© 2019 Michaela Ristaino

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An American Girl

in Italy

Buon Giorno!

I'm Michaela, self proclaimed American Girl in Italy, and I'm thrilled to share my Avventura Italiana (Italian adventure) with you.  My traveling companion was my very own Italiano, my husband Tony. Three years ago we had the trip of a lifetime on the Rick Steves Heart of Italy tour. It was truly a life changing trip, and we couldn't wait to go back.

We dreamed of returning to Italy. We talked about Italy to anyone who would listen. So when some family members said they were thinking about an Italy trip, we jumped at the chance to join them and help guide their plans toward a Rick Steves tour!

In the summer of 2017, over a glass (more likely a bottle) of wine, plans were hatched for an Italy experience. Tony's brother Joe would be celebrating a milestone birthday, and he could not think of a more perfect place to celebrate than in the land of his heritage. This would be so much more than a simple vacation. It didn't take much to convince our family that a Rick Steves tour was the way to go. The Ristaino family collectively decided that the Rick Steves Best of Venice, Florence, and Rome tour would be perfect. The travelers would be myself & Tony, plus Tony's brother Joe, Joe's beautiful wife Debra, their grown sons Joseph & Clark, and Joseph's lovely fiancé Katie. 

That's us below with the fairy book hill town of Orvieto in the background. I don't think you'll find a happier crew! You'll learn much more about us all in the pages ahead. We're so thrilled to share our story with you! 

The Ristaino Family: Joseph & Katie, Clark, Debra & Joe, Michaela & Tony


Welcome! We are so glad you are here and can't wait to take you on the journey of a lifetime. In the pages ahead, you'll meet the people, places, and food of this amazing country. You'll learn about all of us and why the choice to take a

Rick Steves tour was the very best decision we could have made. 

Italy takes hold of your heart and never lets go. Once you step foot on her soil, you will forever dream of returning. 

Can we go back now? Pretty please? 

Why a

Rick Steves Tour?

Screenshot 2019-02-04 15.13.02.png
Our itinerary...including a PreTour stop
in Lake Como for me & Tony! 
Click the map to see the full Tour Itinerary.

Fun Features

and site navigation tips

Region Overview Pages: 

On the overview page for each part of the tour, we'll share some of our favorite things about that region. Find out where we stayed, what our favorite dining experience was, and learn some basic Italian phrases that will endear you to the locals and have you fitting in in no time! We'll share the best tips we learned and how to travel light. 


  • First Thoughts: My thoughts and first impressions of each stop on our tour. 

  • Travel Tidbits: At a glance round up for each location, including our hotel, the weather, and how many steps we took!

  • Language Lesson: Learn some of our most commonly used words and phrases. 

  • Pretty as a Postcard: A downloadable postcard from each region just for you!

  • People of Italy: As guests in their country, it thrilled us to meet the people who call this amazing land "home." 


Daily Debrief: 

A detailed overview of each day of our tour!



  • Rick Raves: Things that set the Rick Steves experience heads and tails above the rest.

  • Travel Tips: We'll share our best tips from each day and each location! 

  • Photo of the Day: Oh so hard to pick a favorite, but for you, I will. Be sure to hover over over each photo!

  • Family Favorites:  Look for favorite moments from each of my family members!

  • Daily Photo Gallery: More photos from the day.

  • Links & "Easter Eggs": External links for many hotels, restaurants, attractions etc will give you more information if desired. Find hidden "easter eggs" or little nuggets of info by hovering over pictures or diving deeper with special buttons inviting you to "click here" for more detailed info. 

Lago di Como Prelude

Tony and I decided on a "pre tour" Lake Como retreat.

We would spend 3 days in Varenna and then meet up with the rest of the family in Venice the day before the start of the tour.

If you want to see what we did, who we saw,

and what we ate in Lake Como (and we hope you do!)


Otherwise Scroll Down and on with the Tour!

Andiamo Tutti!











" Travel is intensified living …

and one of the last great sources of legal adventure."


  Rick Steves