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Best of Italy or Village Italy

My daughter & I are looking to book our next Rick Steves tour and have our eyes on Italy. Several years ago we took a brief excursion through Rome, Florence & Cinque Terre, but have always wished to return to see things in more detail. The balance of city and village looks nice on "best of", but "village" seems to really get to the charming "back door" parts. Am certain I'd love it all, but any comments on which might be more appealing to a 20 year old? We'll be going in early Sept prior to her return to college. Thank you!

Posted by
4793 posts


Why not have your daughter read what each tour entails & have her pick her favorite?

You & your daughter are the only ones that know your own interests, so I'd think it would be difficult for anyone else to tell you which tour you should go on.

Both tours sound amazing, so whichever you choose, you will enjoy.

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you for your response Priscilla.

We have both read the details of each tour very thoroughly and indeed both sound wonderful. We've also read the reviews of both and trip reports which are very helpful in making the written description come to life. I'm sure we'll figure it out soon, but if there's anyone out there that's done either or has taken teenage/young adults along (or even someone in the tour department willing to chip in), we appreciate any and all input.

Many thanks!

Posted by
16883 posts

It is a tough choice. If the Village tour means less duplication, then I'd say that's one reason to choose it, even though you haven't exhausted Rome or Florence options. It's a shorter tour, so you would have time to add Venice before meeting the group. The Village tour has more food and craft experiences and no big art museums.

Posted by
9933 posts

I did Village Italy this last October and had done Heart Of Italy in 2013. I do not have experience with Best of Italy. I really enjoyed Village Italy. I liked starting in Padua, enjoyed the various food and craft demos as noted by Laura. We tasted wine a couple of times, honey, olive oil, truffles, really fun adventures with local people. The truffle hunt was such fun. Well, the truffle dog actually hunts the truffles, not the people. We also did Siena and Assisi and stayed 2 overnights in Orvieto. I loved the trip up to the Carrara marble quarries. I really enjoyed every experience.

As a side note, many of the sites have relics, so in my mind I thought of this as the relic tour. I saw tongues, jaws, vocal cords (St Anthony Padau), heads, fingers, all manner of fairly gruesome things!

I did not particularly like staying in Levanto for the Cinque Terre time. Really, it is NOT Cinque Terre. And altho I loved Lake Orta it seemed like a long drive from CT up there for one night at Orta San Guilio. The guide started about Day 3 figuring out exit strategies for everyone as the train service is so limited from there you cannot even buy a ticket at the station. Those leaving on the train had to get their tickets at the station in Levanto before we left there. I did stay an extra day at Orta San Guilio and then took a taxi in to Milan that the guide had arranged for us. If you do take this tour, I suggest you just budget for a taxi to Milan or your next destination. I think we split a taxi bill of 150€ among 5 of us directly to our hotel near the Duomo in Milan. It was well worth it. The guide will try to match you up with others heading in the same direction.

Our guide was Trina, who funnily enough we had had for Heart of Italy. She is just wonderful and so very knowledgeable. I always feel like I need to take notes when she is doing a talk on the bus!

I actually have been to Venice, Florence, CT and Rome on other RS tours, but I still eye Best of Italy. I want to see Otzi the Iceman!

The Villages we stayed in were pretty quiet at night so if your daughter wants some nightlife I suspect The Best will fit the bill. If Mom wants daughter away from nightlife, Village! lol Altho I will tell you there was a LOT of wine consumed on the Village tour both at meals and after. People did get together a lot with various bottles picked up during the day.

My real opinion is that you can't go wrong with either.

Posted by
6822 posts

If it was my first time, I think you have to see the Great Cities of Europe first. Come back for the villages. How about doing the Venice-Florence-Rome tour, and adding on a few days on your own before or after, at one or more of the villages?

Posted by
558 posts


I've taken four RS Tours so far. Village Italy, while the only Italy one I took, has been my favorite of all the tours! If you ask many multi-tour-goers on this board, they will say the same thing. I love that we went to places somewhat less touristy (e.g., such as Padua, etc.) and there were lots of fun experiences on this tour. It just seemed cozy. While I enjoyed the big cities ( I had been there before, but not with RS), I really liked the Village tour, because it felt a little more like the "real" Italy. :). You can always add on a few days before or after in one of the big cities and then fly home from there, getting both the big and little city feel :).

I say go for Village Italy!!!

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you all so much for your help! These were exactly the kinds of thoughts/descriptions I was looking for. Most likely we'll go "village Italy" with a few days in Venice before. Though fond of museums & cultural time in cities, both of us do enjoy quiet times/outdoors so very much looking forward to seeing these more cozy areas of Italy.

Posted by
9933 posts

If you do choose Village Italy, I definitely recommend staying in Venice a few days ahead of time. We went out to Padua the day the tour started and really I wish we had gone the day before as there were quite a few things we did not get to see. Also check Rick's book ahead of time regarding the days restaurants are closed. We goofed up by not doing that and thus one of the places other tour members recommended was closed the day we went looking to eat there.

If you have the time, I also recommend a night at Milan at the end. Take the taxi to Milan and at least wander the Duomo area before you head back home.

I wonder if you are taking the PDX -> AMS flight? I flew back AMS -> SEA leaving early in the AM from Linate Airport in Milan. Next time I would come back in stages so I didn't have to leave early, early from Linate. The transit at AMS was very easy though.

Posted by
260 posts

I agree with Pam that ending in Lake Orta was kind of a pain. We stayed an extra night as well (it was our anniversary, didn't want to be on a plane for it). Really wasn't enough to do there for an extra night although it was delightfully uncrowded (compared to Como, for example). We had no one to travel to the airport in Milan with, so it was a super expensive cab trip. I wish they would rethink that ending location, frankly. OTOH: I really liked Levanto. Thanks to RS, the Cinque Terre is horribly crowded now (we were there on our very first R. S. tour about five years ago - what a difference now). We scurried back to Levanto and walked on the lovely promenade by the sea. Nothing but us and some locals. Levanto was a real town - not totally designed for tourists. I never want to go to the CT again, except perhaps in waywayway off season (g).

Besides those criticisms, I very much enjoyed all my RS Italy tours - but my absolute favorite was the Southern Italy tour with Nina B. as the guide. I loved it! BTW: we had Jamie for our first tour, his wife Nina (not Nina B) for second tour. All three was wonderful guides.