Hi from Rick: A Uniquely Rick Steves Experience

I just got home from our annual guide-mentoring tour in Italy — a week of hands-on experiences, designed to teach our newest hires how to lead a Rick Steves tour.

Imagine: 20 tour guides, gathered on a piazza, assembling themselves into a human cathedral. To create a perfect Gothic structure, you need 13 people: six columns, stretching their arms out to meet at pointed arches; six flying buttresses behind those columns, to reinforce the structure, while opening up space for giant windows; and, of course, a glorious human spire to top it all off.

For decades, I've been using this "human cathedral" method with my tour members (just before they step into their first Gothic cathedral) to help them better appreciate the glory of the High Middle Ages. And now, it's my joy to teach this approach to our newest crop of tour guides.

We're fortunate to attract top-quality guides to lead our tours. Most of our "new" guides are only new to us — they're accomplished tour guides, travelers, and teachers in their own right. But our tour members expect something special from a Rick Steves tour. That's why I travel to Europe each winter, along with key members of my office team, to make sure anyone leading a Rick Steves tour knows exactly how to deliver on those expectations.

Last week in Italy, we focused on the finer points of touring: Creating a convivial dinner experience, spiced with teaching moments and taste treats that are indimenticabile (unforgettable). Helpfully taking up the rear during a city walk led by a local guide, focusing attention on the guide, and keeping a lookout for pickpockets. Reviewing the challenges at autostrada rest stops, such as the uniquely Italian ways to pay for your cappuccino and your trip to il gabinetto. And making each hotel a fun part of the experience, by introducing our hosts as if they're part of the family and organizing a happy hour on the terrace with a sampling of local wines. Considering how a Rick Steves guide earns the attention of our groups, I thought of the way an orchestra goes silent and primed to make beautiful music together the moment the conductor steps up to the podium.

If you're still dreaming of squeezing in a visit to Europe before summer…it's not too late! We have a few seats available on some of our most popular destinations — including tours in Greece, Sicily, Village Italy, and France — between now and August. And they're currently on sale for $100 to $300 off.

If Greece is your go-to now or later, we'll get you stoked for an authentic Greek experience in this month's Tour News. Take a deep dive into our two-week Athens & the Heart of Greece tour with a colorful day-by-day slideshow, meet a trio of our great Greece guides, learn about the tour's magical moments from our Greece tour alums, and hop aboard a video tour of ancient and mysterious Mycenae.

There are plenty of good tours on the road. But our travelers come back again and again for a uniquely Rick Steves experience. And that's what our guides know how to offer.

Keep on travelin'…ideally with our great guides!


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