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We'll regroup tonight for dinner at our cozy hotel. After some free time for lunch, we'll set a course for Venice, where we'll board a vaporetto boat for a Grand Canal ride to our hotel in Venice's historic heart. Later tonight, your guide will help organize an optional romantic gondola ride for those who are interested. We'll see and learn about Brunelleschi's magnificent cathedral dome, Ghiberti's Baptistery doors, and other creations that helped define this world-changing era. Upon arrival, your guide will give you an introduction to the town, leaving you with plenty of free time this afternoon to explore on your own.Tonight we'll take an alleys-and-canals orientation stroll before setting you loose for dinner on your own. We'll end our walk at the Accademia Gallery to marvel at works of sculptural genius: Michelangelo's rough-hewn . We'll regroup tonight for an entertaining pesto-making lesson and special pesto dinner at a local family restaurant. Walking: moderate You'll take a "vacation from your vacation" today in our Mediterranean getaway. This morning we'll visit a stained-glass workshop where a local artisan will show us how he fuses traditional and contemporary stained-glass techniques.And Rick's guides will make Italy's art, history, and The sleepy Lake Como village of Varenna is a quick, easy train connection from Milan. you'll meet your guide and fellow tour members at our hotel for a get-acquainted session. Or hike up into the Alpine foothills for unforgettable vistas. Today we'll hit the road and drive high into Italy's Dolomite Alps, where locals speak German first, Italian second.We'll then take a village orientation walk, pointing out places for dinner on your own tonight. At breakfast, your guide can help you plan your day. Our destination is Europe's largest (and arguably most beautiful) Alpine meadow, the Alpe di Siusi.
Plan your trip: The park is around 400km southwest of Denver.This evening, we'll share a hearty Tirolean dinner together at our mountain retreat. From your totally yodely home base, you'll have all day to explore the dramatic Dolomites, Italy's hiking and skiing mecca. Our local guide will join us this morning for a historical walking tour, with a modern Venetian's-eye view, through the backstreets of Venice. The afternoon and evening are yours to explore the imposing Doge's Palace, maybe take in a church concert, waltz on St. This morning we'll devote our time to the breathtaking Renaissance art of the Uffizi — home to the finest collection of Italian paintings anywhere — including works by Leonardo, Botticelli, Michelangelo and more. Winding our way towards the coast, we'll first stop to gaze at Pisa's leaning tower and Romanesque baptistery.Sleep peacefully in the Alpe di Siusi area (2 nights). Choose from an array of challenging hikes, join your guide (weather permitting) — and the free-roaming cows — for a peaceful walk among towering granite cliffs, or wander through the squares and side streets of a mountain village and enjoy the unique blend of Italian and Austrian cultures. We'll head downhill from the Dolomites with a stop in Bolzano to visit its most famous resident: the 5,300-year-old, naturally preserved remains of Ötzi the Iceman, along with a museum exhibit on prehistoric European life. Along the way, we'll learn about the city's remarkable past and its challenging future. Mark's Square, or pub-crawl your way through this unique city. We'll drive straight to Florence this morning, and hit the ground walking with a Renaissance tour of the city's historic center. The rest of the day is yours to stroll across the delightfully medieval Ponte Vecchio, visit more of the city's art-filled churches and museums, browse the colorful markets, and find a special trattoria for dinner on your own. Today's final destination is Italy's enchanting Cinque Terre fishing villages, laced together with hiking paths that meander between vineyards and the deep blue sea.The Rick Steves Best of Italy tour is exactly that — the very best.Starting on beautiful Lake Como, this tour treats you to Italy's must-see destinations: timeless Venice, Renaissance Florence, Eternal Rome, and St. You'll also soak in Italy's quieter side: hill town vineyards, mountain-ringed Alpine meadows, cliff-clinging Cinque Terre villages, and cozy fishing harbors — all accompanied by memorable meals and local wines. Equipped with your included Lake Como ferry boat pass, you'll have the entire day and evening free to explore the villages and waterways of romantic Lake Como, including the elegant town of Bellagio.
Sleep in Monterosso (2 nights, may be split between 2 hotels). Hike along the trails, taking in lots of fresh air and panoramic views between Cinque Terre villages. Today we'll venture into the heart of magical Tuscany, stopping on the way to poke around the quiet lanes of a friendly hill town. Then we'll tour the elaborate cathedral and learn how Siena's rich medieval history and rivalry with Florence shaped this city. Let's make a modern-day pilgrimage to the hill town of Assisi where, in a time of unprecedented church wealth, St.