• Prado della Valle in Padua
  • Ravenna's San Vitale Bacilica
  • 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

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!

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 21 group sightseeing events • Padua walking tour • Scrovegni Chapel tour • Padua's Anatomy Theatre (when available) • Mosaics of Ravenna's San Vitale & Galla Placidia tour • Assisi walking 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 2014
  • 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 easy bus 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 take a walking tour through the town, and have free time for 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

Enjoy a free morning to sleep in, hike along the farm paths, take pictures, or simply relax by the pool at our country hotel. This afternoon we'll head out to your guide's favorite "famous" hill town (go ahead, guess away) with plenty of time for discoveries and dinner on your own. 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

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

Seth

Happy Valley, OR

Tour: 10/07/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As always, our experience with a Rick Steves tour was fantastic. Great guide, great itinerary, great food and lodging.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The cooking class was the neatest experience..have made the recipes we learned twice already! In terms of scenery, walking the wall in Lucca was a high point."

Kenneth

Martinez, CA

Tour: 10/07/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a great trip. I would (and do) recommend it to friends and family. It's a bit more time on the bus than I would like, but I don't know how one would cover the territory otherwise. As always, my favorite and most memorable moments came when we were off on our own, simply walking about, people watching and enjoying the local culture and sights. This was my fourth tour with RS, and I really appreciate the mix of structured, guided time and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Choosing a single "wow" moment is difficult; there were so many! Picnicking on the city walls in Orvieto, biking along the ramparts in Lucca, Stefano's cooking lesson, etc. But, if I must choose one, I think it would be the evening spent truffle hunting and the wonderful meal to follow, and the evening capped with song!"

Sherrie

Yarmouthport, MA

Tour: 10/07/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I began the tour seeing Italy through American eyes; but very soon with the able help of Tricia, our tour guide, and the many passionate local guides, I began to see and feel the rhythm of Italy through Italian eyes. If I were to sum up the trip with one superlative: "abbondanza". The trip was packed with a variety of activities, all of them fun and instructive. Thank you for giving me access to places, people and events that I otherwise would not have been able to collectively tackle on my own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The absolute "wow" was coming back from Civita at twilight and seeing Orvieto on its hill bathed in a darkening lavender sky with its duomo lit and shimmering in gold and white. This will stay in my mind's eye forever."

Pamela

Washington, DC

Tour: 10/07/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Trish was great especially considering she was doing 2 2-week tours back to back. The weather did not cooperate the first week and one person's cold lead a number of us to the same malady. We should have taken Trish's suggestion for First Defense from day one. Future travelers: bring cold medicine, especially when the weather is changing in the fall. This was the first time in 3 tours that I was really disappointed in some of the hotels. More about that below.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"On the boat to the Cinque Terre. And when the sun finally came out when we got to Tuscany! Watching the sun go down with a glass of wine at the Belvedere in San Leonino outside Siena. Heaven!"

Monica

St Albert, AB

Tour: 10/07/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had done Villages of Italy 7 years ago and it was terrific. This time it was once again absolutely fantastic and improved by the ending being Lake Orta rather than Milan. Trisha was our guide on both trips and she continues to be outstanding. We were so excited when we discovered that we were going to be fortunate enough to once again have the very knowledgeable, fun, and well organized Trisha as our guide. She is a huge Rick Steves asset!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is difficult to choose but certainly Montone is a huge highlight, as well as our evening with Sergio and Eva at the farm."

Orest

St Albert, AB

Tour: 10/07/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was wonderful. The tour was very well organized and led by an exceptional guide. We experienced and learned more of the region than we could possibly done on our own in twice the time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many great experiences including the mosaics in Ravenna, Montone in general, Assisi, the Etruscan Museum, Civita, the country hotel in Tuscany, and Lake Orta..However, my favorite was the Cinque Terrae."

Michele

,

Tour: 10/07/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Living in a postcard for 2 glorious weeks!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I most enjoyed Montone and all the activities associated with it. Meeting the Italian family, truffle hunting with Rosco, the home dining experience is exactly what I was hoping for!"

Lynn

Oroville, WA

Tour: 10/07/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a fantastic tour, and our guide, Tricia, was very informative and always upbeat! We enjoyed all the physical exercise (walking, carrying our bags up hills, climbing stairs, and bicycling) and appreciated not having to spend lots of time on the bus. Every day I looked forward to another new adventure and learning something new about Italy and its people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our stay at Montone was my "wow" moment. The rustic stone village was beautiful and so unique. Our group dinner at the hotel was delicious!"

Leland

Oroville, WA

Tour: 10/07/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well [INVALID]d. Arrangements were excellent and short tours gave an interesting view of local colour. Tour advise at each site was well done and bus travel was a pleasure.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Bonasollo was a real surprise. I do hope it does not get exposed like the other places in the Cinque Terra. All the selected places to visit and overnight stays were excellent as they were centrally located to activities. Hotel Belvedere was a delightful stay as was Montone. These local stays are what I truly enjoyed. I can go see junk stores any place. History and local acceptance was what I desired. II especially enjoyed the tours in Padova."

Arthur

Placerville, CA

Tour: 10/07/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Art & Muriel's joint comments: Our friends raved about their Rick Steves tours, including this one, and they were absolutely accurate! We loved the hill towns, the beauty of the countryside, and the art, architecture, and food. The group meals were fantastic! Our bus was new and very comfortable, and our driver, Bruno, excellent; none of the drives between localities was too long. The 'tour' stops outside of towns were very well-chosen and added a lot to our appreciation of Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is hard to pick just one! We loved the vista from our 'tip top" apartment in Montone, looking out over the rooftops, and the countryside vistas as we went through Umbria into Tuscany (from Montone to San Leonino). Another "wow" was the setting-sun shining on the face of Orvieto's duomo, the "lily of Italian Cathedrals", turning all the beautiful frescoes and inlaid mosaic stones aglow in golden light. Our group 'tastings' at Le Valleta winery & the olive mill outside Lucca were wonderful!"

Susan

Rohnert Park, CA

Tour: 10/07/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is an excellent tour covering a lot of ground. It felt great to go where the big tour buses don't go, and to experience things like the truffle hunt and after-dinner entertainment, or the cooking class - all of which would not be available on a traditional tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Scrovegni Chapel. The lights of Orvieto. Puccini concert in Lucca. This last thing was not part of the tour, but is written up in the guidebook. Our wonderful guide graciously took those of us who wanted to attend to get tickets."

Dwight

Wichita, KS

Tour: 09/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A first time group traveler, this tour was a fuller experience than I could've had on my own. Easy access to great places, and excellent access to knowledgeable local guides made this trip an special event. Our guide was skilled at her craft. She gave a feel for the country and the people that was interesting and valuable. She deftly transformed our group from a bunch of strangers into a cohesive unit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Scrovegni Chapel. Not only the beauty importance of the art was impressive, The great skill and concentration of our local guide in providing so much information about the murals while working against the short time limit was a performance to behold."

Novelene

Wichita, KS

Tour: 09/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The 14-day Italian village tour fulfilled two of my lifetime personal goals--to see the series of Giotto fresco series in the Scrovegni Chapel and to see the 6th century mosaics in St. Vitale in Ravenna and all of the other mosaics there. As an art historian and a painter I was thrilled in my heart of hearts to see two such beautiful and profound landmarks of Western art--I could not have had this experience without the Rick Steves Tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My 'Wow" moment occurred several days into the trip when I realized that each morning I was going to wake up to a day of delicious food, some unique adventure into a fascinating Italy of ancient history, artistic high water marks, and contemporary charm, conversation with pleasant companions, no worries about when or how I had to get somewhere, and total delight in every moment."

Jane

Eau Claire, WI

Tour: 09/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my husband and my third tour. As with the other two, I enjoyed every aspect of the entire time. We were immersed in brand new experiences, a new culture, new foods, new coffee and wine experiences, and new friends. I was energized and exhausted each day by having the right balance of exercise walking and climbing, with tours and activities.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I'm sure many will say the unique experiences like the truffle hunt and personal dinner in the home of a farmer and his family, or touring an ancient wine cellar with bats flying overhead, or seeing the preparations being done, for the visit by Pope Frances the following day in Assissi. But, for me it was meeting artisans and artists making tiles, leather goods, and fiber arts, with no middle (man), just making a living doing what they love to do."

Catherine

Gainesville, VA

Tour: 09/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour turned out to be so much more than I even imagined. Visiting places that were not mentioned in the RS 2013 Tour book, such as Montirigioni (sp?) and the Roman aqueduct outside of Lucca, the beautiful countryside, the ancient towns and villages, witnessing everyday Italian life, including a student's graduation celebration in Padova! This was my first Rick Steves' tour and what a fantastic introduction to the Rick Steves' tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me the "wow" factor was the incredible amount of knowledge that was dispersed from our tour guide and all of the local guides. I loved being a 'studente' again - only wish I could remember EVERYTHING! It truly was interesting and informative."

William

Weldon Spring, MO

Tour: 09/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our group worked together and everyone contributed to a great time. Our bus driver, Adriano was fantastic and a great person. Every place that we visited was different and gave us a real flavor for the people and history of Italy. Our experience was very fulfilling.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view from the back door of the church at Portovenere."

Sally

Marietta, GA

Tour: 09/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was outstanding. It was a combination of touring many smaller towns and villages and learning about the area,people,food,and ways that the people made a living. Each town had its own niche and we were exposed to this with the group and then had time on our own to explore what interested us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was climbing to Civita di Bagnoregio. I had seen it on the TV show ,but I couldn't quite picture what it would be like. It was so much fun to walk around the village and see the woman tending her garden,watch the 3 kittens following their mother around,and tasting bruschetta at an atmospheric local restaurant. The best part was being able to actually make the trek! We saw senior citizens that were being transported to the lower level while we walked the whole way."

Chu

Weldon Spring, MO

Tour: 09/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I learned many facts about Italy the were new to me. I really enjoyed the villages and the rich history of the people of Italy. Every venue provided enrichment and enlightenment. I can't wait for our next R.S. tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our visit to Assisi. Our local guide was outstanding and very funny as well. The visit was even more memorable because it was the day before the visit of Pope Francis."

Donald

Sequim, WA

Tour: 09/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Touring the small towns had the feeling of seeing the real Italy and the Italians themselves. The small tour group allowed us to really get to know our fellow travelers which I feel enhanced the experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Although there were several, probably my favorite was the truffle hunt and dinner with local farmer. I had the feeling we were really meeting the locals and seeing how they lived. Another wow was the view of Civitia di Bagnoregio from the opposite hill."

Floyd

Palm Springs, CA

Tour: 09/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour experience was very good. Sometimes the walking was very stressing and other times easy going. The walking helped to burn off the calories from the meals provided by the tour. The many beautiful churches / cathedrals with many varieties of paintings and sculptures were very interesting. The churches / cathedrals tended to blur as there were many of them. The wine making/tasting, truffle hunting, olive oil pressing, marble mining, ceramic making and cooking lessons I remember well

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I did not have a "wow" moment. Wine making from grape to wine and then the wine tasting. Truffle hunting with Rocko, the dog, and the meal with his owners. I thought of truffle hunting as an experience few people have. The owner made his own wine and olive oil. Olive oil pressing and the meal with manager. Marble mining and the excellent local tour guide. Ceramic making from clay to final product. Cooking lessons and eating what was cooked. The chief made wine."

Benny

Palm Springs, CA

Tour: 09/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Lisa knows her job. She not only is able to adjust to unforeseen problems like weather, she was critical in getting my partner to the local ER after a fall on a trail in the Cinque Terre. Her wine kitty for our drinks at group meals was perfect allowing us to pay at the end of our tour. Floyd and I were totally happy with the village tour as it exceeded both our expectations. Neither of us felt like a tourist. A salute to you and a jewel like Lisa!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Rocco the dog finding truffles for our lovely dinner cooked by Ava and Paola drunk on life."

Marc

Grove City, OH

Tour: 09/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We are filling this out as a couple - Marc and Starlett. This was exactly the kind of trip we wanted to take, but could not have imagined or done on our own. We had been to Italy before and had done the big cities, all of the history, culture and art. We wanted to see the country in back door style. The group size was perfect, the bus and our driver were excellent, we had ample alone time and there was a new and diverse adventure every day.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The people and small businesses that obviously respected Rick Steves Tours enough to entrust them with an inside look at their world. One of the best evenings we had was the night we went truffle hunting and were invited in to a private home to eat a home cooked meal. We just didn't expect that kind of experience. Our host and hosteses were delightful! They sang to us and my husband fell in love with Paola! They treated us like family. It was magicial and unforgettable."

James

Loveland, CO

Tour: 09/28/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide and assistant were excellent. Caterina was entirely professional yet shared her enthusiasm for what she was preparing us for as if it was her first time. We learned so much! Accomodations and food was excellent in each city. The opportunity to have free time was important. Local guides did a very good job and added much. Enjoyed the other travelers very much.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the small church of St. Francis. Also loved Lucca, opera, riding bikes!"

Susan

Monticello, FL

Tour: 09/28/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my fifth Rick Steves tour, so I have the bona fides to say, "This Villages of Italy" tour was superlative! Great itinerary away from the big cities, great tour mates, and a truly superlative guide in Caterina!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"To be in Assisi two days before Pope Francis was to visit there for the first time was truly astounding, even to non-Catholics. Caterina had backgrounded us in St. Francis' historical message for the world and grounded us in the art history and significance of the Catholic church and its structures in the history and culture of Italy, so we felt we were seeing current history play out on our tour."

Judith

Fresno, CA

Tour: 09/28/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fantastic. Terrific in all ways and aspects.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Montone"

Roger

Edmonton, AB

Tour: 09/28/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Enjoyed the places that we saw especially Orvieto. Also enjoyed the wonderful experience at the Truffle Farm.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Looking across the long walk towards Civita di Bangoregio. Also enjoyed Montone."

Linda

Loveland, CO

Tour: 09/28/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first R.S. Tour and it hopefully won't be our last! It surpassed all expectations in every regard, and we consider it a trip of a lifetime. From the online sign-ups/communications, to meeting our tour guide, Caterina, to the cast of characters at every stop along the way, it was over-the-top! It was a superb 'immersion' experience into Italian life and culture, and the professionalism of this travel company shines through in every experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the town of Lucca, riding bicycles around that historic wall. We were able to get tickets to the daily Puccini Concert, with local musicians, which was a richly rewarding evening. A couple of days later, we were in our bus headed to Lake Orta. We were traveling through the glorious rolling landscape of northern Italy and Caterina turned on some arias of Puccini's....la Boheme....It was such a "wow" moment for all we had experienced together!"

Angie

Edmonds, WA

Tour: 09/28/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Enjoyed every moment on this tour. Really nice group. Loved the mix of small quaint hill top towns and the medium sized cities like, Lucca. Many great experiences and places I would not have ventured to on my own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think "wow" was when I couldn't believe how much I'd actually eaten in one day. Fantastic cooking class was a real highlight for me. Filling lean pork meat into sausage casings, where else do you get to do that?! The Truffle hunt was great fun and the meal after with the family singing traditional Italian songs (with our bus driver as well) is a wonderful memory!"

Francine

Edmonton, AB

Tour: 09/28/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

This tour was amazing. We saw things we wouldn't have seen or even known about on our own. In Rick's pre-tour letter he says to pace ourselves and to opt out of things if we wish. I found the tour to be a bit of a marathon and found it difficult to know what to opt out of. In retrospect I wish I had looked at each days schedule and chosen more carefully what I wanted and didn't want to do.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment was the town Civita di Bagnoregio and the town of Montone. I would have liked to have more free time in Montone to explore this fabulous village."

James

Venice, FL

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A wonderful experience of the Italian culture. Unlike the big cities, the Village Italy tour allowed me to relive my childhood. As a first generation American of Italian parents, I once again revisited my heritage.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The hearty, home-cooked dinner on the truffle farm. I especially enjoyed the Italian songs performed by the farmer's wife and her sister."

Linda

Venice, FL

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I will remember this adventure the rest of my life. While the specifics made fade with time the impressions will not.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The true wow moment of all the many, many wows is when I returned home to work and the routines ordinary life and realized I experienced thousands of years of history, art, natural beauty, culture and the warm embrace of Italy in a mere 14 days!"

Glenda

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour far exceeded my expectations. I guess I wasn't sure what to expect. We were treated so well, food and lodgings were great. But our tour guide Trina was exceptional. I was traveling with a friend , and everyday we would coment that it can't get any better and then the next day was better then the last. Her ability.to take us on a historical journey everyday that flowed easily through history, touching on politics, religion and local issues. We traveled from midevil times to current time

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think pulling into Montone, my first experience in a hill town. I had seen them on your pod casts but it just took my breath away. The history was everywhere. Just to step back in time and live it was very special."

Barbara

Olympia, WA

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a great tour experience. The knowledge and experience of our guide, Trina, was outstanding. The local guides were exceptionally well informed and able to share their knowledge in a very informative manner. It was worth every dime spent to have someone explain exactly what we were seeing and understand the history behind it. The sightseeing was evenly dispersed amongst the side trips of truffle hunting and cooking classes... wine, olive oil and cheese and honey tastings.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We actually took a side trip to Pisa and that was the wow moment for us. But, for my husband, who had never been to Italy before, I think the whole trip was a wow for him. Would be nice to offer a side trip to Pisa on this tour. Trina was helpful with information on getting there and back and it was a worthwhile trip."

Garnette

Everett, WA

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This trip was much more than I expected. New experiences every turn. More than I could ever imagine. RS tours rock. I would take another RS tour in a half a heart beat.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved everything so it is hard to pick one thing. But if pressed I would say the 7th century winery, unbelievable. I would also say the hill town of Civetia. I could imagine the horses and the people back then as if it were taking place right before my eyes. It had so much depth. Worst place, the nun Island. Weird vibes from the place. Loved the boat ride , the lake and town."

Sharon

Chandler, OK

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour included such wonderful locations which we would never have the knowledge to seek out on our own. So appreciated how our tour guide prepared us with important background information so we had the most rewarding experience at each location. Also loved that she would remind us to try particular foods the the area was noted for. We did that at each site and were more than wowed! The tour was well constructed with a good balance of free time and group activities.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each village we visited was a wow moment because our tour guide made sure we experienced the unique culture of each location. Not only the sites, the food but also the Italian people were just delightful! The tour was a cultural gem AND gourmet excursion. We so enjoyed going to the market in Orvieto and gathering foods for a picnic enjoyed with a nice bottle of wine we got at the winery visit."

Alfred

Wenatchee, WA

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

From start to finish, this tour was organized, efficient, flexible, and informative beyond my greatest expectation. The transportation and accommodations were first rate. The food and wine were outstanding. The Guide Book for Italy provided extraordinary and valuable information facilitating all aspects of the tour. All scheduled events and sites were amazing. A great value for the dollar.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"No single event stands out above the others. Virtually all activities on this tour were fabulous experiences. The stop at Montone was a storybook visit to classic village Italy, and the Truffle harvest was totally unique. All of the stop-over localities had memorable and distinctive characteristics."

Brenda

Wenatchee, WA

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was well organized, the tour director & guides were knowledgable & helpful, the activities were diverse & interesting, the food & wine were excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the hillside village of Montone. It was like visiting something from a fairytale."

Penny

Bainbridge Island, WA

Tour: 09/21/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have taken 3 Rick Steves' tours and Patricia was by far the best guide. I loved the activities such as visiting the marble quarry , taking the cooking class, riding bikes, boating , visiting the wine estate, visiting the olive factory, picnicking and watching truffles being dug up by the dog. The food was fantastic and I am glad wine was included as "that is part of Italy". I do wish we had a little more time to relax and explore the various places on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The meal at the farm where the dog dug up the truffles. The food was fantastic and evening was memorable because of the comradeship. The owners, our guide and bus driver, all sang to us in Italian. We responded with America the Beautiful. Somehow, the fantastic food eaten outdoors in the evening, and the pure enjoyment of being with our new tour friends and the owners of the farmhouse, made this evening a highlight."

Janet

Rapid City, SD

Tour: 09/21/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The trip was fast paced and we saw so much. There were a lot of churches but they were all different and interesting. The explanation of the inside of the churches helped so much to understand what we were seeing. I was leery of stopping at factories but the shopping time was short and worth it to see how ceramics were made or olive oil produced. I would highly recommend the tour. The tour guide added so much to what we saw. We are now hooked on Rick Steve's tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I am not sure I had a wow moment. Each church we'd enter and it was a Wow. The boat ride along the Cinque Terre was beautiful. The history of the area. It was one day after another of Wow."

Stephen

Rapid City, SD

Tour: 09/21/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

In a word: Perfect. From the weather, to the group members, to the guides (both Rick Steves guides and the local guides), to our wonderful driver, Bruno, to the sites we saw and the history and culture we learned, everything was just as special as anyone could ask for.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The farmhouse dinner, and the singalong after, was probably the experience I'll remember the clearest. The passion of the people for what they did, their enjoyment of having us as guests, and the pure fun of the evening, were extraordinary."

Michael

Lindsay, CA

Tour: 09/21/13

Overall rating: rating 2 of 5

It was a experience as always when you travel Europe. Disappointing in the fact you were still letting people think you could walk from village to village in the cinca de terra. The trails were washed out and not all villages were accessable by foot as you let your customers believe. This was a true disappointment to us. Actually bad buissness on your part.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit to the family farm,truffle hunt, and dinner that night. Exicellant family entertainment"

Steven

Tampa, FL

Tour: 09/21/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very well organized and conducted tour which exceeded my expectations for my first Rick Steve's tour. Patricia is to be commended for an excellent tour experience. Caterina was a great bonus and Bruno was not only a great driver but great participant at many of the activities! The tour group came together and quickly became friends which added to the overall travel experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There is not just one- I was continually wowed by the next adventure and sight."

James

Columbia, MO

Tour: 09/21/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our village tour of Italy was delightful. We were amazed at the variety of experiences we enjoyed, traveling within a relatively small distance. The hilltop towns in Umbria, the beautiful vineyards in Tuscany, the rugged beaches on the Mediterranean coast, and the isle of silence in our serene lake village[INVALID]each provided a gem to treasure. And the organization of the tour fostered camaraderie[INVALID]by providing a combination of group experiences and unstructured time to socialize and refresh.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Rounding the corner to see the Cathedral at Orvietto in the late afternoon sun[INVALID]and then returning at night to see it lighted in fairytale fashion was definitely a wow moment! Another was looking back across the land "bridge" from Civita de Bagnoreggio."

Sabine

Hope, BC

Tour: 09/16/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first group tour and we choose Rick Steeves because of the impression he made via his travel shows that we've been watching for a long time. Our 'tour fears' that we'd heard about were never realized...being herded like cattle, being forced into unwanted shopping experiences and having to put our luggage outside our door at 4 AM. THANK YOU! Heidi was exceptionally knowledgeable, hospitable and like a good RS Scout, always prepared. A perfect balance of tour time and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"That's a tough one. Only one??? We experienced adventures that we never would have travelling on our own. The truffle hunt, the off the beaten path B & Bs, the walk to Civita... Perhaps the cooking class. Stefano was an A+ memory. Or maybe the cathedral tour in Padua. We were wowed by all the Italian hill towns and hiking opportunities."

Terri

Glenshaw, PA

Tour: 09/16/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Village Italy was definitely a big wish list trip for me. My expectations were not defined prior to the trip so everything was wonderful and a treat. Our guide Heidi was wonderful not only in providing a well organized journey, but in sharing her passion for the locales, people, language, culture and history of our itinerary. I have definitely recommended Rick Steve's tours in the past and Village Italy w Heidi has reinforced my high opinion of a Rick Steve's tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many wonderful experiences during this trip. There actually could be a wow experience for meals, scenery, local guides, outdoor vs indoor activities. However if I had to choose one, it would be Ravenna and the incredible mosaics in San Vitale Basilica and esp Galla Placidia Mausoleum. I remember gasping when we walked into the basilica. Montone was a true gem of a village, what a treat!"

James

Washington Crossing, PA

Tour: 09/16/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Villages tour was outstanding in several ways: -we visited the smaller cities/villages and participated in their particular attractions; Puccini concert in Lucca, vineyard/wine tasting in Orvietto, olive oil press and lunch. -a cultural cornucopia of places, food and traditions -Heidi's (our guide) knowledge of art history, everyday Italian customs was supplemented with expert local guides - Guiseppe in Asissi could have been a friar at the monastery with his knowledge!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"- Lucca was a gem - Puccini/Verdi opera in the church; a magical city - Stephano's "slow food" cooking class and "made it ourselves" lunch"

Karen

Lambertville, MI

Tour: 09/16/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first trip to Europe and it was fabulous! The sites that we visited were beautiful, educational, and fun. My husband and I met some wonderful people in our tour group whom we hope to keep in contact with for years to come. It was an overall wonderful experience and I have already recommended Rick Steve's tours to others.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many people have asked me this question since returning form the tour. I can't say that I have a "wow" moment. The whole trip was just amazing and I enjoyed every experience immensely, I would love to do it all over again."

Tom

Lambertville, MI

Tour: 09/16/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a great balance of history and experiencing the Italian life. We enjoyed all aspects of the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Italian life experiences. The truffle hunt & dinner, wine & food tasting, olive oil tasting, and the cooking class. We learned so much from all of these."

George

Gresham, OR

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My overall tour experience was outstanding. Our guide,Trina, was tops, very helpful and very interested in our positive experience. All of the guides were very interesting, knowledgeable and very entertaining. The sights and overall tour program was excellent in the choices of what to see and experience. Rick Steves does an excellent job of providing excellence and is very much worth the cost. To try and do the same on my own time and budget would certainly be an attempt at futility.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Getting kicked off the train at some unknown stopping place because of a misunderstanding"

Janet

Edgartown, MA

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was one of the best we've taken. Although we've traveled in Italy before, the itinerary covered places we had not yet visited. We were delighted to have Trina as our guide and Mario as our driver. Both were friendly, knowledgeable, capable and a good team. The tour involved a lot of walking, but that counteracted all the wonderful meals we were eating. The local guides were quite exceptional, which only added to our experiencing of Italian sights and culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's hard just to choose one "wow" moment. Ranking first I think would be the truffle hunt with Sergio and Rocco, and the fantastic home-cooked meal prepared by his wife, Eva and friends. Afterward the cooks sang Italian songs and Mario joined in, as did the members of the tour group. The hosts were so welcoming, it felt like going home."

Robert

Bloomington, MN

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well planned. Good weather. Wonderful guide. Great ancillary experiences. Good pace. Great meals. Great country and people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to single out one. Hiking in the Cinque Terre, The feastTevanto, the Sierra addition, the Truffle experience, to name a few."

Bill

Menard, TX

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

The overall experience was good. My major concern is that my image of a village and what we were exposed to is dramatically different. Padua, Orvieto, Assisi, and Lucca are not what I expected to be on a village tour. They are cities and should not be included. Greve, San Leonino, and Montone are types of places that I expected. Levanto is a great place but the towns of Cinque Terre were impossible because of the crush of tourists.

Rae

Valley Forge, PA

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fabulous. I learned a lot about art and history, had great food, and so enjoyed my fellow tour mates.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite moment was when our farm hosts and bus driver Mario sang to us after our dinner there. It was a "wow" back door experience."

Richard

Williamsburg, VA

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our third Rick Steve's Tour. We did another tour of Italy (9 days, I believe) and a tour of the Basque Region in Spain. We love Italy and wanted to get a flavor for life in the Villages and smaller towns. This tour fit the bill perfectly. Our guide, Trina, was outstanding. She loved art history and was able to "set the stage" for many of our locally guided tours. The fact that Trina was an American who had lived in Italy and spoke fluent Italian was a great advantage for us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment occurred when we were making our own Italian lunch. I don't think I've had as much fun anywhere/anytime. Twirling the pasta in the air while gently pulling the strand to avoid breaking it was just a great experience. We all looked like something out of the "I Love Lucy" show (for those of you old enough to have seen the show, you understand). We were the mad scientists working in the pasta factory."

Marcia

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour surpassed my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A few things stand out. Our farm visit, truffle hunt and dinner was very special. We loved the stop in Greve where we had the cheese and honey tasting with Michele. He was a delight and very informative and the cheese and honey was a new experience. I felt this kind of experience would not be available to us if we were travelling on our own."

Carol

Burien, WA

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour of northern Italian villages was just one amazing experience after another - excellent food and wine, wonderful fellow travelers and one incredible church after another - each with beautiful art and architecture. Each one was unique and interesting. Our tour guide, Trina, was fantastic - knowledgeable with contacts from when she lived in Italy which lead to some special treats for our group. Our fellow travelers were interesting and people we will stay in touch with!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were numerous "wow" moments, but maybe one of my favorites was when we were in Lucca, birthplace of Puccini. During September there are operatic concerts each night and I feel fortunate that we were there during that time period as we were able to attend a concern featuring a soprano, tenor and pianist performing a variety of operatic music. It was fabulous! My second favorite "wow" moment was the stop we made at the cemetery for American WW II casualties - very moving."

Jay

Edgartown, MA

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A remarkable blend of good food, good guides and pleasant companions. This low stress tour was paced just right for those who have been to Italy before and just want to explore the less travelled spots.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In Sienna, the unscheduled stop at the Duomo of Sienna was a a highlight. The Piccolomani Library there was a "wow" moment. Particularly impressive was the art of Pinturicchio, with was unfamiliar to me. The Etruscan museum at Chianciano was a surprise in its coverage and overall presentation. The biggest wow moment was viewing the Chapel of San Brizio in Orvieto, Luca Signorelli's Day of Judgement and Life after Death are in the same league as the Sistine Chapel ceiling."

Bonnie

Palos Heights, IL

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fulfilled my expectations which is a big plus for any tour. Beauty and fun in all forms. Wish the luggage trek from bus to hotel was shorter ... but can be explained by the fact that we were dealing with small villages and narrow, cobblestone streets.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Can't pick out one ... going from magnificent churches to humble homes/farms and natures beauty says it all."

Carol

Marysville, WA

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved the villages of Italy tour. It was more experiencing Italy rather than just visiting. This was due partly to fun things like the cooking lesson, riding bikes in Lucca, just walking around the towns and interacting with the people - dinner at the truffle farm, eating gelato, shopping at the market for a group lunch. But also, our tour guide, Patricia, who not only gave us history and language lessons, but shared a lot of her own person with us. She was fantastic. Trip of a lifetime!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Citita for the first time and the visit there. Also seeing the Duamo in Orvieto with the sun shining on it. Enjoying the lovely setting of the Hotel Belvedere di San Leonino. Visiting the villages of the Cinque Terre."

Ian

Carlsbad, CA

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our Villages tour was everything we expected......and more! We enjoyed every minute of it and were sorry to see it end. Our tour guide was extremely qualified and very informative as to Italian history and the life style of these wonderful people. Our hotels, meals, excursions were all better than we expected and certainly acceptable. My wife and I enjoyed the pace of the trip. Our days started at a reasonable hour and finished in plenty of time for rest and additional exploring on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me, there were many "wow" moments. The Italian countryside, the people, the history, the food, the wine and of course, the wonderful friends we made along the way. The Villages tour was the perfect choice for us as we wanted to see and feel Italy "through the back door". We wanted to taste the wine, smell the flowers and enjoy the non-big-city life............and that is just what we got! Highlights for us included Montone, Lucca, Orvietto and beautiful Lake Orta."

Robert

Poway, CA

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our September 2013 Italy Village and Vineyard tour was excellent; it exceeded my expectations in every way. The village experience was a wonderfully rich cultural immersion that gave us a chance to have close interactions with Italians, learn about foods, art, customs and little known civilizations like the Etruscans.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Most memorable 'wow moment' was viewing Giotto's frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. Understanding how he used perspective enhanced my appreciation when viewing all other frescoes and murals on the tour. My 'holy cow' moment was in Carrerra at the outdoor marble museum (very cool). Gotta have a leap of trust to be at ease as we were in the middle of a giant mining site, a 5% sloping valley & rocks rumbling around. The road with hairpin turns were nail biting; Fausto=great driver!"

Susan

Andover, MA

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This trip was well organized and well informed - pre Roman to current times. We learned a lot and loved seeing places we had only read about or didn't even know existed. Walking, hiking a bit and cycling kept us in shape so we could really enjoy the best food and wine of Veneto, Emelia-Romagna, Umbria, Tuscany, Liguria, and Piedmont. Will the Agriturismo concept come over to the states?....it's brilliant. Cooking at La Pietricca, I was inspired by Stefano's passion for the SLOW Food Movement.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My first glimpse from a distance was a WOW moment when I learned that people still live in the small, slowly eroding hill town Civita de Bagnoregio. Hiking up the narrow bridging path to visit the town was just as much of a WOW. Looking back from the town gate, I felt we were very much isolated from the world. This is the birthplace of St. Bonaventura who was cured by St. Francis. My other WOW moment was while entering little chapel of St. Francis in Assisi."

Barbara

Columbia, SC

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was an exceptional tour made more so by our guide, Tricia. I have had some truly great guides on my 8 trips with Rick, but Tricia stands out.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I always have trouble with this question. To me, the tours have many wow moments. The view of Orvieto from the grounds of the wine tasting was very beautiful. The view and tour of the Carrara marble quarry stands out."

Theresa

Colbert, WA

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A wonderful tour which not only met but exceeded my high expectations of this tour. What I especially enjoyed about this tour were the interactive, very authentic experiences which were provided. Although all the cathedrals, basilicas, and chapels with their artwork were fantastic, I loved the truffle farm dinner, the cooking class, the wine and oil tasting experiences. Felt we had a great tour guide and very much enjoyed the camaraderie of a wonderful bunch of people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to pin down one "wow" moment from the tour when there were so many. Every first glimpse of each of the hill top villages was a wow moment. The dinner and singing following the truffle farm dinner felt so authentic - another wow moment. Sitting at a table at the Belforte Restaurant and sharing some good conversation and laughs with some newly made friends while enjoying the view of the turquoise waters of the Ligurian Sea - another wow moment. I would go on if space permitted."

Matthew

Chambersburg, PA

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Great guide. She was cheerful and personal. She did a good job with introductions too. Fausto was an amazing driver and always had a smile. The tour bus was comfortable. I liked how you found local businesses that were receptive to bringing the group into their homes, such as the wine tasting, truffle farm, and olive pressing. Better hotel rooms and beds would have made the days better. I did better in Rome when I booked my own hotels.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Going to Montone was one of the best parts of the trip. It was away from tourists and locals showed ordinary life (not selling to tourists). Padova after 10:30pm was also interesting. That's when the local college students came out and filled the park. The dinners on the tour were better than anything I found while in Rome."

Daniel

Jamestown, NC

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful tour itinerary with many varied activities. We enjoyed the combination of cities, small towns, and villages.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Viewing Orvieto, perched high on its hill, from a distance."

Roseann

Macedon, NY

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I feel that there is exceptional value in this trip. The quality of the hotels, meals, sights and guides provided is excellent. I especially like having all gratuities included upfront.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is very hard to pick out one special WOW moment but I will try. Certainly our night at the truffle farm is high on the list. This wonderful family made us all feel like extended family members. Rocco did a great job finding lots of truffles and the dinner and wine were fabulous. The night concluded with a wonderful sing-a-long which made me not want the evening to end. Another WOW moment was the market visit in Orvieto. At 1st I was unsure but loved the experience and picnic after."

Jeffrey

Santa Fe, NM

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Likes: language, warm & responsive guides & locals, cuisine, wine & beer, gelato, culture, repurposing rather than destroying legacies, art, design & fashion, scenery, weather; in short I would seriously consider returning. Dislikes: mosquitoes (will try a repellant bracelet next time), cigarette butts all over the ground almost everywhere, public coin operated machines are often out-of-order or just do not work, sidewalk vendors blocking and taking up crucial sidewalk space.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"During free time in Monterosso discovering "Campu Baichettu", a very local seaside bocce club. I was the first of very few touristi who took an interest while the court was being groomed and then a very local style of play commenced. I boldly opened the fenced gate and walked onto the court area to take closer pics. They only very politely called out "attenzione, attenzione" to be sure I wasn't hit by a ball. I have studied and play the game on my own court so this was fantastico!!"

Nancy

Riverdale, GA

Tour: 06/24/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My overall tour experience was fantastic. The activities on this tour were unbelieveably varied and fun . We had wine tastings, olive oil tastings, truffle hunting , cooking lessons, and visits to wonderful small towns with beautiful architecture and frescoes and mosiacs. Our tour guide made it all happen with enthusiasm, humor, and knowledge of the area. I was the only single female on the tour and I felt right at home and welcomed by all the couples.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was walking into the Scovegni Chapel in Padua painted by Giotto."

Frank

Atlanta, GA

Tour: 06/24/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was impressed with our guide's outstanding knowledge of Italy, Italian History and Italian culture. The tour encompassed many unusual areas with which I was unfamiliar even though I had visited Italy many times in the past. Overall it was one of the best Rick Steves' tours we have taken.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow"moments but for me, a physician, visiting the University at Padova where so many historical physicians had studied and even today have their names inscribed on anatomical and pathological entities ( virchow and Margagni for instance) was a highlight. One of the most fun experiences was watching the dog find Truffles on the Truffles hunt."

Stephen

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 05/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We, Marilyn and myself, had an outstanding trip to Northern Italy hill towns. Our group was very musically talented and it really enhanced the whole experience. Especially when a couple of our members broke into song which really impressed the Italian hosts we were with. Our guide was especially enthusiastic about the trip and got everyone involved in the culture and the cusine. She did an outstanding job of explaining the "ins and outs" of the Italian culture. Each stop was a treat.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "Truffle Farm" followed by the dinner. Delightful hosts, who really rolled out the red carpet for us."

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.

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): Duomo and Baptistery, Chiesa degli Eremitani-Mantegna frescoes, Piano Nobile aka il Ridotto of Caffé Pedrocchi. You may also want to consider spending time in Venice or Milan.

Transportation

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

There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. We recommend talking to your travel agent about "open jaw" airline tickets (flying into and out of different cities). This tour begins in Padua and ends at Lake Orta. The most direct route is to fly into Venice and home from Milan. If you choose to fly in and out of the same city, you will need to arrange additional transportation either before or after the tour.

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. (Your guide will help coordinate transfers to airports and train stations at the end of the tour from Orta.) 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

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

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.

If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425-608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

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.

Packing

For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.