“Buon Giornio!”


We are two sojourners from Cleveland, Ohio, recently returned from a Rick Steves Best of Venice, Florence & Rome in 10 Days Tour.

Nancy Sotka is an artist, writer, and author of this tour scrapbook.

Terry Davis is the fun one.

“Nice to meet you!”

Along with Patricia, our fabulous Tour Guide, and 26 fellow travelers, we experienced the breath-taking historic wonders, spiritual heart, and sensual delights of Italy that lay around every corner.

Why did we choose this tour?


1. The Destination

Over countless glasses of wine, we asked ourselves, “If you could go to one place in the world, where would it be?”

Invariably, the answer was Italy!

And specifically, the cities of Venice, Florence, and Rome.

We fell in love with the warm and effusive Italians, and their traditions and food culture, after living for many years in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood. As a student of Art History, I longed to experience first hand the places I had only seen in books or slides. And my traveling companion is always keen for an adventure.


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2. The Right Time to Travel

People travel for many reasons, and find just as many reasons not to travel. For us, the timing was right. With our children moved away for school or jobs, and our work responsibilities managed, it was time to do what we said we always wanted to do: see something of the world. And maybe challenge ourselves, and gain a new perspective in the process.

3. The Easy Way 

My traveling companion has journeyed through Morocco, Spain, and Egypt, but I had little experience with international travel. The task of figuring out how to navigate from city to city, where to stay and where to eat, and how to get tickets for the sites we wanted to see in a country where we did not speak the language, was daunting. The idea of taking a tour sounded appealing, but how would we find a good one?

28.jpgOur criteria:

  • Easy
  • Allow us some free time to explore on our own or just chill
  • Same tour guide for the entire trip
  • Group not overwhelming large (and hopefully friendly!)
  • Nice hotels in the center of town
  • Admission to museums and historic sites included
  • Reasonable cost /value ratio
  • Trustworthy
  • Easy

Phew, that sounded like a lot.

Our Internet research began, and we discovered a bewildering array of options. Tour choice overload hit us.

By chance, I heard Rick Steves speaking on behalf of our local NPR station. His expert knowledge and enthusiasm for European travel spurred me to investigate his website. We were familiar with his travel guides, newspaper column, and PBS shows, but were surprised to discover that his company also sponsors tours to Europe.

Rick Steves Best of Venice, Florence & Rome in 10 Days Tour sounded exactly like what we were looking for!

4. A Tour to Trust

Rick Steves’ travel philosophy struck a chord with us. We loved the idea of rubbing shoulders with Europeans, staying out of luxury hotels and tourists traps, and seeing Europe through the “Back Door.”

We especially loved not having to wait for hours in line at major museums and other sites!

With stellar reviews by past tour participants, we felt confident in booking a Rick Steves Tour.

Tour Highlights10

Venice: Basilica & Piazza San Marco, Gondola Ride, Accademia Gallery, Island Boat Trip

Florence: Duomo, Church of Santa Croce, Italian Cooking Class, Uffizi Gallery, Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery

Umbria: Vineyard Winetasting

Rome: Pantheon, Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, Colosseum, Roman Forum

“Let’s go!”

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We arrived in Venice two days before the tour began, to adjust to the time change, and explore a bit on our own. We added three additional days in Rome after the tour ended, allowing for more exploration and a short train trip outside the city.


Click on the menu above to read about our experiences, insights, and discoveries on the Best of Venice, Florence & Rome in 10 Days Tour.


Click here for more information on Rick Steves Best of Venice, Florence & Rome in 10 Days Tour from his website.


“Buon viaggio!”