonderful and essential, as so much information that was presented caused overload. The tour descriptions were accurate.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had been to the area prior to this trip, so I was not surprised by many of the sights. We loved the pesto demonstration, the alabaster carving (a bowl), and the wine tasting. As for "wow," the massiveness, ornateness, and the knowledge that these buildings or pieces of art have lasted for thousands of years. I am blown away by the fact that humans built these churches, etc. without the aid of modern machinery. Their incredible knowledge so many years ago produced the sights that we now see."

William

Henrico, VA

Tour: 10/10/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Never having traveled abroad, I didn't know what to expect and I really had no expectations for my trip to Italy. But now that it's over I'm afraid no future tour will be able to match this one! Our guide, Jamie, was fantastic, and the other members of the tour were friendly and enthusiastic. I'll be looking forward to my next Rick Steves tour, this time with great expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was going into Volterre and experiencing a walled city for the first time."

Barry

Fort Collins, CO

Tour: 10/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide, Nina, made the trip great. She was very knowledgeable, very organized, full of energy, and a lot of fun to be with. Our group was diverse, yet we clicked right away. The accommodations were more than adequate and the common meals were outstanding. The individual tour guides along the way were all great. I would certainly do another Rick Steves' tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Volterra was the wow moment. We could have spent another day exploring that quaint hill town."

Thomas

Chelsea, MI

Tour: 10/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

GREAT! I'm someone who would rather stay near home than travel, and have never taken a tour. Going to a predominantly nonEnglish speaking country was a daunting proposal. Our tour guide, Nina, came highly recommended by friends who had Nina as their guide for the same tour about 3 years ago. Nina's introductions to basic language skills and her preview of each town along the tour route were most helpful in raising our comfort level as we embarked on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Observing the interaction of the cars, trucks, mopeds, scooters, etc. in Rome! A mix of chaos, confidence, craziness, and courtesy resulting in an unbelievable display of fluid motion. I spent time on many street corners, and especially on the front steps of the Hotel Alimandi watching the driving/survival skills of the citizens of Rome. Wow!"

Jessica

Lithia, FL

Tour: 10/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was everything I wanted. Having never really traveled before, and having never been to Italy, I wanted an introduction experience that provided lots of help.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I couldn't possibly limit it to one! The rich history, the beautiful artwork, the fabulous food and wine, and the wonderful people both native and on the tour created lots of wow moments. I many times felt more a sense of awe when I realized I was standing on such a famous and historic spot. I loved the Vatican. It was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Rome, but I can't imagine navigating that on my own!!! I was so glad to be in a tour group when I went to avoid the confusion"

Jennifer

Grandville, MI

Tour: 10/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Had a wonderful experience, I learned lots of interesting information from the guides that I would never had known if I had gone to Italy by myself.Loved Nina, she's professional with a great sense of humor.I also really appreciated the local guides Paolo Gigliozzi @ the Vatican and St. Peter's, Ilaria Ceccarelli @ the Forum and the Colosseum,Annie Adair @ Volterra,Francesco Gronchi wine tasting, and Cini Nesti @ the Uffiz. I really apprciated the truffle dinner while wine tasting too.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to pick a favorite"

Marlene

Bowie, MD

Tour: 10/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The overall experience of the tour was outstanding. From the initial contact, sign up, receipt of tour materials and actual tour and guide were all exemplary. I would highly recommend a Rick Steve's tour to anyone that asked or is going to Europe. We also had a nice group of people and made some good friends from the tour. We would also go on another Rick Steve's tour again in a heartbeat.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our favorite "wow" moment was the Colosseum and the roman ruins forum. It was awesome to see in person and hear all about it from our outstanding guide, Ilania Ceccorelli."

Michalle

Fort Collins, CO

Tour: 10/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded my expectations. Nina, our guide, was so knowledgeable and entertaining, plus she had a great sense of humor. Not only did we see the sites, but we learned about the past and current Italian history, politics and culture. The guides we had throughout specific sites were also excellent. They shared their enthusiasm for art and history in a way that made me feel like it was their first presentation, not just a rote spiel.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many, it is hard to isolate a single moment. When the bus dropped us off in Volterra at dusk, and we walked the narrow, shop lined streets to our hotel I knew I was in a very special place. The wine tasting, truffle pasta event in an underground cellar would be high on the list. Cinque Terra was awesome as well. Standing in the Colosseum in Rome was daunting. Not to mention all the fabulous meals provided by the tour."

Nancy

Herndon, VA

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was the trip of a lifetime and I had an absolutely wonderful, unforgettable time! It was packed with information, exposing us to as many travel and cultural experiences as possible. The trip had the perfect balance of scheduled activities and free time. The way the tour is planned and the way information is given during the tour teaches the participants to be good travelers and be respectful of Italy. I cannot say enough good things about the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Everything about Volterra. Learning about the city's history from excellent guide Annie was awesome and eye-opening. The wine tasting followed by the impromptu truffle dinner put on by locals was amazing. Walking down the stairs into a wine cellar with a 2500 year old wall and a 600 year old olive press blew my mind. My sister and I had an unforgettable experience talking with a local artist and seeing her shop."

John

Dublin, OH

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The 'Heart of Italy' tour was excellent and words can't describe what a wonderful trip this was for us. Our tour guide was outstanding and I would definetly recommend this tour to anyone who wants to visit Italy for the first time. I guaratee you'll want to do another tour with Rick Steves.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"To me, every moment was a "wow" moment, beautiful sites, great food, excellent wines and lots of history which I enjoy."

Jim

Media, PA

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was everything I hoped it would be. And it would be hard to find anything to criticize but .... I would like to have seen our morning activities start a little later. Those early walk up calls were rough.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cinque Terre. Starting with the balcony view to the trail hike. Clearly the star of the tour."

Christine

Erie, PA

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Aside from my luggage being lost for the first 3 days, I found the tour to be delightful. Our tour guide, Dimitri was awesome. He safely and efficiently got us everywhere and taught us how to use the local transportation. The hotels were very nice, and the dining experiences were unique. We got to taste the foods which represented each area of Italy that we visited. The local tour guides were so knowledgeable about the each town we visited. We learned so much about Italy and it's history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was totally charmed by the town of Volterra, It was like going back in time. The local tour guide, Annie, was a wealth of information. The wine tasting and dinner were fabulous."

Marie

Monument, CO

Tour: 10/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Amazing experience overall. Good mix of group time and free time. Excellent guide (Karin) and local guides at each site. Good choice of hotels.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were a few "wow" moments: - standing in the Colosseum and forum - touring Volterra - viewing Florence from the tower of our hotel"

Chuck

Fernandina Beach, FL

Tour: 10/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great fun and we met an outstanding group of tour buddies. The was an awesome way to experience Italy for the first time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Pantheon and Volterra"

Marie

Wayne, PA

Tour: 10/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Italy. Our guide, Karin, was wonderful. She was interesting, entertaining, knowledgeable and passionate about her work. We had never taken a tour before and were a bit nervous, but the members of our group were all easy to get along with and fun loving. The local guides were amazing, especially Annie in Volterra. We felt the balance of tour time versus down time was about right. Overall a great experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our favorite "wow" moment was spending a magical evening in an Etruscan wine cellar tasting different local wines followed by a white truffle pasta dinner. This evening was a particular highlight for us. Annie's husband gave an entertaining and informative presentation of local wines. This evening was a surprise event, and most enjoyable."

Cathy

Blanchard, OK

Tour: 10/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Long story short- one of the highlights of my life!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The wow moment... there were so many! But if I had to choose just one, it would be opening my hotel balcony doors and looking out over Monterrosa in the Cinque Terre early in the morning and the back drop is the beautiful blue Mediterranian Sea, with a bell tower ringing and I can see the bell going back and forth! Or walking in Volterra under a full moon! Or walking into our hotel in Florence built in the 13th or 14th century!"

Richard

Simcoe, ON

Tour: 10/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Really excellent tour which fully met our expectations. Karin was an excellent, informative and positive tour leader. The local guides that we had were really knowledgeable and communicated extremely well, with great enthusiasm and humour. The transportation was convenient and comfortable. We felt that the Vatican/Sistine Chapel were so crowded that it completely overwhelmed any ability to appreciate and contemplate our surroundings. Richard would delete this from the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many ! The Colosseum, Volterra, the view to Manarola from the cemetery , the shifting light at Vernazza, the city wall at Lucca, the Duomo and Uffizi at Florence. We would also add the Galleria Borghese which we did independently, and would replace the Vatican/Sistine Chapel with time there and in the park."

Carol

Apache Junction, AZ

Tour: 10/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Amazing! My husband and I had visited Italy for a short time a number of years ago, and always wanted to go back and see everything we missed. My expectations were not only met, but exceeded in every way! We learned a large amount about the history of Italy and the world, the Renaissance, the art and the food of Italy. Sharing the tour with such a great tour guide and such wonderful, interesting tour mates made the experience even better!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "Wow" moments, but my favorite had to be ancient Rome: the Colliseum and The Forum. We had a very knowledgeable guide who brought the past into the present."

Krystyna

Simcoe, ON

Tour: 10/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is our 2nd Rick Steves Tour and hopefully not the last. We had a particularly congenial group and everyone mixed easily and positively . We enjoyed the BUDDIES INTRODUCTION....lots of fun and a good way to get to know your fellow travellers. We arrived 1 day ahead of the tour and pre-organized a tour with Through Eternity Tours, Mario was fantastic/a highlight of our visit to Italy.

Bill

Saint Louis, MO

Tour: 10/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Karin was great. The special sites we stopped at and the special tour guides we had brought Italy to life for us both past and present. The food stops were awesome and the new friendships will be a life time blessing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The days when we had time to our self and then bumping into someone from our tour group as we were walking around and interacting with them was truly a "Wow.""

Raymond

Monument, CO

Tour: 10/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Thought the tour was well planned out with a sense of a complete history starting in Rome and ending in Florence. The additional tour guides brought in for specific areas was great. However the tour of Lucca seemed hap hazard and with no central theme. The best part of our tour was Karin as our tour guide who was able to connect the lines between all aspects of the 9 days of tours. She had great insights after living in Italy for 15 years but still with a view of looking in from the outside!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My best wow moment was seeing the David as we walked down the hall towards it. It was every bit magnificent as expected, it did not disappoint! Standing in St Peter's square was also a favorite wow moment."

Debi

Fernandina Beach, FL

Tour: 10/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my husband and my first Rick Steve's tour. I was concerned 28 people was too large a group, but it actually was perfect. Everybody in the group had a common thread; love to travel and experience different cultures. I got to know everybody and there was always somebody to share a dinner or hike the trails in Cinque Terre. Our guide Karin was fantastic. She put so much effort in making this experience special. Already planning our next Rick Steve's tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many but one of the coolest was doing a wine tasting in Volterra in a wine cellar dating over 2,000 years. Got to eat Truffles which are delicious."

Richard

Northville, MI

Tour: 10/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Starting out I was a bit nervous as I had never been on a group tour before but it turned out great! Our guide Ben was excellent at entertaining and enlightening us throughout the entire time. He facilitated interactions amongst the group and shared his knowledge and experiences for the entire journey. Happy we opted for this tour at this time with this group of people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The biggest WOW was in Rome -- the history, the art and the never ending chaos of the streets. It was surreal for the entire time we were there."

Richard

Aurora, CO

Tour: 10/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I would not want to change a thing!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "wow moment" really occurred once we returned home - "wow, we've been to Italy and we had a wonderful time!" The real "education" begins back home as one starts to process the experience and all the information and insights that our guides have shared with us."

Frank

Ocean Grove, NJ

Tour: 10/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour went above and beyond expectations. Being at the major sites would have been enough, but coupled with the knowledgable guides it became the best school field trip evah!!! The food, oh the food. Soooooo good I will do this again

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many wows to be sure, but I'll pick one that was not on the agenda. In the town of Volterra we had a planned wine tasting, which took place in a deep wine cellar, in which 1 wall was an ancient Etruscan wall. After an informative and highly entertaining wine tasting with the down to earth sommelier, we were offered freshly harvested white truffle dinner for an incredibly low price. To be in Tuscany, in a wine cellar with an etruscan wall, sipping fine wine eating white truffles. I pinched myself"

Deborah

Aurora, CO

Tour: 10/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful people sharing an exquisite experience, terrific food (with one exception), tour guides that painted colorful pictures of the past and how it blends with the present. The Vatican Museum tour was awful - it left me wanting to get away from it and all the people as fast as I could. Just too many people. You may want to rethink how you offer the museum tour in the future.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Michel Angelo's David was my "wow" moment. It literally took my breath away."

Peggy

Auburn, WA

Tour: 10/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our first RS tour and my bucket list trip to Italy was a dream come true. Led by our patient, funny and knowledgeable guide extraordinaire, Ben, we experienced and learned so much more than we ever could have on our own. We enjoyed getting to know everyone in our group, and now have 22 new friends. Perfect weather,well-planned schedules and itineraries,plenty of free time,expert local guides,amazing group dinners,convenient hotels,and comfortable buses -- couldn't have asked for more!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"How can I choose? Local guide Francesca helping me experience the Colosseum in such a personal way. The Vatican and attending mass in St. Peter's Basilica. Arriving in Volterra as it was getting dark, walking to the hotel and feeling as if I were on a movie set. The boat to Manarola with Ben generously spending half of his free day leading us on paths high above town for the perfect views I had only seen in pictures. And there are no words for the David."

Jimmy

Perry, GA

Tour: 10/01/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Extremely informative, chocked full of all types of interesting facts and photo opts. Ah ha moments at most every turn. Lots of fun, excellent guide, group gelled extremely well and had no problems we knew of. Transportation was very good and the hotels were much nicer than I had expected. Out of 100 I would give the tour a 99. Surely something was missing, I just don't know what it was. Out tour guide was Ben.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Pieta in St. Peter's basilica and David by Michaelangelo"

Robin

Vicksburg, MI

Tour: 10/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Rick Steve's Tour was beyond our wildest dreams. We had never been on a tour before and was a bit apprehensive, but it was fabulous. Our tour guide, Ben, not only took us to the best places in Italy, he made each stop fun, interesting and he became a good friend. Our whole group enjoyed each other's company, as we explored the back streets of Italy. During our free time, we were able to visit many other recommended sites, while drinking wine & conversing with the locals. A Dream!!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I thought my heart would stop, when we viewed The Colosseum, David & the painting, The Birth of Venus, in the Uffizi Gallery. However I was brought to tears when we had a truffle meal in Volterre, while tasting the best wines of the region in an ancient underground building with our new best friends. Our local guide's friends found the truffles just that morning and they invited us for an impromptu dinner, while her husband, the sommelier, taught us the fine art of wine. Heavenly!!!"

Kamilah

San Ramon, CA

Tour: 10/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first time traveling solo out the country, however somehow I found it easy to explore on the tour without intimidation or fear. By the end of the vacation I felt empowered because I had been educated both before the tour began with the Rick Steve's website and through my tour guide Ben. I had everything I needed to make sure my trip would be a complete success. Thank you for all the materials, tips and travel suggestions that were made available to me.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The entire trip was a WOW!"

Debbie

Plymouth, MI

Tour: 10/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a great experience with this tour! Ben was very knowledgable, upbeat, funny and a great tour guide. I felt like I saw so much in the 9 days with the tour that I possibly would not have done as much or as well on my own. Everything seemed to go according to plan and without a hitch. Even the weather cooperated!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I don't have one particular "wow" moment - the entire trip was fasinating, the meals were wonderful, etc."

Joseph

Boca Raton, FL

Tour: 10/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was everything we imagined and more.It was a great mix of free and group time. A bit tough at the beginning dealing with the time difference and early morning wake up calls, but the anticipation of the upcoming day got us going.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many "wow" moments can't just mention one. Here are a few: Turning the corner and seeing the Pantheon at sunset. Standing before La Pieta. Brought me to tears. Wine tasting with a Sommelier in an Etruscan cave followed by an unplanned truffle dinner. Liguria feast in Levanto"

Sandra

Milwaukie, OR

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This trip met all my expectations. Every tour activity was well planned and coordinated with no details left out. I enjoyed the enthusiasm and passion each local tour guide offered. The food was delightful and never ending.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we went to see the DAVID our tour guide presented the viewing in a unique way. we lined up in rows of 4 with our backs to DAVID and slowly moved backwards towards the incredible sculpture while he told us of Michelangelo and the carving. Then when we were close we turned to view the amazing site."

Maggie

Tigard, OR

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I expected to enjoy the tour and I wasn't at all disappointed! Our guide, Alfio, was great at making the info interesting and making sure everyone was taken care of efficiently. The contrast between the large cities and small villages made my view of Italy so much more complete. The local guides were just as knowledgeable and excited about their beautiful area. I noticed as we traveled on our own after the tour and took excursions, I missed the "family" we had gotten to know!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The guide for the Colosseum made it come alive for me - and I am not a great fan of Roman ruins having seen many of them. She really painted a picture that let me "see" what was no longer there and enjoy learning about its history."

Douglas

Montgomery, TX

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was so well planned and facilitated. Alfio was GREAT! He was extremely knowledgeable, approachable, helpful and accommodating. As well, all the other guides utilized were very good. All the group events, tours, meals...we're excellent. Timing was well organized and followed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was all a wow experience!"

Heather

North Platte, NE

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour exceeded my expectations! It made me want to go back to Italy on my own (with the Rick Steve's book) and to take another tour in a different country! Italy itself was amazing! The history, the architecture, the food, the wine, the country side and especially the people themselves! We had a very good balance of free time and guided time. We hit the "hot" spots to see from a tourist standpoint but also got a real flavor of just being in Italy, living thanks to our fantastic tour guide

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Alfio had all of us walk backwards facing him (we didn't have to though) towards the David and then turn around to see the statue for the first time. It was both fun, but mostly amazing. Because as he stated, there is only one "first" time to see the David and for all of us on this trip, this was it. It was amazing that something so simple was so effective. That and the Mediterranean sea was the bluest, cleanest water!"

James

Huffman, TX

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour guide was outstanding. Very personal, knowledgeable, and detail oriented. The tour guide had all of the transportation, hotel, dinners, and admission tickets planned for the entire trip. The tour guide made our trip stress free and relaxing. I highly recommend booking a Rick Steves tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our tour guide's approach to seeing David. The tour guide explained how Michelangelo sculpted David prior to us seeing the statue for the first time. Our tour guide went above and beyond to make each of us truly enjoy and appreciate David and Michelangelo's gift."

Johnie

Milwaukie, OR

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent tour, guide and tour members. The tour schedule had a nice mix of group activities and free time for personal exploration.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The first sight of the Statue of David"

Kim

Montgomery, TX

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really enjoyed the walking around the cities we visited. Our guide, Alfio, was outstanding. We thought the guides that were expert in that particular area was incredible too.the Vatican tour was longer than expected , restaurants were a taste of Italy as well as the hotels. It was nice not to have to book any of it ! I appreciated alffio taking the time to address any questions , big or small. In my opinion , our tour was supposed to be a lot like a European would take a holiday.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The roman ruins and the Magnificat churches were truly breathtaking. The Pieta and statue of David were ones I will always remember. I loved the countryside and it was cool being able to somewhat get around thanks to our guide. We learned some Italian from him which was very helpful. Alfisols was so personable and attentive throughout our trip. I loved hearing the history of each town. It's too hard to put one thing down . All of it was fantastic... Better than I imagined!"

Pamela

Katy, TX

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great! Our guide, Alfio, was very knowledgeable and personable. It was nice to know that all the details were taken care of - from our excellent local guides, to the fabulous restaurants we enjoyed as a group. I also appreciated that he managed our time well and was able to accommodate persons in our group with special needs. I would love to go on another Rick Steves' Tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several "wow" moments, but I must say that it was the viewing of the David sculpture in Florence. Our guide, Alfio, made it extremely special. He lead us backwards until we were close to the sculpture, then we turned around and saw it for the first time. Amazing! I will always remember this moment."

Jerry

Katy, TX

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour was well organized and on time. A schedule was given and adhered to. Tour guide was extremely well informed about places we went and made great suggestions for meals and downtime. As the tour promo stated, exercise was not missing in this tour. Both my wife and I did not gain one pound, and we enjoyed the Italian cuisine.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each place had its own high points, so it is tough to pick one over the other."

Jane

San Jose, CA

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well, it was our very first visit to Europe. We decided on the Italy tour after seeing Rick in Santa Clara, CA at a travel show. I thought my husband and I were too young to go to a travel show, but it was great! As we listened and read through information, and decided on our focus (Heart of Italy), it just felt exactly like what we were looking for: a relatively informal, yet guided, tour of the most special places we wanted to see. Our group was great! And Alfio was terrific!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me, it was the art and architecture, but mostly "wow" was the way we were able to view "David"!!! I have been studying and reading about the artist and statue for years. The way Alfio led us into the viewing area (back first) was an outstanding and emotional way to view this work of art! I will never forget it!"

Julie

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first time on a tour, and as fairly experienced independent travelers we weren't quite sure how we'd like it. We chose the Heart of Italy tour because it sounded like the most efficient way to visit many of the places we wanted to see, and we liked the idea of having a guide to explain the cultural and historical background of each place. We're happy to say that the tour exceeded our expectations in every way!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Very hard to pick just one--I think we had "wow" moments in each place we visited! Stand-out moments, though, included walking through the Colosseum and Forum for the first time and feeling the history saturating those places, wandering the streets of Volterra, hiking the Cinque Terre, and experiencing the David in Florence with an incredible, creative introduction by our guide Alfio!"

Pat

San Jose, CA

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide, Alfio, was excellent. The site guides, Paolo, Alessandra, Annie and Cynthia were equally as informative and fun to interact with. Prepare to be flexible, both literally and figuratively, as the Italian toilets can be challenging to Americans. Each city had its own separate charm and our guides made each new experience unforgettable. Recommendations of local favorites by Alfio during our free time was welcome and rewarding. Each hotel was centrally located which was appreciated.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Didn't think I would be wowed by Cinque Terre as I am born and raised in California, but WOW! The entire free day was used to explore the coast from Porto Venere to Bonassola. Spend the extra Euros on the ferry to Porto Venere. But since this was my first trip to Italy, everything from Rome and Florence, the walled cities of Volterra and Lucca were wows on top of wows."

Laura

Cincinnati, OH

Tour: 09/26/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall, a wonderful experience. I had a great time with everyone in our group of 26 young to older adults, everyone was completely enjoyable and eager to get to know the others in the group. The trip through Italy was a super mix of city and country locations. I was surprised that I could communicate enough with the locals to get by, which made the week a more positive experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really loved Monteroso's quieter atmosphere as well as the tiny town of Volterra. Its ancient history outdid the ruins of Rome for me."

Robert

Maineville, OH

Tour: 09/26/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful sums it up. My wife and I had hoped for a memorable group experience and really looked forward to meeting some interesting folks as part of the tour. We got that and more! We absolutely enjoyed everyone and we already miss them. In retrospect, just a few days after getting home, it really sinks in how much we experienced. Yes it was physically demanding. I realize now how much the local guides added to my understanding of the cultural and historical makeup of Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I cannot narrow it down to one 'Wow' moment. On the top of that list I would place Volterra and the final two days at Florence. Volterra was indeed a midevil Tuscan hill town where I really felt that I was among the locals. Where we stayed in the historical region of Florence was absolutely perfect. Only two or three blocks from the amazing art and history of Tuscany but also we linked to the reality of life in a bigger city."

Pang-ning

Reston, VA

Tour: 09/26/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

From the start to the end we truly enjoyed our trip. Our guide was knowledgeable and made our trip enjoyable and memorable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We really liked the town Volterra, it was just an amazing place to be in."

Judi

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 09/26/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was a trip of a life time to Europe (age 59) and my first ever trip to visit a family friend who lives in Bologna (not in the tour). We had our challenges to get to the starting point in Rome by way of the highway due to traffic and distance. The Vatican City tour was moved up due to an "open museum day" the next day which would have made it near impossible to see it during the day. So we had our first group dinner and the Vatican tour that night...whew what a whirlwind!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Florence was WOW for me. The Renaissance art was amazing! I spent all my free time looking at this amazing history through its art. That is a city I want to visit again. Very walkable and doable without buses and trains."

Diane

Prospect, CT

Tour: 09/26/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My first trip to Europe and an exceptional tour. Way beyond my expectations. Hotels were all well located and accommodations clean, staff helpful. Tour offered enough free time to explore and enjoy time with other tour members. Our tour guide was excellent. Filled with information about local customs, history and multiple suggestions to interest all of our tour members as we struck out on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The village of Volterra. Immersing ourselves in this little town was wonderful. Few tourists and lots of insight into the life of this ancient community. The alabaster factory was one of the best highlights."

Paul

Maryville, WA

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved the people that worked for you, from Patricia to all the guides. They were all great. I thought it was a nice balance of group time and individual time. The meal set up was very good. After the guides I loved the meals. I even learned to enjoy the wine with each meal.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"How about one word? Vatican."

Mike

Vancouver, WA

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a great time. Our tour guide was super. she was experienced and offered help when we needed it. The Only downside to thE trip was the Vatican. It was too hot, crowded and we did not have the time to really appreciate it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were 2. The first was our stay in Volterra. We had a special truffle dinner following a wine tasting. Was definitely a high point of the trip. The other special moment was the pesto making demonstration and special dinner in Sestri Levante. The demonstration was very informative and teh meal was great. The cake we had for dessert was impressive."

Kevin

Calgary, AB

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Hi! This was my first visit to Europe and it was fantastic. Part of the success has to go to Patricia and Katie. The first time I met Katie I was having trouble with my phone getting access to what's app, etc. Katie was very patient and helped me out. After that I asked her tons of questions and she was always very helpful and patient. Patricia was a wonderful guide. She really worked hard to take care of us, especially watching for "gypsies!" :) I salute Patricia for her help!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is really tough as there were many. I think it was the first time I saw the real David! I took pictures and there were orbs in my pictures which adds even more intrigue."

Cathy

Troy, MI

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Patricia and her assistant Katie were amazing and really made our total experience the best possible! I found the exercise beneficial, the fellowship heartwarming and the history knowledge shared enlightening. I cannot say enough good things about our tour of Italy including Rome, Volterra, Lucca, 'Cest Levante and Florence. Memories of a lifetime!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Turning the corner in the museum in Florence and seeing DAVID. I'll never forget that moment."

Lawrence

Canton, MI

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first time traveling with a tour group. We had some hesitation about traveling on a tour but this trip exceeded every expectation we had. Our tour guide was amazing - very knowledgeable and lots of fun! Our tour group was full of fun and energetic people who all seemed to be like us, in that they all wanted to get as much out of this trip as they could. We even made some good friends. And the execution of every aspect of the tour was handled flawlessly, which meant no stress for us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite WOW moment was when we were hiking in the Cinque Terre and we got our first glimpse of Vernazza as we approached. I had seen it in pictures and on television but it was absolutely breathtaking to see it in person. Visiting the Cinque Terre was at the top of my list of things to do in Italy and it did not disappoint!"

Andrea

Canton, MI

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were blown away by this experience. The trip exceded ALL of our expectations. The itinerary was perfect and the stops included were exactly what we wanted to see in all of the regions. The logistics were flawless, the other travelers were all on the same page as us,the meals and hotels were memorable. We couldn't be happier with every single minute of the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Going to the Cinque Terra was our wow moment. It has been a place that we have been dreaming about going to for over 5 years. The weather was picture perfect and getting a chance to take the train, hike the trail, roam through the towns and take the boat along the coast was really a glorious experience. Every time I looked at my husband that day, I was overwhelmed with emotion."

Robert

Poway, CA

Tour: 09/19/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

From Janice and Robert. Our overall tour experience was outstanding. We have traveled to Europe numerous times as independent travelers utilizing the RS backdoor philosophy and travel skills so it was not clear if we would get the extra value of an organized tour. That concern went away immediately as we met our tour guide and fellow tour members. This type of tour was well worth it. The organization, tour program, local guides, accommodations and meals made for a very enjoyable efficient tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think it was the hill town of Volterra. It was a true backdoor experience with Annie the local guide, her husband's wine tasting, the group dinner and the special white truffle dinner. Considerably less crowds than the more "known" towns with a variety of things to do and see including the local market day and porchetta sandwiches."

Glenn

Elgin, IL

Tour: 09/19/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour experience was everything I could have asked for due to your company's detailed preparation and Reid's outstanding execution. Sites were well chosen and tour pace was very good. Can't give you credit for the good weather but it was frosting on the cake! My goal was to experience and learn about Italian history, art, culture and lifestyle and your tour and Reid made it happen.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Very difficult to choose....tossup between the local guides in both Rome and Volterra and the city of Volterra itself. St Peter's Basilica would be close."

Martha

Aurora, CO

Tour: 09/19/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour provided everything it promised and more. We had a great group and our guide was outstanding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking from Corniglia to Vernazza and having lunch at the Bar "La Torre" tucked into the mountain and over looking the Ligurian Sea."

Cherie

Elgin, IL

Tour: 09/19/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall it was very good. I know we would not have gotten nearly as much out of it had we tried to do this on our own. Having guides who taught us the history and details about what we were seeing made everything much more meaningful. It is also much more fun to be with other people to share the experiences with.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"That i difficult to pinpoint. Everywhere we went were new "wows", but in different ways. The Roman ruins were a wow, but so were the many fantastic pieces of art and churches. the Vatican, on the other hand, was not a pleasant experience. It was so overcrowded and hot, you could not enjoy it. The Sistine Chapel was a very big disappointment. They hearded hundreds of us in there at a time and you could not even stop and take it in before they were yelling at you to move along."

Joe

Roseburg, OR

Tour: 09/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded my expectations. The guide, hotels, places we visited, food we shared,tour companions, and even the weather were all right on.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have lived most of my life in the northwest where "old" means 100-150 years. Walking the streets of Volterra and realizing that people have been living on that site for 3000+ years pushed me to change my ideas about what old means. There are many other places on the tour where I had similar thoughts, but they were strongest in Volterra."

Linda

West Fargo, ND

Tour: 09/07/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very pleased with the numerous sites we were able to see in each of the Italian cities while still allowing free time to explore on our own. Enjoyed the size of the group and the opportunity to spend time together through group dinners. Bus transportation and drivers were excellent. Accommodations were ok but under whelming. Air conditioning and Internet were spotty and beds were very hard. Hotel location, staff and cleanliness were excellent. All guides were superb.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The boat ride on the Italian Riviera and the Rome Coliseum were the wow wows among many wow moments."

Sherrie

Olympia, WA

Tour: 09/05/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We booked our tour early which gave plenty of time to plan. We arrived in Rome on a Tuesday and were able to do some of the suggested side trips and walks before meeting the tour group on Friday.By then we were over jetlag and ready to go.I highly suggest getting there early so you have plenty of energy to absorb all the sights and history on the tour. The Guides were excellent and we would have hated to miss a thing. Trina,our guide was amazing and the guides at the sites were equally as good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The complexity of Rome and all the layers of history throughout the places we visited. The hill towns were amazing. There was a wow moment around each corner."

Kimberly

Auburn, NY

Tour: 09/05/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

WOW, our tour was just amazing. We experienced regional feasts, wine, gelato, hiking, biking, art, strolled piazzas, ancient structures, churches, museums (no waiting in lines), architecture, artisan workshops, language, art & history lessons. Met wonderful people, local families & wonderful guides (especially our fearless leader, Trina!) that brought everything VIVIDly to life. A trip that was so inspiring and beautiful, filled with surprises around every corner. Now, where to next???

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each day was full of surprises, but I'd have to say walking up the hill into Volterra at sunset. It was like walking back in time. Loved learning the history from Annie and all about wine from Francesco. The Cinque Terre was so beautiful, too!"

Lucy

Bend, OR

Tour: 09/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Karen is an Italian tour guide extraordinaire! Andiamo! And we would gladly follow her to the ends of the earth. I felt like I was living a dream.I love not having to work out the details myself.it was the right balance of guided touring & free time for me.my favorite spots were Volterra- Alabaster workshop, wine tasting, Florence & the Cinque Terre. Although, I did enjoy the Coloseum, the Forum, Vatican museum, Sistine chapel & St. Peter's Basillica knocked my socks off in Rome. Awesome Trip!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"St. Peter's Basilica Tour! I knew it was big and beautiful, but it knocked my socks off! I really felt God's presence there. I felt extremely Blessed to be there."

Mark

Eugene, OR

Tour: 09/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were on our honeymoon and honestly can not think of better people to spend it with. Our fearless leader Karen is amazing at her job and such a sweet and caring person. We saw many other tour groups and leaders and we are so thankful we chose your tour and felt very lucky to have had Karen. She was so passionate and full of spot on information. We feel we really have not only wonderful memories but gained real friends with Karen and within our small group. We will only use your services .

Favorite "WOW" moment

"voulterra was amazing! We had never even heard of it and it was one of if not the favorite stop. It is a beautiful clean place rich in history. We were wowed by how your tours use local guides at every destination to explaine that specific stop. Each and every one of them were very passionate and knew their history and helped us fall in live with each spot! Your recommendations for where to eat was spot on too! Great recommendations from our guide on every place we asked for."

Leonard

Redmond, WA

Tour: 09/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I had a great time on our Heart of Italy tour. I think it was a good mix of big city experiences (Rome, Florence) along with a break of visiting smaller towns in between (Voltera, Cinque Terre).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wandering around Volterra, Lucca and Cinque Terre were probably the highlights of my trip. When booking I was expecting that Rome and Florence would be the highlights."

David

Bend, OR

Tour: 09/03/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first tour, so I had no idea of what it would be like. I didn't expect the amount of info and personal care we would receive could be so wonderful. I am a head and back injured 65 yr. old and figured that most of my joy would come from my wife's enjoyment of the tour. I was overwhelmed by the 1 on 1 personal contact our tour guide gave us all. Karin was wonderful and very informative in all aspects of our tour. To make this short I feel we all just simple had a ball.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"seeing all the sights was great. But I am dyslexic and hearing all the stories of the different historical events I was seeing was the real eye opening event for me. I lover Volterra best. Being in some of the places that were the starting points of our world as we now know it, was very great for me."

Claire

Grand Rapids, MI

Tour: 08/31/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wow!! I LOVED the Rick Steves' Heart of Italy trip because of the interesting people we met, the variety of sightseeing and activities, and our outstanding guides. Best of all, it was hassle-free.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is difficult to put into words my feeling when I saw Michelangelo's David up close. I've seen a picture of the David many times, but when you see this beautiful 17 foot statue in person, it takes your breath away. The David is an exquisite masterpiece."

Mark

Sylvania, OH

Tour: 08/31/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I have taken dozens of self-planned trips in our 39 years together but this was our first-ever organized tour. The tour exceeded my expectations on almost every count. Our group of travelers bonded very quickly, and the friendships we established are one of the delightful benefits that I didn't particularly expect. Our tour director Ann was outstanding and the itinerary was just right for what we wanted - a "sampler" of Italy. Couldn't imagine doing it better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour of the Uffizi Gallery and the wonderful interpretation of Renaissance art by our guide Ricardo was priceless. It brought the whole Italy experience together for us."

Bart

Wenatchee, WA

Tour: 08/31/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We spent two weeks in Italy on our own before the tour started. We had seen Milan, Venice and Siena on our own and were comfortable with travel, eating, and seeing the sights. Our tour was a different, but very enjoyable experience. It was faster paced, but very well run and highly efficient. Our tour leader, Ann, and our local guides all focused on what was most important for us to see and understand in the short amount of time we had in each city.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We were in a church in Lucca and our local guide was just starting to speak. Another touring group, apparently from Slovenia, had quietly entered and moved to the front of the church and started singing Leonard Cohen's, "Hallelujah" in full choral voice. Everyone was mesmerized. The hair was up on the back of my neck."

Mauricia

Wenatchee, WA

Tour: 08/31/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved our tour guide and our local guides. I felt we were taken to all the must see places, and a lot of extra places, too. We got to learn to make pesto by hand, learn about wine tasting, watch an alabaster bowl being made, and many other things.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I don't like picking favorites! It was all really good."

Marty

Appleton, WI

Tour: 08/24/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour provided an excellent mix of historical, contemporary, and cultural aspects of the heart of Italy. The program was well organized; transitions were smooth with no hitches; and excellent allocation of organized activities and free time. We were given an appropriate amount of historical information about each place we visited as well as a good introduction to how people lead their lives today.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"1. 80% of ancient Rome still lies buried below ground. 2. The aquaducts and sewer system of ancient Rome are still in use. For example, you can take potable water from any fountain around the city. 3. The stories of resistance of the Volterran population to the Medicis and to the Nazis. 4. The trails and views between the villages in Cinque Terre."

Gloria

Daytona Beach Shores, FL

Tour: 08/24/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Perfect tour, great group, amazing guides, wonderful hotels and meals! It was everything and more than expected.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Learning the history and feeling the strength of Volterra!"

Judith

Maple Valley, WA

Tour: 08/24/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Ancient Rome and how our guide brought us to that time period."

George

Truckee, CA

Tour: 08/24/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I found everything first-class, he takes you getting around in the various cities. It probably bothered me much more than the other others in the group as I and 91 years old. I found many cases that we had to park far away from our destination, this included our hotels and museums. Our guide in was absolutely superb. Make sure that everything was fine for all on the tour. All your speaker sat stops were very interesting I have a fairly good selection of photographs if you would like to see them

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My overall impression was that each city we visited was very special."

Sharon

Edgewater, FL

Tour: 08/24/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My overall experiences is that one of awe.......We met with Karen in Rome, Hotel Aberdeen was everything I thought it should be. Wonderful staff. Karen our tour guide was wonderful and had such a friend and terrific sense of humor. We had wonderful tour guides for each occasion, Karen gave us wonderful instructions before every tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "WOW" moment was several, Vatican, Roman Coliseum, Volterra, Levanto and Florence (Tower at Hotel Torre Guelfa), I have to say every night that we had meals together was quite a wow too."

Thomas

Omaha, NE

Tour: 08/24/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

All aspects of the tour were great-the accommodations, tour guides, food, transportation, etc. The other folks on the tour were great also. Karin did a great job and is an excellent tour host.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The sites in Rome-Vatican, Pantheon, and Coliseum. Also, the great history on Florence. But all of the cities and sites were great."

Theresa

Omaha, NE

Tour: 08/24/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The trip was more than I had even hoped for. We were able to experience the culture and beauty of Italy with this trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The travel guides provided fabulous history that made all of the sites feel as if we were a part of the place and time."

Julie

Redmond, WA

Tour: 08/24/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My mind is full of history, art and beautiful scenery.... and of course, good food and wine!!! overall experience was fantastic! I wouldn't hesitate to go on a another tour of this kind.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was all a "Wow!" Every hotel, every museum, the people, the meals, the scenery, the walks and discussions..... loved it all!"

Ellen

Talent, OR

Tour: 07/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first time in Europe and the experience was everything I had hoped for and more. I was traveling with my daughter and together we had a wonderful time. Having lived in Puget Sound for many years, I was well aware of Rick Steves' reputation and we are so glad we chose this tour. Everything was great, from the first "get acquainted" meeting to the last meal together in Florence, we could not have been more pleased.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "Wows" it is hard to pick. Rome was amazing, there was so much history, so many beautiful cathedrals, and best of all the tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum with the fabulous Francesca. But, I have to say my favorite place was the Cinque Terra."

Richard

Sugar Land, TX

Tour: 06/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great group of people on the trip. Wonderful variety and pace of locations and activities. We really appreciated the balance of scheduled activity vs. free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Snorkel in Cinque Terre!"

Margaret

Minneapolis, MN

Tour: 06/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great local guides!!; plenty of unstructured time; good accommodations; no whining.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The local guide at the Uffizi Museum in Florence. He was exceptional at narrowing the scope of a potentially overwhelming place and clearly and succinctly helping me gain some understanding of the art, artists, and historical time and place."

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; Capitol Hill museums; Santa Maria Maggiore; Castel Sant’Angelo; Capuchin Crypt; National Museum of Rome; Ancient Appian Way (great for biking) and catacombs. Most museums are closed on Mondays. Confirm your sightseeing plans with any tourist information office. If you are interested in seeing the Pope, you may want to attend the Sunday blessing. You can check the Pope’s schedule in advance.

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.