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South of Italy tour and the RS guidebook

We are taking the SOI tour next year and have a 2017 Italy Rick Steves guidebook currently, which makes no mention of Vieste, Alberobello and Matera, at least that I can find. These are major destinations on the tour.
Does anyone have a suggestion as to a good guidebook or info source other than Google to find out about these spots? Those of you who have taken the tour, did you depend on your guide for what to do in your free time or dining suggestions?

Posted by
155 posts

On this tour in 2019 the tour guide gave us photocopy handouts for the areas not in the Italy guide book.

Posted by
1156 posts

I spent 4 days in Matera on my own 4 years ago..
I had bought the Lonely Planet guidebook and found it both outdated and inadequate.
The tourist information office wasn’t very useful either.
(But it’s a great place! I really liked it!)
Hopefully your tour guide will also provide handouts.

Posted by
69 posts


We took this tour September 2019. As previously mentioned, our guide gave us a handout. I incorporated those notes in my journal, so if you would like me to send them to you please direct message me. Google was also helpful.

For Capri, our guide helped us and several other members of our tour group arrange a all-day Mondo boat tour of the island (including the Blue Grotto). In Matera, our guide suggested a couple museums to visit. We enjoyed the visit to the mural in the Palazzo Lanfranchi, home of the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art that depicts the evacuation of the Sassi in the 1960s. Later, we did a quick visit to the National Archaeological Museum.

We really enjoyed this tour. While we were prepared physically for the demands of the tour, I personally think the activity level orange bar for this tour should be increased on the the tour description page. Otherwise, you will truly enjoy this tour.

Posted by
1807 posts

We did this tour in 2019 as well (and loved it). I’m not sure what time of year you’re traveling; we were early May. We were in Vieste during the annual festival of their patron saint, so we spent part of the morning watching the procession. We were the first group where the weather was good enough for the boat cruise and even though the weather was off, the caves were impressive. Our guide offered lots of options and there wasn’t time to do all of them. We never made it to their market because we didn’t have time. In Alberobello it was pretty much the same, the guide pointed out options after we did a wine tasting. It felt like we had the most time in Matera for planning our own activities, but the extensive walking tour pointed out so many options for later on. Some people in our group did the spa at the hotel. You can also search the scrapbook archives to see what others did on those days. Anna Sandberg’s scrapbook from 2019 looks similar to ours even though we had a different guide.

I know another poster mentioned the activity level. My experience was a bit different. I had crashed and burned about a month before the tour and I was one of 3 with knee problems, but we were all able to keep up easily. What a fabulous tour!

Posted by
1665 posts

SIL and I were on the same tour as Patty and loved the tour. Our free evenings in Vieste were spent at the Festival to Santa Maria di Merino, as was the morning procession in front of our hotel. Unlike anything we had seen and it was only by chance that our tour was there the same days. I wish we would have had more time in Alberobello, loved the tulli. We spend our free time wandering the streets of upper Matera and the Sassi. We found a “garage” sale and bought WW1 magazines (I collect old magazines) and other small things, plus tourist items.

Although our guide made suggestions for those areas, he did not give hand outs but we had options listed on our daily tour itineraries. I had done web/blog research beforehand and bought Lonely Planet’s Southern Italy guidebook for SIL. Blame being overwhelmed and age (forgetfulness) but we could have done more research. But we loved every minute of it and wouldn’t have changed a thing. Except maybe my weak knee which slowed me down on stairs, but everything was doable and possible.

Posted by
57 posts

When I took the tour in 2015, our RS guide told us that Rick intentionally doesn't mention Matera because they don't want to overload the area. Thus he leaves out of the guidebook.. I believe the same might also be the case with Viesta and other nearby areas.

Posted by
447 posts

Luv2Travel: We too are taking the South of Italy tour, but I haven't done much reading/research on the three places you mentioned. However, I have Frommer's Italy 2017 book and Alberobello and Matera have a few pages in the book. I'm not sure it would be the same as the information handed out to the tour participants.