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  • Florence
  • Val d'Orcia
  • Tuscan hills
  • Pienza
  • Pitigliano
  • Island of Elba
  • Lucca

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Best of Tuscany in 12 Days Tour

from $3,795 per person + air

Single Supplement $775

See Dates & Prices

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

2022

2023

What's Included

You'll get at least 20 group sightseeing events — at no extra cost!

Here's what you'll see and do on our Best of Tuscany tour:

  • 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 Hermitage and walking tour
  • 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

Plus you'll get all this, too.

  • 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 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 (when available) 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 2022
  • 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

Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions for important details regarding everything listed above.

Group sightseeing events subject to change.

Itinerary

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 the 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 the 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 the 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.

Physical Demands

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…

  1. 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.
  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

Angel

Tour: 06/06/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first RS Tour and we were a little concerned about being with a large group, BUT we had a wonderful time! It was fun to get to know the other travelers and we had plenty of time on our own. It was so convenient to have all hotels, guided tours, transportation, and special meals pre-arranged for us. We had opportunities to meet locals and be welcomed into their homes. We learned SO much! Our guide was knowledgeable, kind, and caring. Will definitely sign up for another RS Tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we arrived and stood at the balcony terrace of VILLA LECCHI and witnessed the splendor of the Tuscan countryside laid out before us, I audibly gasped! It was magical! Our host, Laura, welcomed us with prosecco and appetizers as she shared her family's story. Her son treated us to a wine tasting experience in the underground cellar of the villa. It was a real treat!"

Barbara

Tour: 05/23/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was fantastic with gorgeous places to visit, amazing sights to see, perfect pacing, tranquil (and mostly spectacular) hotel rooms, authentic and delicious meals and wine, genial and fun- loving fellow travelers, and the very talented, personable, and well organized tour guide, David. Despite having been to Tuscany before, every day on this tour was a new adventure.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary on this tour, and David our guide made it a most memorable occasion by arranging for flowers, a prosecco toast, and a live band (with him on guitar) and even a little dancing. Aside from that personal "wow," we thought the hotel rooms and setting of Gargonza and Moscadella in the Italian countryside were the finest we have experienced on any tour."

Jacqueline M

Tour: 05/23/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The accommodations, destinations, and our tour director, David, were all outstanding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The entire experience was excellent. David’s knowledge, interaction, professionalism, and his willingness to share his talents and personal experiences regarding his family history, (wwII) , brought much unanticipated meaning and value to my trip."

Patricia

Tour: 04/25/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francesco was a wonderful tour guide. He was very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and patient. I also really liked Lucia in Florence, Roberto in Siena and Annie in Voltera.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I didn’t have a “wow” moment but I did have a lot of memorable moments"

Christina

Tour: 04/25/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fantastic! I loved the smaller group of seasoned travelers. Francesco is an outstanding guide who makes his job look easy and fun. It was like touring with a knowledgeable and helpful friend. Every day’s itinerary was varied and interesting and we met many local people. The group meals throughout the tour were fantastic and the hotels in the Tuscan countryside at Gargonza and La Moscadella were wonderful and relaxing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Some of my favorites are: Immersing myself in the art of Florence; Learning about the frescos at the Abbey of Monte Oliveto with the entertaining Roberto Bechi; Visiting the ancient Etruscan and hermitage site near Pienza, and the ruins and cave roads at Pitigliano; Relaxing on the beautiful beach, and climbing to enjoy the views at Fort Falcone, in Portoferraio."

Diana

Tour: 04/25/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Although we had been to Tuscany a few times before, this tour gave us the opportunity to see areas that were new to us (Pitigliano, Elba, Gargonza, and Castelmuzio) as well as to re-connect with special places like Siena, Volterra and Lucca. It was so refreshing to spend time in some of the loveliest countryside in Italy. Francesco, our guide, provided a view of Tuscany as only a native son could. His leadership was competent, helpful, informative, and cheerful throughout our journey.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Etruscan sites at Pitigliano and Pienza were so interesting and unexpected as was the farm visit and lunch with the charming family in Pienza."

Maurice

Tour: 04/25/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall, I enjoyed the tour. Francesco was a great guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Having Silvana Froli perform for the group on the last night in Lucca. Just amazing. This should be included in every tour."

Lori

Tour: 04/11/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was one of the best RS Tours I've taken so far. Our guide was phenomenal, the hotels were incredible, the group was a great mix of personalities and the places we visited all had their own special ambiance and feel. There were too many "wow" moments to include them all in the next answer as I ran out of space!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"After 9 RS tours I can honestly say that none of them had just 1 "wow" moment. This tour was no different. Arriving at Gargonza Wednesday afternoon was my first "wow". It was such a joy having the entire "village" to ourselves and the rooms were wonderful. The Abbey of Mon Oliveto Maggiore is my next "wow" with its amazing frescos! The hermitize (discovered by Isabella's father-in-law) in Pienza would be next - awe inspiring. Lastly it would be the Etruscan burial area outside Pitigliano."

Sharon

Tour: 04/11/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my 7th RS tour and it ranks at the top of the list!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many...the beautiful Tuscan countryside, great food, great group, great guide, great wine and our stay at La Moscadella!"

Kathryn

Tour: 04/11/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were extremely lucky to have booked spots on the very first Rick Steves Best of Tuscany tour! Tuscany is magical place that we hope to return to. The guides, the scenery, the food and the cities we visited were wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Climbing up to the Medici fortress on the island of Elba and gazing at the gorgeous view of the city and the water beyond."

Martin

Tour: 04/11/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The guides were excellent. The hotels were charming. The bus and driver were great. The meals; traveling companions; and tour sites were wonderful. Even the weather was cooperative. It’s hard to find fault with anything.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Staying at Isabella’s and seeing the Tuscan countryside."

Art

Tour: 04/11/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

For a first-ever tour, the itinerary was pretty flawless. Lisa was a great guide. The lodging choices were anywhere from good to exceptional. The weather was great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "Wow" moment was visiting the Val D'Orcia, the activities on the itinerary and staring out of the bus window at the landscape. Elba should recieve a mention, as well. The second (Castell Di Gorgonza) and the third (La Moscadella) hotels were phenomenal and unlike anywhere I've stayed on my previous RS tours."

Frances

Tour: 04/11/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The stay at Castello di Gargonza was fascinating. I loved the little village experience The Isabella experience and the cave walk was also great"

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

Tour Hotels

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.

Flights

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.