Stride climate

Trip Type : Group Tour
Stride climate
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City view of Orvieto, Europe_P

Best of Italy in 17 Days Tour

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Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
5.0 . Excellent
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
17 days
From: $ 4,895 $ 288 / day
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  • Enjoy cruising in Lake Como by ferry
  • Visit South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology and Florence's Accademia Gallery
  • Discover Orvieto City and San Brizio Chapel tour
  • Explore Colosseum tour
  • Visit Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel

Short Description

The Rick Steves Best of Italy tour is exactly that — the very best. Starting on beautiful Lake Como, this tour treats you to Italy's must-see destinations: timeless Venice, Renaissance Florence, Eternal Rome, and St. Francis' Assisi. 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. And Rick's guides will make Italy's art, history, and dolce vita come vividly to life.

Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Trip Type Group Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Milan
End City Rome

Trip Includes

  • A small, friendly group of 24–28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art, and culture of Italy come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 26 group sightseeing events , Lake Como ferry pass , South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology (Ötzi the Iceman) , Venice walking tour , St. Mark's Square and Basilica , Renaissance Florence walking tour , Florence's Accademia Gallery including Michelangelo's David , Uffizi Gallery tour , Pisa visit , Pesto demonstration , Orientation for "vacation" day in Cinque Terre , Hill town visit , Siena walking tour , Siena Duomo tour , Siena contrada visit and dinner , Artisan workshop visit , Assisi walking tour , Basilica of St. Francis tour , Umbrian wine tasting , Orvieto orientation and San Brizio Chapel tour , Ancient Rome walking tour , Colosseum tour , Forum tour , Pantheon , Vatican Museums , Sistine Chapel , Evening walk through Rome including Trevi Fountain…and more
  • All group transportation from Varenna to Rome
  • 16 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally located hotels
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Rick Steves Travel Store credit to use toward guidebooks for your trip
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2017
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above.

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Day 1: Welcome to Italy

The sleepy Lake Como village of Varenna is a quick, easy train connection from Milan. At 5 p.m. you'll meet your guide and fellow tour members at our hotel for a get-acquainted session. We'll then take a village orientation walk, pointing out places for dinner on your own tonight. Sleep in Varenna (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: Cruising Lake Como

Equipped with your included Lake Como ferry boat 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. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 3: Scenic Drive to the Dolomites

Today we'll hit the road and 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. Sleep peacefully in the Alpe di Siusi area (2 nights). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: Hiking the Dolomites

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, join your guide (weather permitting) — and the free-roaming cows — for a peaceful walk among towering granite cliffs, or wander through the squares and side streets of a mountain village and enjoy the unique blend of Italian and Austrian cultures. We'll regroup tonight for dinner at our cozy hotel. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 5: The Iceman and 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, along with a museum exhibit on prehistoric European life. After some free time for lunch, 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. Tonight we'll take an alleys-and-canals orientation stroll before setting you loose for dinner on your own. Sleep in Venice (2 nights). Boat: ½ hr. Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 6: 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 and Basilica. 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. No bus. Walking: moderate.

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. Sleep in Florence (2 nights). Boat: ½ hr. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 8: Renaissance Florence

This morning we'll devote our time to the breathtaking Renaissance art of the Uffizi — 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. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 9: Pisa and Cinque Terre Villages

Winding our way towards 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. Sleep in Monterosso (2 nights, may be split between 2 hotels). Train: ¼ hr. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate

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. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

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 at one of the town's proud contrade — 17 neighborhoods that compete for glory in the famous Palio horse races. Sleep in Siena (2 nights). Train: ¼ hr. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

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). No bus. Walking: moderate.

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. Sleep near Orvieto (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

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. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: moderate.

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, fountain-splashing, dolce vita stroll, soaking up the city's evening ambience at the lively campos and classy piazzas. Sleep in Rome (2 nights). Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

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 you make your 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! No bus. Walking: strenuous.

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!


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Price From $ 4,895
Price Per Day: $ 288 per day
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  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 775

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8 Rick Steves Travel Reviews & Ratings

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Best of Italy in 17 Days Tour

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Our Rick Steve's "Best of Italy Tour," starting in Varenna, October 18, through Rome, November 3, 2015.

We flew into Milan and toured the town on our own a few days. Then we took the train to Varenna on Lake Como to formally start our Rick Steves tour with our guide, Lisa Anderson. She was excellent; very organized, helpful to a fault, and took us to a lot of out-of-way places not on the itinerary. What I liked most was the mixture of planned activities and time our own own; a nice balance which I believe gave us a good feel for the people, culture, and historical places we toured throughout Italy. You can read any itinerary for this trip and learn about what you're going to see, but getting to know your traveling companions (there were 28 of us) well, share food (and a cold- achoo!) made it all the better. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone who would really like to get a taste of Italy from Rome north. I had no interest in visiting Italy before, but would go back in a heartbeat. I especially enjoyed our time high up in a ski village in the Dolomite Mountains. Seeing the "big three" of Venice, Florence, and Rome was great, but I also enjoyed seeing Pisa and Assisi, and spending time in places I had never heard of before - Cinque Terre , Siena, and Orvieto. While I know you can't pick your tour hosts, I would give the highest marks to our guide Lisa, her assistant, Alex, and our bus driver extraordinaire, Adrian. They helped put an excellent adventure over the top. Kudos to you Rick Steve's! We'll book another one of your tours in the next few years.
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Company Reviews


We went on the My Way Best of Euope 14 day tour last month. Excellent tour. So much to see!!! We loved it!! I would highly recommend it if you are an independent traveler who doesn't want any stress.
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Highlights of the Lowlands

My first, and definitely not last, Rick Steves tour. Our guide was spectacular and the lodging nice at every location. I was blown away with how good the food was at every group meal.
Read more


Optional Activities

Sightseeing on Your Own

If you arrive in Italy before your tour begins, visiting Milan is a logical choice as we don't spend any time there during the tour. Use the Rick Steves Italy guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of Italian and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.

Here are suggestions for sightseeing in Milan: Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper (reserve from home; details in the Rick Steves Italy guidebook) and Europe's third-largest cathedral, the Duomo. Milan is about an hour by train from Varenna, our tour's departure point, making it an easy pre-tour day trip.

The tour includes a Lake Como ferry pass on Day 2, allowing you to explore the many pleasant towns, such as Menaggio and Bellagio. But if you want more time to explore or hike, you may also want to cruise the lake before the tour begins.

Spending extra time after the tour in Rome? Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing that we do not do as a group: Borghese Gallery (reservations required), Spanish Steps, Capuchin Crypt, National Museum of Rome, Ancient Appian Way (great for biking), and catacombs.

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Standard Group

Maximum Number of People in Group: 28

Additional Information:

Activity Level

This is a very active tour! Most days are moderate to strenuously paced with 2–8 miles of walking, including hilly terrain and lots of stairs.

Trip ID#:


Trip Excludes

  • International Flights
  • Passport and Visa Charges
  • Personal Expenses

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