Following a route that connects Italy's must-see sights — from Venice to Lake Como, the Cinque Terre, Florence, Assisi and Rome — Rick Steves' money-saving My Way tour gives you the freedom to decide your own daily sightseeing priorities and pace. We cut the stress by providing comfortable rooms in centrally-located hotels, private bus transportation from city to city, and an Italy-savvy trip escort to help advise you along the way. Join us for My Way: Italy in 13 Days!
You'll get all this!
- This is an "un-guided" tour — giving you the freedom (and responsibility) to manage your daily sightseeing schedule and meals
- A small, friendly group of 24-28 people will share our big, comfy bus during the trip, but not do organized sightseeing together
- A Rick Steves escort will manage the group's transportation and hotel arrangements, and provide advice for sightseeing, meals, etc.
- All group transportation from Venice to Rome
- 12 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels
- All breakfasts are included
- All tips for escort and driver
- Free Audio Europe™ app for Apple and Android (free podcast/mp3 files) featuring Rick's audio walking tours of sights, museums and neighborhoods in Florence, Venice and Rome. Also includes Rick's radio interviews with experts on destinations covered in this itinerary
- More free stuff including Rick Steves' Italy guidebook; Europe Through the Back Door travel skills handbook (one per household); Italian phrase book; My Way: Italy Sightseeing Supplement; moneybelt; and earplugs
- Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
- Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
- Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2014
- 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
- Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
- Costs not covered: As this is not a guided tour, you will be responsible for the cost of all your lunches, dinners, drinks, admissions, sightseeing, and non-group transportation. Be sure to plan and budget accordingly. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above
(r) = reserve a time before you leave the USA
* = included in Rick's audio walking tours
Day 1: Welcome to Italy
Welcome to Italy! Today is a great day to simply get lost in Venice (remember, it's an island), exploring the alleys and cruising the canals. We'll meet at our hotel at 5 p.m. for a group get-together. Your escort will give an overview of the days ahead, answer your questions, and offer a quick orientation to our neighborhood. Then you're free for dinner on your own. Sleep in Venice (2 nights).
Day 2: Exploring Venice
The entire day and evening are yours to experience the Byzantine majesty of St. Mark's Basilica*, the formidable Doge's Palace*, the masterpiece-packed Frari Church*, maybe take in a church concert, waltz on St. Mark's Square, or pub-crawl your way through this unique city. No bus today.
Day 3: Lake Como
This morning we'll say "Ciao Venezia" as we meet up with our bus and drive to Lake Como. Along the way, we'll stop to grab lunch before arriving at our final destination — the sleepy Lake Como village of Varenna, where you'll have plenty of time to explore its romantic promenade, tiny harbor, and narrow lanes. Sleep in Varenna (2 nights). Boat: ½ hr. Bus: 5 hrs.
Day 4: Cruising Lake Como
All you'll need is a Lake Como ferry boat pass and you'll have the entire day and evening free to explore the villages and waterways of romantic Lake Como, including such elegant stops as Bellagio. Hike up into the Alpine foothills for unforgettable vistas, or take an hour-long train trip to Milan for a day of city sightseeing. No bus today.
Day 5: Cinque Terre
Today's destination is Italy's Cinque Terre: five perfectly preserved fishing villages, laced together with hiking paths that meander between vineyards and the deep blue sea. After winding our way down to the seaside village of Levanto, we'll board a train for the 10-minute ride to Monterosso. We'll arrive late this afternoon, with plenty of time to enjoy Monterosso's pleasant eateries and ambiance. Sleep in Monterosso (2 nights). Train: ¼ hr. Bus: 5 hrs.
Day 6: Exploring the Cinque Terre
Ahh, it's time to take a "vacation from your vacation" today in our Mediterranean getaway. Pick a Cinque Terre village and spend your day exploring the stairways and alleyways, sunning yourself on the rocks, or sipping a cappuccino and catching up on your journal at an outdoor café. Or, if you're looking for lots of exercise, fresh air and panoramic views, start your day early and hike the cliff-side paths that connect the towns. For dinner tonight, enjoy what's local and fresh: the seafood and the "best pesto pasta in Italy." No bus today.
Day 7: Florence and David
We'll drive straight to Florence this morning, so you can hit the ground walking. This afternoon is yours to explore the Renaissance city, including Brunelleschi's magnificent cathedral dome*, Ghiberti's Baptistery doors*, and other creations that helped define this world-changing era. You could even take time to visit the Accademia Gallery*(r) and marvel at works of sculptural genius: Michelangelo's rough-hewn Prisoners and his greatest masterpiece, David. Sleep in Florence (2 nights). Train: ¼ hr. Bus: 3 hrs.
Day 8: Renaissance Florence
Today is yours to devote time to the breathtaking Renaissance art of the Uffizi*(r) — home to the finest collection of Italian paintings anywhere — including works by Leonardo, Botticelli, Michelangelo and more. Or you could stroll across the delightfully medieval Ponte Vecchio, and visit several of the city's art-filled churches and museums, browse the colorful markets, and find a special trattoria for dinner on your own. No bus today.
Day 9: Assisi
Today we'll venture into the heart of magical Tuscany, stopping for several hours to poke around the quiet lanes of a friendly hill town. This afternoon we'll make a modern-day pilgrimage to the beautifully-preserved hill town of Assisi, the hometown of St. Francis. Sleep in Assisi (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs.
Day 10: St. Francis' Assisi
In a time of unprecedented church wealth, St. Francis inspired a refocused spirituality through poverty, humility, and the beauty of nature in Umbria. You'll have all day and evening to experience the beautifully-frescoed Basilica of St. Francis*, and wander through (and wonder at) this charming town and its surrounding hills. No bus today.
Day 11: La Dolce Vita Rome
This morning we'll get an early start as we make our way from Assisi to Rome, with a quick stop for lunch along the way. Arriving at our Rome hotel this afternoon, you can enjoy dinner at the outdoor café of your dreams, then celebrate la dolce vita Roman-style, with an after-dinner stroll through the floodlit heart of the city, lacing together the lively Campo de' Fiori, classy Piazza Navona, and splashy Trevi Fountain. Don't forget to taste some refreshing gelato along the way. Sleep in Rome (2 nights). Bus: 3 hrs.
Day 12: A Day of Roman Roamin'
Rome is the grand finale of our trip, packed with historical riches, cultural delights and an infinite supply of wows. Today, aided by Rick's audio tours, you could follow the footsteps of emperors through the Roman Forum*, Colosseum* and Pantheon*. If the Renaissance is more your speed, the immense St. Peter's Basilica* (home to Michelangelo's sublime Pietà) and the sprawling Vatican Museum*(r) (home to his mind-boggling Sistine Chapel) are a metro or bus ride away. It's your final night in Rome, so get out and make it special. Salute! No bus today.
Day 13: Tour Over After Breakfast
It's a breeze to reach Rome's airports by taxi or train. Your escort will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Grazie e ciao!
Itinerary specifics subject to change.
Rick Steves tours are physically active!
This is an integral, essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our My Way: Italy in 13 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...
- Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
- Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
- Be responsible for your own daily sightseeing, admissions, meals (except breakfasts) and non-group transportation.
We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.
Sightseeing On Your Own
When you arrive in Venice, use your included Rick Steves' Italy guidebook to get oriented. Try out a few words of Italian, and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.
Walking tours make a great introduction to any town. Use your free Audio Europe™ app for Apple and Android (or get free podcast/mp3 files) which includes a wealth of Venice neighborhood walks and self-guided museum tours. Check your guidebook for museum hours (some are closed one day per week; some stay open late one day per week).
Remember, you will be in charge of your own sightseeing for ALL destinations on this trip. We strongly suggest you begin planning well before you fly to Italy! To make the best use of your time and to avoid standing in long lines in Florence and Rome, we strongly suggest you make reservations at the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia Gallery and the Vatican Museum in advance from home. See your Rick Steves' Italy guidebook for details on how to reserve.
Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.
There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. We recommend talking to your travel agent about "open jaw" airline tickets (flying into and out of different cities). It's easiest to fly into Venice and home from Rome. Both Venice and Rome are major transportation hubs, making additional travel before or after your tour quite easy. For links to helpful rail and air travel websites, go to www.ricksteves.com/plan/links and look under "Transportation."
Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.
If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thinking you could use some expert, in-depth help to plan your sightseeing days? Tour members enjoy a 50 percent discount on Rick's Trip Consulting services!
See a chart with monthly rain and temperature information for this tour.
While it is important to pack light, there are some items we'd like you to consider including when packing for this tour. There are some great opportunities for hikes in the Cinque Terre. While hiking boots are not necessary, we recommend you bring a pair of sturdy walking shoes.
We also recommend that you consider bringing a smart phone, tablet or other device to assist in planning your activities, and to access Rick's Audio Europe app and walking tours.
For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.
Favorite tour memories from recent alums
"The whole trip was a 'wow' trip. Every city/town we went to was outstanding. I loved it all. Varenna was so picturesque, and the ferry around the lake was fun. I enjoyed Bellagio, especially buying olive wood spoons from a local vendor near the harbor. The Cinque Terre towns were great, despite the terrible landslides that two of them experienced a year ago. I really liked Assisi and the Roman ruins underneath the piazza. Of course, Venice, Firenze and Rome were amazing."
— Margaret in Moscow, ID
"In addition to seeing fabulous art and architecture, we really enjoyed happy hours with other tour members. Because several hotels (Venice, Assisi and Florence) had wonderful gathering spots (often with a fantastic view!), we valued the impromptu gatherings where we exchanged travel stories and gleaned ideas for the next day as we laughed and got to know each other."
— Cynthia in San Rafael, CA
To see more comments on Rick Steves' tours, read through our tour member reviews.
Videos & More
This region is rich in history, art and culture. To help you get the most from your trip, we've put together this collection of travel resources from Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, as well as recommended books, films and music.
Rick Steves' TV Clips & Shows
(For more Rick Steves' TV clips on this region, visit Rick on YouTube.)
- Roman Holiday (1953)
- La Dolce Vita (1961)
- Cinema Paradiso (1990)
- Il Postino (1995)
- Life Is Beautiful (1997)
Rick Steves' Radio Interviews
(For more radio interviews on this region, see Rick's Audio Europe™ files for iPod, PC & MP3.)
Rick Steves' Audio Tours
- Venice: St. Mark's Square, St. Mark's Cathedral, Frari Church, Grand Canal Cruise
- Florence: Renaissance Walk, Uffizi Gallery, Accademia & Michelangelo's David
- Rome: Pantheon, St. Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, Roman Forum
Rick Steves Audio Europe™
- Opera: Puccini, Rossini, Verdi, Andrea Bocelli, Enrico Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti, Ezio Pinza, Three Tenors
- Classical: Vivaldi's Four Seasons
- Pop/rock: Pino Danieli, Dean Martin, Mina, Laura Pausini, Eros Ramazzotti
- Movie Soundtrack: Big Night
Rick Steves' Articles
(For more articles on this region, see Rick's Best Destinations.)
- Rick Steves' Italy (included with tour)
- Italian Days — Barbara Grizzuti Harrison
- Italian Neighbors — Tim Parks
- The Italians — Luigi Barzini
- Under the Tuscan Sun — Frances Maye
- Excellent Cadavers — Alexander Stille
- Romeo and Juliet; The Merchant of Venice; Much Ado About Nothing; The Two Gentlemen of Verona; and The Taming of the Shrew (among others) — William Shakespeare
- The First Man in Rome — Colleen McCullough
- I, Claudius — Robert Graves
- The Leopard — Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
- A Soldier of the Great War — Mark Helprin