Slideshow: The Best of Italy, Day by Day

  • Italian pride in Trastevere neighborhood, Rome, Italy

    Rick Steves' Best of Italy in 17 Days Tour, Day by Day

    If you'd love to experience the greatest cities, art, and natural wonders of Italy in a single trip, this is the tour for you. Starting with timeless Venice, you'll travel to Italy's must-see destinations: beautiful Lake Como, Renaissance Florence, St. Francis' Assisi, and eternal Rome. You'll also soak in Italy's quieter side: hill town vineyards, mountain-ringed alpine meadows, cliff-clinging Cinque Terre villages, and cozy fishing harbors — all accompanied by memorable meals and local wines. Hop aboard for a colorful preview of the Best of Italy in 17 Days tour. Andiamo!

  • Day 1: Welcome to Italy

    We'll meet at our Venice hotel, deeply nestled amidst the canals, bridges, and alleyways of this magical, preserved-in-amber city. After introductions, we'll set off on an orientation walk and then enjoy getting acquainted over a traditional Venetian dinner together.

  • Twilight gondola ride, Venice, Italy

    Day 2: Exploring Venice

    Our local guide will join us this morning for a historical walking tour — with a modern Venetian's-eye view — through the backstreets of Venice. Along the way, we'll learn about the city's remarkable past and its challenging future. We'll finish our morning walk in St. Mark's Square, then the afternoon and evening are yours to explore the glittering St. Mark's Basilica or the imposing Doge's Palace, take in a church concert, waltz on St. Mark's Square, or pub-crawl your way through this unique city. Later tonight, your guide will help organize an optional romantic gondola ride for those who are interested.

  • Day 3: Scenic Drive to the Dolomites

    Today we'll hit the road and drive high into Italy's Alps (the Dolomites), home to Europe's largest (and arguably most beautiful) alpine meadow, the Alpe di Siusi. Here where the locals speak German first, Italian second, we'll experience a unique blend of Austrian and Italian culture. This evening, we'll share a hearty Tirolean dinner together at our totally-yodel-y home base.

  • Day 4: Hiking the Alpe di Siusi

    Today is all yours to explore the dramatic Dolomites, Italy's hiking and skiing mecca. Choose from an array of challenging hikes with unforgettable vistas (weather permitting), take a leisurely stroll through rolling green pastures and befriend a free-roaming cow or two, or rub elbows with the locals while wandering through the squares and side streets of a mountain village.

  • Varenna (foreground) and Menaggio, Lake Como, Italy

    Day 5: The Iceman and Lake Como

    We'll start today with a visit to the most famous resident of Bolzano: the 5,300-year-old, naturally preserved remains of Ötzi the Iceman, along with a museum exhibit on prehistoric European life. After some free time for lunch, we'll set a course for the lovely Italian lakes district and our home base near dazzling Lake Como. We'll take a village orientation walk, pointing out places for dinner on your own tonight.

  • Day 6: Cruising Lake Como

    Equipped with your included Lake Como ferry pass, you'll have the entire day and evening free to explore the villages and waterways of romantic Lake Como, including the elegant town of Bellagio. Or, hike up into the alpine foothills for unforgettable vistas. At breakfast, your guide can help you plan your day.

  • Day 7: Florence and David

    We'll drive straight to Florence this morning and hit the ground walking with a Renaissance tour of the city's historic center. We'll see and learn about Brunelleschi's magnificent cathedral dome, Ghiberti's Baptistery doors, and other creations that helped define this world-changing era. We'll end our walk at the Accademia Gallery to marvel at works of sculptural genius: Michelangelo's rough-hewn Prisoners and his greatest masterpiece, David.

  • Day 8: Renaissance Florence

    This morning we'll devote our time to the breathtaking Renaissance art of the Uffizi Gallery — home to the finest collection of Italian paintings anywhere, including works by Leonardo, Botticelli, Michelangelo, and more. The rest of the day is yours to stroll across the delightfully medieval Ponte Vecchio, visit more of the city's art-filled churches and museums, browse the colorful markets, and find a special trattoria for dinner on your own.

  • Manarola (Cinque Terre), Italy

    Day 9: Pisa and Cinque Terre Villages

    Winding our way toward the coast, we'll first stop to gaze at Pisa's leaning tower and Romanesque baptistery. Today's final destination is Italy's enchanting Cinque Terre fishing villages, laced together with hiking paths that meander between vineyards and the deep blue sea. Upon arrival, your guide will give you an introduction to the town, leaving you with plenty of free time this afternoon to explore on your own. We'll regroup tonight for an entertaining pesto-making lesson and special pesto dinner at a local family restaurant.

  • Vernazza (Cinque Terre), Italy

    Day 10: Exploring the Cinque Terre

    You'll take a "vacation from your vacation" today in our Mediterranean getaway. Hike along the trails, taking in lots of fresh air and panoramic views between Cinque Terre villages. Or pick a village where you can spend your day exploring the stairways and alleyways, sunning yourself on the rocks, or sipping cappuccino and catching up on your journal at an outdoor café.

  • Day 11: Tuscany and Siena

    Today we'll venture into the heart of magical Tuscany, stopping on the way to poke around the quiet lanes of a friendly hill town. Saving the best for last, we'll take an orientation tour of our home for the next two nights: remarkable Siena, a "living museum" brimming with some of Italy's finest Gothic architecture and perhaps its best public square, Il Campo. Tonight, we'll visit and enjoy dinner in one of the town's proud contrade — 17 neighborhoods that compete for glory in the famous Palio horse races.

  • Day 12: Savoring Siena

    This morning we'll visit a stained-glass workshop, where a local artisan will show us how he fuses traditional and contemporary stained-glass techniques. Then we'll tour the elaborate cathedral and learn how Siena's rich medieval history and rivalry with Florence shaped this city. You'll be well-oriented for your free afternoon and evening to enjoy Siena, from its dramatic city hall tower to its well-respected enoteca (wine bar/museum).

  • Day 13: Assisi and Wine Tasting

    Let's make a modern-day pilgrimage to the hill town of Assisi, where, in a time of unprecedented church wealth, St. Francis inspired a refocused spirituality through poverty, humility, and the beauty of nature in Umbria. As we learn about the life of the saint, we'll take a walking tour of the town and its beautifully frescoed Basilica of St. Francis. Then we'll wind our way across Umbria to our countryside hotel. We'll end our day tasting several of the region's delightful wines and sharing a country-style dinner together.

  • Orvieto

    Day 14: Hill Town Italy

    This morning we'll visit Umbria's grand hill town of Orvieto. We'll get oriented to sights around the cathedral square, including Signorelli's amazing frescoes in the Chapel of San Brizio and Italy's liveliest cathedral facade. Then you'll be free to wander through the medieval old town and its shops filled with colorful pottery. This afternoon we'll return to our agriturismo, with plenty of time for a countryside walk before dinner together.

  • Day 15: A Walk Through Caesar's Rome

    We'll drive straight to Rome today and spend the afternoon uncovering the heart of the Eternal City. A local guide will share vivid tales as we walk around the outside of the larger-than-life Colosseum, through the Roman Forum (the birthplace of ancient Rome), and into the awe-inspiring Pantheon. This evening we'll enjoy a floodlit dolce vita stroll, soaking up the city's evening ambience at lively campos, classy piazzas, and the splashy Trevi Fountain.

  • italy-rome-tratevere-lane-ivy-covered-buildings

    Day 16: The Heart of Rome

    This morning a local expert will show us Rome "in situ" on a Vespa-dodging walk through some of our favorite neighborhoods. The remainder of your day is free for your own discoveries and a chance to make a pilgrimage to the world's smallest country, Vatican City, home to the sprawling Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica. We'll regroup this evening for our final dinner together, sharing memories and toasting our newly made friends. Salute!

  • italy-tuscany-lady-with-coffee-cup

    Day 17: Tour Over After Breakfast

    Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. It's a breeze to reach Rome's airports by taxi or train. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Grazie e ciao!

    Join us in 2025 for the Best of Italy in 17 Days tour!