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Top Trip Memories

  • Strolling through the photogenic Tuscan countryside by day and staying in an atmospheric inn at night while on a walking tour of the region.
  • Gliding through the canals of Venice by gondola.
  • Enjoying delicious regional Italian specialities on a food tour.
  • Wandering the ruins of the Roman Forum, where an empire was overseen two millennia ago.
  • Gazing at the Roman Colosseum, lit up at night, from the terrace of a nearby outdoor restaurant.
  • Admiring the works of the Old Masters in the Uffizi Gallery or any of Michelangelo’s sculptures in Florence, perhaps the greatest art city of all.
  • Visiting the ruins of Pompeii, buried in ash and preserved for thousands of years by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.
  • Sipping a morning cappuccino in a piazza anywhere in Italy.
  • Drinking in the views from atop the cliffside city of Taormina in Sicily, including the Straits of Messina and volcanic Mt. Etna in the distance.
  • Enjoying the chaotic vibrancy of Naples while welcoming a respite on the nearby Isle of Capri.
  • Driving the winding Amalfi Coast near Salerno, a World Heritage Site and scenic wonder.
  • Touring Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest cathedral (in the world’s smallest state), and the incredibly rich Vatican Museums, highlighted by the Sistine Chapel.
  • Taking a small-ship cruise along the Po River and through the Venice Lagoon.
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Tour Tips

  • Don’t expect to see all of Italy in one trip, unless you can find a six-month-long tour. Concentrate on a few cities or regions -- or even just one city or region -- per trip.
  • Taking a tour of Italy, which charges admission even to enter many churches, can save you money from a comparable independent trip.
  • A tour can also save you time -- bypassing impossibly long lines for main attractions.
  • Summertime can get very crowded with tourists in many parts of Italy, so consider offseason tours -- when you might also have cooler weather and less expense.
  • Once you’ve seen the most famous sights and regions, there are still many world-class cities and areas to explore in Italy, so consider tours that get off the beaten path a bit.
  • Similarly, look for tours that patronize authentic local inns and trattorias so you get the real Italian experience rather than the strictly tourist version.
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Italy Travel Reviews & Ratings

4.6 out of 5

99%

recommend

1,312 Reviews

  • Excellent 880
  • Great 354
  • Average 65
  • Disappointing 10
  • Terrible 3

Rating Details

  • Value
    4.6
  • Guide
    4.6
  • Activities
    4.6
  • Lodging
    4.6
  • Transportation
    4.6
  • Meals
    4.6

Tour Reviews

Walks of the Cinque Terre

Walks of the Cinque Terre and Portofino

3.0
November 2016
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
I had a good holiday because of the lovely people on the trip. The hotel was nice and clean. Restaurants that we went to were great with one exceptional-'Asserto'. It could have been very different. The organisation was pretty shambolic and we sort of muddled through. Many of the paths were shut and open ones were packed with other walkers.
A concert in the 13c church

Started badly but he grew on us. It seemed he had been catapulted into this trip.-didn't know the status of the paths or train times. Also he couldn't speak much Italian neither could Albert who was shadowing him and who also takes tours in Italy so obviously this was not a one off situation. I was amazed and appalled that tour leaders on Exodus holidays aren't fluent in the local language. Not their fault-you employed them but I would consider that a pre-requisite of a guide as well as knowledge of the walks.

I probably would not recommend this tour to anyone and definitely will look at alternative operators for other European trips. I have been to Sri Lanka with Exodus and it was very good.

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Walks of the Cinque Terra and Portofino

Walks of the Cinque Terre and Portofino

5.0
November 2016
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
We have done many Exodus walking holidays, usually Grade 3. This had the usual country paths and ups and downs but included the chance to see and swim in the sea every day and to travel on local trains. The base town was not too touristy so we could get a sense of real Italian life. A single centre in a family-run hotel made for a relaxed and comfortable time
The views from the cable car and as we descended into Positano were beautiful. Local people were friendly and some of the restaurant meals were superb (all were good). The wine tasting evening was outstanding.

Suzy's long experience as a leader really showed. She was knowledgeable, considerate and she made every effort to ensure that each of us had a good time. Although she was not Italian, her command of the language ensured that everything ran smoothly.

We had excellent weather after the first day but some paths were quite steep and somewhat insecure in places after recent heavy rain. Walking poles were very useful both for stability and to ease pressure on our knees on long ascents/descents.

After (I think) a total of 12 Exodus holidays we know we can trust your planning and staff but this really was a great choice for us. Back to the brochure....

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5.0
November 2016
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
This was a great holiday. Well planned out. The walks were varied - and all with beautiful views. In the evenings, Suzy took us to some great restaurants. On the walk to Portofino we stopped off at a restaurant in the hills where the tomatoes for the caprese salad were plucked off the vine next to the restaurant - fantastic. The hotel was nice, and very close to the beach. The wine tasting, with somebody who was passionate about the wines of the region, was fascinating.
Walking down into Portofino.

Suzy was great. Was knowledgeable about the region. Everything was well organised and when changes needed to be made at the last minute she was able to figure out alternate arrangements quickly.

The walks varied in difficulty, with the first day definitely the hardest. There were some very steep extended descents - poles definitely came in handy on that first day, as well as when we descended from Montallegro to Chiavari. The walks in the Cinque Terre were great, although there was not a lot of time in the villages themselves. However, you can easily use the free day to spend more time in them, as well as in Portovenere - the boat trip out is recommended. Food is expensive - especially the restaurants we went to in the evenings, so be prepared... Also, just a note that the trip notes mention the Via Dell'Amore. Unfortunately, this has been closed since 2011 as a result of a landslide, and doesn't appear to be reopening anytime soon because of bickering over who will pay to repair it, so we did not get to do it. This was not a major loss since all the other walking was great, but something that Exodus might want to change in the trip notes.

Just do it - and then plan to spend another week in the area afterwards like we did - you will not want to leave.

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Highlights of the Dolomites

Highlights of the Dolomites

5.0
November 2016
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
a superb walking area (exceeded my expectations) Good value for money with the standard of the hotel. The trip was well organised with top quality guides
the walk on the final day which had a variety of different terrains to negotiate

excellent guide, friendly, sociable with a strong knowledge of the area

Just to make sure you bring enough clothes to allow for a range of weathers

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Highlights of the Dolomites

Highlights of the Dolomites

4.0
November 2016
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
Stunning walks set in awesome scenery. The hotel was more than adequate, as was the food.
Seeing the cliffs as we got closer. The panoramic views.

Two leaders (Albert and Emily) which gave a choice of walks. Both leaders were friendly and efficient.

The walks are tough - be warned! Wear walking boots, not shoes. My shoes fell to bits and I had to buy some boots.
The weather can make or break this holiday and it as poor for two of the five walking days.
Think carefully about the free day. Bolzano is lovely but it is 90 minutes away.
Relying on public transport was a pain. Buses were always late and you frequently had to stand up.

This holiday has huge advantages given that there are two leaders.

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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies


Classic Itineraries

Italy in 7-10 Days

If you only have one week in Italy, you will have time to see the “big three,” that is Venice, Florence, and Rome. Each is distinct and will provide a wonderful glimpse into the country. A word of warning though: once you’re there, you will not want to come back!

Day 1-3, Rome & Vatican City: Colesseum, Circus Maximus, Forum, Sistine Chapel, Spanish Steps, Trevy Fountain

Day 4-5, Florence: Shop along the ponte vechio, see incredible works of art at The Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze, visit beautiful cathedrals.

Day 6-7, Venice: Gondola Rides, Piazza San Marco, walk over picturesque bridges for spectacular photo ops, and explore shops full of intricate Venitian masks.

Trips that follow this itinerary:

Jewels of Italy with Trafalgar - 8 Days, premium trip

Rome & Tuscany with Perillo - 10 Days, basic trip

Highlights of Italy with Intrepid - 8 Days, basic trip

Or see All One Week Italy Itineraries

Italy in 2 Weeks

If it's your first visit to Italy, try to plan two weeks in which you can see the countryside as well as the major tourist spots. 

Day 1-2, Rome & Vatican CityColesseum, Circus Maximus, Forum, Sistine Chapel, Spanish Steps, Trevy Fountain

Day 3-5, Florence: Sienna, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Tuscany, Wine Tasting 

Day 6, Milan: Pristine Milan is a great shopping city, also offering impressive history and the increcible cathedral at its center. 

Day 7, Verona: Famous for it's star crossed lovers, fair Verona is a lovely stop, with a long artistic history. 

Day 8-9, VeniceGondola Rides, Piazza San Marco, walk over picturesque bridges for spectacular photo ops, and explore shops full of intricate Venitian masks.

Day 10, San Marino: Marvel at stunning medieval architecture and stroll through classic piazza's.

Day 12-14, Naples: Take a day trip to Positano and Pompeii. Enjoy classic Nepolitan pizza and ocean views.

Trips that follow this itinerary:

Ultimate Italy with G Adventures - 14 Days, value trip

Best of Italy and Sicily with Trafalgar - 15 Days, value trip

Tuscany & Cinque Terre Explorer with Peregrine Adventures - 15 Days, value trip

Or see All Two Week Italy Itineraries

Culinary & Wine Tour of Italy

If there's one thing Italy is known for, it's food! A culinary tour of the country will showcase their signature dishes, and the traditional way to make them. And a food tour would be nothing without a visit to some of the countries premier wineries where you'll get a taste of classic old world wines.

Day 1-2, Rome: Enjoy your introduction to Italy in Rome, enjoying classic Italian fare at hole in the wall restaurants. Eat dessert al fresco as you taste delicious gelato while lounging on the Spanish Steps.

Day 3-6, Bologna: Learn how to make a traditional Bolognese sauce, and visit where true Parmesan Reggiano is made.

Day 7-10, Tuscany: The rustic charm of Tuscany will be revealed as you walk in fresh gardens, drink delicious wines, learn to make homemade pasta, and picnic in vineyards. 

Trips that follow this itinerary:

Rome & Tuscany with Perillo - 10 Days, basic trip

Real Food Adventure with Intrepid - 8 Days, value trip

Tuscany Walking and Wine with Explore! - 8 Days, value trip

Or see All Culinary & Wine Tours in Italy

Italy Trips & Tour Advice

A captivating epicenter for art, architecture, food, scenery, and history, Italy consistently ranks among the top five countries in the world for attracting visitors. From the shimmering lakes of the Alpine north, to the sun-kissed island of Sicily in the south, Italy offers an abundant supply of historical sights, sensory delights, rustic villages and countryside.

Drawn by the allure of some of the world’s most timeless art, architecture, and scenic beauty -- the Roman Colosseum, the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, the canals of Venice, the ruins of Pompeii, and the Tuscan countryside among them -- countless generations of travelers have made Italy one of the world’s most visited destinations. It’s the land of Puccini, parmesan, and pasta -- and so much more.

World-class art museums?  Check.

Ancient history and ruins? Check.

Some of the world’s most beautiful cities? Check.

Food and scenery to die for? Check.

Passionate people? Check.

A vast variety of landscapes and activities? Check.

All this in a country that’s a bit smaller in size than Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana combined. Italy packs in enough culture, scenery and other attractions to fill a continent.

Three Great Cities

Rome, Florence, and Venice form a rough triangle spanning the upper middle of the country and provide an introduction to the “essential Italy.”

Rome, which legend dates to 753 BC, is a repository of classical ruins now wedged against a backdrop of modernity. Rome is especially magical at night, when its monuments and fountains are illuminated and the glories of ancient Rome -- the Colosseum and nearby Roman Forum being the headliners -- seem not so distant past.

It’s also imperative to take the walk across the Tiber River to what is actually another country, tiny Vatican City, seat of the Roman Catholic Church, where mammoth St. Peter’s Basilica and the opulent collections of the Vatican Museums and Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel, await.

Art Capital

Florence, perhaps the greatest art city of them all, straddles the Arno River in the province of Tuscany northwest of Rome. The heart of the Italian Renaissance in the 14th to 16th centuries, Florence nurtured geniuses such as Dante, Giotto, Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Raphael.

The Uffizi Gallery contains the world’s top collection of Renaissance paintings, while the Accademia houses the most famous sculpture on earth, Michelangelo’s David. The Duomo, a cathedral whose immense dome is covered with white, green, and pink marble, serves as the city’s most striking landmark.

Side Trips from Florence

A tour operator can easily expand a visit to Florence with side trips to other Tuscan cities like Siena, a Medieval walled city; Pisa, best known for the Leaning Tower; and Lucca, where you can walk the old city walls. Genoa is farther up the coast but wewll worth seeing.

The Tuscan countryside is also home to a number of impossibly scenic villages that cling to steep hillsides, invariably topped by a church. Walking tours are a great way to experience the region. Don’t miss the walks through Cinque Terre, five towns perched on cliffs overlooking the sea and connected by trails.

On to Venice

Between Florence and Venice lie a number of potential stopovers: Bologna, Padua, and Verona among them. Venice itself lies on the Adriatic Sea northeast of Florence. Built on some 100 islands dotting a lagoon, the city clings precariously to existence despite the longtime ravages of flooding and pollution. Yet Venice’s grand palazzos and intricate mazes of canals and walkways somehow remain afloat amid almost surreal beauty.

Piazza San Marco, Italy’s most regal square, leads to the Byzantine splendor of the Basilica di San Marco and a passing parade of visitors from around the world.

Southern Italy

Near Naples, the ruins of Pompeii and the lesser known Herculaneum were buried under ash and mud, respectively, when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. The result is a vast trove of archaeological treasure, including artifacts of Roman-era life preserved for centuries until re-discovered more than 1,500 years later.

The city of Naples, always colorful, beckons to the south, as do the islands of Ischia and Capri off the coast. Further south yet is the Amalfi coast, a stunning mountainous roadway passing villages overlooking the Mediterranean. And, across the Straits of Messina from the toe of Italy’s southern “boot,” the island of Sicily, has some of Italy’s most gorgeous scenery as well as its own culture, almost separate from that of northern Italy. Venture around the whole island for a wealth of vistas, vibrant cities and ancient ruins.

Northern Italy

Northern Italy gets increasingly mountainous and is dotted with shimmering clear-blue lakes, with Lake Como -- north of the Italian fashion capital, Milan -- being the best known. While touring the far-northern Alpine areas, you might think you were in Switzerland or Austria. You can ski there or enjoy lakeside walks.

With so much to see and do in Italy, it can be daunting as to which regions to explore first. So let Stride help you find the right Italy guided tour for your needs and budget.

Related Guides

Continent:

Europe

Local Attractions: 

Colosseum, Venice Canals, Pompeii, Santa Maria del Fiore, Amalfi Coast, Monarola (Cinque Terre) & Many More

Top Activities:

Historic Sightseeing, Small-Ship CruisesCycling & Biking and Culinary & Wine Tasting

Smilar Destinations:      

FranceGermanySpain & Switzerland

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