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Village Italy Tour Questions

Hi all,
We just registered for the Village Italy tour for 2024 and I have some questions for people who have been on the tour. We've been on 3 RS Italy tours (BOI, South Italy, and Sicily).

  1. We sometimes add a few days before or after a tour; any suggestions about places to go? We've been to Venice twice before, so don't feel like I want to do that. If we arrive 2 days early (helps with jet lag), should we just stay in Padua for those extra days, or are there nearby places we should try to see? Would it be worth two or three days in Bologna? (None of the RS tours seem to focus on Emilia-Romagna.) Seems like it might be easy to get there.

What about after the tour: We've been to Milan on our own, but never been to Turin or to other parts of Northwestern Italy. Any recommendations if we stay an extra few days? Should we plan on renting a car? We prefer taking trains but if a car is needed to get somewhere, we're not opposed to doing that.

  1. Regarding the stay in the Cinque Terre: some RS tours specifically say "sleep in Monterosso" (which is where we stayed in BOI in 2015; fantastic hotel!) but this tour - and some other tours - say "sleep in or near the Cinque Terre". I'm sure we'll be fine with either one, but seeing as we won't get our hotel list for many months, I'm just curious as to others who have taken this tour: where did you stay?

Thanks for your help.

Posted by
1981 posts

I can’t answer your question but our first hotel in Barcelona was changed from what we were told in our confirmation email. I find that the hotels he uses are ok with at least one or two each trip not to my liking for one reason or another. Sounds like hotels are not yet finalized.

Posted by
891 posts

We have been on 7 RS tours and Village Italy was our first and still one of our favorites. Even having been to Venice before we went there for a few days to get over jet lag. Then went to Padua a day before the tour started. Some fellow travelers arrived in Padua even earlier and were glad they did. It is an interesting town.

About the hotel in Cinque Terre, some of the tours in smaller towns split the travelers up between 2 hotels. That may contribute to why the hotels are not named so early.

After the tour we flew home so I can't help with that, sorry.

I hope you enjoy this tour as much as we did!

Happy Travels

PS You didn't say what month you are traveling? Just curious

Posted by
7 posts

Hi Tony- We just did the Village Italy tour this past April, & loved it so much that i would do it again in a heartbeat! I highly recommend Bologna for a few days before your tour starts. We did the Bologna Food & Wine Tour through Italian Days, which was phenomenal!

Posted by
1740 posts

Padua is worth a couple of extra days. And as a bonus you don’t have to move to another city. I did the tour a number of years ago and we stayed in Levanto.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
94 posts

Diane and Mimi: On our BOI tour, the participants were split into 2 hotels, but both hotels were in Montorosso. I have found hotels range from "fine" to "fantastic". (hotel in Matera - south italy tour - was amazing!). I was interested more for logistical planning reasons (with a day off, where will we start, what will we do, etc.). We just want to hike in CT so we'll be able to do that no matter where we stay. Oh yes, and include a stop for gelato in Vernazza where I had the best gelato anywhere. I guess I just thought it was odd that some of the tours are very specific and others are more general. It might just be inconsistency, but I have a strong hunch it is deliberate and that some tours don't actually stay in one of the 5 CT towns but instead stay in Levanto or some such town just outside CT.

Mimi: We are traveling end of April/Beginning of May 2024

Samlily: I love the idea of a food tour in Bologna! I will start investigating. I don't know why I didn't think of that. Thanks for the suggestion.

Posted by
1308 posts

I did the Village Italy tour a few years ago and we stayed in Levanto which was charming. There was a train strike on our "free" day there so we didn't do the CT hike but walked to the next town north, I think, of Levanto. It was disappointing that we didn't do the CT hike but we made the best of it. I also really enjoyed Bologna. I didn't do a food tour but walked the porticoes of San Luca up to the church, did a city walking tour, and enjoyed browsing in the food shops.

Edit to add: You may want to stay longer in the Italian Lakes and stay in Varenna. The towns and villas around Lake Como are worth seeing.

Posted by
30 posts

I just went on this tour in April. I had two extra days in Padova and enjoyed it. We stayed in Levanto and I enjoyed that city also but my favorite was Lucca. Anything you plan after the tour should originate in Milan. The guide will organize groups to ride together either to the airport or to Milan train stations or hotels.Costs are split, most groups were €40-50 each. The tour was great. Enjoy

Posted by
10323 posts

Any time you can spend in the Piemonte( Turin/Torino, Alba) will be wonderful. Same goes for Bologna, loved it there.

Posted by
3081 posts

I agree with Suki about Torino and the Piedmont, not so much about Bologna but Parma is great! If you have a few days, take a train to Torino and rent a car to visit Alba, Barolo, Barbaresco and some of the other wine towns. I stayed at Agriturismo Tre Stelle in Barbaresco which is terrific! Great restaurants nearby and in the surrounding area. Drove back to Torino for a few days keeping the car overnight to drive through Val d’Osta and took the Skyway Monte Bianco in Courmayeur. Torino has the national automobile Museum and one of the best Egyptian museums in the world. And another great benefit is the absence of galloping hoards of tourists!

Padua a great visit and easy and worthwhile day trips via train to Vicenza to see the Villa la Rotonda, Villa Valmarrana, the Palladian architecture and the Teatro Olimpico. Another short trip could take you to Treviso or to Verona a further afield.

Posted by
82 posts

The Village tour was our first tour we took and so far it's still remains my number 1 tour. In Padua we did a tour of the Botanical Gardens which was walking distance from our Hotel. We also did a day trip to Verano and did a 1/2 day tour with a recommended tour guide from the RS Italy book. Was a great tour and as expected you get to visit the Romeo and Juliet house, while very touristy it was a lot of fun. We took the train and had friends who were on the trip who started in Venice. So we studied the train schedule and matched our times so we got on the same train.

We stayed in Levanto for our trip and we went north on our vacation from our vacation day and had a wonderful time walking around Bonassolo.

We loved Lucca and did a picnic on the City Wall which to this day is one of my fondest memories of all our trips.

Posted by
429 posts

I was on the Village Italy tour in late April and had a wonderful time.

Padua is worth an extra day or so. You can stay there and take the train to other worthwhile destinations.

We stayed in Levanto after taking a boat ride that passed the 5 villages and dropped us at the last one for a short walk-around time (then took the train to Levanto). The hotel was nice and served us an amazing seafood buffet for dinner. The next day was completely free so some took the train back to one or more of the Cinque Terre towns, some hiked north from Levanto, and some just relaxed in Levanto. I liked Levanto a lot so was content to hang out there. What I saw of Cinque Terre was crowded and touristy - Levanto much less so.

Posted by
4077 posts

When I did this tour in 2017, after a few nights in Rome, I spent 2 nights in Ravenna to have a solid day in Ravenna. I'd been there in 1977 and others pointed out that the time there on the RS tour was totally inadequate. I knew they were right.

If you have any interest in this UNESCO world heritage site and its jaw-dropping mosaics from the 5th and 6th centuries, I can highly recommend it. Here's the link:

I had the good fortune of being in the Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo (my favorite of the buildings and mosaics) when some restorers were working. I was allowed to watch them and to take pictures. It's number 3 on the map. I bought my ticket for all the monuments and started there, enjoyed the lovely garden cloister and made sure to use their bathroom before moving on. Here's the link:

You will see San Vitale Basilica and the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia (#2 on the map) with the tour group and a local guide. The Mausoleum is small, intimate and breathtakingly beautiful. Extra quiet time spent there would be well worth it. Most of the tour time will be spent in San Vitale.

I'm a mosaics junkie, especially these mosaics. I haven't been to Bologna except the train station. It's about 1.25 hours each way on the local train between Bologna and Ravenna. Except for one that I've never been to (Sant'Apollinare en Classe), the monuments are all an easy flat walk from the Ravenna station. I think basing in Bologna for 3 nights and going to Ravenna as a side trip to see buildings not on the tour would definitely be doable. And you could eat the Tucci way in Bologna.

Posted by
2 posts

We returned one week ago from the Villages of Italy tour. We stayed in Monterosso at Hotel Punta Mesco. Padua was great but I’m not sure I would need additional time there before the tour. We loved our time in Milan, Lake Como, and Venice before the tour. If you haven’t toured the lakes that might be an option.

Posted by
15 posts

Tony, we just returned from that tour. It was our sixth RS tour, and one of my favorites. It emphasizes food and crafty things, and de-emphasizes art museums.

I'm not sure I can help you with before-and-after stays, because we spent two nights in Venice (even though we had been there before) and one extra night in Padua before the tour, and one night in Milan after the tour. Our guide arranged for ride-shares out of Lake Orta, and we used one to go to Milan, then returned home via the Malpensa Airport Express train. If you don't want to do Milan again, Lake Como or the Dolomites sound like good bets.

Our tour slept in Levanto, one town away from Monterosso by train. All members of our group were in the same hotel. Levanto is a delight. The first night the owners of the hotel cooked us a delicious buffet dinner. The second night a few of us from the tour ate outdoors at a place down the road from the hotel, then we walked along the shore. There were a lot of people hanging out and having a great time.

The Cinque Terre towns are an easy train ride from Levanto, and the trains are cheap and run often. We didn't hike the national park (we were warned that the trail is for hard-core hikers), but we visited two of the Terre (Vernazza and Monterosso) by train, and we hiked up to the cute little cemetery above Vernazza (there are videos of it on the RS website).

The tour includes a boat ride from Porto Venere to Monterosso, stopping at the coastal Cinque Terre towns. We also got to have lunch in Porto Venere, which has an old church, the grounds of which provide a great view of the water. Bad weather cancels the boat ride; happily, the weather held up for us.

Posted by
8 posts

I think it's worth exploring some of Emilia-Romagna before the tour starts. Bologna is great, but it should also be fairly easy to take day trips if you want to stay in Padova to places like Ferrara, Parma, Modena, etc. I studied abroad in Ferrara and it's a great small city to explore in my opinion! Enjoy!