• Prato della Valle in Padua
  • Ravenna's Basilica di San Vitale
  • Village of Montone
  • Truffle Hunting in Umbria
  • Civita di Bagnoregio
  • Wine Tasting Near Orvieto
  • Cooking Class in Tuscany
  • Bicycling in Lucca
  • Manarola in the Cinque Terre
  • Lake Orta

Tour Questions? Call 425-608-4217

Village Italy in 14 Days Tour

from $4,195 + Air

Optional Single Supplement $725

See Tour Dates

La dolce vita (the sweet life) describes the intimate magic of small town Italy. This tour — with a tasty focus on food, wine and culture — helps you live it. Starting in elegant Padua, your Rick Steves guide will take you through Italy's seductive countryside: artistic Ravenna, St. Francis' Assisi, Puccini's Lucca, cliff-hugging Cinque Terre harbors, and off-the-beaten-path hill towns and vistas. You'll be rubbing elbows with Italian culture, learning about crafting pottery, cutting marble, cooking pasta, making wine — even hunting truffles. Join us for Village Italy in 14 Days!

Dates & Prices

2015

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 20 group sightseeing events • Padua walking tour • Scrovegni Chapel tour • Padua's Anatomy Theatre (when available) • Mosaics of Ravenna's San Vitale & Galla Placidia tour • Basilica of St. Francis tour • Truffle hunt • Deruta pottery demonstration • Civita hill town visit • Wine tasting • Orvieto walking tour • Orvieto cathedral and Signorelli's frescoes • Tuscan hill town visits • Etruscan Museum tour • Olive oil tasting and lunch • Italian cooking demonstration • Lucca walking tour • Lucca bike ride • Ligurian Coast boat excursion (weather permitting) • Orientation for "vacation" day on Italian Riviera • Lake Orta boat excursion...and more
  • All group transportation from Padua to Lake Orta
  • 13 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

Our tour begins in elegant Padua (Padova), with an easy bus ride from Venice's Marco Polo Airport. We'll gather at our hotel at 5 p.m. for a group meeting. Then we'll take a neighborhood orientation walk together and get acquainted with one another over dinner. Sleep in Padua (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: All Day to Discover Padua

We'll hit the ground walking this morning, with a tour of Padua and its colorful market squares and piazzas. Along the way, we'll gape at Giotto's glorious frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel, and learn how our inner workings were revealed at Europe's first great Anatomy Theater. You'll have the rest of the day to marvel at the Renaissance masterpieces in St. Anthony's Basilica, roam through the university's acclaimed Botanical Garden, or relax with a creamy espresso at a sidewalk café. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 3: Ravenna and Hill Town of Montone

We'll drive to nearby Ravenna this morning for a tour of the brilliantly preserved mosaics in Ravenna's Byzantine San Vitale Basilica and Galla Placidia Mausoleum. After lunch we'll climb up into the Umbria region to the untouristed little hill town of Montone. The rest of your afternoon is free for wandering through this rustic stone village; then we'll share a feast of countryside specialties at our hotel in Montone, where we'll sleep (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: Assisi and Truffles

This morning we'll take a short drive to St. Francis' hometown of Assisi, where we'll tour the magnificent art-filled Basilica. Afterward we’ll have free time to explore the town and enjoy lunch. We'll spend the late afternoon with a local farmer and his specially-trained dog, hunting for one of the area's specialties: the truffle. We'll stay on the farm for a while, joining the family for a hearty, home-cooked dinner (including the truffles). Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 5: Deruta and Orvieto

We'll drive through the peacefully green Umbrian landscape today. Our first stop will be in Deruta for a pottery-making demonstration at a family workshop. Then we'll drive off the beaten path to a rural, family-owned winery for a refreshing wine tasting and lunch. We'll finish our afternoon high atop the nearby hill town of Orvieto, where we'll marvel at the town's dramatic cathedral, including Signorelli's amazing frescoes in the San Brizio Chapel. Sleep in Orvieto (2 nights). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 6: Umbrian Hill Towns

It's market day in Orvieto! You'll have a free morning to dive into this busy, colorful once-a-week market and discover more of Orvieto's friendly charms. In the afternoon, we'll drive down the road and then hike up to the ultimate back door hill town, Civita di Bagnoregio. You'll have free time to revel in the traffic-free alleyways, astounding views and hidden treasures that make this village so special. Then it's back to Orvieto for a free evening. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 7: Heart of Tuscany

We'll meander north into rural Tuscany today, stopping to visit the fascinating Etruscan Museum at Chianciano, where we'll learn about this mysterious pre-Roman civilization. Before we bite into today's lunch, we'll see how it's made, as our chef gives us a special hands-on Tuscan cooking lesson. Sufficiently fed, we'll end the day at our Tuscan country hotel, where we'll sleep (2 nights). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 8: Tranquil Tuscany

This morning we’ll head out to your guide’s favorite “famous” hill town (go ahead, guess away), with plenty of time for discoveries and lunch on your own. We’ll enjoy the afternoon back at our country hotel, where you can hike along the farm paths, take pictures, or simply relax by the pool before dinner together. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 9: Hill Towns and Lucca

Today your guide and driver will take you along the less-traveled scenic route through Tuscany, with stops to wander through timeless hill towns with pristine views. Our final destination today is the engaging and prosperous town of Lucca, where a local guide will introduce us to its elegant streets and historic churches, all surrounded by some of Italy's most impressive Renaissance walls. Sleep in Lucca (2 nights). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 10: Lovely Lucca and Olive Groves

This morning you're free to stroll along the Via Fillungo or join your guide for a bike ride along the town's scenic and well-preserved ramparts. Then we'll head into the countryside to visit a traditional frantoio (olive oil mill), where we'll learn about and sample Italy's famous extra-virgin export, and enjoy a farm lunch. The remainder of the day is free back in Lucca to enjoy more of its layered history and find a local trattoria for dinner. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: light.

Day 11: Carrara's Marble and the Riviera

We'll continue north today, pausing to marvel at the marble with a local expert at Carrara's snow-white quarries, the favorite of Renaissance sculptors. Then we will take to the sea (weather permitting) and enjoy a scenic boat ride along the Ligurian Coast, past the wave-washed harbors and hill-hugging villages of the Cinque Terre. Our boat will dock in the beach town of Levanto, our home base for il dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing), where we'll sleep (2 nights). Boat: 2 hrs. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 12: All Day on the Italian Riviera

You'll take a "vacation from your vacation" today in our Mediterranean getaway. You may choose to hike the cliff-side paths, taking in lots of fresh air and panoramic views between Cinque Terre villages, starting with Riomaggiore's Via dell'Amore. Or pick a village where you can spend your day exploring the stairways and alleyways, sunning yourself on the rocks, or sipping cappuccino and catching up on your journal at an outdoor café. We'll regroup tonight to share a family-prepared seafood feast in Levanto. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 13: Lago d'Orta

We'll make a beeline to Orta San Giulio on the shores of Lake Orta, arriving with plenty of time to stroll its cobbled lanes and medieval square, and take a scenic boat ride out to little Isola San Giulio. Tonight we'll enjoy an arrivederci dinner together, where we'll share travel memories and toast new friends. Saluté! Sleep in Orta San Giulio (1 night). Boat: 1 hr. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. Milan's closest airport, Malpensa, is 60-90 minutes away by taxi or bus. Your guide will help coordinate transportation to Malpensa, 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 Village Italy in 14 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 three 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

Wendy

Albuquerque, NM

Tour: 06/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We felt that the tour group was just about the right size; the group members meshed quite well; and the trip contained about the right mixture of planned activities and free time. The planned activities were of a high quality and we enjoyed them very much. One comment I would like to add is that the visit to Lake Orta was well worthwhile and we liked it! Please keep that in the Village Italy tour.Only downside to this tour: intense heat/humidity, perhaps more than normal.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For us (husband and self) it may have been the opportunity to see the Byzantine mosaics in Ravenna, especially the ones of Justinian and Theodora. Not many (if any) tours would have provided that experience. There were so many 'wow' moments on this trip, it was really hard to pick out just one. Perhaps the Giotto fresco cycle in Scrovegni Chapel would have matched it."

Tamara

Enumclaw, WA

Tour: 06/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall experience was wonderful, and lived up to my expectations. The food, fellow tour members, and are guide were all terrific, and I especially appreciate the ability to see parts of the country that you can't see on your own. One of the reasons we continue to come back for Rick Steve's tours is the ability to see things from a more personal perspective with tours to places where relationships have been formed with small farmers and local guides that let us into the real culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many it is hard to pick just one ! My "wow" moments were the personal experiences. The Truffle Farm tour and dinner were definitely a highlight, but I also really enjoyed the "market picnic day" where we all got to go shopping, and then get together for a group lunch with lots of local treats! An unexpected Wow was the ongoing views of the sunflower fields in full bloom during our bus rides between destinations."

Harry

Enumclaw, WA

Tour: 06/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent tour and I would recommend it to anyone. Liked the "local" emphasis of this tour. Can't decide wether the Village Tour or Southern Italy tour was better. Both offered unique prospectives of Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the countryside and fields of sunflowers was something I really enjoyed. Food preparation, wine tasting, and olive oil processing were top moments."

Noemma

Thornton, CA

Tour: 06/29/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was the best time of my life! I loved just about all of the locations that we went to. Lucca was not a favorite of mine, just because it was very crowded and SO hot that during our free time, we didn't explore as much as we'd have liked to. But, all of our locations, especially Lake Orta, were fantastic. We had a major heat wave, but that didn't deter Caterina at all from making our tour super fun!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment being at Lake Orta during our final day. It had gotten to about 97 degrees that day, so when we came back from the convent on the island, which was super cool, we jumped in to the crystal clear lake! It was so perfect with the view of the mountains, the clear water, and the blue skies. I really wish we had gotten more than just a day here! It was definitely my most favorite destination during the trip, but our hotel Belvedere was a very close second."

Thomas

Steger, IL

Tour: 06/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our 6th RS tour, so obviously we love the tours! We really enjoyed everyone that traveled with us. The small hill towns that we visited were wonderful. Our days were rather hectic, as so much was planned for us. Often we had plans or activities in the morning for one town, and then more activities or plans later in the day, for a second town, so it was a bit hectic. And tiring. But all in all, we felt it was a very enjoyable tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"One of my most memorable moments, a real "wow" was the walk and the view of Civita di Bagnoregio. At first we felt the walk might be too strenuous, but we gave it a try, and we were so glad that we did. That place was incredible. Another really great experience was the truffle hunting and dinner in Montone. Watching the dog find the truffles was fun, and the family dinner with singing after was great fun!"

Andi

Franktown, CO

Tour: 06/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a fabulous tour and I have many with which to compare it! I loved exploring the small(er) towns and villages of Italy. Most of all, I loved all the interactive, hands on experiences of this itinerary. I would love to see more tours of this type! Of course, the fact we were fortunate enough to have Tricia for our guide made the tour that much more enjoyable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved, loved, loved the experience of the truffle hunt and the wonderful meal and subsequent "family party" afterward. Then there was the view from our room at Lake Orta...Civita.....the Scrovengi Chapel......the Olive oil "Experience"....and on and on and on. The entire tour was one big WOW."

Marisol

Westlake, OH

Tour: 06/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Good balance between planned and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow" moments. The truffle hunting with Rocco the dog was great and the hosts were so gracious entertaining the group. Having a beer at the top of Civita di Bagnoreio was delightful. The views from Cinque Terre were spectacular. Just the interaction with the locals and their food was wonderful."

Nancy

Denver, CO

Tour: 06/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great! Extremely a wonderful balance of all things wonderful. The varied experience that were offered to the tour members was unbelievable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many wow moments to chose from, the Cinque Terre by boat, the truffle farm experience, the olive co-op, the cooking lessons, the food, the wine and not the least the outstanding guide."

Lynda

South Bend, IN

Tour: 06/08/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was a great trip - super guide and driver (Trina and Dario), awesome art and cultural experiences, good food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Scrovegni Chapel & Ravenna mosaics - San Vitale especially."

Helen

London, ON

Tour: 06/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was our 25th anniversary and we could not have planned such a fabulous trip on our own. We loved the stress free bus rides and learning about our next stop before we arrived. The meals together were excellent and we enjoyed the company of our fellow travelers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Lucca was my wow town. Absolutely loved the walking cycling path on the wall surrounding the town and the size of the town was perfect for walking and exploring."

William

Whitby, ON

Tour: 06/08/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Well organized and executed. My fourth tour and certainly not my last. Rick Steve's tours always deliver what they promise and more with a lot of variety.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"No "wow" moment. Just another GREAT Tour!"

Donald

Helotes, TX

Tour: 06/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I'd rate this tour "Better than Outstanding" if I could! This trip totally exceeded my expectations. Our tour guide, Trina, was as close to "perfect" as I can rate. She is an expert on Italian heritage, history, current-day politics, and issues. She obviously had a strong network of local tour guides and local contacts which really enhanced the entire trip. I got the impression that our group got to experience quite a number of things which you would never, ever find on your own !

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is an impossible question to answer, but here are my "highlights." The town of Montone, the city of Orvieto, the wine tasting near Orvieto, the architecture of Civita de Bagnoregio, the seaside beauty of Monterosso di Mare, Lake Orta, the American World War II cemetery, and the Carrerra Marble Museum, were all incredibly compelling. And the rest of the 14-day trip was just about as good. As I said, I can't cite just one WOW moment -- this trip was truly sensory overload !"

Nancy

Helotes, TX

Tour: 06/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steves tour, and it won't be our last! There were so many sights, activities, and experiences packed into our trip! We are already looking ahead to our next trip with Rick Steves.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Everything was amazing! I think Civita di Bagnoriego and Cinque Terre would be my favorites."

Michael

Coquitlam, BC

Tour: 06/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I decided to take a tour after much deliberation. We had made 4 previous trips to Europe and we felt we were able to make good itinerary/hotel/food choices especially with the assistance of our Rick Steves' guidebooks. Our major concerns were centred our preconceptions of the "tour" experience, how would we like to be herded around and would we adjust to being scheduled to get up and out at a set time. Well we adjusted perfectly and the experience was fantastic.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wedding crashing in Orvieto. Although not planned it reflected the magical experience of the tour. On our return to Orvieto after visiting a stately villa for a wine tasting our driver pulled over at an Oriveto viewpoint. A newlywed couple was using the picturesque setting for their wedding pictures. We all piled out and started taking pictures of them, their photographer took pictures of us taking pictures of them, all topped off with a Grappa toast for the happy couple."

Maria

Coquitlam, BC

Tour: 06/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This trip by far surpassed my expectations. All the towns we saw were wonderful and our guide and driver were top notch. Everything ran so smoothly. We needed a holiday without the worries of planning our days, scheduling our transportation and beating the line ups to museums. This tour provided us with a worry and stress free vacation with many extras that we wouldn't have been able to do on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think it's impossible to name just one as there were so many. Foraging for truffles with a farmer, Sergio, and his dog is way up there on my list. Top this off with Sergio's wife and 2 other ladies from the village cooking us a multi-coursed meal using the truffles and many other delicacies was a major treat. They also came out and sang to us while we sipped on Sergio's home made wine. They welcomed us with open arms and how does one find something like that travelling on one's own?"

Barbara

Saint Louis, MO

Tour: 06/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Trina was an excellent teacher and never overwhelmed us with TMI. I appreciated the pace of walking[INVALID]she characterized it as SLOW (except when we had a connection to make!)[INVALID]but it was just right for me. The side trips to Siena and the WW2 Cemetery were most memorable. I was moved by the on-sight guide's relating the story of one fallen American soldier interred there. Our bus driver, Dario, in addition to being an excellent driver, was so hospitable and generous to the group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"At Carrara, the tour of the quarry museum lead by it's creator, Walter."

Randy

London, ON

Tour: 06/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

There were lots of extra things that happened on our trip that were great. Crashing the wedding photoshoot in Orvieto, hearing the organ being played in the church in Lake Orta, hearing the chanting at Lake Orta's St Francis chapel, going inside the walls at Lucca. Eating at Trattoria del Orso in Orvieto we got the chef's special. The food was one of the best meals we have had.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a tie. We heard the organ being played - Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. It is an amazing piece to be heard played in a church, but in this setting it was even more amazing. and later that same day I was in the Sacro Monte and I was looking at the art when a couple of people came in and started performing a Gregorian chant ( I had my back to them and I didn't realize for a few seconds that I was not alone in the chapel)"

Gregory

Spring Branch, TX

Tour: 06/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Outstanding experience. The variety of locations was amazing. Good balance between architecture, history, small town life, etc. Very fast paced; packed a lot into 14 days. Great tour leader. Very knowledgeable and engaging. Good group of folks. Had a great time. Lots of wine and lots of food!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Boat ride to Moterosso was amazing. Perfect weather and gorgeous scenery."

Coleen

Great Falls, MT

Tour: 05/25/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I did not want to go home.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Playing Solo with the group. Montone. A spritz with new friends by the pool in Tuscany. Loved Orvieto."

Peter

Great Falls, MT

Tour: 05/25/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

this was my first time in Italy and my first time on a tour so I don't have much to compare to. That said I just tried to take everything in and not rush to judgement. I liked the cities chosen. The food was wonderful. The hotels were chosen for location and except for the hotel in Orta the staff were delightful and I enjoyed each tremendously. Transportation was excellent. Our driver was a joy. In almost all cases I loved the chosen activities for the day. Our guides were very informative\

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow moment was looking out from the wall of Montone (sp) into the valley below, followed by gelato from a balcony overlooking the piazza in Siene (sp)"

Sandra

Edmonton, AB

Tour: 05/25/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I enjoyed the tour. The hotels and staff were good. The tour guide was professional, courteous, and gave us very good instructions to find our own way around.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There are too many to pick just one."

JoAnne

Everett, WA

Tour: 05/25/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great places to visit. Great food and wine. Great sights. I really enjoyed this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Civita di Bagnoregio and the Hotel Belvedere di San Leonino in Castellina in Chianti"

Joan

St Albert, AB

Tour: 05/25/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I took this tour then from lake orta travelled to rome to pick up the best of italy southern tour. I loved this tour the best. Our guide was wonderful and the food to die for, sometimes way too much! I liked the fact we wernt on the bus for long stretches of time too. Have recommened this tour to others to take. The onky place i wasnt too in love with was Lucca but did take in a Puccini concert there inside a church which was wonderful. Only having 20 people on this tour was fantastic

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There was many but I remember the knowledge and stories that heidi told us in the chapel of san brizio. I was awed. She made that tour!!!"

Jayne

Zeeland, MI

Tour: 05/23/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We started the tour with non-specific hopes to experience art, culture, food, and understand more about Italian and world history. The Village Italy tour exceeded all of our expectations!! Everyday was thoughtfully planned to optimize our 2 week cultural adventure with just enough downtime to process what we experienced between locations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is difficult to pick just one moment, but perhaps the splendor of the mosaics in Ravenna's Byzantine San Vitale, with our guide helping us to understand the interplay between art and faith and politics and culture."

Mary Ann

Holland, MI

Tour: 05/23/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The trip was fabulous! Loved experiencing the hill towns, local people through learning about trades/expertise and hotel ownership, the mix of art, culture, history, everyday life. I learned so much, got a more intimate look at Italy than we could have on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So difficult to choose: The mosaics, alabaster, and marble in Ravenna. Dinner at Sergio's home after the truffle hunt"

Kenneth

New Hope, PA

Tour: 05/23/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

very good. Wanted to see Umbra and Tuscany countryside and small villages and did so. Tour very efficiently run. Good pace, knowledgeble guides and good selection of places to see. Found Rick's tips to be very helpful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"No real wow moment but was really taken with first time seeing the Tuscany landscape. Just as I had imagined. Wow is being very pleased with the trip."

Bill

Snoqualmie, WA

Tour: 05/23/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Patricia is the best guide I have ever had on any trip. She is knowledgeable, personable and creative. Your company is fortunate to have a person of Patricia's quality serving your clients.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The farm house dinner, preparing lunch and the picnic at Orveito. Also the Bellveder hotel."

Gabriele

Wauna, WA

Tour: 05/23/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was relaxing, educational, great fun. The tour members were all wonderful, we had a great time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow" moments. The ancient hill towns were spectacular, I loved Portovenere at the Ligurian Sea, Lake Orta was beautiful; too many to pick just one."

Linda

Snoqualmie, WA

Tour: 05/23/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I have done quite a bit of travelling over the last few years and the Village Italy tour is now our favorite vacation. It seemed that all the tour members enjoyed each other and we had the best tour guide, Trisha. We were able to enjoy many things such as special lunches and dinners and tours that we could never have arranged on our own. There was a good mix of tours and free time. Having more free time toward the end of the tour was quite welcome! Overall, a special tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow" moments to remember but a special one was the truffle hunt and dinner. There was a downpour of rain during the hunt but it didn't dampen our spirits. A unique experience. I loved that the ladies that cooked the dinner (and our bus driver) sang "O Solo Mio" after dinner. An enchanting evening that I'll never forget."

Wendy

Edgewood, WA

Tour: 05/23/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful time on our Hill town Italy tour. We are big Rick Steves fans and this was our first tour. Our guide Patricia was wonderful. We were so impressed with the wide variety of activities that we experienced on our trip. The food was amazing! A rustic farm dinner after Truffle hunting, a cooking lesson in Tuscany and amazing multi course meals in other locations. Highly recommend this tour for a real Italian experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment had to be climbing into the iconic hill town of Civita di Bagnoregio. How gorgeous! There were many other "wow" moments on this trip. In Lucca we climbed the tower for spectacular views and we also went to a beautiful opera performance in Lucca. Another wow moment was a quiet country walk in Tuscany."

Gregory

Edgewood, WA

Tour: 05/23/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Never having done an organized tour before, I was somewhat skeptical of what the experience would be like. Was I going to have enough free time or would I be stuck in a bus or walking around in a big group the whole time? I am now a believer. I was very impressed by the service level, attention to detail and the make-up of the tour, including the amount of time we had on our own to explore. This was a great way to see and experience Italy!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our favorite Wow moment was experiencing the beautiful, dying city of Civita di Bagnoregio. Spectacular!"

Christine

Bellevue, WA

Tour: 05/23/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our first tour and it exceeded any expectations! Can't imagine a better guide (Tricia Brady); funny, knowledgeable and full of energy! This is a very active and educational tour and I loved that. Felt there was enough time in each village.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"One wow moment? Hard to say. Loved Castelina in Chianti in Tuscany. Loved the Orvieto winery tour and wine cellar dating back to 200 B.C., olive oil society tour in the countryside near Lucca, Civita di Bagnoregio, the dying city was so interesting. Wished we had more time in Volterra!"

Bruce

Bellevue, WA

Tour: 05/23/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was a well oiled machine... from our tour guide's expertise in history and Italian culture and art to our bus driver who was a perfectionist in navigating even the smallest streets and roads, to the selection of hotels and adventures to embark on. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The cooking lesson, truffle hunting, and pottery demonstration stood out as some of my favorite examples of "wow" of experiencing Italian life moments. The town of Civita di Bagnoregio was my favorite in terms of ancient architecture."

David

Ascot,

Tour: 05/18/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was our third Rick Steves tour and it lived up to our expectations of excellent value for money and high ratio of experience per unit time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The best was left until last - Lake Orta. Spectacular lake and equally spectacular positioning of our hotel."

Sara

Round Rock, TX

Tour: 05/18/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was our first trip to Europe, and will not be our last Rick Steves' tour because it exceeded my expectations in every way! Every place we went was unique and beautiful. Trina was exceptional, everything was seamless and appeared effortless, although I know she worked hard to have it feel that way for us. Our group was fun, funny, and energetic and it was very pleasant to see all those folks every day for 14 days.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The day we walked up the bridge to Civita di Bagnoregio. That took my breath away in more ways than one.. I have never said Wow so many times on vacation, it became very obvious that I needed more adjectives in my vocabulary.. but Wow said it all!"

Anne

Ascot,

Tour: 05/18/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was an event-packed tour. Lots of walking and stairs so we were very fit by the end. The tour guide was well versed in Italian History, Art and Modern Culture. Food experiences were great and varied. Overall, eating in Italy was an affordable pleasure. The Italians have a great attitude to life, living and interpersonal relationships.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Scrovegni Chapel, as explained by our local guide, was a memorable event. Lake Orta was a great release from the crowds (especially those in the Cinque Terre region) and the scenery was rather pleasing. Truffle hunting was fun."

Mitch

Kirkland, WA

Tour: 05/18/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was an outstanding trip. Trina, our guide, was first rate - sure knowledgeable, enthusiastic, a great communicator, and very organized. Lodgings were very good, and with the exception of Lucca, quiet. The activities were wonderful. Local guides, with the exception of Lucca, were excellent. The Lucca guided tour was a bit of a forced march, meaning too long for the late afternoon. What's up with driving through a spa town, and not having the opportunity to visit the spa, get a massage

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A dinner at del Morro Aronne in Orvieto and another dinner in Lucca of the Bistecca all Foirentine. Outstanding! Also, the Basilica of St. Francis. Great guide."

Nathan

Humble, TX

Tour: 05/18/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Over all was excellent trip, we have always enjoyed Italy, and the Rick Steve tours guides gave always been a great source of information .

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had several! The smaller the town, the bigger the wow!"

Julie

Kirkland, WA

Tour: 05/18/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Having been Rome & Florence, I certainly didn't want or need to be engulfed in the craziness of a large city. There was plenty of artwork to admire during this trip yet it, thankfully, was not a main focus of the trip. This trip was about being exposed to what makes Northern Italy so wonderful: truffle hunting, pasta making, wine tasting, marble quarries, honey & cheese tasting, ceramics, beautiful rolling hills & yes, a few saints thrown in for good measure.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There wasn't any one "wow" moment. It was a "wow" pretty much any time I walked into a church &/or chapel, particularly the basilica in Assisi. The church artwork is always so incredible: the grandeur, the colors, the evolution of perspective. To see such beautiful artwork in the space it was intended for really gives it a sense of purpose."

Sharon

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/18/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had watched the movie, "Under the Tuscan Sun" so many times over the years and found the scenery just beautiful as well as the architecture and knew one day I would go. My mom passed away almost three years ago and with my inheritance, I decided that she was going to send me! I guessed that the movie was probably going to be a lot more spectacular than the "real" northern part of Italy. It surpassed all expectations and Tina was an awesome guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really can't say there was just one "wow" moment - I enjoyed the entire trip (aside from the rain but that wasn't very often). I did enjoy our Riviera stop and being able to get out into the water. We had a great group of people and we became family by the end of the trip."

Jane

Redmond, WA

Tour: 05/18/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall....super good....Trina is an OUTSTANDING guide - so very knowledgeable, very passionate about Italy....clearly very good at 'handling' all sorts of travelers - the folks who are a traveling party, the introverts....those who have been to Italy several times and just want a deeper visit.....

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Difficult to choose.....the frescoes in Ravena, the local guide in Assisi....the honey tasting....the olive oil press....."

Helen

Humble, TX

Tour: 05/18/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fantastic!!!! Trina was wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My husband & I really enjoyed all of the small Towns & villages. If I had to chose one wow moment it would probably be Chianti. Or maybe the Deruta pottery demonstration. It is just to hard to choose. Enjoyed it all."

Steve

Denver, CO

Tour: 05/18/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was my third Steve's tour. The activities on this tour were the best of all my tours. The hotels were the worst of all my tours. I loved Trina the tour guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The trip to Tuscany and the tour to the village on top of the mountain accessible only by bridge."

Diahann

Waikoloa, HI

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

My group of fellow travelers were extremely enjoyable most well traveled, we all seemed to gel nicely. I enjoyed the itinerary but would have enjoyed it more we had stayed 3 nights in each hotel, too much moving for me.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I enjoyed many moments in small restaurants I found on my own, people I met just walking around towns and getting lost taking photos. Italy is a WOW moment...."

Zoe

Edmonds, WA

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was my first time abroad and I was so excited about the experience. I liked the size of the group we were with and I felt very spoiled on this trip. We ate well, we received wonderful recommendations about places to visit and fun restaurants to check out for a local experience. I also felt we covered a lot of ground over two weeks but we also got to have quite a bit of time for exploring on our own. A month later, I can still say my trip to Italy with Rick Steve's couldn't have been better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many wonderful things to remember and how do you quantify it by coming up with one thing. I would say probably say going to the church with Giotto's art in Padua was really special. I felt like we were able to glimpse a work of important art and it will not soon be forgotten. I loved Christine's talk she gave about the work and I appreciated the detail the artist conveyed like the draping of the material and the story telling."

Joan

La Conner, WA

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have used Rick's guide books for years but this was my first tour. It exceeded my expectations. Arriving at the Cinque Terre by boat on a gorgeous day, Wow! Beautiful Lake Orta and another boat ride. Our fabulous roomy bus and Mario our charming driver. Excellent orientation tours and plenty of free time to digest and take in what interested us most. The expectation that we would leave at a specific time, which was honored by everyone in the group. A well informed tour leader.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Singing with the truffle farmer his wife and lady friends. Meeting a bunch of enthusiastic pre-teen girls in a restaurant, sharing our names and ages, parting with smiles and hugs. Wine tasting in a beautifully decorated dining room. Fabulous lunch at the olive coop."

Amy

Cambria, CA

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a wonderful time. Nina, our guide, was knowledgeable and gave us a lot of useful information. She seemed to love what she was doing and this made the trip even more enjoyable. The particular group on this tour were not only pleasant, but prompt at every stop.(Having travelled with other groups before, I can say this is not always so.) I was most impressed with our driver, Mario, who made sharp turns seems easy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have a real 'wow' and a funny 'wow.' The real 'wow' of all the experiences on this trip was seeing Dante's tomb in Ravenna. Having read that it was closed Mondays, I was thrilled to discover it was open the Monday we were there. The funny 'wow' - being from California (drought - saving water whenever we can), I had a tub in Orvieto and took a bath! WOW!"

Brent

Renton, WA

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

On this tour, the group itself was a major component in the enjoyment. There was not one person who I felt was a drag. That wasn't the case on our previous tour. I also thought our guide, Nina, was ideal. She was an American and understood our thought processes and sense of humor. At the same time she has lived in Italy for more than enough time to be Italian. She didn't have to strain to "get us."

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I particularly enjoyed the trip to the Olive Oil Press, Cooking experience & Truffle Hunt. It would be difficult to separate these 3 activities. I would rate them 1-Cooking; 2-Truffle Hunt; 3-Olive Oil Press."

Laurie

Renton, WA

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Village Italy tour had just the right combination of tour activities and free time to explore on our own. The fact we had two night stays at each location was great - it gave us the ability to explore and yet not feel rushed. Our guide, Nina, made our tour the best yet (this is our 2nd) and I highly recommend her! The truffle hunting, farmhouse dinner and wine tasting & pasta making experiences were fantastic. Nina's indepth knowledge of Italy made it that much more enjoyable!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to count: The Etruscan museum was super cool[INVALID]our local guide Roberto was extremely knowledgeable and hilarious [INVALID] I have the utmost respect for someone as witty and quick as he is to joke in a non-native tongue. The Tour of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the long walk up to the crumbling hill town of Civita di Bagnoregio was exhilarating and a walk into medieval times."

Leonardo

Bal Harbour, FL

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The overall experience was outstanding and was true to the tour as described in the brochures. No surprises, only good ones.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Arriving at the Locando del Capitano in Montone. This was the quintessential Village Italy experience, this town, this hotel."

Chris

Temple Terrace, FL

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Without a doubt this was the finest travel experience I have ever had. You can "learn" about Italy by visiting on your own or going on just about any tour. If you want to "experience" Italy, this is the tour for you. Our group of travelers included those who had been on several tours with a Rick Steves group and those who had not been on any of his tours. That said, our group was outstanding and just an absolute pleasure with whom to travel.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to name just one but included in that mix: 1. Montone-our room was the "guardhouse" which was unlike anything I had experienced. Sitting in the town "piazza" sipping a drink and just watching the locals play cards. 2. Watching "Franco" sculpt alabaster in Voltaire. 3. Hike from Levanto to Monterosso-you come around the corner of the last hill and can see all five villages of the Cinque Terra as well as the channel to Portovenere. The view is from a postcard."

Cynthia

Temple Terrace, FL

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our second Rick Steves' tour. I did not think it was possible, but it was even better than the first one. We had a super guide, Nina. She made the trip fantastic. Great variety of activities!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"That is a hard question. Every city on our tour had a wow moment! I think when we were assigned rooms in Montone and ended up in this fantastic guard house up on the hill! The whole tour came in to see the place! Incredible!"

Donna

Las Cruces, NM

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

What a wonderful tour! The itinerary mixed small cities and smaller towns, rural and urban, hill towns and lowland towns, famous sites and not-so-famous pleasures. The hotels were welcoming, lovely, and/or quirky. The food was beyond outstanding. The additional activities (truffle hunting, etc) were all wonderful and added to our knowledge, enrichment, and enjoyment. This has got to be THE best tour of Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's very hard to find only one. Every day had multiple wows. But if I had to pick just one, it would be the truffle farm experience. Sergio and Eva and friends were so welcoming. Their dogs are lovely. And we all enjoyed walking through the oak forest as Rocco sniffed out truffles. But the crowning moments were after dinner. The Italians sang to us with their lovely voices. We had choral members in our group, and we sang back. It was as close to magical as you can get."

Janet

Bend, OR

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour met all of my expectations. This was our 6th Rick Steves' and I have always enjoyed the people that take these tours. The tours have all been very different but none disappointed me. I liked the variety of activities and exploring the small villages on this one.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many great moments. We went to a Puccini concert during our free time in Lucca and when the tenor started singing, that was a real WOW! moment. This concert was so wonderful that we went back again the next night to hear different singers. The Carrara marble fields also blew me away. I'm so glad we got to experience this."

Paula

Portland, OR

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed all of the places we visited and appreciated the "free time" to explore on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite WOW moement...to be honest it was realizing what a great group I ended up traveling with. We saw so many amazing places and enjoyed each other's company in small groups, and our large group. Everyone was on time, friendly, supportive and eager to do things together. Nina was wonderful and fun to be with. She also shared so many interesting tidbits of information about places we toured, art work, Saints' stories that I have come home and WOWED my friends with my stories of the tour"

Beth

Denver, CO

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really enjoyed the tour. It met my expectations. The group was wonderful. One suggestion is to change the verbiage in the print materials for the cooking "class" in Tuscany from "class" to "demonstration"; I it would be clearer to folks so they could sign up for the cooking lesson with Gianlucca in Lucca, the next town. I was disappointed that we could not enter the Anatomy Theater in Padova due to the contract issues; you should update online information

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think my wow moment was truffle hunting. What an experience to be welcomed so warmly in someone's home. Such an unusual and enjoyable experience."

Eileen

Tigard, OR

Tour: 05/16/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved it! Beautiful countryside, hill towns and art! Very congenial tour group as well. Excellent choices of places to visit and stay (with one exception). Well planned for time in each place visited and hotels stayed in (and in good locations in each city).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Difficult to pick just one! Civeta was spectacular, both to see from a distance and so photogenic inside the town. Loved seeing the beautiful countryside of rolling hills, vineyards, olive trees, everything so green! Loved the small, untouristy hill town of Montone surrounded by lush green hills as well as larger Orvieto, and Volterra! Would have liked more time there. The free day in the Cinque Terre was special, especially hiking above Vernazza and spending time in Riomaggiore."

Diane C

Olathe, CO

Tour: 05/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful, broad [INVALID]ion of experiences. Archealogical, historical, religious, art, food, music and culture. Hiedi was an amazing guide and her ability to deal decisively and kindly with people, solve and anticipate problems and take care of the group was unmatchable!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Attending the Pucinni Concert in Lucca!"

Daniel C

Olathe, CO

Tour: 05/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We saw great things with a great group of people. I cannot imagine that we could have had a better guide than Heidi. She was amazing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Oh My! There were so many. My favorite place was Cinque Terre. Everywhere we went along that coast was a continual wow experience. I loved the trails there, the coastline, the colorful villages on the hills, the food, the gelato and the folks who live there that were so nice to a bunch of tourists."

Bill

Provo, UT

Tour: 05/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fantastic. We had just the right balance of enjoying the small village towns and exploring museums and churches. Starting in Padua was a great idea, so that we could see the Scrovegni Chapel. All of the towns [INVALID]ed for the village Italy tour were amazing, from the incredibly small Montone to the famous Siena. Ending at the Cinque Terre and Lake Orta was a great way to decompress at the end of the tour. I can't think anything that was a waste of time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I can think of three "wow" moments. The first was unplanned. A member of our tour group was a professional singer, familiar with opera. She gave us an impromptu brief lecture and demonstration of opera during lunch prior to a concert that most tour members attended in Lucca. The second "wow" moment was just fun. Hunting truffles with Rocco the dog. The third "wow" was the breathtaking view of the mosaics in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. I literally gasped when I saw them."

Alvan

Logan, UT

Tour: 05/11/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We greatly enjoyed this view of small village Italy. Fantastic meals, great cultural experiences, and (for the most part) a very enjoyable group to travel with.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The guided tour through the University of Padova was especially memorable for me, knowing that such scientific luminaries in history studied there. As a scientist myself, this was like a muslim making the pilgrimage to Mecca."

Keith

Franklin, TN

Tour: 05/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was amazing! We went to places in Italy that we would have never found or ventured to. All the cities and countryside were great places to visit - the cathedrals and history, the beautiful landscapes, the side trips to hunt truffles or see the olive oil manufacturing facility, and so much more.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking down a narrow street and then seeing a majestic cathedral come into view. Or maybe it was dinner with the farmer and his wife, and the songs they sang afterwards."

Deanna

Mesa, AZ

Tour: 05/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The best tour I have taken. I really enjoyed interacting with local people on the farm & truffle hunt, olive oil production and meal, wine tasting at the family owned winery, back to basic Italian cooking, the marble quarries, Pottery-making --all things I probably wouldn't have experienced on my own. The accommodations were excellent. I gained such and appreciation of the people, culture and beauty of Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had many "wow" moments. But one experience that has stuck in my mind is the afternoon spent on the farm. The family and friends that helped with the meal were so delightful and full of life. The meal was delicious and the folk singing topped off the evening. I loved how they interacted with each other and were so gracious to all of us. My 'wow' moment for beauty would be wandering the streets of Orvieto and Civita."

Eileen

Provo, UT

Tour: 05/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Beautiful landscape and towns. A nice variety of experiences that taught more about Italian life. My favorite tour was the "Best of Italy in 17 Days," but this one was a close second. I love the beauty of Italy, and this tour, with its emphasis on smaller places, especially hill towns, highlighted all that's wonderful about this country. I would highly recommend this tour, especially to those uninterested in the big city experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The mosaics in Ravenna, Civita di Bagnoregio, the Pieta in the Orvieto Duomo, actually (finally) "reading" a stained glass rose window instead of just standing before it in illiterate admiration. And Siena. Always, Siena."

Joyce

Portland, OR

Tour: 05/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was so much fun and educational too This is my third Rick Steve's tour and the best so far. It absolutely exceeded my expectations, I have been bursting to tell everyone. As usual a great mix of group time and free time. Our guide , Trina, was great and went out of her way to help each person meet their own goals. This was my husband's first trip to Europe and Trina really helped him feel at home and fall in love with Italy. Now we want to go back!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Oh my gosh! There are so many! Making spaghetti was wonderful. Everyone learned so much and had so much fun too. The honey tasting was memorable too because it is a joy to see people who are passionate about what they do. The olive oil family was neat too. The Etruscan museum was so interesting and so historically important. And visiting the American cemetery was so meaningful too. I'd say the truffle hunting dog and family party was the best experience! So personal and fun!"

Charlie

Moraga, CA

Tour: 05/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Every day was a new adventure and every day delivered something special. We LOVED the Villages and Vineyards tour of Eastern France last year and didn't think anything could match that. At the end, though, we felt this one was just as good. Running into Rick Steves himself in Siena was an added bonus.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"How knowledgeable our guide Trina was. She started with geology, tied that into topography, agriculture, past and current living conditions. Knew history from Etruscans to modern day. On last bus day, when I thought she was drained, she delivered an incredibly interesting presentation on current issues such as seniority vs. meritocracy, how it impacts business, education, youth unemployment, etc. Then she expounded on inefficiency of government, legal system, etc. Amazing tour de force. Wow!"

Kathleen

Alturas, CA

Tour: 05/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was great! We had a knowledgeable and experienced guide, traveled in a roomy, comfortable bus, stayed in nice hotels, were very well fed, had a fantastic itinerary, and were treated to an abundance of memorable experiences. The Rick Steves travel philosophy pretty much ensures that one's fellow tour members will be congenial people, and that there will not be too many of them!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I don't think I can limit myself to one special moment, there were so many. Making friends with the locals was memorable[INVALID]particularly an elderly gentleman in Orvieto, and the young proprietor of a vegetarian restaurant in Lucca. It was a thrill seeing San Gimignano on the horizon like a mirage from our hotel in Chianti. Watching Roco the truffle hunting dog do his thing was a treat. And the visit to Civita di Bagnoregio! A chance meeting in Siena with Rick Steves was pretty cool, too!"

Marilee

Troutdale, OR

Tour: 05/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I absolutely loved this tour. The group was so compatible. Guide Trina was incredible. And I loved visiting the smaller towns/cities.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Lago d'Orta at sunset."

Rosemary

East Amherst, NY

Tour: 05/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first trip to Europe and we could not have chosen a better tour. The hill towns were wonderful, packed with one great experience after another. I was also impressed with the small cities, with their delightful mix of modernity and tradition. Padua is much more than just a place to start the tour, Lucca is much more than the beautiful park on the walls, and Levanto is a wonderful beach town. Add our guides Trina and Antonia, and our driver Mario, and we had a very special tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Of the many "wow" moments, my favorite was sitting in Galileo's classroom. Our guide was excellent, really creating a sense of history for us. Other moments: The stunning mosaics in Ravenna; touring the Etruscan museum, learning about this society from a fantastic guide; bicycling the walls in Lucca; slow food, from truffles to honey and cheese; watching the surfers in Levanto, then walking back for lunch and another gelato; sitting on our balcony overlooking Lake Orta."

Stuart

Round Rock, TX

Tour: 05/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful time. I tell all of my friends that the best thing about RS tours is the "free time". We want to spend a summer in Lucca! So impressed with Trina. She made it look so easy, but we know she was working very hard to make our experience wonderful. She always communicated with us on the plans, especially how our plans might have to change due to circumstances. Antonia's perspective was very helpful in understanding Italy and the challenges of "going native". Very special view.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Scenery in Tuscany; just like a never ending postcard! Of course, meeting Rick in Sienna was pretty cool too!"

Herman

East Amherst, NY

Tour: 05/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great trip overall. I'm glad we picked this trip for our first trip abroad. While the pace was demanding at times, the range of experiences was really eye opening.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The views from the ramparts in Lucca. It was a beautiful day and the town was picturesque. It was a place I wanted to stay longer or certainly come back to on another trip."

Mary

La Mesa, CA

Tour: 05/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our fourth RS tour and they all have been wonderful. This group just happened to really click which made it all the more fun. We had plenty of free time which is important. We had a great mix of cities and country time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We were in Sienna with our group and were surprised to have Rick Steves show up to say Hi! That was a lot of fun. We even ended up in Rick's Blog on line with a selfie that he took. Trina by the way was our guide! Everything that we did that was planned out for us was a "wow" moment. Always a lot of different and unusual activities to experience. I especially enjoyed the evening watching the family dog digging up truffles for us to enjoy at a wonderful family dinner. Lots of fun!"

Jack

Urbandale, IA

Tour: 05/02/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very good trip,the group fit perfect , no bad apples,our guide set the trip apart from other trips Tish new her stuff, great attitude, would travel again with her. It did not hurt that we had no rain, lots of sun and not to hot.Happy we did small towns , have seen enough big towns. We will do another trip with Rick, this was our 3rd. Lots of bang for the buck. Jacj H

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We had two Montone our first stop and Lake Orta good way to start and end!"

Cynthia

Grand Junction, CO

Tour: 05/02/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed balance of art&education,free time&structure.1st tour ever, usually travel independently.Great intro to It., diversity of regions, history,food, unique traits of communes.Pace was steady,tour participants convivial, lodgings,food&planned events exceeded expectations.I wanted more time each place I visited,especially Civita Bagnoreggio, Volterra,Orta. Tour exposed me to unique experiences I couldn't easily find on my own, inspired me for future travel planning.

Favorite "WOW" moment

""Discovering" Portovenere from the boat on our way from La Spezia, exploring the town & castle, enjoying its specialness on the Ligurian coast as a tantalizing preview of the Cinque Terre made it a WOW. The boat trip from Portovenere along the coast, stopping at each of the villages, was spectacular. The day on the water was relaxing, and built excitement and anticipation for the last few days of the trip. The unexpectedness of this shift in our itinerary made it even more special!"

Carolyn

Durham, NC

Tour: 05/02/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Village Italy tour exceeded my expectations. Our guide, Patricia, shared her vast knowledge of so many aspects of Italian life. Her knowledge combined with many years of tour-guiding experience coupled with much enthusiasm and patience made for a fun and memorable experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many it is really difficult to choose, but the magnificent Byzantine mosaics in the San Vitale Basilica would certainly be one of them as would the beauty and serenity of Isola San Giulio at Lake Orta."

Lisa

Sammamish, WA

Tour: 05/02/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The villages and hill towns exceeded my expectations. Add to that the expertise of our guide Trish and it made this a wonderful tour. We had a really fun group. The truffle hunt with "Rocco" was fun and then the dinner after at the farmhouse was amazing. What warm and inviting people! The pottery making demo was lots of fun. Made us wish we had more room in our suitcase to take home some of the lovely pottery.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Exploring Montone. Such a beautiful town. It was in such good shape and was small enough that you could explore every nook and cranny. It was probably my favorite but all the hilltowns were gorgeous."

Joseph

Tucson, AZ

Tour: 10/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Since we never took a Rick Steves tour before we did not know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of the hotels and the meals. There were a few meals that were good but not great. We especially enjoyed the special farm visits and meals with private families. We were amazed by the beauty of the churches and the villages. Some of the walking tours were a bit trying and may have been cut down.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The best time or wow was the trip to the farm where we cooked our own meal and enjoyed the meal sitting outdoor and enjoyed the view. The second or close to first was the truffle search both hosts at both farms were wonderful."

April

Grants Pass, OR

Tour: 10/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steves tour, but it won't be my last! The tour not only met my expectations, but far exceeded them. Our tour guide, Nina, and the local guides were fantastic. The itinerary was well thought out. Staying a couple of days at each location allowed enough time for some organized activities and some personal time to explore. The hotels and food were good to excellent. I learned so much about Italian history, customs, and culture. Overall, wow!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I LOVED the village of Montone. As I was sitting in the piazza enjoying an appertivo, I thought, "Wow! This is exactly what I was hoping for." A charming village, far off the beaten path, with a chance to watch the locals going about their daily lives. Two older women were leaning out their windows and chatting over the alleyway. A small boy was running around the piazza pretending that he was a superhero. A group of men were laughing over drinks. I felt welcomed and thrilled to be there!"

Matthew

Grants Pass, OR

Tour: 10/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A great mix of personal,historic and cultural experiences. The people we met with and the additional guides were always good and sometimes great. The agrotourismos, truffles and cooking stand out for me, the marble quarries and olive press were good too. Nina was exceptional, this was our first trip to Europe and she made us feel part of the surroundings and not as tourist viewing the country from a tour route. The places we stayed were absolutely wonderful,quirky at times, but great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A toss up between seeing Civita and eating in the little cafe, and the cooking lessons and the agrotourismos. There were so many but as I think about my trip now and share with friends those were defining events."

Marjory

San Jose, CA

Tour: 10/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I wanted to go on this trip for years. It greatly surpassed my expectations. I'm still pinching myself about the villages visited, the art and history, the wonderful hotels, great food and drink, outstanding tour guide (Nina) and the fun people I met on the journey.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's so hard to pick just one. Way up there is Civita di Bagnoregio. Looking at pictures of that hill town for years -- I still can't believe I walked that pedestrian road and was actually there. I also loved the mosaics in Ravenna, the truffle hunt and dinner at the truffle farm. Our esteemed cooks did a fabulous job, and the after dinner singing was a blast. Levanto was a lovely surprise -- especially riding bikes through the tunnel to the next town north. Lucca was great, too."

Adeline

Barrie, ON

Tour: 10/13/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

A fabulous tour of small town Italy - both the places I hadn't been to before but also more of the authentic Italian experience. Many excellent local guides to really understand the historical, geographical, and social context of how these places evolved as well as the realities and jeopardies of current austerity approaches to economic difficulties.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"1 -the "mountain top" experience of standing on the mountain where Michelangelo chose his marble centuries ago and 2, the absolutely perfect day on the Italian Riviera in Levanto. Not a cloud in the azure sky from morning to sunset, and spending with a good part of the day sipping cappuccinos on the beach in the morning and watching the tide go out and sipping spritzes in the afternoon on the same beach watching the surfers trying to catch a wave as the tide came in."

Joann

Tacoma, WA

Tour: 10/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide, Nina, was fun, extremely knowledgeable, and had a great sense of humor! She definitely tailored the tour to meet everyone's needs. She really made my first RS tour outstanding. I am ready to go on another RS tour in late Spring. Our bus driver, Adriano, was an expert at maneuvering through narrow and winding Italian village roads. Our tour group was awesome: a mix a different aged travelers from all walks of life. Nice mix of scheduled and on our own time each day.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved our first day of the tour when we all met in Padua. It was raining cats and dogs and there was an incredible thunderstorm going on. Nina gave us a wonderful tour through the town, even managing to help us dodge raindrops and the nearing lightening strikes. It sounds scary, but it was such fun! Really started the tour off with a BANG! Oh, and the singing at the truffle farm was wonderful! What a great family!"

Vincent

Pensacola, FL

Tour: 10/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I consider this a "bucket list" tour - one that you do not want to miss. I felt that I was as close to experiencing medieval Europe as you can today. Combine this with the modern day experience of a hands-on cooking class, the stay at the agriturismo farm and joining the Italian family on their farm for the for dinner and a festive evening made this trip an exemplary experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Certainly visiting the medieval towns - Ravenna, Montone, Assisi, Orvieto and Civita were "wow" moments. It's hard not to also include the Carrara marble quarry site, Siena, Lucca and the Cinque Terre. I guess I'm saying for the most part the the entire trip was a "wow' experience."

Walter

Tacoma, WA

Tour: 10/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steve's Trip. Nina, our tour guide really made the trip fun and informative. The small group size (18) was a big plus for access to sites and coalescing as a group. It is a big advantage that a Rick Steve's tour has over others. Very nice mix of planned vs. free time (with good advice for activities.)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Meeting and talking with local guides and local people made the trip special. Dinner with the family at the truffle farm stands out as do the various opportunities made available to create our own connections."

Paul

Santa Clara, CA

Tour: 10/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Another fine experience, although after seven previous RS tours, my standards have gotten pretty high. I want to praise our guide, Nina, for being especially helpful in arranging for my strict dietary needs. I didn't ask her to do more than warn me when I had to make my own arrangements, but she dove in and saw that I always had great food. Prospective clients should be aware that many of the villages are hill towns, which makes this a more physical tour than average.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"While there are many wow moments (look at the RS videos and you'll know what they are), this tour excels in the people moments. Being out in the smaller towns provides many opportunities to be a temporary local. This runs from sitting with a spritz in a small plaza watching the locals playing cards or singing dirty songs, to getting a dirty look from a barista for standing at the bar with your cappuccino like a local, instead of paying a sitting tax like other tourists do."

Orville

Wheatley, ON

Tour: 10/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour exceeded all of our expectations. This was our first Rick Steeves tour and we will definitely go on another.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Scrovegni Chapel in Padua and the San Vitali Basilica in Ravenna were my two biggest "wow" moments. With that being said, each day brought many different experiences and the tour has left us with many wonderful memories."

Joan

Seal Beach, CA

Tour: 10/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved the itinerary. We visited very small towns as well as bustling university and cathedral towns, and the variety afforded rich opportunities to learn more each day about Italy, its ancient landscapes, traditions and culture, its art, cuisine and wine. I particularly appreciated all the opportunities we had to experience the regions we visited through the eyes of our Italian guides, who communicated so effectively their knowledge and passions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Impossible to choose. Wows popped up and flew out from around every corner. For me the Italian landscape itself, the beautiful way it expresses an ancient marriage of nature and culture, never ceases to amaze and delight. I would also say that the enlightenment imparted by our Italian guides and teachers very often raised the experience of learning to wow-worthy heights."

Joseph

San Antonio, TX

Tour: 10/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The various experiences provided a wide range. The mix allowed for feeling the atmosphere of several villages, open vistas in the countryside, along with specific examples of such things as a cooking class, wine tasting, and so forth. The pace of the tour was very manageable. I learned a great deal about the area, and specifically about the history even before the Roman era. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the company – the group was a mix of very interesting people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The time spent in the Etruscan museum. The exploration of such an ancient, advanced civilization definitely caught my attention."

Hope

Takoma Park, MD

Tour: 10/06/14

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

I thought that the tour was too rushed. Although I appreciated going to all the places we went to and seeing all the sights we saw, there was absolutely no time to just be and process it all. The free time on the tour wasn't adequate in the way traveling to these places required. Being able to savor and enjoy is not part of the rhythm established by the itinerary. Arriving every two days in a new place was tiresome and a chore. 1st night, unpack, do laundry. 2nd night pack and get ready to leave

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Luca Signorelli frescoes in Orvieto brought tears to my eyes."

Ellen

Madison, WI

Tour: 10/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved visiting the villages and learning about their history. I loved having passersby want to share a bit of their lives with us, and being welcomed into their space. Italy is so beautiful, I fell in love with it again. Our group was small, 18 of us plus Caterina, our guide, and Bruno, our driver. This helped us, I think, to experience everything more intimately.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many wow moments: going on a truffle hunt and eating truffles for the first time, in the home of the family who welcomed us; having a picnic with items bought by each of us that morning in the market; visiting a ceramics studio/factory and watching the whole process; visiting Stefano & Simone's agriturismo and hearing him talk passionately about the difficulties faced by farmers who don't use pesticides, helping to make our lunch there, going on a walk of meditation on Isola San Giulio."

Maryellen

Clearwater, FL

Tour: 10/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was packed with activity and WOW moments. The pace was fast, but the rest days or free time seemed to come at just the right time to recharge. The city tour guides were outstanding and always gave incredible insight into the art and culture of the time we were discussing. The group was so fun, and we've already started to contact each other by email since getting home. Our guide, Caterina was incredible- kind, friendly, knowledgable and extremely organized.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There was a new one every day! i loved hiking into Civita. Our group cooking lesson was a blast and the food was so good. The hotel in Tuscany was the best I've ever had the pleasure to visit. The cathedrals were breathtaking- the feeling of peace and love in Assisi will never be forgotten."

Duncan

Rathdrum, ID

Tour: 10/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We've tried or discussed a few ways of traveling. Didn't much care for cruises, going on your own is okay, want to try staying at a base & exploring a region. This was much better than the 1st 2 and had advantages over the last. Our tour guide, and all of the guides we met along the way were outstanding. They were passionate about what they do and it made our experience that much better. Being in a smaller group (20) was much better than the 60 person lollipop tours. Loved it-would do it again!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Mine was walking into Montone, a small Italian hill town. Seing the narrow steep streets was just like walking into a time warp (with all the amenities)! I turned to Sherry and said, "This is amazing!""

Mary

Santa Fe, NM

Tour: 10/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was my introduction to Italy and it could not have been better. It gave me an appreciation of Italy, the culture, the food, the people and a desire to return and spend more time in this splendid country.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Isola San Giulio was such a pleasant surprise and a fitting end to the trip. The walking meditation gave me a chance to appreciate the present and to reflect on the many insights I had been given on this trip."

Irene

Holliston, MA

Tour: 10/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was beyond what we could have imagined in terms of comfort, quality, and professionalism. We have never been to Italy, or anywhere in Europe before so we are not seasoned travelers and were a little apprehensive about making connections and the quality of the accommodations, etc. We were so thoroughly satisfied with all aspects of the tour and we feel it was a transformative experience for us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Montone was my "wow" moment. The timeless, unspoiled town, the warmth of the stone, the stunning views from any area, the lovely accommodations and dinner, the cozy Bar down in the square for late night Grappa. It all felt like a place out of time."

Sandra

Burnsville, MN

Tour: 10/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our experience was fantastic from start to finish! Trisha and the local guides immeresed us in culture and history, rather than just "showing as sights." We were impressed and appreciative of the way the tour was structured. Free time and mornings to sleep in came at just the right points. Being with only 20 people made us feel like we were traveling with a group of friends instead of a "tour group."

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There was at least one "wow" moment every single day! I can't tell you how many times I said, "This is the best thing yet!""

Louis

Nine Mile Falls, WA

Tour: 10/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our favorite Rick Tour out of the four we've taken. It was well balanced each day with a mix of guided visits, activities, history, culture, and free time. There was plenty of hiking that we enjoy, blended with constantly changing sights and experiences. We liked the feel of hill towns/villages compared to the larger cities we visited on an earlier trip. Although generally touristy, these smaller towns were charming and easily accessible.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each day seemed like a WOW moment. We just showed up in the morning and knew Tricia was going bring us a great day in new and exciting settings. Every day, we thought "this is the best," only to say it again the next day. Of the nearly 20 towns/villages, each had their own character and charm. We loved them all! A highlight would be Montone, a hidden treasure that we had all to ourselves and an evening nearby spent with our own Italian family who served dinner and entertained us on their farm."

Jean

Olathe, KS

Tour: 09/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour managed to pack in such a diversity of experiences that we now have many memories to digest.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Due to weather, we did not boat ride in the Mediterranean but instead got more time in Levanto. This was a pleasant and unexpected alternative. Also really loved the walk around and in Orvieto. Very pretty town. Biggest surprise was the meals that were provided with this tour. Ranged from super fancy to good basic local meals. The mealtimes were great for bonding. The cooking class was fun. The day after we got home we were making pasta with our 10 and 12 year old grandkids."

James

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 09/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A great educational and cultural experience

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The frescoes in the Orvieto cathedral"

Virginia

Ellensburg, WA

Tour: 09/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful time! We enjoyed every part of it, and we especially appreciated the way the tour was structured and the wonderful variety of activities. It was just great. Our tour guide, Trina, was very personable, helpful, and well organized. Accommodations were very comfortable. I honestly have no suggestions on ways it could be improved. We enjoyed our fellow travelers and made some good new friends. Many thanks!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Catching the first sight of Civita was my big "Wow!" and the impression only got stronger as we explored the place. So many awesome photo-moments!"

Lisa

Berwyn Heights, MD

Tour: 09/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A different type of Italy, not the photo-taking, renaissance architecture, leather/gold spending trips I've taken before. The slower paced, culture, joy of eating, walking and enjoying the company of other is what this tour is about. This is "the dolce vita" tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Enjoying the Cinque Terre again. I visited all 5 towns and loved each. There's nothing like it!"

Pam

Troy, ID

Tour: 09/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a terrific tour! I loved being off the beaten path for some of the time and being on back roads and in the country. The people we met were wonderful and welcoming and seemed happy to see us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hands down, the truffle hunt! It was such fun to watch. The dog was hilarious, Sergio quite funny even though we couldn't understand a word and the farmhouse dinner made by Mama was delicious and the best food I ate the whole time.I also loved walking down thru his vineyard and garden to the grove for the truffle hunt. So very nice to be off pavement and in a rural setting! Also loved that they seemed so very fond of Trina! Their faces just beamed when they saw her! So sweet!"

Janet

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 09/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Trina is a wonderful guide. Very knowledgable and organized.The itinerary was perfect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I finally learned what a truffle smells like"

John

Victoria, BC

Tour: 09/29/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was excellent and well thought out with the exception of Lucca. Lucca was a down point in what had been a very good tour to that point. Other than the wall around the town I felt there was little of architectural, artistic or historic interest. I think skipping Lucca and reducing the tour to 12 days would make for a more satisfying experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view of Civita di Bagnoregio."

Paul

Ellensburg, WA

Tour: 09/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Before going on this trip, I assumed that toward the end, I would be real glad when it would be over. Didn't happen. I really enjoyed every day. I think there was a good balance of travel time, guided tour time, and free time. Our guide, Trina, did her job very well, and in many cases went above the call of duty. She was able to express her knowledge of the history and customs of Italy to us in a comfortable way spiced with humor. We aren't allowed enough words to adequately describe

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is hard to rate the different experiences because I enjoyed almost all of them; but I will try. *The history lessons. *The truffle hunt and farm dinner. *The visit to the marble quarry. *The opportunity to ride bikes. *The lake visit was my least favorite."

Linda

St George, UT

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was going to write "extraordinary" 25 times but realized I would use up my 500 character limit. We thought we would visit postcard settings and enjoy local cuisine and wine. That was the least of it. I have a photo file labeled "Linda's Favorite Dozen" and there are only two landscapes there. Other photos are of the people who let us into their lives, homes, work, and passion for their communities. Extraordinary.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being at the Etruscan Arch in Volterra and hearing the story of the people protecting it from the Germans struck me as the combination of history, spirit, community, and fierce passion for protecting it all that was at the heart of what unfolded for us throughout the trip. At the farm, the vineyard, the Etruscan museum, Dante's tomb, and much more, the "wow" moment was my coming to understand the inseparability of history, spirit, community, and fierce passion for the past and for the future."

Michael

Nelson, WI

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Village Italy tour was excellent! The guides, the food, the rooms, and Italy was all a wonderful experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Watching the dog digging truffles was the best experience! Eating them was also tasty and singing with the farm family was a lot of fun."

James

Honolulu, HI

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour took us to many places we probably wouldn't have found on our own, places like Montone, Volterra and Orvieto, for experiences we probably wouldn't have found on our own, like the truffle hunt and making pasta and gnocchi. The RS plan of introducing us to the village, then giving us free time to explore the things of interest to each of us was excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"No single wow moment. Each day had its wow moments. Montone, Volterra, Orvieto and the Cinque Terra were probably the highlights."

Kathleen

Honolulu, HI

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour itinerary was great! I enjoyed the variety of locations and experiences offered, the pace was realistic - not too fast, not too slow. Good balance of busy activities and times for rest/independent choices. Good combination of art, history, food, scenery. All the special events were really special and memorable. Appreciated non-sales-pitch approach. Loved going to out-of-the-way hill towns and countryside as well as better-known sites. Group size reasonable, people compatible.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to find just one moment. Highly "wow" events for me: the cooking lesson and food - particularly everyone whirling the long spaghetti pasta, and getting to eat the fantastic food we had made! Also the truffle hunt and dinner - seeing and really eating truffles! "Wow" places I won't ever forget: Ravenna chapels for art and history, Assisi for the inspiring cathedrals."

Stephen

Oak Hill, VA

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Having been to Italy twice previously, we took this tour to go to places and have experiences that we couldn't easily do on our own. Mission accomplished! The tour is packed with great towns, demos and hands-on experiences, and it's nice to not worry about transportation and hotels. Though it sometimes feels as if the days are go-go-go, there is a good amount of down or on-your-own time. Though it would have been nice to stay in one place longer than two nights, you do get your money's worth.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A lot of great a moments. Among my favorites: Orvieto, Montone (a gorgeous, tiny village we would never have found on our own), the truffle hunt and accompanying rustic dinner (with singing), and the Hotel Belvedere nestled in the Tuscan vineyards. Also loved the Etruscan Museum in Chianciano Terme, and the change-of-pace that was the American cemetery in Florence."

Norma

Lyndhurst, OH

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Village Italy was an incredible experience. Each day offered an exceptional experience: a work of art, a scenic view, an historical site, a tour with a local guide,a fabulous group meal, or a perfect wine. The group was amicable with much interaction among the members.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"From an historical view, the Etruscan museum tour with Roberto was amazing. The realization that such an advanced culture existed so long ago is a "wow." He was so knowledgeable."

Jill

Oak Hill, VA

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first organized tour of any kind. Everything *felt* great, from beginning to end, and we saw so much, learned so much, ate so much, and had so much fun! The tour was well-paced, with a good balance of scheduled and unscheduled time, and the tour guide (Lisa) and driver (Fausto) were both exceptional. The number of activities and experiences offered was really pretty stunning, and they were all worthwhile and fun. This tour was a very enriching experience, and a great value.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We felt privileged to see tiny, beautiful Montone and to experience the stunning sunset in the Tuscan hills at San Leonino. The cooking class at the agriturismo was fantastic, as was the lunch. The truffle hunt and dinner were so warm and Italian, especially when the singing got underway. Biking in Lucca was great. The art and architecture throughout the tour was stunning. Really, my "wow" is that there were SO MANY wonderful activities and experiences!"

Marie

Brooklyn, NY

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have been on tours to Italy before but decided to try Italy through the back door with Rick Steves. Was it different than my previous tours? You bet it was and it was fantastic. It was different in many ways. From the first hotel in Padua with their wonderful hospitality to beautiful Levanto. Every place we visited had a unique character to it. We had the chance to be with local people, shop with them, eat their favorite foods,and be guests at wonderful agriturismos.Great food and people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"With a tour as wonderful as this it is impossible to have a favorite "wow" moment. For me there were multiple moments. They include the area of San Leonino and Hotel Belvadere,the Scrovegni Chapel,Carrara quarries, Levanto, the Etruscan Museum, and seafood dinner in Levanto, bike riding in Lucca, the hill top town of Civita di Bagnoregio and the beauty of everyday while on traveling from place to place. ."

Karen

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour held such a nice variety of experiences. Besides wonderful sights the extras of a cooking class, ceramic factory tour, wine tasting, olive oil tasting, etc. really made this an unforgettable tour Rick Steves tours provide such interesting information of the country, culture, and history. The tour guide is open to answering in and all questions.Tour group is a plus. The tour guide (Lisa) and local guides were excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to pick from. Right this minute-Ravenna mosaics"

Robert

Rollingbay, WA

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Enjoyed most everything. I did think we visited too many churches for what was supposed to be village Italy and did not see much of the countryside except on the bus. Our guide Lisa was great and very informative. Would have enjoyed staying 2 nights at our final location just because it was so peaceful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting the Cinque Terre region and being fortunate to have enjoyed the boat ride along the coast."

Marybeth

Arvada, CO

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The only reason the tour wasn't "outstanding" for me was that I developed a respiratory infection which dampened my spirits and depleted my energy. Lisa assisted in getting antibiotics for me (and several others) and I recovered by the end of the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There wasn't any one "wow" moment for me but the countryside, works of art and architecture and delicious meals made every day memorable."

Mark

Kilauea, HI

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall quite favorable. Well chosen locations and attractions, great guides, all but one accommodation very nice, food so-so, logistics superb.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Montone"

Charles

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing how sausages are really made!"

Carl

Arvada, CO

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was terrific. It was everything we had expected and much more. The tour guide, Lisa was exceptional. The local guides were all terrific and the little extras from visiting the small towns in northern Italy were great. We generally had great weather but even on the couple of days it rained our guide adjusted the agenda so we could enjoy everything on the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Scrovegni Chapel was a highlight the very first day. From then on things just got more impressive."

Dianne

Miami Shores, FL

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was the trip of a lifetime. Our tour guide Lisa was wonderful -- energetic, informed, funny, and organized. The amount of work it must have taken behind the scenes to keep the tour moving must have been herculean. I was also amazed at how interesting and intrepid the other tour members were. No grousing, no complaining. Total positive energy. And the tours and activities were varied, exciting, and fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Making pasta with Stefano at an agriturismo in Tuscany. Best meal of the trip, and Stefano's passion and enthusiasm for all things Italian was infectious. And that vin santo!!! I also loved the American Military Cemetary in Florence."

Fred

Laguna Niguel, CA

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had high expectations and the trip exceeded them. I like the variety of sites we visited and the back roads experience of visiting off the beaten path places. Our guide was very knowledgeable of the local history and people of each region we visited. I also liked the sense of adventure and camaraderie of the group. We had a chance to interact with local people who were not jaded tour guides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think the town of Montone was my favorite wow moment. Coming from a big city like Padua, Montone was beautiful, set in the rolling hills. The views were to die for and the people were very freindly to the group. My wife and I were able to stay on a larger apartment style room. We had a chance to just walk around the town, enjoy the centuries old buildings and the quiet outlooks."

Robert

St George, UT

Tour: 09/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a wonderful experience that could have been made even better by adding just one thing. I and other participants would like to have had the opportunity to hear more than the approximate 65% of what our different guides had to offer. We all had an audio ear plugs on ONE occasion and ALL MEMBERS spoke of how great it would be if this was offered to ALL of our guides. They have SO MUCH HISTORY AND INFORMATION to share but when you can only hear about 65% it's disappointing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There are so many that it is hard to chose. Not having to worry about driving, places to stay, food and a guide that was caring and concern about giving each of us the BEST EXPERIENCE she could offer."

Timothy

Concord, CA

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A good value, included many things we could not have done on our own. We were very happy!

Gene

Leawood, KS

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour guide and the local guides were excellent. The tour took me to more places than I would have gone on my own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Voters was the WOW moment for me."

Janice

Fulshear, TX

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved visiting the northern part of Italy since we covered some of our old stomping grounds from 33 years ago when we were stationed in Vicente with the army. The Etruscan towns were especially interesting. The highlight however was being with friendly Italian people!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was all a "wow" moment!"

John

Fort Worth, TX

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

One of our best trips ever. A better guide than Caterina would be almost impossible to find. She really made the journey, as she called it. Our group was friendly and easy going. But I very much enjoyed time exploring on our own. The concept of experiencing Italy through smaller towns and villages was very well executed on this trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sitting on a bench on the beach in Levanto enjoying pizza and a bottle of wine with the lights of Cinque Terre on our left and a beautiful sunset over the Mediteranean in front of us. Some native Italians were playing with their children nearby and not a tourist in sight. A wonderful memory."

Bruce

Santa Fe, NM

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Could not have been better. An excellent value. Well planned, well though and well coordinated.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many. Entering the towns and our first walk around always good us off to a good start."

William

Canyon Lake, TX

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Outstanding tour, great guide, wonderful group of new friends.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the chapel used by St.Francis being used for its intended purpose."

William

Fulshear, TX

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really enjoyed the "off the beaten path" nature of the tour. The only places we encountered a sizable number of other tourists were in Assisi and Cinque Terre. (I actually enjoyed Levanto more.) Our group really bonded from the start, thanks in great measure to our guide, Caterina, who from our first encounter, radiated a sincere desire to get to know us as individuals and to insure that our group experience was everything it could be. I really enjoyed interacting with our host families.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The highlight of the tour was the truffle hunt, dinner, and singing at the farm."

Vicki

Canyon Lake, TX

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

While everything we saw or did was amazing, I think Caterina's ability to quickly establish a bond with her and with one another was the secret ingredient. Certainly we were extremely blessed to have not one tour member who was a pain in the neck. (Unless it was me and I didn't know it!) I vow to "channel" Caterina when I have a cranky day. She never wavered in her attention, her clarity, her enthusiasm. I would repeat this very tour in the future!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Civita as we approached. And our picnic in Ovieta, a most special time. And OF COURSE, my birthday path in Levanto!!!!"

Barbara

Concord, CA

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is our 5th RS tour, and we travel a lot independently. We were pleased with the things the tour offered that we could not access easily on our own. As always, the overall rules about no smoking, no colognes, being on time, having a good attitude, were appreciated and well observed by all. It really makes a difference that you publish those things up front, along with encouraging light travel so we don't feel obligated to help others with their stuff after we've carefully packed light.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is always the hardest question for me! We were eating dinner on our own at our fave place in Lucca and when a well-mannered group of 34 teenagers got done and were ready to leave, they broke out in a beautiful a capella classic that left few dry eyes in the place. Spontaneous for us, right place, right time! Of course we followed them and heard a one-time only performance in a church. They were a traveling children's choir..."

Carole

Long Beach, CA

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

There was not a day that wasnt filled with rich experiences and fun! I love tha fact that lots of care was put into all the planning of making each hour comfortable,memorable, educational or just down right exciting. The guides were so knowledgeable and easy to listen to it's like going to a hands-on school which is actually a pleasure for some one who hated school. I felt that I got my monies worth many times over. ??C

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I hate to rate experiences that were so different..... But these are the ones that stood out for me.... Anatomy the theater Padova Cocos Art. musuem ?? Assisi: hearing about St. Francis Hotel in Montone?? Truffle hunting and Dinner?? Covina Bagnoregro Volterra: Lunch Wild boar, sculpture studio and Rosso Florentino Riding bikes on tne Ring and Puccini concert/Lucca Olive mill and lunch Lake aorta and the unesco sight!! Who would not be astonished? Oops forgot hike in Cinque"

Susan

Calgary, AB

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour. Great leader. Great group of people. Will definitely book another Rick Steves tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hunting truffles, eating at the truffle farm and singing with our hosts and bus driver Bruno! All the same evening."

Diane

Fort Worth, TX

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was wonderful! It had a good balance between "group" time and "personal" time. The diversification of activities was most appreciated - some culture, some "experiences" like wine tasting or cooking school, some history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's hard to narrow this down to just one moment. Civita was probably the big "wow" moment for me - what an incredible place."

Lucia

Fulshear, TX

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Village Italy - It was the best tour ever - partly because the personalities of our group were super - they were such fun. I'm sure that I will keep up w/the friendship of several. The towns, special tour demos (wine tasting w/hors d'oeuvres, truffle hunting w/"Rocco", watching beautiful ceramics being made, etc.), and local town & church guides made the trip extra special.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Best moment - waking up in Chianti in the beautiful inn - looking out the window and seeing the lovely countryside, village in the distance, and knowing that I had the entire day to savour the ambiance."

Johanna

Calgary, AB

Tour: 09/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Outstanding. Sights, activities, food, knowledge, accommodations were all top notch. Our tour guide Caterina was delightful and a wealth of information.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Lake orta. Wonderful destination to finish up the tour. Relaxing, serene and a beautiful park devoted to Saint Francis's life. After being to Assisi to see St. Francis rose garden and hometown it was fitting to end to the trip"

Herbert

Mukilteo, WA

Tour: 09/20/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

My rating would have been OUTSTANDING, but was lowered to Very Good because of Padua. Padua was somewhat out of character for the tour, was not a hill town or a village, and the hotel (Alberto al Fagiano) was funky, dysfunctional and sub par, our room was not good, and the hotel staff was not of the quality we enjoyed at all of the other hotels on the tour or which we have seen in 6 previous tours. In short, there must be some other town we could start at on the tour in place of Padua.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Carrara Marble experience was outstanding, not just seeing the operations at the site, but also the trip up and down and the views/scenery. St Francis at Assisi was memorable, as were the stops at the pottery factory, winery, and olive oil operation. The Tuscan Museum in Chianciano was particularly educational. The Rick Steves included dinners were well done and appreciated, our coach and driver (Mario) was great, and Sienna, Lucca, Lake Orta, Civatta, and Levanto were superb."

Lawrence

Lincoln, CA

Tour: 09/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We throughly enjoyed it. Brenda had expected to be walking down the hall to the WCs! Rick Steves has changed from our perception.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Mario making some of those close turns. We couldn't pick one of the things over another. We enjoyed them all."

Bonnie

Rockwall, TX

Tour: 09/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour - really fun group and guide! I loved the truffle hunt and the cooking class. The art, churches and food. The bicycle ride in Lucca was such a great day! Nice mixture of activities!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved Civita. It was an exhausting walk but worth it to see that amazing hilltop town. Montone and the truffle hunt with the family style dinner and singing was worth the price of the tour! Lake Orto was so beautiful and the monastery walk was very special."

Nancy

Sammamish, WA

Tour: 09/20/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved this tour. I loved the variety. I would have preferred to start on Sunday in Padua so that the anatomy theater was available. Also, even though it isn't a shopping tour, many of us like to shop and most of the shops were closed. I was not in love w/touring the marble quarry. It seemed so much effort to get up and down the hill. We couldn't have done it without Mario. I am glad that I saw it but question if it was worth it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite part of the tour was believe it or not the churches. They were wonderful! I loved the Scrovegni chapel, the Basilica of St. Francis, the Byzantine San Vitale Basilica and Galla Placidia Mausoleum. I loved the Etruscan Museum, bike riding the city wall of Lucca and the olive tasting and farm lunch and especially the dinner after truffle hunting. I wasn't in love with Cinque Terre (maybe due to rain) and was happy we were in Levanto. I loved Sienna..needed more time there."

Linda

Texas City, TX

Tour: 09/20/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This trip was everything we expected and more. We loved all the hotels, especially the Art Hotel in Paduva and the Belvedere in Tuscany. The extras that we got to experience on this tour (visiting the truffle farm, the cooking lesson, the winery, the olive oil co-op, the alabaster shop, the pottery shop, etc) would not have been possible had we not joined this tour. The group was great and Tricia, our guide, was wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our "WOW" moment was visiting Civita. This is undoubtedly the ultimate Italy hill town. The trip was grueling with all the walking and climbing to get to the town, but well worth the experience. The Hotel Belvedere was paradise after a week of traveling and was the most relaxing place we stayed. No one wanted to leave!!"

Charrie

Chicago, IL

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall the tour was excellent. Trina and Fausto were outstanding. There were a few too many churches and hill towns for me. I really loved the "activities", such as cooking class, olive oil tasting, truffle hunt, etc... Loved Lake Orta and the Villa (forgot the town in Tuscany).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The cooking class! Hands down. I learned to understand "slow cooking" and the value for the family. My second favorite was the truffle hunt and the meal with the farmer and his family."

Lynn

Weathersfield, VT

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have never been on a Rick Steves tour so I had no previous expectations. The tour far exceeded any thoughts I had about how much fun it would be. There were so many things planned beyond just visiting the 14 villages and such a variety! The bus was wonderful! We had lots of room to spread out and our driver, Fausto, was so pleasant and fun; always smiling!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When I look back on the overall experience, I would say the cooking lesson was the most fun. Our teacher was humorous and kept us moving forward in order to finish preparing our food and then have it cooked while we finished up on the foods taking less time to cook. Our meal was later served to us at lovely tables on beautifully arranged plates. We had three courses and one was better than the other. In addition to the quality of the food we had many, many laughs throughout the process."

Emily

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This is what I tell my friends: We had nearly perfect weather, interesting traveling companions, gorgeous scenery, quaint villages to explore, delicious food and really fun activities. These included a cooking class, wine tasting, honey tasting and truffle hunting with an enthusiastic young dog. We loved it!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many wows, it's hard to pick. I remember a huge wow when we checked in to our agratourismo out in the countryside. The setting was gorgeous, the room was lovely, we had a "patio" with table and chairs overlooking the vineyards. Oh, and the most gorgeous Sunset occurred that evening as were we all enjoying Prosecco and snacks in the front courtyard. That was followed by a lovely al fresco dinner on their dining patio. It was our favorite hotel on the trip!"

Rollin

Valatie, NY

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour was as advertised. Very complete and enjoyable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Civita di Bagnoreggio"

Cindy

Springville, CA

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall the tour was fabulous. I especially enjoyed how knowledgeable our guide was. She was very informative at every turn and gave us just the right amount of history to keep it interesting. I thought that we should have started our tour in Padua with some quick history and the chapel tour but then should have moved on the same day to the next town and not stayed the night. Padua doesn't warrant as much time as we spent there. That would have left us some time for a much needed spa day.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a tough one as there were so many. I would have to say our truffle hunt with "Rocco" (the dog) and the family style dinner afterwards. The people were so warm and welcoming. The food was earthy and delicious. It made me feel like this is what Italy is really all about. I wanted much more of this type of experience with down to earth people and their food!"

Gary

West Hills, CA

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

our expectations were high,but the tour surpassed all that we expected.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"the churches at Assisi and the "last supper!""

Linda

Bixby, OK

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the Village Italy tour. It met our expectations on every level. From well located hotels to wonderful guides, food & wine and well chosen activities, this tour had it all. It was just like it was described on Rick Steves website.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was driving up the mountains to the hill town of Montone. The scenery was spectacular and the town of Montone was picture-postcard perfect and refreshingly low on tourists."

Stephen

Valrico, FL

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our fifth Rick Steves tour, and each has been exceptional. This one could not have been better. All along the way we learned about the life and culture, we interacted with locals, we enjoyed the food and wines, we enjoyed the company of fellow travelers. The villages and towns of Italy have so much to offer. Each day was filled with sights and wonders.What a rich and rewarding experience!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Actually, the whole tour was a "wow"! At the top of the favorites was the Giotto frescoes in the Scrovigni Chapel. Breathtaking! Ravenna's mosaics were dazzling! Could have stayed a week at the hilltop village of Montone. Orveito made a very strong impression on me: its ancient streets on a Saturday morning filled with townsfolk, the market,a bride and groom walking to their wedding, children playing---what a nice atmosphere. The Etruscan museum has stirred me to read more about the Etruscans."

Janice

Champlin, MN

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our 4th Rick Steves' tour shows that my husband and I are satisfied repeat clients! Members of our group were enthusiastic, mostly seasoned RS travelers,lending a common bond right from the start! Tour guide, Lisa and her assistant, David, along with Mario, our driver, really made a fun, professional team! The tour ran smoothly with wonderful experiences and highlights in each village! Village Italy tour was recommended by people on our last RS tour, exceeding our expectations!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This tour was filled with "wow" moments! Paintings in Padua's Scrovegni Chapel,serenity of Montone and Lake Orta, jaw-dropping beauty of San Vitale mosaics, charming Orvieto, ambiance of the Tuscany country inn, photogenic Civita di Bagnoregio, fun, entertaining group evenings at truffle farm and Cinque Terra, cooking class, sheer magnitude of Carrara marble quarries. Food, wine and gelato!"

Pamela

Brandon, FL

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our third Rick Steve's trip and I must say one of the best. Our group of 24 was so compatible, easy going and such fun to be with. We had the best guides ever! And the places we visited were so varied and unique. We came away amazed at how much we saw, experienced and learned!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved Montone - such a quaint , beautiful village with breathtaking views and a fabulous hotel with terrific food. A big surprise, and a stop I will never forget was the Florence American Memorial Cemetery. It was a real WOW moment with tears and heartfelt gratitude to the American heroes buried there."

Nancy

Costa Mesa, CA

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Village Italy tour far exceeded my expectations. I was expecting to see a lot of small villages but we experienced so much more. We went on many more "field trips"' on this tour than our first Rick Steve's Tour. I wouldn't say that I came back relaxed, I came back enriched. I enjoyed it all, from truffle hunting to pasta making to seeing how the Carrera marble is excavated, it was a wonderful experience!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is hard to name one but when we arrived at our country hotel in Tuscany... That was a "wow" moment."

Maureen

Meadow Vista, CA

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Lisa is incredible - very professional, likeable, knowledgeable - loved that she shared her experiences being married to an Italian and what it is like raising children in Italy. She has kept up to date on history, arts, etc. and was flexible. David was her assistant - for his first tour he was wonderful. I know he learned a lot from Lisa. the group was very cohesive - all but one couple had been on rick's tours before which made it easy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to say - but one thing i didn't expect was to enjoy the Carrara marble tour - it was terrific! Food and wine was great that Lisa picked. Loved that she had a "wine club" for those of us who enjoy wine."

Patricia

Wauwatosa, WI

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This review is sent from both Terry and myself. This was one of our favorite Rick Steves' tours. It provided the history, ambience, food, and culture we hoped it would. In fact, it provided more than we expected.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were too many WOW moments to pick one. We would include the special meals, the sunlit Orvieto Cathedral, the University in Padua, the boat ride along the Cinque Terre, and the marble quarries."

Brenda

Semora, NC

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steves tour and will probably not be our last. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour, the places we visited, the food. The tour guide, Lisa and assistant, David provided us with great information about the places we visited as well as info on the Italian culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many but I thoroughly enjoyed the Truffle Hunt and dinner experience."

Victoria

North Prairie, WI

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour way exceeded expectations! We've been to Italy's big cities but now wanted the road less traveled. The villages have such grace & charm! I can't believe all the wonderful experiences we packed into 13 days! Our leader was outstanding. Lisa taught us so much about the daily life & culture of Italy. We were very lucky to have talented David along as her assistant. A treasured memory will be the impromptu gatherings when he entertained us with his beautiful singing & guitar playing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Some RSE tours are all about the wow moments, and this tour did have some (e.g., the stunning Byzantine mosaics in San Vitale Basilica in Ravenna) but we took this tour of the lovely villages & towns of Italy because we knew there would be a series of "ahh" moments. When we arrived at the Belvedere Hotel in Tuscany in the late afternoon, the old stone inn, its voluptuous gardens, and the surrounding vineyards and rolling hills were awash in the golden glow of the low rays of the sun. AHH!"

William

Marina Del Rey, CA

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our eighth RS tour - and we were pleased to see the quality and consistenty continue. This tour consisted of 12 couples - a first for us - and that helped us jell into a friendly group quickly. As always, it was well conceived and executed with necessary flexibility by one of your best tour guides, Lisa. Rick, I am amazed that you continue to attract and retain outstanding city and tour guides - in spite of the expanded number of tours you offer. Keep it up.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Upon reflection, my "wow" moment was every opportunity we had to experience something local - wine tasting, truffle hunting/dinner, olive pressing lunch, make our own lunch, etc. Each was special, and not something I could do on my own."

Deborah

Westminster, MD

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Some of the towns that we visited on this tour were repeats from our Heart of Italy Tour some years ago but it didn't matter at all. This was a much more in-depth experience. Lisa and David were a great team. I enjoyed all of the special experiences like the olive oil tasting, the wine tasting, and our group dinners. Our final group dinner was by far the best final group dinner we have enjoyed on our three previous tours. I always appreciate the small size of the tour groups.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is too hard to pick a single "wow" moment. Having David on the tour gave it a whole new dimension. I know that Rick likes to emphasize art but on this trip it was the personal human moments that were so meaningful. Everything from the sing along at the truffle farm to the bus driver, Mario, sharing some of his home made wine with us. It was good to see the Cinque Terre alive again. Montone is lovely, too! Taking the cooking class was fantastic!"

Thomas

Westminster, MD

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Village Italy - what's not to like? A very experienced group of congenial travelers. A wonderful guide who was concerned about every minute of our experience. One rainy day. A grat trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The final stop in Lake Orta. The weather was perfect and the village and island could not have been better presented if Hollywood had been in charge."

Gayle

Valrico, FL

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved the pottery making in Orvieto. The Basilica In Assissi was great."

John

Fairfax, VA

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had an extremely friendly and compatible group of fellow travelers. Everyone showed up at the appointed places on-time, there were absolutely no grouches among the 24 of us, and everyone seemed interested in and excited about the places we visited. Just guessing here, but I think that Lisa and David must have enjoyed the tour as much as we did.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "wow" building was the church in Orvieto. Simply beautiful in the golden light of sunset. The several "wow" moments happened in the evenings when David pulled out his guitar and the singing started. For laugh-out-loud fun it's hard to beat a collection of Italians and Americans mangling the words to songs we grew up with. Although not part of this tour but as a personal add-on, getting to see Leonardo's Last Supper in Milan was a true highlight. Can you redefine Milan as a village!!"

Franklin

Semora, NC

Tour: 09/08/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first tour, we have traveled extensively on our own. We were able to experience many additional activities, beyond those we would see on our own, because of the outstanding planning and knowledge of our guides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Group dinner following truffle hunt."

Susan

Columbia, CA

Tour: 09/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was the best tour I have ever taken. The Villages of Italy sites, activities & lodgings were carefully chosen to maximize enjoyment of all. I appreciated the variety of experiences. It was very educational & fit my particular interest in the Italian culture. The guide, Patricia Brady, & local guides were very knowledgeable. I liked Tricia's bicultural perspective & her honest impressions. So well-organized & thoughtfully planned.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Here are four: Truffle hunting, farmhouse dinner, group singing, & hiking back to the magical hill town of Montone at night with flashlights. Having a group picnic on the Orvieto wall with food collected from the open air market & local wines. Walking by the sea in Levanto in the evening and day hiking between towns with amazing views. Watching the sun come up on Lake Orta & it's island on the last tour day."

Bruce

Hillsboro, OR

Tour: 09/01/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This tour is exactly what my wife and I wanted to experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Staying in cities that were a thousand years old looking like they did way back then."

Louis

Sunnyvale, CA

Tour: 09/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first RS tour, and it exceeded our expectations. We loved every town. The tour was a good combination of historical and artistic sites, along with fun experiences. These experiences (e.g. truffle hunting and dinner at the Montone farm, wine tasting/pairing at the winery outside Orvieto, making sausage and pasta with chef Stefano at the agriturismo, visiting the olive oil fattoria in Lucca) made the tour worthwhile. It would be hard to arrange these events on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many... Making homemade sausage at the agriturismo in Chianciano brought me back to my childhood, when my dad and I would go down to my grandmother's basement and mix up a huge bowl of ground pork and spices and crank it through the grinder into long coils of delicious sausage."

Marolyn

Greenville, SC

Tour: 09/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour had the 3 big things important for a perfect tour......a fabulous guide, a wonderful itinerary, and an outstanding tour group. Everything was wonderful. We had a great time even on the very few days when there was rainey weather.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had two wow moments. One was the picnic I'm Orvietto, with our food on the wall overlooking a gorgeous rolling panorama of fields and farms. We all bought goodies at the Saturday market. Trish had helped us the day before with quantities and what types of food would work well. We had breads, cheeses, many different fruits and veggies, chicken, pork and salami, and goodies for dessert and of course plentiful wine. YUM, it was an over the top gathering and a wonderful meal."

Pamela

Rancho Santa Margari, CA

Tour: 09/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had always thought of taking a Rick Steves tour because when I was planning my first European trip 24 years ago I found the book Europe through the Back Door and it was incredibly useful. Since then we have been armchair travelers watching Rick Steve's Europe. Well we were a little apprehensive since we had never taken a group tour but that went out the window the very night we all met each other and our guide, Tricia. We had a blast and enjoyed each and every day.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to have a favorite!"

Robert

Greenville, SC

Tour: 09/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my 9th Rick Steve's tour and may have been the best overall. The itinerary,the guide, and the people on the tour were superb. There were many great experiences such as the truffle hunt and the visit to the quarry at Carrara. The group of 24 were fun and interesting, and our guide Trisha was energetic, always available, and provided lots of suggestions on things to do.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite part of the tour was the evening visit to the truffle farm when we were staying at Montone. After the truffle hunt, we enjoyed a hearty home cooked meal, served by the family in their fairly small dining area. After dinner we were entertained by Trisha and the family singing traditional Italian songs. The group then sang some traditional American songs for them. We walked the mile back to Montone in the dark."

Janet

West Hartford, CT

Tour: 08/25/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

What a great tour. Great balance of planned activities and free time. Emphasis on fresh good local food. Lovely people everywhere in our restaurants and stops, esp. the truffle dinner evening, Giancarlo in Montone, the cooking lesson chef. The variety and centrality of hotel settings were terrific! Two hotels were very drab and uninteresting inside. Internet access was not reliable in the rooms and sometimes also unreliable in the lobby;

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking to Civita di Bagnoregio! We loved the surprise extras that were not pre-announced: Portovenere; Volterra; the wine and cheese break in Civita and the hike to the aqueduct outside Lucca. Our bus driver's singing voice!"

Bruce

Delta, BC

Tour: 08/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first R/S tour Wow what a great trip Nina our guild and Mario our coach driver made sure we did not miss anything This tour more than lived up to my expectation From truffle hunt to the cooking class all was super great

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The truffle hunt where the dog found truffle about 4 kogams cooking class our country hotel in the middle of wine country pottery making demo lake Orta town very hard to single one or two best for me they were all great"

Joseph

North Augusta, SC

Tour: 08/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The 14 days was a whirlwind of events. The two days at each site was enough time to catch your breath before we moved on. The people we met were very nice and Nina was a special treat. She has a gift to lead groups and seems like she is having fun at the same time. Our driver Mario and Nina was a great combination. They worked together very well and made the trip especially nice.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Finding the truffles, eating the truffles and finally singing after dinner with our host and hostess and support group. Mario was included in the singing. What a voice!"

Frank

Oceanport, NJ

Tour: 08/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour delivered all that was promised with a few additional stops thrown in, i.e. Voltera and Sienna. The relatively small group [14 tour members] provided a greater opportunity for the guide to discuss more details with members wanting additional information. This tour also provided an easy opportunity for additional sightseeing before and after the tour since it started very near Venice and the Veneto and ended near Milan.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The truffle hunt and dinner at the agritourismo was really special. It provided an insight into the traditional way of gathering food and showcased the hospitality that is common in small town Italy."

Judy

North Augusta, SC

Tour: 08/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was well organized and allowed us to do much more than we would have been able to do on our own. Our tour guide and bus driver made everything flow seamlessly. Everyone in our group was punctual, got along very well, and seemed to have similar interests. Getting to know the people in our group was as much pleasure as seeing the sights. This was our first tour but will not be our last.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was seeing Civita di Bagnoregio from the end of the bridge. It looked almost unreal. The other "wow" moment was seeing the perfect hotel - Hotel Belvedere di San Leonino. The setting amongst the vineyard was just as I had imagined Tuscany."

Debbie

Lynnwood, WA

Tour: 08/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was great fun @ just what we'd hoped for. We had been on 1 Rick Steves tour before, so kind of knew what to expect, @ the tour philosophy suits us well. Our guide Nina just added to the fun, as did our bus driver Mario. They both were so good at what they did, professional yet somehow able to make our tour feel unique @ personal. We so enjoyed the variety of experiences available on our tour-historic sites, foodie moments, or just relaxing w/fellow tour members. A memorable experience!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many...Montone, the cooking lesson, Civita, and the boat ride up the Cinque Terre. And of course Mario singing..."

Gary

Houston, TX

Tour: 06/23/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was so much more than we expected. The amount of ground we covered was amazing. When we tell people about out trip and what all we did - I look back and wonder how we did it all. I will say that all the people in our group were friendly and we all got along pretty well. We were all "about" the same age and had a lot in common with many of them.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a very hard question! Each town we went to had it's own personality and there was at least 1 and many times more WOWs than you had time to see & explore. Whether is was a WOW activity, like the picnic Tricia planned, or a WOW planned tour, like the Truffle Farm, Civita de Bagnoregio, Tuscan cooking class, Bicycle Ride, all the wonderful dinners and walking tours. I cannot name just one!"

Weather

Italy / Milan


Italy / Venice

Venice Weather


Italy / Florence

Florence Weather

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 this tour, which starts in Padua and ends at Lake Orta. Most tour members will arrange to fly into Venice and out of Milan (“multi-city” on flight booking websites). Booking round-trip to one city will require a connecting flight, train trip, or additional overnight stay. Venice and Milan are transportation hubs, making travel before or after your tour quite easy. 

For your post-tour departure, please note that Milan has two airports, Malpensa and Linate. Malpensa is the easiest from which to depart. It's best to book your flight from Malpensa no earlier than 10 a.m. on the last day of the tour. Taxis make the 45-minute trip to Malpensa for around €95 for up to four people. Bus or train options may be available, but there is generally no direct route from Orta to Malpensa, so the trip can be long and often still involves taking a taxi for part of the journey. At the end of the tour, your guide will help coordinate transfers from Orta to airports and train stations. If you depart from Linate, book your flight no earlier than noon on the last day of the tour. Anticipate about two hours to get to Linate by taxi and a fare of around €150. If you choose to fly home from Venice, you need to plan for an extra overnight stay, as Lake Orta is a five-hour train ride from Venice and you won't be able to connect with an international flight on the same day.

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

Read Rick's train travel and rail pass tips to decide if your travel plans merit a rail pass.

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 Italy before your 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 in Padua that we do not do as a group (see guidebook for details): Basilica of St. Anthony; Baptistery; Piano Nobile aka il Ridotto of Caffé Pedrocchi. You may also want to consider spending time in Venice or Milan.

Packing

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