• Discover Mosaics of Ravenna's San Vitale & Galla Placidia tour
  • Enjoy Basilica of St. Francis tour
  • Orvieto cathedral and Signorelli's frescoes
  • Experience Lucca bike ride and Ligurian Coast boat excursion

La dolce vita (the sweet life) describes the intimate magic of small town Italy. This 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, 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.

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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
Village Italy in 14 Days Tour

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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



Highlights of the Lowlands May 2016

  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
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.

Operator Rick Steves


Day 1: 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. Sleep in Padua (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: All Day to Discover Padua

We'll hit the ground walking this morning, 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 (when available). 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. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 3: Ravenna and Hill Town of Montefalco

We'll drive to nearby Ravenna this morning for a tour of the brilliantly preserved mosaics in Ravenna's Byzantine San Vitale Basilica and Galla Placidia Mausoleum. After lunch we'll climb up into the Umbria region to the untouristed little hill town of Montefalco. The rest of your afternoon and evening is free for wandering through this rustic stone village. Sleep in Montefalco (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: Assisi and Truffles

This morning we'll take a short drive to St. Francis' hometown of Assisi, where a local guide will introduce us to the winding medieval streets before touring the magnificent art-filled Basilica. 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 stay on the farm for a while, joining the family for a hearty, home-cooked dinner (including the truffles). Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 5: Deruta and Orvieto

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. Sleep in Orvieto (2 nights). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 6: Umbrian Hill Towns

It's 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. In the afternoon, we'll drive down the road and then hike up to the ultimate back door hill town, Civita di Bagnoregio. You'll have free time to revel in the traffic-free alleyways, astounding views, and hidden treasures that make this village so special. Then it's back to Orvieto for a free evening. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 7: 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 see 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 and sleep (2 nights). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 8: Tranquil Tuscany

This 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, as well as 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. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 9: Hill Towns and 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. Sleep in Lucca (2 nights). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 10: Lovely Lucca and Olive Groves

This 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. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: moderate.

Day 11: Carrara's Marble and the 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 will 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. Our boat will dock in the beach town of Levanto, our home base for il dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing), where we'll share a family-prepared seafood feast. Sleep in Levanto (2 nights). Boat: 2 hrs. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 12: All Day on the Italian Riviera

You'll take a "vacation from your vacation" today 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, starting with Riomaggiore's Via dell'Amore. 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 13: Lago d'Orta

We'll make a beeline 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! Sleep in Orta San Giulio (1 night). Boat: 1 hr. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. Milan's closest airport, Malpensa, is 60–90 minutes away by taxi or bus. Your guide will help coordinate transportation to Malpensa, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Grazie e ciao!

Dates & Pricing
Checking price

Price From

$ 3,995

Price Per Day:

$ 285 per day
  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 675
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 Italy come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 22 group sightseeing events , Padua walking tour , Scrovegni Chapel tour , Padua's Anatomy Theater (when available) , Mosaics of Ravenna's San Vitale and Galla Placidia tour , Assisi walking tour , Basilica of St. Francis tour , Truffle hunt , Deruta pottery demonstration , Wine tasting , Orvieto walking tour , Orvieto Cathedral and Signorelli's frescoes , Civita hill town visit , Etruscan Museum tour , Italian cooking class , Siena orientation walk and visit , Tuscan hill town visits , Lucca walking tour , Olive oil tasting and lunch , Carrara marble quarry tour , Ligurian Coast boat excursion (weather permitting) , Orientation for "vacation" day on Italian Riviera , Lake Orta boat excursion…and more
  • All group transportation from Padua to Lake Orta
  • 13 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 Italy 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 a few suggestions for sightseeing in Padua that we do not do as a group (see guidebook for details): Basilica of St. Anthony, Baptistery, Piano Nobile (a.k.a. il Ridotto) of Caffè Pedrocchi. You may also want to consider spending time in Venice or Milan.

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 moderately active tour! Most days are moderately paced with 2–8 miles of walking, including some hills and stairs.

Trip ID#: VilItaRic

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