Saturday, March 1, 2014

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Best of South Italy in 13 Days Tour

This tour treats you to the slice of Italy that's richest in contrasts, from cities to beaches, and from rugged to glamorous. After touring the wonders of Rome, your Rick Steves guide will take you across Italy's boot to the wild beauty of the Gargano Peninsula and Adriatic Coast. You'll meander through the untouristed Puglia and Basilicata regions, followed by the must-see historic sites at Paestum and Pompeii, the jaw-dropping vistas of the Amalfi Coast, and the untamed energy of Naples. Join us for the Best of South Italy in 13 Days!

What's Included

  • A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of South Italy come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 18 group sightseeing events • Trastevere walking tour • Jewish Ghetto walking tour • Capitoline Museum tour • Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli • Gargano boat cruise (weather permitting) • Pasta-making demonstration • Alberobello visit • Puglia wine tasting • Matera Sassi walking tour • Mozzarella farm visit • Paestum visit • Pompeii tour • Gelato-making demonstration • Orientation for Capri excursion • Capodimonte Museum tour • Naples neighborhood walk • Sansevero Chapel • Naples Archaeology Museum tour...and more
  • All group transportation from Rome to Naples
  • 12 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Free stuff including Rick Steves' Italy guidebook, Best of South Italy Sightseeing Guide, Italian phrase book, 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
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above


Daily Activity Key
  • Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
  • Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
  • Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.

Day 1: Welcome to Italy

We'll gather at our Rome hotel at 4 p.m. for a "Welcome to Italy" group meeting. Afterward, we'll take an evening stroll through the meandering streets of "village" Rome on our way to tonight's trattoria, where we'll get acquainted over dinner together. Sleep in Rome (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: Layers of Rome

This morning we'll take an eye-opening walk across the Tiber, where we'll learn about the rich, yet often-overlooked, history of Rome's Jewish Ghetto. Then we'll tour the world's oldest museum, the Capitoline. Here we'll learn about Rome's golden age through its most treasured sculptures, including the sublime Dying Gaul, the imposing Marcus Aurelius on horseback, and the emblematic She-Wolf suckling Rome's tiny founding brothers: Romulus and Remus. The rest of the day is yours to wander through the Roman Colosseum and Forum next door, enjoy the panoramic city view from atop the nearby Victor Emmanuel Monument, or make a modern-day pilgrimage to St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican City. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 3: Tivoli and the Gargano Peninsula

We'll leave Rome early, stopping in the nearby hills to learn about the Roman Emperor Hadrian, at the ruins of his monumental villa at Tivoli. An enthusiastic traveler and builder, his lasting legacy includes his great wall across Britain, the domed Pantheon, and his stylish beard. Then we'll drive up and over the Apennine spine of Italy, and on to the shores of the Adriatic Sea. Our destination this evening is the tip of the rugged Gargano Peninsula, one of the most beautiful areas of Southern Italy — and still unknown to American travelers. At our cliff-side hotel we'll share dinner tonight, and sleep in Vieste (2 nights). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: Vieste and the Adriatic Coast

Vieste's beaches are packed with Italians in mid-summer. But when we arrive we'll find a peaceful contrast to the hustle and bustle of Rome. Today we'll take a boat cruise (weather permitting) along the craggy Gargano Coast, marveling at the pretty coves, hidden grottos and unusual rock formations that make this coastline unforgettable. We'll return to Vieste for a pasta-making demonstration and lunch, followed by plenty of time to wander through the town or simply luxuriate on the beach. Boat: 1½ hrs. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 5: Alberobello and Matera

Today we'll head off the tourist path and into the Puglia and Basilicata regions, with a stop to learn about and sample some local wines, meats and cheeses. In Alberobello, we'll explore cone-shaped, stone trulli houses that are still lived in today. Then we'll drive on to the town of Matera, which includes one of the world's most unique neighborhoods — the Sassi — completely made up of ancient stone and cave dwellings. Sleep in Matera (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 6: The Wonders of Matera

With the help of a locally-grown expert, we'll learn the stories of old and new Matera. We'll begin our day discovering the wonders of the 9,000-year-old Sassi. We'll go inside a Sassi home to gain an appreciation for the cave-dwelling conditions endured by the residents until they were relocated 60 years ago. We'll continue our education with a visit to a rock hewn church, and a look at the new town. You'll have the rest of your day free to wander through the different layers of Matera. This evening, watch — or better yet join — the ritual passeggiata of strolling locals in this authentic, untouristed part of Italy. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 7: Greek Paestum and Positano

Early this morning we'll drive into the Campania region and tour an organic water buffalo farm which produces the prized local specialty, mozzarella di bufala. We'll go into the barns and learn how this tasty delicacy is made and enjoy a gourmet lunch together including (you guessed it) fresh buffalo mozzarella. After lunch, we'll continue on to Paestum, to marvel at this site's awe-inspiring lineup of three Ancient Greek temples — the best-preserved collection in Europe. Then we are off to the dramatic Amalfi Coast. We'll follow the cliff-clinging road that winds above the sea to Positano, where we'll sleep (2 nights). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 8: Free Day on the Amalfi Coast

The day is all yours to enjoy the breathtaking Amalfi Coast. Take a local bus along the twisting roads and wild beauty of the Amalfi highway, hopping off to explore cliff-side villages along the way. Check out the sweeping views from Ravello, the candy-striped church in Amalfi town, the narrow streets and posh shops of Positano, or let gravity pull you down to a beach to relax upon. Tonight will be a great night to find a trattoria with a glorious sunset view. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 9: Pompeii and Sorrento

This morning we'll make a short drive to serene Sorrento. After dropping our bags at the hotel, we’ll have an orientation walk through the town on our way to watch the creation of an Italian culinary masterpiece—gelato; then you’ll be free for lunch. We’ll re-group for a thoughtful visit of unlucky Pompeii, where, with an ace local guide, we'll get a look at everyday life, frozen in time two millennia ago. After free time to explore more of Pompeii on your own, we'll hop aboard the Circumvesuviana commuter train back to our cliff-hugging home set amongst the lemon groves. Sleep in Sorrento (2 nights). Train: ½ hr. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: strenuous.

Day 10: Serene Sorrento and Capri

Today is all yours. Your guide will arrange for an optional boat ride to Capri, where you can then take a much smaller boat to the deservedly-famous Blue Grotto. Or, spend all or part of the day enjoying Capri's remarkable views, winding lanes, fancy summer homes and lovely gardens. Or, stay in Sorrento and wander through the shop-lined back streets, stopping to savor il dolce far niente — the sweetness of doing nothing. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 11: Classy, Gritty Naples

After a short morning drive, we'll have an easy introduction to Naples at the beautiful hilltop Museo Capodimonte, home to southern Italy's best collection of Renaissance paintings, including masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio and El Greco. After lunch in the city that invented pizza, we'll be introduced to Naples' grittier side on a Vespa-dodging, laundry-flapping, slice-of-Neapolitan-life walking tour through the heart of this chaotic, memorable city. Sleep in Naples (2 nights). Bus: 1 hr. Walking: moderate.

Day 12: Exploring More of Naples

This morning we're in world-class-art mode again, touring the greatest treasures of Pompeii, brought to Naples' National Archeological Museum for safe-keeping. We'll also be dazzled by the Farnese collection including the largest single sculpture ever recovered from antiquity: The Farnese Bull. This larger-than-life riot of animal, human and divine struggle was adored and painstakingly restored by Michelangelo. From here we'll head for the serene Cappella Sansevero, home to amazingly lifelike sculptures that have to be seen to be believed. Then, armed with the confidence and the Neapolitan street-smarts you've gotten from your guide, your afternoon is free for making your own discoveries. Tonight we'll get together for a special dinner to share travel memories and toast new friends. Salute! No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 13: Tour Over After Breakfast

It's a breeze to reach Naples' airport by taxi, easily arranged through our hotel. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Grazie e ciao!
Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Activity Level

Our tours are physically active! It’s an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Best of South Italy in 13 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...
  1. 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.
  2. Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
  3. Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
  4. Sleep in a cave-like hotel room in historic Matera.
  5. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.


Italy / Rome

Rome Weather

Italy / Naples



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