Rick Steves' Village Italy in 14 Days Tour, Day by Day
La dolce vita (the sweet life) describes the intimate magic of small-town Italy. Our Village Italy tour — with a tasty focus on food, wine, and culture — helps you live it. Starting in elegant Padua, your Rick Steves guide will take you through Italy's seductive countryside: artistic Ravenna, St. Francis' Assisi, medieval Siena, Puccini's Lucca, cliff-hugging Cinque Terre harbors, and off-the-beaten-path hill towns and vistas. You'll be rubbing elbows with Italian culture, learning about crafting pottery, cutting marble, cooking pasta, making wine — even hunting truffles. Let's go…
Days 1 & 2: Welcome to Italy
Our tour begins in elegant Padua (Padova) — an easy bus ride from Venice's Marco Polo Airport. We'll gather at our hotel at 5 p.m. for a group meeting. Then we'll take a neighborhood orientation walk together and get acquainted with one another over dinner.
We'll hit the ground walking the next day, with a tour of Padua and its colorful market squares and piazzas. Along the way, we'll gape at Giotto's glorious frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel and Europe's first great anatomy theater. You'll have the rest of the day to marvel at the Renaissance masterpieces in St. Anthony's Basilica, roam through the university's acclaimed Botanical Garden, or relax with a creamy espresso at a sidewalk café.
Days 3 & 4: Ravenna, Montefalco, and Assisi
We'll drive to nearby Ravenna this morning for a tour of the brilliantly preserved mosaics in the Byzantine San Vitale Basilica and Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. After lunch, we'll climb up into the Umbria region to the untouristed little hill town of Montefalco. The rest of your evening is free for wandering through this rustic stone village.
The next morning, we'll take a short drive to St. Francis' hometown of Assisi, where we'll tour the magnificent art-filled basilica. Afterward, we'll take a walk through town and have free time for lunch. We'll spend the late afternoon with a local farmer and his specially trained dog, hunting for one of the area's specialties: the truffle. We'll end our day at a scenic country estate enjoying a delightful farm-to-table dinner together (including the truffles).
Days 5 & 6: Umbrian Hill Towns
We'll drive through the peacefully green Umbrian landscape today. Our first stop will be in Deruta for a pottery-making demonstration at a family workshop. Then we'll drive off the beaten path to a rural, family-owned winery for a refreshing wine tasting and lunch. We'll finish our afternoon high atop the nearby hill town of Orvieto, where we'll marvel at the town's dramatic cathedral, including Signorelli's amazing frescoes in the San Brizio Chapel.
The following day is market day in Orvieto! You'll have a free morning to dive into this busy, colorful farmer's market and discover more of Orvieto's friendly charms. This afternoon, we'll hop aboard our bus to explore the back-door hill towns of Umbria. You'll have free time to revel in the traffic-free alleyways, astounding views, and hidden treasures that make village life so special. Then it's back to Orvieto for a free evening.
Days 7 & 8: The Heart of Tuscany
We'll meander north into rural Tuscany today, stopping to visit the fascinating Etruscan Museum at Chianciano, where we'll learn about this mysterious pre-Roman civilization. Before we bite into today's lunch, we'll learn how it's made, as our chef gives us a special hands-on Tuscan cooking lesson. Sufficiently fed, we'll end the day at our Tuscan country hotel, where we'll have a light dinner.
The next morning we'll head out to Siena, arguably Tuscany's greatest hill town. After an orientation, you'll be free to explore Siena's treasures, including the Duomo and Campo, and linger over lunch. We'll enjoy the afternoon back at our country hotel, where you can hike along the farm paths, take pictures, or simply relax by the pool before dinner together.
Days 9 & 10: Timeless Hill Towns and Lovely Lucca
Today your guide and driver will take us along the less-traveled scenic route through Tuscany, with stops to wander through timeless hill towns with pristine views. Our final destination today is the engaging and prosperous town of Lucca, where, after an orientation, you'll be free to explore and find a local trattoria for dinner.
The following morning, a local guide will introduce us to Lucca's elegant streets and historic churches, all surrounded by some of Italy's most impressive Renaissance walls. Then we'll head into the countryside to visit a traditional frantoio (olive oil mill), where we'll learn about and sample Italy's famous extra-virgin export and enjoy a farm lunch. The remainder of the day is free back in Lucca to explore more of its layered history, or perhaps take a walk or bike ride atop the walls.
Days 11 & 12: Carrara and the Italian Riviera
We'll continue north today, pausing to marvel at the marble with a local expert at Carrara's snow-white quarries, the favorite of Renaissance sculptors. Then we'll take to the sea (weather permitting) and enjoy a scenic boat ride along the Ligurian coast, past the wave-washed harbors and hill-hugging villages of the Cinque Terre. After our boat ride, we'll make our way to our home base for il dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing). Tonight we'll share a family-prepared seafood feast.
The next day you'll have a "vacation from your vacation" in our Mediterranean getaway. You may choose to hike the cliffside paths, 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 13: Lago d'Orta
We'll make our way to Orta San Giulio on the shores of Lake Orta, arriving with plenty of time to stroll its cobbled lanes and medieval square and take a scenic boat ride out to little Isola San Giulio. Tonight we'll enjoy an arrivederci dinner together, where we'll share travel memories and toast new friends. Salute!
Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast
We hope you can join us on our Village Italy tour. Grazie e ciao!
Learn more about the Village Italy in 14 Days tour.