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Thoughts/advice from those who have taken the 17 Day Best of Italy Tour

Just wondering your favorite parts of the trip and the experiences you couldn't get anywhere else?

Thoughts on the length of the trip?

Posted by
362 posts

I haven't taken this tour, but I am also curious to hear what others say about the length of the tour. I've never taken a tour longer than 11 days. (I realize 6 days more isn't THAT much of a stretch, but it looks intimidating on screen.)

Posted by
7489 posts

Certainly did not seem too long. At the final dinner it was , 'we are done already?' ( Kind of like 8PM Christmas day; its over???)

It was our 1st trip to Europe, so everything was a "WOW" moment

Posted by
134 posts

We have taken 9 of Rick's Tours. The first was Best of Italy in 2001 and we loved it so much that in 2002 we took the Best of Italy BB&B (Bus, Bed & Breakfast). We wanted to see even more of the hilltowns so took Village Italy in 2003. In the following years we took Paris, GAS, Paris to the Loire Valley, Eastern France, Spain and again Italy My Way. All of the Tours were great, but Best of Italy still ranks at the top of our list. We took all of the tours in May, early June or early Sept. and had great weather on all of them for the most part. What we feel is so wonderful about the Best of Italy is the blend of so many different kinds of experience. Just look at the itinerary to see the variety of incredible places you get to experience and check out the scrapbooks to get more of a feel for the tour.

Posted by
1545 posts

This was my very first RS tour in 2004, as well as my first solo overseas trip. It covers a lot of ground, which is what I wanted for a an overview of Italy. The mix of locations was perfect (for me) - some cities, some smaller towns, the Dolomites (which is more like Austria than Italy). It did leave me wishing for more time in some spots (Venice, Cinque Terre) but I'll go back some day. Also, one of the best things was eating gelato, every day.

Though it is a long trip, I'd still suggest adding a day at each end of the trip (one for jet lag, the other because Rome deserves more time). If you're worried about the duration of the tour, they do offer shorter less detailed itineraries (Venice/Florence/Rome and Heart of Italy).

Posted by
1049 posts

My wife and I took this tour in September 2015. It was the best vacation that I have taken to Europe. I thought 17 days, plus the extra day in Milan and Varenna was just the right amount of time. I put together two 10 minute videos of our trip on YouTube. It will help show you all the sights that we were able to see on our tour and free time.

If you have any specific questions, you can send me a personal message.

Posted by
3465 posts

I thought the tour was the right length considering everything that was covered. I actually would have like it to be a couple days longer to give more time in Rome.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. One of the best tour guides ever. Incredible tour members. We all got along well. Food was excellent (except for a couple group meals where it was just OK). Weather was the best possible through most of the tour. Timing couldn't have been better for the start in the Dolomites where we ran into the festival of bringing the cows home. Every fall, they bring the cows down from the higher elevations where they spent the summer to get them ready for the cold winters. It reminded me much more of a Swiss or German thing (helped by the fact that most of the people in the town spoke German!) than anything expected in Italy. There were too many more excellent moments to recap them all here. Oh, and they had really good WiFi on the bus, a first for me in my 10 RS tours.

Posted by
1956 posts

I took the Best of Italy in 17 Days in October 2016. I added 2 nights in Milan before the tour began and left on the day the tour ended in Rome. It was a fantastic overview of the major cities and several hilltowns and Lake Como and the Dolomites, giving us diverse experiences. Hiking in the Dolomites and the Cinque Terre as well as boating on Lake Como and taking a boat and train from one village to another in the CT. Fabulous meals and wine and friendly tourmates (I'm FB friends with several). Of course, the art, history and architecture of Venice, Florence and Rome. I came back for the RS 7 Days tour of Rome in spring 2017, needed to experience more of Rome!
The length is a little long for me - - I find myself longing for home after about 14 days but so worth it.

This was my 3rd RS tour and I have now completed my 5th in Sept., 8 Days Best of Ireland.

Hope some of what I have written will pique your interest.

Posted by
3775 posts

The Best of Italy was our 2nd RS trip, and it was the springboard for several independent trips back to Italy. When we compared it to the RS GAS tour, we felt like this one gave us more "wow" experiences - typically at every location. And, as others have mentioned, we really enjoyed the variety in this trip - lakes, mountains, VENICE!, art museums, churches, smaller towns, excellent food and top historical sites.

We began the trip by arriving three days early and going to Verona. That was an easy town to acclimate to Italy, get over the jet lag, and enjoy several sites using the Verona Card.

After the trip we have been back to several of the locations on subsequent trips to stay longer: (Verona), Lake Maggoire (near Lake Como), Dolomites, Venice, Florence, Siena and Rome.

Personally, I liked the length of that tour, including the 3 days pre-trip.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks to all who responded. Wow, you all were so helpful. We are trying to decide whether to take and extended tour of Italy or to combine Italy and France. Any thoughts on this combination?

Posted by
1049 posts

I think it would be a little too much to combine it with a Best of France tour. Keep in mind, you probably won’t sleep as well on a tour as you do at home. The Best of Italy had a lot of walking. My wife and I were in very good shape and we maximized our free time by seeing as much as we could. I think you would be better served by adding time to the beginning and end of your Italy tour. The two days we had in Rome was not near enough to see everything that we wanted to see. I would save France for another vacation.

Posted by
18916 posts

I prefer to move more slowly than tours do (love many museums), and I like to see some towns not on the typical itinerary. Therefore, I would choose some free time on my own before and/or after a single tour rather than a combination of two tours. There's tons to see in France as well as in Italy. I recommend giving each country its own vacation. (And even that will not be nearly enough time.)

Posted by
8252 posts

Well, someone this summer did about 5 back to back Rick Steves tours!

I have done 3 back to back - 21 Best of Europe, Best of Paris (1 week) and Village Italy. I also had a few days in London before the first tour and a week on my own with a friend after the Best of Paris tour but before I headed off for Village Italy. I was not ready to come home at the end of the 8 weeks. I had an absolutely wonderful time! All 3 tours were very different. I loved all the guides and had amazing people on all 3 tours.

Now, you have to know that I love the RS tours. I've done 8 and am signed up for 2 more this spring. I love these tours for the experience/history/geography/culture the guide provides as well as the fellowship of the groups. I love to add independent time on to tour time.

Are you thinking of doing 2 Rick Steves tour for your sojourn in Italy and France? If so, which ones?

If you are going for 2 shorter tours, I think Heart of Italy would go well with Paris and the Heart of France. That gives you 3 large and art/cathedral filled cities (Rome, Florence and Paris) plus a variety of smaller towns and experiences in both countries. If you decide on something like that and your time is not restricted, I would do maybe 2 more days in Rome up front, 2 more in Florence at the end plus 2 at the beginning in Paris and finish with another 3 in Paris once you've got France down, lol!! I've not done the other 2 France tours.

If your time is not limited, then I would do the Best of Italy and Paris and Heart of France. I would give myself 3 or 4 days in Paris up front to rest up, do laundry, not have to get going in the AM. I am a morning person and I am ready to go first thing but I know some people like a slower start.

I have Best of Italy on my To-Do list. I've done Heart of Italy, Village Italy and of course had 8 days in Italy on the 21 Best of Europe tour. I want to see Otzi the Iceman for some bizarre reason plus this tour just sounds terrific to me!