• Visit historical site Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli
  • Experience Gargano boat cruise
  • Have a chance for Capodimonte Museum tour
  • Enjoy Naples neighborhood walk
  • Visit Art museum Sansevero Chapel

This tour treats you to the slice of Italy that's richest in contrasts, from cities to beaches, and from rugged to glamorous. After touring the wonders of Rome, your Rick Steves guide will take you across Italy's boot to the wild beauty of the Gargano Peninsula and Adriatic Coast. You'll meander through the untouristed Puglia and Basilicata regions, followed by the must-see historic sites at Paestum and Pompeii, the jaw-dropping vistas of the Amalfi Coast, and the untamed energy of Naples. Join us for the Best of South Italy in 13 Days!

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Rick Steves Travel Reviews & Ratings
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4.9 Guide
5.0 Activities
5.0 Lodging
5.0 Transportation
5.0 Meals
Best of South Italy in 13 Days Tour

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Our Rick Steve's "Best of Italy Tour," starting in Varenna, October 18, through Rome, November 3, 2015. January 2017

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
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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Operator Rick Steves



Great Tour of Paris July 2016

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
My family and I took the seven day Paris tour run by Rick Steves and had a great time. Excellent guide and perfect mix of scheduled events and free time. The specialist guides in the museums provided essentially a college level class on art history and appreciation which made it all the more special. The accommodations were well located and nicely sized. The mix of free time was excellent for my photography so I never felt rushed nor did we hold up the group. We look forward to booking another Rick Steves tour sometime in the future.
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Operator Rick Steves



Excellent! October 2015

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
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.

Operator Rick Steves



Absolutely fantastic tour! October 2015

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Just got back from the Best of Scandinavia Tour. It was absolutely fantastic in every respect: Great venues and sights, great food and lodging, great local tour guides, a wonderful group to travel with, but the best part was having two fantastic professional guides with us every day to make everything come to life and help us connect in a very meaningful way with the cultures and lands we were there to experience. This is my second RS tour and I would say both have exceeded my expectations. I would highly recommend RS tours to anyone looking to travel in this part of the world!!
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Operator Rick Steves



Rick Steve's tours are the best! October 2015

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We had a glorious time in Europe. Rick Steve's tours are the best way to learn about the various country's history, people, and culture. Great recommendations for places to eat when you're on your own. Fun meeting people in the tour group.
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Operator Rick Steves


Day 1: Welcome to Italy

We'll gather at our Rome hotel at 4 p.m. for a "Welcome to Italy" group meeting. Afterward, we'll take an evening stroll through the meandering streets of "village" Rome on our way to tonight's trattoria, where we'll get acquainted over dinner together. Sleep in Rome (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: Layers of Rome

This morning we'll tour the world's oldest museum, the Capitoline. Here we'll learn about Rome's golden age through its most treasured sculptures, including the sublime Dying Gaul, the imposing Marcus Aurelius on horseback, and the emblematic She-Wolf suckling Rome's tiny founding brothers: Romulus and Remus. Then we'll take an eye-opening walk along the east bank of the Tiber, where we'll learn about the rich, yet often-overlooked, history of Rome's Jewish Ghetto. The rest of the day is yours to wander through the Roman Colosseum and Forum next door, enjoy the panoramic city view from atop the nearby Victor Emmanuel Monument, or make a modern-day pilgrimage to St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican City. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 3: Tivoli and the Gargano Peninsula

We'll leave Rome early, stopping in the nearby hills to learn about the Roman Emperor Hadrian, at the ruins of his monumental villa at Tivoli. An enthusiastic traveler and builder, his lasting legacy includes his great wall across Britain, the domed Pantheon, and his stylish beard. Then we'll drive up and over the Apennine spine of Italy, and on to the shores of the Adriatic Sea. Our destination this evening is the tip of the rugged Gargano Peninsula, one of the most beautiful areas of Southern Italy — and still unknown to American travelers. At our cliffside hotel we'll share dinner tonight, and sleep in Vieste (2 nights). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: Vieste and the Adriatic Coast

Vieste's beaches are packed with Italians in mid-summer. But when we arrive we'll find a peaceful contrast to the hustle and bustle of Rome. Today we'll take a boat cruise (weather permitting) along the craggy Gargano Coast, marveling at the picture-perfect coves, hidden grottos and unusual rock formations that make this coastline unforgettable. We'll return to Vieste for a pasta-making demonstration and lunch, followed by plenty of time to wander through the town or simply luxuriate on the beach. Boat: 1½ hrs. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 5: Alberobello and Matera

Today we'll head off the tourist path, continuing through Puglia and into the Basilicata region, with a stop to learn about and sample some local wines, meats, and cheeses. In Alberobello, we'll explore cone-shaped, stone trulli houses that are still lived in today. Then we'll drive on to the town of Matera, which includes one of the world's most unique neighborhoods — the Sassi — completely made up of ancient stone and cave dwellings. Sleep in Matera (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 6: The Wonders of Matera

With the help of a locally grown expert, we'll learn the stories of old and new Matera. We'll begin our day discovering the wonders of the 9,000-year-old Sassi. We'll go inside a Sassi home to gain an appreciation for the cave-dwelling conditions endured by the residents until they were relocated 60 years ago. We'll continue our education with a visit to a rock hewn church, and a look at the new town. You'll have the rest of your day free to wander through the different layers of Matera. This evening, watch — or better yet join — the ritual passeggiata of strolling locals in this authentic, untouristed part of Italy. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 7: Greek Paestum and Positano

Early this morning we'll drive into the Campania region and tour an organic water buffalo farm which produces the prized local specialty, mozzarella di bufala. We'll go into the barns and learn how this tasty delicacy is made and enjoy a gourmet lunch together including (you guessed it) fresh buffalo mozzarella. After lunch, we'll continue on to Paestum, to marvel at this site's awe-inspiring lineup of three ancient Greek temples — the best-preserved collection in Europe. Then we are off to the dramatic Amalfi Coast. We'll follow the cliff-clinging road that winds above the sea to Positano, where we'll sleep (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 8: Free Day on the Amalfi Coast

The day is all yours to enjoy the breathtaking Amalfi Coast. Take a local bus along the twisting roads and wild beauty of the Amalfi highway, hopping off to explore cliffside villages along the way or take advantage of the sea and take a public boat to the neighboring towns. Check out the sweeping views from Ravello, the candy-striped church in Amalfi town, the narrow streets and posh shops of Positano, or let gravity pull you down to a beach to relax upon. Tonight will be a great night to find a trattoria with a glorious sunset view. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 9: Pompeii and Sorrento

This morning we'll make a short drive to serene Sorrento. After dropping our bags at the hotel, we'll have an orientation walk through the town on our way to watch the creation of an Italian culinary masterpiece — gelato; then you'll be free for lunch. We'll re-group for a thoughtful visit of unlucky Pompeii, where, with an ace local guide, we'll get a look at everyday life, frozen in time two millennia ago. After free time to explore more of Pompeii on your own, we'll hop aboard the Circumvesuviana commuter train back to our cliff-hugging home set amongst the lemon groves. Sleep in Sorrento (2 nights). Train: 1 hr. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 10: Serene Sorrento and Capri

Today is all yours. Your guide will help you arrange an optional boat ride to Capri, where you can then take a much smaller boat to the deservedly famous Blue Grotto. Or, spend all or part of the day enjoying Capri's remarkable views, winding lanes, fancy summer homes, and lovely gardens. Or, stay in Sorrento and wander through the shop-lined back streets, stopping to savor il dolce far niente — the sweetness of doing nothing. This evening we will meet for a home-hosted dinner with a local Sorrento family. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 11: Classy, Gritty Naples

After a morning drive, we'll have an easy introduction to Naples at the beautiful hilltop Museo Capodimonte, home to southern Italy's best collection of Renaissance paintings, including masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, and El Greco. After lunch in the city that invented pizza, we'll be introduced to Naples' grittier side on a Vespa-dodging, laundry-flapping, slice-of-Neapolitan-life walking tour through the heart of this chaotic, memorable city. Sleep in Naples (2 nights). Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 12: Exploring More of Naples

We'll begin our morning with a visit to the serene Cappella Sansevero, home to amazingly lifelike sculptures that have to be seen to be believed. We'll continue touring the greatest treasures of Pompeii, brought to Naples' National Archeological Museum for safekeeping. We'll also be dazzled by the Farnese collection including the largest single sculpture ever recovered from antiquity: The Farnese Bull. This larger-than-life riot of animal, human, and divine struggle was adored and painstakingly restored by Michelangelo. Then, armed with the confidence and Neapolitan street-smarts you've learned from your guide, your afternoon is free for making your own discoveries. Tonight we'll get together for a special dinner to share travel memories and toast new friends. Salute! No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 13: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. It's a breeze to reach Naples' airport by taxi, easily arranged through our hotel. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Grazie e ciao!

Dates & Pricing

Price From

$ 3,395

Price Per Day:

$ 261 per day
  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 725
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
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 South Italy come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 19 group sightseeing events , Trastevere walking tour , Jewish Ghetto walking tour , Capitoline Museum tour , Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli , Gargano boat cruise (weather permitting) , Pasta-making demonstration , Alberobello visit , Puglia wine tasting , Matera Sassi walking tour , Mozzarella farm visit , Paestum visit , Pompeii tour , Gelato-making demonstration , Orientation for Capri excursion , Sorrento home-hosted dinner , Capodimonte Museum tour , Naples neighborhood walk , Sansevero Chapel , Naples Archaeology Museum tour…and more
  • All group transportation from Rome to Naples
  • 12 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 for important details regarding everything listed above.
Trip Excludes
  • International Airfare
  • Passport and visa charge
  • Airport transfers
  • Any kind of insurances
  • Other personal expenses
Optional Activities

Sightseeing on Your Own

If you arrive in Rome before your tour begins, 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 Rome that we do not do as a group: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican Museums.

Thinking of spending more time in Italy after the tour? From Naples you may want to make the trip up to the top of Mount Vesuvius; visit the impressive, ash-covered ruins of Herculaneum; you may even consider heading back south to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast; or train back up to Rome for more time exploring the Eternal City.

This tour does not include a visit to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica. However it is often a highlight for any traveler and one we highly recommend. Avoid the lines by booking tickets several weeks in advance. For more details, visit our Vatican Museums & St. Peter's information page.

Flights & Transport
Only ground transport
Group Size:
Standard Group
Maximum Number of People in Group: 28
Start City
End City
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#: BesSouRic

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