We are looking forward to our trip later this month on the RS "Best of South Italy". We will be arriving a few days before the tour starts at the same Trastevere hotel used for the tour. Do any "Best of South Italy" veterans recall the sights covered by the guide during the first night "evening stroll" through Trastevere? We thought about seeing St. Cecilia Trastevere and Santa Maria in Trastevere before the tour, but would not go if these will be visited by our group. Thanks in advance for advice.
We got there early and spent time exploring. I think we visited Santa Maria but not St. Cecilia ( may have mixed it up). I was glad I’d seen it on my own in addition. The next day is across the river. You do have the afternoon free if you want to see these churches then. It was Rome’s birthday when we were, so a fun parade. Enjoy the food there. We had good dinners and lunches in Trastevere, though I don’t remember names. The hotel recommended a place a couple blocks away—checkered tablecloths and good food. Most eating there were Italian.
Our BOE 14 day tour ended in Rome last Labor Day weekend. We spent an extra day in Rome and did Rick's Trastevere and Jewish Ghetto audio walking tours. Both start from the same place so it was easy to combine them. We particularly enjoyed the Trastevere walking tour which ended at St. Cecilia - where a wedding was just finishing up - and there were many food options for lunch in the immediate vicinity. This year we are going on the "Best of South Italy" tour in early May. We are going to bring a splitter for one of our iPhone and try listening to the same audio so we're always in sync rather than each using our own phones. Rick also has audio walking tours of Naples and the Naples Archaeological Museum. Our tour starts from Hotel Smeraldo which is near the Jewish quarter and across the river from Trastevere.
We were fortunate to enjoy an open air free concert at the end of the block from our Trastevere hotel. It was great fun on the weekend and gave us a chance to see young locals relaxing and having fun. This tour was our first RS tour and decided on this tour because we wanted to return to Italy, and it fit our timeframe. It was a great choice! We visited places that really weren't on our radar, but surely should have been. You will find it a delight, I know we did!
Here's what I found on the RS site, listed under "Sightseeing on your own...", i.e, what you might want to do the tour doesn't cover. If you want more specifics, call the Tour Office. They are beyond helpful and always willing to answer questions. I believe each tour does slightly different activities so because I took it a few years ago, I probably wouldn't be much help with what they are planning now. I bet you will love this tour. Southern Italy is so different from Rome and the north.
"If you arrive in Rome before your tour begins, use the Rick Steves Italy guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of Italian, and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.
Here are suggestions for sightseeing in Rome that we do not do as a group: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican Museums.
Thinking of spending more time in Italy after the tour? From Naples you may want to make the trip up to the top of Mount Vesuvius; visit the impressive, ash-covered ruins of Herculaneum; you may even consider heading back south to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast; or train back up to Rome for more time exploring the Eternal City.
This tour does not include a visit to the Vatican Museums or St. Peter's Basilica. However, they are often a highlight for any traveler and are both experiences we highly recommend. Avoid the long lines for the Vatican Museums by booking tickets several weeks in advance. For more details, see our Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel reservation tips for tour members.
This tour has several opportunities for swimming, so we recommend that you pack a swimsuit and perhaps a lightweight microfiber towel.
For more advice on what (and what not!) to pack, see Rick's packing tips.
Special packing note: We use an audioguide system for many of our sightseeing and museum tours. If you wear a hearing aid, we strongly recommend bringing headphones that go over your ears to allow you to fully enjoy these tours.".
We took this tour last September. You will love it!!! As I recall, the orientation walk we took was similar to the first part of the Heart of Rome Walk outlined in the RS Italy Tour Book. We had done that walk on our own the preceding night using the audio guide from the RS app. We did not find the orientation walk to be repetitious. Yes, we did see the same sites (from the outside, only) and heard some of the same facts, but our tour guide added additional information. Just an FYI - our tour stayed at Hotel Smeraldo. I'm not sure if hotel location influences the route of the orientation walk.
My hubby and I are going on this tour and had the same question, so I called the RS office. But, they can't answer the question either because it's up to the guide as to what he/she shows you. We want to see both the churches you mention so I think we will just go ahead and do it and let the chips fall as they may. I also asked if they knew the restaurant for the first dinner because I would like to eat at different places than what they will take us to but that is also the guide's choice.
Since this is our 6th RS tour I know it will all be fantastic so even if it is a repeat it will be OK!!! Plus, on the walking tours I have found they don't always go inside places but rather point the places out.
Have fun on the tour. We go very soon and are excited!
Enjoy (and please post any good experiences)! We start this tour May 5, arriving May 2 at Hotel Smeraldo.
Bill in SoCal
We will be on this same tour Sept 10-22nd, this will be our 1st RST, and first time to Italy! I can’t wait to hear about your trip, have a wonderful time.
I'll be on this tour from October 1-13, and our Trastevere hotel is the Hotel San Francesco. . I'd also be most interested in hearing about the experiences of those taking the tour this spring.
One thing we are definitely planning on doing in the afternoon following the morning at the Capitoline and the Ghetto walk is going to the Galleria Borghese, for the marvelous Bernini sculptures. Tickets are needed, and we will order in advance.
We just returned a few days ago from the Best of South Italy tour. It was our 6th RS tour and it was phenomenal! As for Trastevere sights, it is up to the guide so we made sure we did both churches on our own and then our guide did take us into one but that was just fine. We learned some new things and we didn't spend too long in it either. So, my advice is do them on your own if your heart is set on going to them because your guide may or may not take you. I intend to write up a report about the trip and post it soon.