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Best of Tuscany in 12 Days Tour
Starting in Florence, the capital of Tuscany, you'll discover the incredible Renaissance art treasures of the Bargello and Accademia, followed by a deep dive into the Tuscan countryside. Roll your way through the Chianti hills sipping wine and strolling through Siena. Breathe in the fresh air of the Val d'Orcia, where vineyards and cypress trees go on forever. Meet local family farmers and taste their fresh products. Learn how to make homemade pasta and savor every meal. Soak up the Tuscan sun on historic Elba — and fall in love with everything about this beautiful region. Join us for the Best of Tuscany in 12 Days!
Dates & Prices
Sorry, we're unable to access departure availability at this time. This information will be available at the end of the summer. Please try again later or contact us at 425-608-4217 (Monday–Thursday between 9 am and 5 pm).
- 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 Tuscany come alive for you
- All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 20 group sightseeing events • Florence orientation walk • Accademia Gallery (Michelangelo's David) • Florence neighborhood walking tour • Local market tasting • Bargello Museum • Mosaic workshop • Siena Duomo tour • Chianti wine tasting • Brunello winery lunch • Monte Oliveto Abbey • Family farm visit and olive oil tasting • Pienza • Italian cooking class • Scenic hill town drive • Pitigliano walking tour • Via Cava walk • Butteri (Tuscan cowboy) ranch • Orientation for "vacation" day on Elba Island • Volterra walking tour • Lucca walking tour…and more
- All group transportation from Florence to Lucca
- 11 nights' accommodations in memorable, centrally located hotels
- All breakfasts and half your dinners
- All tips for guides and driver
- A tour kit including a guidebook (or books) and a moneybelt
- Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
- Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2021
- 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 your tour
Group sightseeing events subject to change.
Day 1: Welcome to Tuscany
Our adventure begins in Florence, the capital of Tuscany. At 4 p.m., we'll gather at our centrally located hotel for a brief welcome meeting, followed by an orientation walk through our favorite Renaissance city. Along the way, we'll be introduced to the divinely domed Duomo and its storytelling Baptistery doors. Then we'll get to know each other over an aperitivo of Tuscan drinks and appetizers before setting you free to enjoy the city's evening ambiance and a light meal on your own.
Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. No bus. Sleep in Florence.
Day 2: Renaissance and Everyday Florence
A local scholar will join us this morning as we tour the Accademia Gallery and study Michelangelo's majestic David. Afterward, we'll enjoy a neighborhood walking tour that connects us with the daily lives of Florentines — and their love for food and local markets. It's the perfect introduction to the rest of your day, which is free to explore more of Florence (including the Uffizi Gallery if you've booked ahead) and enjoy dinner on your own.
Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. No bus. Sleep in Florence.
Day 3: Florentine Treasures and Chianti
We'll begin our day at Florence's famed National Museum of Bargello. Housed in a 13th-century palace (and 18th-century prison!), the Bargello welcomes us with intimate looks at Renaissance masterpieces by Donatello, Michelangelo, della Robbia, and more. We'll end our morning with a visit to an impressive mosaic workshop, where we'll learn how local artisans keep this Renaissance art form alive. After a break for lunch, we'll meet our coach and driver and embark on a scenic journey over the hills of Chianti, ending at our family-owned countryside hotel. We'll be welcomed with an aperitivo, followed by a traditional Tuscan dinner together.
Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. Bus: 1½ hours. Sleep in the Chianti countryside.
Day 4: Savoring Siena
Today we'll head out to one of our favorite Tuscan hill towns: spirited Siena. With a local guide, we'll introduce you to the city's treasure-filled Duomo and learn the story of Siena's medieval city-state rivalry with Florence. We'll also gain insight into the city's beloved Palio horse races and learn why this tradition means so much to residents of every Sienese neighborhood. You'll have some free time to wander around Siena's charming streets — or relax with a drink and a view along the famous Campo. We'll return to our countryside hotel for some down time before enjoying a tasting of the world-famous Chianti wines.
Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 2 hours. Sleep in the Chianti countryside.
Day 5: Tuscany's Val d'Orcia
This morning we'll head to Tuscany's picturesque Val d'Orcia region. Along the way, we'll hear stories of how this area was impacted by the tumultuous events of World War II. We'll stop at a family-run Brunello winery for lunch, tasting their delicious homemade prosciutto as we sip their fine wine. This afternoon we'll learn about the pivotal role of monasticism in Tuscan history at the hilltop Benedictine Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, famous for its wood-carved choir and colorful frescoes by Signorelli and Sodoma. We'll finish our day enjoying a traditional Tuscan dinner together at our villa in the Val d'Orcia.
Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 3½ hours. Sleep in Val d'Orcia.
Day 6: Farm-to-Table and Pienza
Today we'll visit the neighboring hill town of Pienza and take a short, scenic walk along the town wall before venturing underground to find a unique piece of Etruscan history. After some free time in town to enjoy a tasty gelato, we'll head to a nearby working family farm to learn how Tuscany's proud agricultural traditions are kept alive and sample the family's wine and olive oil. As evening approaches we'll gather back at our villa for a fun and informative cooking class, where we'll learn time-tested pasta-making techniques. We'll enjoy the labors of our culinary creations over a lovely dinner together.
Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 1 hour. Sleep in Val d'Orcia.
Day 7: Hill Towns and Via Cava
Today we'll take a scenic drive along a less-traveled route through "back door" Tuscany — wandering through timeless hill towns with pristine views. At the "Little Jerusalem" village of Pitigliano, a resident will treat us to a history lesson that reveals how its nickname came to be, and we'll walk one of Tuscany's Cave Roads, pondering the mystery of these ancient passageways. Rest assured, we'll return to our countryside villa with plenty of time to kick back and relax before dinner on your own.
Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. Bus: 2 hours. Sleep in Val d'Orcia.
Day 8: Maremma's Old West
This morning, we'll say goodbye to the rolling hills of the Val d'Orcia and head even further off the beaten path into the ranching region of Maremma. For lunch, we'll mosey on over to a working cattle ranch for some tasty Tuscan BBQ and see how modern-day cowboys and their horses keep Maremma's "Old West" traditions alive. Then we'll hop aboard a Mediterranean ferry to set sail for a very different kind of destination: the sparkling island of Elba.
Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. Bus: 3½ hours. Boat: 1 hour. Sleep on the island of Elba.
Day 9: Napoleon's Island of Elba
Set your watch to "island time" for a little "vacation from your vacation" in seaside Tuscany. The day is yours to take in the stunning views from Napoleon's villa, where the infamous emperor spent 300 days in forced exile. And just like "His Imperial Majesty," you'll also have plenty of time to explore the local harbor of Portoferraio, with its colorful old town and marina, or just relax along the beach. When hunger calls, enjoy today's fresh catch at your choice of the many delightful Elban eateries. Remember, you're on an island, so you can't get lost.
Walking light to strenuous: your choice. No bus. Sleep on the island of Elba.
Day 10: Charming Volterra
This morning we'll board our ferry back to the mainland and make our way up to one of our favorite hill towns: Volterra. We'll have some free time for lunch before meeting a local friend, who will give us a walking tour that includes artisans working in an alabaster workshop. Then we'll head on to the final stop of our Tuscan adventure: the impressive walled city of Lucca.
Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 3½ hours. Boat: 1 hour. Sleep in Lucca.
Day 11: Puccini's Lucca
This morning we'll take a tour of charming Lucca, hometown of the great opera composer Giacomo Puccini. We'll stroll the elegant, pedestrian-friendly streets while learning about the history, music, and artistry that still thrive within this Renaissance walled city. The afternoon will be free for you to wander through more of Lucca, walk atop its scenic wall — or take a short train ride to see nearby Pisa's leaning tower. This evening we'll have our final dinner together, sharing memories and toasting our new friends. Salute!
Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. No bus. Sleep in Lucca.
Day 12: Tour Over After Breakfast
Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. It's a breeze to reach the Florence or Pisa airports by train. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Grazie e ciao!
Itinerary specifics subject to change.
Our tours are physically active! It's an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Best of Tuscany in 12 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily…
- Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (possibly several blocks) and up stairways to reach your hotel, then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
- Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
- Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
- After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
When To Go & Weather
Any time between April and October is a good time to visit Tuscany. However, the months of April, May, September, and October are best for combining the convenience of peak season, fewer crowds, and the most pleasant weather.
Italy / Florence
Hotels & Flights
In case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations, the contact information for the tour's first and last hotels is available in the Itinerary section of your tour account. One month prior to your tour's departure, you'll find directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel and a complete list of hotels where we'll be staying in the Documents section of your tour account.
Our tours don't include airfare, so your flight arrangements are completely up to you.
Most tour members arrange to fly into Florence (FLR) and out of Florence or Pisa (PSA) — choose "multicity" on flight-booking websites if departing from Pisa. From Florence's airport there are shuttle buses and taxis to the city center. If traveling from Lucca to Pisa upon departure, Pisa's Airport has a train that offers an easy connection to and from the Pisa Centrale train station.
We suggest arriving a day or two before your tour begins to allow ample time to get over jet lag and be well-rested for the first few days of your tour. For more information about transportation options for getting to and from your tour, see your Rick Steves Florence & Tuscany guidebook.