• Rick Steves' Best of Italy Tour, Day-by-Day

    If you'd love to experience the greatest cities, art, and natural wonders of Italy in a single trip, you'll find that our Best of Italy tour truly lives up to its name. This slideshow gives you a colorful preview of all you'll see and do on a 2018 Best of Italy in 17 Days tour. Andiamo! (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)

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

    Days 1 & 2: Welcome to Italy's Lake Como

    The sleepy Lake Como village of Varenna is a quick, easy train connection from Milan. We'll begin our Italian adventure with an evening orientation walk and a good night's sleep. Then, equipped with your included Lake Como ferry boat pass, you'll have the entire next day and evening free to explore the villages and waterways of romantic Lake Como. (photo: Rick Steves)

  • Days 3 & 4: Hiking the Dolomites

    Today we'll drive high into Italy's Dolomite Alps, where locals speak German first, Italian second. Our destination is Europe's largest (and arguably most beautiful) Alpine meadow, the Alpe di Siusi. This evening, we'll share a hearty Tirolean dinner together at our mountain retreat. Tomorrow, from your totally-yodely home base, you'll have all day to explore the dramatic Dolomites, Italy's hiking and skiing mecca. Choose from an array of challenging hikes, or join your guide (weather permitting) — and the free-roaming cows — for a peaceful walk. Maybe you'll even watch colorful paragliders float on the wind as you relax outside a mountain hut café. We'll regroup tonight for dinner at our cozy hotel. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)

  • Days 5 & 6: Exploring Venice

    We'll head downhill from the Dolomites with a stop in Bolzano to visit its most famous resident: the 5,300-year-old, naturally preserved remains of Ötzi the Iceman. Then we'll set a course for Venice, where we'll board a vaporetto boat for a Grand Canal ride to our hotel in Venice's historic heart. The next morning, our local guide will join us for a historical walking tour, with a modern Venetian's-eye view, through the backstreets of Venice. The afternoon and evening are yours to explore the imposing Doge's Palace, maybe 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. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)

  • Days 7 & 8: Renaissance Florence

    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 end our walk at the Accademia Gallery to marvel at works of sculptural genius: Michelangelo's rough-hewn Prisoners and his greatest masterpiece, David. The next morning we'll devote our time to the breathtaking Renaissance art of the Uffizi — home to the finest collection of Italian paintings anywhere. 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. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)

  • 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 lasagna dinner at a local family restaurant. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)

  • Manarola (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. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)

  • Days 11 & 12: 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. The next 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). (photo: Cameron Hewitt)

  • 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 agriturismo destination: a country hotel that is also a working family winery. We'll end our day amid the peaceful vines and olive groves, tasting several of our host's award-winning wines, and sharing a country-style dinner together. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)

  • Orvieto, Italy

    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. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)

  • 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 take us through the larger-than-life Colosseum; the birthplace of Ancient Rome, the Roman Forum; and the awe-inspiring Pantheon. This evening we'll enjoy a floodlit dolce vita stroll, soaking up the city's evening ambience at the lively campos, classy piazzas, and splashy Trevi Fountain. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)

  • St. Peter's Square and Basilica at night, Vatican City, Rome, Italy

    Day 16: The Vatican Museums

    Today we'll focus on Renaissance (Catholic) Rome. At the sprawling Vatican Museums we'll visit what seems like a limitless collection of treasures as we make our way to one of the world's most famous works of art: Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. You'll have the rest of your day free to continue your modern-day pilgrimage at the greatest church in Christendom, St. Peter's Basilica, home to Michelangelo's sublime Pietà. Wander through this immense church, climb the dome if you're feeling energetic, and explore more of the Eternal City on your own. This evening, we'll have our final dinner together, sharing memories and toasting our newly made friends. Salute! (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)

  • Italian pride in Trastevere neighborhood, Rome, Italy

    Day 17: Tour Over After Breakfast

    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! (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)

    Learn more about our Best of Italy in 17 Days tour