On our Rick Steves Best of Europe in 21 Days tour, the meat of the itinerary is the middle week when we visit Venice, Florence, and Rome in rapid succession. After that, we are ready for our treasured “vacation from our vacation” on the Italian Riviera. We are careful to thoroughly orient our groups upon arrival–because the next day is entirely free.
Walking our group to their “Welcome to the Riviera” dinner, we take time to be sure each tour member is comfortable with the local trains. To connect the five villages of the Cinque Terre you can hike, catch the boat, or hop on the train–which runs about hourly. Here I’m reminding people that, while the printed schedules are posted and helpful, only the monitors are up-to-the-minute on what’s running late. These can be your best friend in using your time smartly. The next day, each person in our group was well prepared to hang out on the beach, browse through the towns, or hike the dramatic trails–or all three.