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Italy: Heart of Italy, Village Italy, or another tour provider??

Hi all. I posted here some time ago when I thought I might be going to Italy soon, but sadly I wasn’t able to make it happen. I am now pretty confident I can make a trip happen in April or May 2020, but I am feeling kind of overwhelmed by options and looking for advice from some more seasoned travelers!

My husband and I have never been to Italy. We are late thirties/mid forties between the two of us and in good enough shape to handle a brisk pace. I am trying to plan a trip to include another couple. They have been before, and are looking for a more off the beaten path experience (fwiw, my husband is also fine with this despite not having seen the major sights).

I know I could research and book an itinerary on my own and save money, but I think this being my first trip to Europe since my early 20s that I prefer to get my feet wet in an environment where there is a point person for any issues/problems and some level of imposed organization. I contacted a reputable land tour company that normally works with TAs and they presented a trip that came in around 4K pp excluding air and included hotels in Rome, Florence, and Sorrento, as well as private transfers from and to the airport as well as to the train station and first class train fare between Rome-Florence and Florence-Sorrento. Tours included private half day of the coliseum/forum and Vatican in Rome, catacombs tour in Rome, Academia tour in Florence, full day Cinque Terre tour, private guide at Pompeii, excursion to Capri, and drive along the Amalfi Coast with private driver. It covers 11 nights.

It sounds great, but lacks 100% private transportation with a dedicated guide, and I don’t think my friend will find it compelling as she has already seen Rome and Florence. I think she would be much more interested in the itinerary for Village Italy, which sounds like an absolutely amazing tour. But it seems wrong to miss Rome on my first visit to Italy, and I don’t see an efficient way to spend time in Rome before or after this tour based on where it starts and ends.

My other thought was do Heart of Italy, since it is fairly reasonably priced for a tour, and then add on time in small town Tuscany or Umbria, but that would again require a level of planning and research I don’t feel super confident about.

So, I’m kind of all over the place. What do all of you think?

Posted by
5639 posts

kate-the-squirrel, what a tough decision you'll have to make, especially since everyone has different experience and expectations. That in itself would point me to a tour in order to take the planning and logistics burden off you. We did a RS tour to Italy for that reason and were very glad we did. Having guides makes it very efficient and you get to see more, and not argue about where you're going to eat most of the time. Independent might be cheaper, but you get less, IMO.

However, this statement ". . . It sounds great, but lacks 100% private transportation with a dedicated guide . . . " gives me pause, and i think you and your friends want to take a close look at the tour conditions and expectations for any of the RS tours. Transportation from one town to the next is by coach, but when you're at a location, much of the touring is on foot. That, as well as the carry-your-own-bags requirement, and the sometimes quirky hotels are a big put-off for some people. RS is not a deluxe tour. There are companies like Tauck that can provide that if you can afford it.

Your other statement was " . . . I don’t see an efficient way to spend time in Rome before or after this tour based on where it starts and ends . . . ". You'll have to fly in and out of Italy somewhere, one option of course being Rome. It would be easy to fly into Rome for a few days, and then take a train to Padua to join the tour.

Heart of Italy looks good too, and a RS Italy Guidebook and this forum can help with the planning.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for your input! I should clarify a bit. When I mention private transportation and the services of a dedicated guide, I’m really focused on the between locations logistics and the availability of a go to person for questions/recommendations. I can tell that there is a lot of walking involved in the tours as well as free time, which is absolutely fine with me. I’m
not after the “luxury” experience, more like a support framework that takes some pressure off me.

You make a good point that we have to land and depart somewhere and it could be Rome. I guess I’m being too dismissive of adding Rome because it’s several hours away from the start and end of the tour. But it’s not impossible. Something to consider for sure. Any experience with or advice for using Italian trains?

Posted by
5639 posts

Yes and you'll need to get to Padua from wherever you land and from Lake Orta (for the Village Italy example), so you may need to use the trains anyway. You can start here RS train tips also the website "man in seat 61". Look at the Trenitalia (the Italian rail company) site for schedules and fare information. Then there are details about cheap fares or walk-up rates, etc., that you can get help with understanding here on the forum. You won't need a railpass. Once you get the ticketing figured out, its easy. You just show up at the rail station, find the right platform for your train, make any connections along the way, and enjoy the ride. Tip: you need to use the Italian spelling of cities (Roma, Padova, Firenze, etc.)

Posted by
1341 posts

The high-speed trains from Rome to Venice take only 3 1/2 to 3/ 3/4 hours. Then, after you see Venice to whatever extent you wish, it's only around 1/2 hour by train to Padova, where the Village Italy tour starts. If you book the Trenitalia high-speed train early (< 121 days prior to your trip), you may be able to save money, although then you're locked in to that particular train.

Posted by
2396 posts

Take a look at the new RS tour, Best of Tuscany. We’ve done the Village Italy tour and it’s great, but this one “spoke” to us since we heard about it this summer. It starts in Florence and ends in Lucca. It’s visiting places many tourists don’t and there is a lot of focus on food and wine. Our experience with our many RS tours is that wine is included in Italy with all meals (well, not breakfast, although there was Prosecco available at 7 AM in Sicily!). You could fly into Rome, spend a few days, take the short train to Florence for the tour. From Lucca you can train back to Florence to return home, or return to Rome, or even extend your trip. We are signed up for this tour. We have not booked flights yet. But from Lucca we are training to Bologna for two nights then Parma for two nights. These two cities are all about food and wine for us and we are going to book tours that include winery’s, prosciutto factories and, of course, cheese.

Posted by
1698 posts

The new RS tour mentioned by Alan sounds like just the thing for you. Add four days in Rome at the end and you'll be all set.

I prefer to get my feet wet in an environment where there is a point person for any issues/problems and some level of imposed organization.

I know the thought of independent travel can be daunting, but in this day of internet, it really is easy to make your own plans. We booked our recent stays in London, Paris and Tuscany via the internet. Everything was arranged, including the rental car, before we left. Do your homework when selecting accommodations. There's plenty of review sites, including here, that can steer you to problem free rooms. We had absolutely no problems with our independent trips over the last 17 years.

Someone mentioned the type of hotels used by RS and that Tauck tends to provide higher class digs. We all have different requirements, but we actually prefer to stay at more modest hotels and B&Bs. We've stayed on working dairy farms, sat in the kitchen of a B&B helping the owners make crab salad on their AGA stove, meeting a very pregnant Clydesdale mare on another farm and staying at a charming winery in Tuscany.

Staying at swankier places, especially American owned properties (Hilton, Marriot, etc.) insulates you from the charms of the country you visit. I travel extensively for work in the US. The last thing a want to do is stay at yet another bland Americanized hotel when we travel to Europe.

Posted by
4448 posts

We love RS tours (recently signed up for our 15th!), in large part because of the guide. RS guides don't just show you things, they teach. And some of the RS tours, the ones called "Cultural Connections" in the catalogue, are big on experiencing, not just seeing.

We haven't done the Heart of Italy, but I heartily recommend Village Italy. It is packed with great experiences such as visiting a truffle farm, an olive oil mill, a family owned winery, a ceramics studio, a marble quarry, and more. And many of these visits include wonderful food.

While you can certainly arrange these kinds of experiences on your own, it's a pleasure to sit back knowing that the logistics are taken care of.

We do also enjoy travel on our own, so always make it a point to add as much time as we can before and after our tours. When we did the VI tour, for example, we spent three or four days on our own in Padua before the tour, and another three or four in Milan afterward. Best of both worlds!

Posted by
862 posts

I would go with Village Italy, off the beaten with a point person. Rome can wait. Do it when you can devote more time.

Posted by
3640 posts

I’m somewhat surprised from what you’ve written that your friend and you aren’t sitting down together coming up with a plan. It sounds like you’re trying to do the work and others are giving you feedback. If that’s the case, I would definitely go with a tour, or you will end up on the “people-pleasing” end of the trip, and that’s not fun or fair to you.

I would recommend that you fly into Rome or whatever appeals to you, and then you could start a tour with them. By the way, we took the RS Best of Italy trip several years ago, and every place on that itinerary was a “wow”! I like Italy so much, that I’ve been back several times. That tour was the springboard for these trips. Have a great time!

Posted by
627 posts

my advice is to show up 3-4 days in advance of the tour in Rome, just you and your husband since the other couple isn't interested in seeing Rome again. There are plenty of walking tours you can take, museums to visit, etc. RS even lists guides you can hire if that's in the budget. The first day a fair amount of time is lost by the time you arrive and from jetlag, and on the last day you need to leave by noon or so in order to get to Padua. So its really 2 plus days in Rome, easy to fill on your own.

Then take the fast train to Venice, and a local back to Padua. Meet your friends there.

Posted by
826 posts

Let me jump in here with 100% support for Village Italy. It is everything I want in a tour -except as pointed out, the major cities. Your major city intro could be Milan, Venice, Florence, or Rome, depending on the ease of transportation (airport, best flight, etc.). For me, ease is key - unless there is something really compelling you to one entry point or another, for ex. Easter in Rome. For this tour, I was coming from the north so took the train into Padua and took a separate day (in advance of the tour) in Venice - easy, peasy train ride.

When I start travel planning, I am like a kid in a candy store - I want it all. It helps if I can buy into the mantra of "I will return". So far that has worked for me, and I have been able to build on my first visits and expand my experience.

Village Italy highlights for me: Orvieto and Lucca, and a day on the beach in CT (I did not partake of hiking in favor of leisure on the beach, a vaca from my vaca). I would never have thought of going to Montefalco on my own, nor would I most likely have stayed at the agriturismo in Tuscany that is part of this tour. Again, I took a vaca day there to relax under the trees and swim in the pool. I learned so much AND, was able to take some down-time which I really needed. PS, couples/pairs did not always opt to spend their free-time together.

Other RS Italy tours: My first tour was the now defunct 7 Day Venice tour. I have taken VFR twice, mainly because of time/date restrictions. And one visit is never enough. I hope to do Heart of Italy, again when the shorter time aligns with my work-schedule. I often consider MyWay Italy (I have done MyWay Alpine and enjoyed it tremendously - structure and support + lots of freedom of choice re how to spend time). New Tuscany tour: I have not fully digested that yet, but am looking forward to adding it to my portfolio.

So, if you think off the beaten path is your preferred option, Village Italy is a wonderful experience. Myself, I would pick April because tourism picks up a bit in May, and I have yet to get over my Enchanted April fantasy. The first scheduled Village tour starts the day after Easter, so you could explore Easter in Florence (google it) or Rome. I think I would opt for Florence - just a personal preference.

Oh - I like travel planning. I enjoy it tremendously. But the fun stuff is not picking a hotel and the best train times. The fun stuff is what to do at locations, or little extras you might explore along the way of your tour. The logistics of hotel and transport can be wearing when you have limited time and are returning to work at the end of a tour. If you like Italy and travel, you can fit that kind of travel in, in the future. You are on vacation. Enjoy!

Posted by
1068 posts

Have you looked at RS South Italy or the Sicily tours? We are doing both of these back to back next May. You could also look at the Odysseys Unlimited tours of Italy. Odysseys is a bit more high end but includes the airfare and airport transfers if they book the airfare for you. If you choose to do your own airfare with an Odysseys tour, ask for the land only price. With Odysseys you will also tip the guide $10 to $15 per person per day so factor that into the price. Both companies are good and you will have a good time.

Posted by
18117 posts

I'm cheap and very much enjoy planning my own trips, so I lean toward independent travel. However, I could be tempted by a tour that focuses on smaller towns, because the logistical advantage of dedicated transportation would add a lot of value. I have no problem with using Italian trains (you don't need first class) and buses, but you can spend a lot of time moving from Small Town A to Small Town B by public transportation. All the RS tours have the advantage of including special experiences and providing strong guides who make it part of their job to teach you how to travel on your own. The small-town tours like Village Italy have the extra advantage of getting you to charming places that would be more time-consuming for independent travelers to reach.

Travel agents make part of their money off commissions. All those private transfers, private tours, etc.--money in the travel agent's pocket. It's not that they don't have any value, but they may not all have a great deal of value to you (young, healthy, travelers). I'd want to make my own choice about tours, not just accept some generic list of things proposed by a travel agent getting a cut of the cost.

Incidentally, I liked Padua a lot. It has a large historic district and a bunch of worthwhile sights. Don't hesitate to get there a day early.

Posted by
8008 posts

I've done both Heart of Italy and Village Italy.

Heart of Italy was my first RS tour and was an excellent introduction to Italy. For that trip I was traveling with my brother, SIL and their 2 adult sons (25 and 20) and the older kiddo was very restricted in what time he could take off so that's why we chose Heart of Italy. It was excellent - 2 big cities and 2 smaller locations. The guide taught us how to use the Metro in Rome - none of us has ever lived where there is public transportation so that was good, plus taught us history, culture and art. IF you decide to do this one, add a few days in Rome ahead of time. The metro system there isn't very big so it's pretty easy to walk everywhere from the area where Rick's tours usually stay. IF you have the time, add on extra days in Florence as well.

I did Village Italy the next year and loved this one as well. I really enjoyed the smaller villages and hands on experiences (wine tasting, olive oil tasting - bleech, honey tasting, etc). There was art, cathedrals and other historical sites but I loved that it concentrated on small towns. The ending in Orta San Giulio positions you for a few days in Milan (I spent one night and wished I had spent 2 nights there). The guide helps with arrangements for departure from there so will bunch people who have flights or other arrangements into a taxi so the fare is shared. By then you're all friends as well. My error on this trip was not allowing an extra night in Padua which I really liked. We spent 2 nights in Venice and I should have moved us to Padua the night before the tour started.

Live and learn! The RS tours generally start in an interesting town, even if it's small so it's a good idea to plan an extra night or 2 there!

I've done 11 RS tours and I really enjoy the guides, the groups and the itineraries. I like their emphasis on teaching you to travel independently. The hilarious thing is that you learn how to do it on your own but the tours are such fun you keep coming back for more!

Either are wonderful - you can't go wrong and ....trust me on this... it will increase your confidence as a European traveler!

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you everyone for all your carefully considered advice! I’m going to have to mull it over and make some tough choices. I think the bottom line is that you can’t have a bad time in Italy so there’s no way to lose!
Now I just have to fully convince my husband that a tour group isn’t a drag when it’s a RS tour group!

Posted by
8008 posts

Now...the critical question. Have you ordered the RS 2020 Tour Catalog? lolol!!

https://www.ricksteves.com/publications/tour-catalog-dvd-form

You don't have your location noted in your profile so I'll add that if you all live in the Seattle area Rick's office has some neat free programs. In January there is a full day called Test Drive a Tour Guide with LOTS of presentations about different tours and instructional travel seminars (ie Packing Light, lol!)

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/travel-classes

Posted by
3446 posts

You can also find detailed descriptions of the tours on this website here at Italy Tours, complete with detailed itineraries.

And you can find detailed information on Italy and its towns here at Explore Europe: Italy.

I was on a Village Italy tour in June, 2017. I did a multi-city (open jaw) flight combination, home to Rome and Milan to home. I loved the tour because, as others have said, we saw and experienced things I'd never think of doing on my own. This was my 2nd RS tour. All my other trips have been totally self-planned, as was my time before and after this tour.

I rented an apartment in Rome for 6 nights prior to the tour. I used that time to see and do some things I hadn't seen or done there before.

From there I took the train to spend 2 nights in Ravenna so that I'd have the day between to visit the amazing mosaics. The VI tour only stops there for a couple of hours, not nearly enough time for me.

Then it was on to Venice by train where I rented an apartment for 5 nights, again using the time to experience the city more than I'd ever done before.

I took the train from Venice to Padua on the first day of the tour, arriving in plenty of time to settle in before the initial first evening meeting and dinner.

After the end of the tour, I joined a group of people in a van arranged by the guide for the trip to Milan. We were dropped off at the train station, which was very convenient for me because I was spending the next 3 nights in a hotel right across the street. I'd never been to Milan before, so I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and could've used more.

The point is that you can sandwich Village Italy or any other tour inside self-planned time on your own to see and do things that the tour doesn't. I find that with the excellent train service, this is especially easy to do in Italy.

Posted by
9 posts

Also I would love some more feedback on Heart of Italy from those who have done it...it’s very affordable so it seems like a good choice to bookend with independent travel, but the pace seems intense. Those that did it, were you too exhausted to enjoy yourself? How much of the “2 to 8 miles a day” is based on free time and therefore optional? Did you feel like you had enough time in each location to appreciate it?

Posted by
826 posts

Hi, again. I have not taken Heart (it is on my "coming-soon" list), but it gets the same 2-8 mile rating as Village. Go into the itinerary and look at each day. It seems that the days in Rome are strenuous and the others moderate. In Rome, quite possibly the strenuous label is because of the nature of the walking (up and down) vs the sheer lengths of time/distance. Heart does give a nice combo of places - 2 larger cities and the rest with more of a town ambience. And, option for time-out in CT. I love the fact that Lucca is a day stop on this tour. Lucca is one of my favorites. As you say, the price is good and the time-span amenable to individual travel before and after. Looks like there are more spring travel options for this tour, too.

Hopefully others will chime in who have been on the tour. Oh, don't forget to look at alumni scrapbooks. Search (top of each page on this site) on Scrapbooks and you get visual depictions of fellow travellers' experiences on specific tour. This comes in handy not only to get a feel for a tour but also for the weather and dress at different times of the year.

Posted by
3 posts

My husband and I recently booked the HOI Tour for May 2020. We're in a mind-thirties and this will be our 2nd RS Tour. I haven't read all the comments, but agree you should have an agreement for your group on all the places you would prefer to see. My husband is focused on history and art, so HOI was the best choice for us (his choice because I've been there more recently). Additionally, you cant beat the value (hotels, meals, transportation, guide, local guides, entrance fees, etc.!). If I planned this trip for us on my own it would be a lot more. Last year we were told by fellow travelers that we were smart to start traveling with RS Tours so young (I guess we were the young ones on that tour!) because so much is covered in the cost. The con, while not bad, is traveling light. As reviewers have commented, you are responsible for you luggage. The more you take the more you have to watch over. We have large travel backpacks to help with this, but they leave little to no room for purchases. I'd be happy to talk with you in Private Message if you have any specific questions on our HOI Tour. Best of luck!

Posted by
185 posts

Look at OAT overseas adventure travels Village Italy tour. It ends in Rome for the final night. I went last year and it is very similar to a RS tour. Also lots of wine served with the Italian food. 😀

Posted by
132 posts

HOI was my 8th RST this past late April departure. At just 2-nights per 4 stops it is decidedly fast-paced yet the typically efficiently-designed RST itinerary makes really good use of your time. All local guides encountered on this tour are absolutely stellar and that goes a very long way in making the tour quite memorable. While it is completely likely you will wish to have more time in Volterra and the Cinque Terre, you can make up for that by having extra time pre-tour in Rome (or somewhere close) and post-tour in Florence (or somewhere close). The great combination of big city and smaller town visits is wonderful, and includes up front and personal experiences. I am thinking of the alabaster workshop in Volterra, watching the artisan in his snug space and getting dusted in the process and a super fun pesto-making demonstration given by the owner prior to a fabulous dinner at her wonderful family-owned Monterosso al Mare restaurant (where our group were the only guests). Do not miss biking the ramparts in Lucca, very easy and earns you more gelato-consuming points. Score! Heart of Italy or Taste of Italy? Either moniker is apt and I am among the large group of tour alums who recommends this tour enthusiastically and without reservation. Thumbs up all the way.

Posted by
8008 posts

"Those that did it, were you too exhausted to enjoy yourself? How much of the “2 to 8 miles a day” is based on free time and therefore optional? Did you feel like you had enough time in each location to appreciate it?"

As others indicated it IS fast paced but I had a great time. I was 64 at the time and the oldest in my family group (well, I'm still the oldest in my family group, hahaha). I did fine and I was not in very good shape. I was probably walking 2-3 miles several times a week. On the days ahead of the tour my nephews literally walked my ankles off including one night where I had to lie in bed and have a Clif bar for dinner as I was too tired to go out, lol! I gave them $$ (or actually EE) and sent them out. My SIL was sick (I think she picked up Norovirus on the plane) so she struggled the first few days but that was not due to the tour pace.

As 30-40 somethings I think you will be fine. I have found I do better if I train before a trip, though. I like to have a base of 4 mile walks 3 times a week. I also add miles on one day a week to get up to 7-8 miles before I travel. It's just me, but I have more fun if I'm in better shape. I'm also old, hahaha.

To me there is never enough time in Rome on any of the multi-city tours which is why I recommend a few days extra if you can manage. I'll also agree that the RS guides are VERY efficient thus you can see more with them than you can on your own.

Posted by
1698 posts

it seems like a good choice to bookend with independent travel, but the pace seems intense. Those that did it, were you too exhausted to enjoy yourself? How much of the “2 to 8 miles a day” is based on free time and therefore optional?

When we travel independently, even at a somewhat relaxed pace, we do at least 6 miles a day. On our recent trip to France and London, I averaged 8-10 miles a day. I had a day to myself while my wife was working and I did 12 miles that day.

We are 68 and in good, but average health for our age. We weren't exhausted, but we had no problem sleeping at night.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for your post! We booked Heart of Italy...The last Europe trip I did was in my early twenties and my husband has never been. We're in our late thirties now and are looking forward to Heart of Italy at the end of April/early May. We're hoping there's a wide mix of ages in our tour....so I'm a little bias in saying, "You should go!!". We almost pulled the trigger on doing 10 days in Italy totally on our own, but didn't want to be super lonely with the language barrier and didn't want to miss out on some of the history (my husband is a history buff). I'm more of a 'experience the culture, small town, drink wine, hike & bike'...so we felt Heart of Italy was a great mix!! We are active and hoping Heart of Italy attracts other folks that feel the same. Also RS Tours have an amazing reputation...so that was what tipped the scales for us, doing a tour versus on our own. We figured our next trip to Italy will be for southern Italy, but yes I hear you, in that it was a tough decision....Good luck!

Posted by
1 posts

Well Kate much like you I wanted to go to some big cities as my boyfriend had only been to Rome. Our friends asked if we would do the Italian Village tour. Wasn't what I thought he would want to do. But, he thought that would be good and we were going to Venice first for a few days and ending in Milan for a few days.
It was wonderful. It was more intimate with those towns and places we would not have known about on our own. Not having to worry about transportation or great guides was wonderful too. RS has great guides and the local guides are very knowledgeable. It would be hard to do this kind of tour with all the perks on your own. My boyfriend had a blast at the cooking lesson and he doesn't cook! Not to mention traveling with another couple we didn't have to feel like we had to please them.
We could take a day off the tour or they could. We also made other friends in the group that had different interests. The real issue came when our friend fell and sprained her ankle. I speak some Italian but not enough to get her to the hospital and tell them what happened. The RS guide was able to help with that and we were all so grateful.
When we did self travel we walked as much if not more than on the RS tours we have taken. We kept up and did ok. Not to say our feet didn't ache sometimes but it's Europe and there are cobblestones. We did sleep good after a long day. But you have the option of missing any part you don't want to go on and take a day off.
Happy Travels no matter which way you choose!

Posted by
46 posts

To Pam who said:
" I've done 11 RS tours and I really enjoy the guides, the groups and the itineraries. I like their emphasis on teaching you to travel independently. The hilarious thing is that you learn how to do it on your own but the tours are such fun you keep coming back for more!"
I think that might be true for us as well. We usually are pretty independent travelers but we enjoyed the trip, the efficiency, the available experienced RS tour guide, and the camaraderie, that we will hopefully be able to do another one too. Village Italy looks like my first choice, with some extra days pre and post as other's have suggested.

Posted by
1 posts

We took the Heart of Italy tour at the end of August 2019, our first RS. We had an extra day prior in Rome and went to Venice for a day at the end. According to my phone we walked 65 miles in the 10 days, much of that was our choice. It is a busy tour, but you have plenty of time to take it easy if you choose. We were definitely tired by the end, but truly enjoyed it. We are 60 years old. The bus rides went through some pretty countryside, and really were not an issue since we stopped every 2 hours. We do not enjoy planning trips (although we travel several times a year) so this was a good experience. The tour guide the guides in each city were very helpful and enthusiastic.

Posted by
65 posts

Have you picked one? If not consider the My Way Italy, looks plenty open in April/May. Save on the tour price, then customize your excursions to your liking. Good mix of cities , villages, and geography.

Posted by
6 posts

Consider the My Way Italy tours - Rick handles the hotels and transportation from city to city - you plan what you and travelling companions want to do in each location. Yes, the tour goes to Venice, Florence and Rome where you can plan your own sites to see or activities; but it also goes to Varenna/Lake Como, Cinque Terre, and Assisi for that small town flavor. Check it out! You may choose to spend your Rome day at the Vatican while your friends visit Ostia Antica or take a cooking class.

Posted by
15 posts

A couple we met on our RS Portugal tour had been on something like 10 RS tours, and said that their favorite so far was the Village Italy one. "Magical" they said. Other tour companies may have good guides too, but it's a little more of an unknown. Rick Steves as a company chooses truly fantastic guides, and that makes a HUGE difference.