Travel Tips

Travel Still Life

Here are a few things we learned from traveling on a Rick Steves Tour:



  • Travel light. One backpack and one carry-on item for each of us made traveling easy.
  • Discover the life changing magic of packing cubes.
  • Remember to pick up all of your electronic gadgets from security screenings when flying. (!!!)
  • Learn a bit of the history and art of the region before the tour. Rick Steves’ Europe 101 is a great brief resource that will make your viewing experiences more meaningful.
  • Sit with a different tour group member at each meal.
  • Your tour guide is a fantastic resource for what, where, and when questions. Thank you, Patricia!
  • Keep an open mind. Europe is not the United States.
  • Plan ahead. Rick Steves says, “If you want to have an A+ trip, be an A+ student.” Make the most of your tour free time.
  • Don’t expect perfection. The most memorable experiences are sometimes the unplanned ones. Get lost.
  • Learn a few words of the Italian language. Even if you use only the basic greetings, it’s amazing how far it will get you with the Italians.
  • Put yourself in a “zen bubble” when crowds become overwhelming.
  • Use your new-found traveling confidence to go off on your own.
  • Keep a short travel log. It’s easy to forget all the sights of the day.
  • If coming home seems like a let down, plan another trip or create a photo scrapbook.

“Buon Giorno, Per Favore, Grazie, Prego, Permesso, Bene, Arrivederci.”


Suggested reading:

Here is a list of books I read before the trip. The non-fiction books, especially about the Renaissance, were helpful in appreciating the significance of what we saw. Fiction books ignited the imagination about the beauty and romance of Italy.

“If you want to have an A+ trip, be an A+ student.”


  1. In the Company of the Courtesan (Sarah Dunant)
  2. Birth of Venus (Sarah Dunant)
  3. Sacred Hearts (Sarah Dunant)
  4. Four Seasons (Laurel Corona)
  5. The Rossetti Letter (Christi Phillips)
  6. A Room with a View (E. M. Forster)
  7. Pompeii (Robert Harris)
  8. The Sixteen Pleasures (Robert Hellenga)
  9. Lucrezia Borgia (Maria Bellonci)
  10. The Passion of Artemisia (Susan Vreeland)
  11. I, Claudius (Robert Graves)
  12. The Agony and the Ecstasy (Irving Stone)
  13. I’m Not Scared (Niccolò Ammaniti)
  14. My Brilliant Friend (Elena Ferrante)
  15. Warburg in Rome (James Carroll)
  16. The City of Falling Angels (John Berendt)
  17. Death in Venice (Thomas Mann)



Some Light Tour Prep Reading


Non-Fiction Books:

  1. A Thousand Days in Venice (Marlena de Blasi)
  2. Vino Italiano (Joseph Bastianich)
  3. Italy for the Gourmet Traveler (Fred Plotkin)
  4. Delizia!: The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food (John Dickie)
  5. Art and History Rome in the Jubilee Year 2000 (Erika Pauli, trans.)
  6. History of Art (Horst Janson)
  7. Henry James on Italy (Henry James)
  8. The Catacombs of Rome (Fabrizio Mancinelli)
  9. The Sistine Chapel (Fabrizio Mancinelli)
  10. Rick Steves’ Italy 2017 (Rick Steves)
  11. Rick Steves’ Italian Phrase Book and Dictionary (Rick Steves)
  12. Rick Steves’ Europe 101: History and Art for the Traveler (Rick Steves)