My husband and I are doing the Italy my way tour in June 2020. Just looking for feedback on prior experiences or if anyone else is booked to go around the same time?
We have done multiple RS tours (9) and are returning to Italy for the second year in a row. Last year was Rome and Sicily, this year Best of Tuscany. What keeps us coming back are the great guides-the RS guides and the local guides. We were fortunate to have the great Francesca for our tour of the forum, colosseum and The Borghese. (My wife had her on her Best of Europe tour with our daughter a decade ago). We had seen these sites while traveling independently many years ago, but having this splendid guide made it all the more worthwhile. We also enjoyed two food tours-one included with the Rome tour, another on our own before the tour started. We looked at the My Way tours and added in the cost of hiring guides, procuring tickets to sites, etc. and it simply did not pencil out for us. I hope you enjoy your tour and please post when you return. If you are still on the fence consider a traditional RS tour.
I did this tour in October and absolutely loved it. I have taken quite a few RS guided tours but felt I had gotten into just following the tour and not planning enough. My big suggestion is to start planning what you want to see in each city and start getting tickets for some of the more popular places. The itinerary shows approximately what time you will be free for sightseeing upon arrival in each city and they were pretty accurate times. Also, look at their suggestions for things to do. I used a combination of Walks to Italy tours, free (not really} tours and the RS audio guides. All were excellent. I prepurchased tickets to the Accademia and Ufizzi in Florence, the Borghese in Rome and the Last Supper in Milan, which I did as a side trip from Lake Como. Our tour escort was a huge help in planning and places to eat and also planned a couple of group dinners/happy hours. The group I was with also planned some get togethers and most people attended. Let me know if you have any other questions about the tour. I think you will really enjoy it.
My husband and I took this tour (our first RS tour) in Sept 2016 and loved it - loved Italy - and want to return. Since Rick plans the hotels and transportation, all you need to focus on is the activity in each city you will visit. If Rick's Italy guidebook says to reserve your admission in advance - do it! We booked the Academia, Uffizi, and Pristine Sistene (before the crowds) as soon as the reserved times opened for the day we'd be in town. Also, consider a specific time for St Mark's Basilica in Venice to avoid the long wait lines. Remember that you will still need to wait in a shorter line for security at each venue. You may need to 'open' your credit card to international charges to book from the Italian websites. Your tour manager will have morning "office hours" if you need assistance particularly with local transportation (metro or taxi). We were surprised at how much we enjoyed Lake Como/Varenna and Assisi, both small, more relaxing and yet with plenty to see and do. And enjoy the gelato!
Thank you for the feedback. We are looking forward to it for sure. We are going for our 25th Anniversary. I was in Italy but only briefly back in 2014. I fell in love with it then and am sure I will love it again. I am trying to plan but I am finding there are so many things I want to do that I really need to try and narrow it down.
There are always way more interesting possibilities than there are hours in the day. My general procedure has three key elements:
Know what's available and the hours/days it is open. Check the websites not too long before departure to be sure nothing is closed for renovations. You don't want to waste time traveling across town only to face a locked door. Note that attractive sights of not-quite-top importance sometimes are rented out for functions like weddings, which can block or limit access by the public. One would hope that information would be on the website, but it might not be there very far in advance. In Italy I have missed out on seeing a few churches because I arrived on a Saturday (in June on my most recent trip), which turns out to be a popular time for Italian weddings. I wasn't about to wander around a church where a private ceremony was taking place.
Check locally with the tourist office (if it's convenient) and/or the tour manager about new exhibitions, etc., that might be of interest. Also pay attention to posters you pass by. It's really rare for me to go to a large city and not discover at least one opportunity I didn't know about before arrival.
When you start making cuts, consider how long it will take you to get somewhere. Maybe it will be better to see Priorities 5, 6 and 7 rather than going on a long trek to Priority 3.