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Italy by Rail tour

Italy by Rail

Friendly Planet
4.5 . Great
86%
Travel Style: A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
8 days
From: $ 1,749 $ 219 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

  • Explore Venice
  • Visit to Florence
  • Discover Rome
  • Italy
  • Reserved rail space between each city

Short Description

Who doesn't want to spend time in Italy? Here is an opportunity to visit three of the most intriguing and iconic cities on this independent package. Spend two nights in each city, Venice, Florence and Rome, and get to know them at your own pace. Travel in comfort between the cities by Italo Rail with reserved seats. Rub shoulders with the people of Italy, and the ancient, the medieval, the Renaissance, and the modern worlds. In Venice, your hotel is conveniently located in Mestre, giving you easy access to the city, where you can explore on foot or by water taxi. Be sure not to miss a gondola ride or a coffee at St. Mark's Square. In Florence, see the birth of the Renaissance, while admiring the Duomo or the statue of David. In Rome, experience the Eternal City and perhaps visit the Vatican and the Colosseum. All this for an amazing price, as irresistible as Italy itself!

A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Trip Type Self-guided / Independent Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Venice
End City Rome

Trip Includes

  • Round-trip flights from New York (JFK) or Newark (EWR), including fuel surcharges and taxes and fees
  • 6 nights accommodations in First Class Hotels
  • Buffet Breakfast daily
  • "Prima class" rail from Venice to Florence & Florence to Rome with reserved seats

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Itinerary

Day 1: Depart USA.

Your exciting trip to Italy begins today as you depart for Venice on an overnight flight.

Day 2: Venice.

Accommodations: Best Western Hotel Bologna/Hilton Garden Inn Venice Mestre San Giuliano/Antony Hotel/ Hilton Grand Hotel Molino Stucky.

Upon arrival in Venice make your way independently to your hotel located on the mainland in Venice Mestre, a short train ride from the main island of Venice. Your hotel is conveniently located near the Ponte della Libertà, a road bridge that connects the mainland to the historical center of the Venice islands. Enjoy the balance of the day to relax and unwind and enjoy the facilities of the hotel. Venture out for your first exploration of Mestre and Venice.

Day 3: Venice.

Full day at leisure to explore Venice on your own. You can explore the canals by water taxi, without a doubt the best way to get around Venice, or meander through the slowly sinking streets at your own pace. Walk the narrow streets and alleys admiring the Venetian's unique way of life until you reach Piazza San Marco or, St. Mark's Square.

St. Mark's Square forms the political, social, and religious center of Venice. Visit St. Mark's Basilica with its great arches, marble decoration, the Romanesque carvings that surround the central doorway, and looming above, the four horse statues which preside proudly over the whole piazza.

Afterward, you may also visit the Doge's Palace, once the residence of the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice. A museum since 1923, you will see the Venetian Gothic exterior, the courtyard, the Museo dell'Opera, the Doge's Apartments, the Institutional Chambers, and the Bridge of Sighs leading to the prison.

Lastly, Be sure to take a water taxi to the islands of Murano and Burano, world renowned for their distinct style of glass artwork. You will be able to view a glassblowing demonstration and a gallery featuring some of the artist's finest work.

Breakfast provided.

Day 4: Venice & Florence.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodations: Hotel Club/Hotel Ambasciatori/The Style Florence.

This morning, independently make your way to the Santa Lucia Rail Station, and travel by train from Venice to Florence. Upon arrival, make your own way to your hotel centrally located nearby the train station. Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has much to offer in the realm of fine arts. View architectural accomplishments, such as Santa Maria del Fiore, the world's largest masonry dome or pay a visit to Michelangelo's David at the Accademia Gallery or visit one of the world's greatest art museums the, Uffizi Gallery. Or, simply take a stroll along the River Arno.

Day 5:Florence.

Meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a full day of leisure in Florence. Sample some of the finest gelatos, shop the boutiques or visit a local market.

Day 6: Florence & Rome.

Accommodations: Hotel Morgana/ The Inn at the Spanish Steps

Meals: Breakfast

This morning, make your own way to the Santa Maria Novella railway station, and board your train from Florence to Rome. Upon arrival at either Ostiense or Tiburtina railway stations, make your way independently to your centrally located hotel. All of Rome is a living, breathing museum from the Colosseum to Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps. Be sure to visit The Vatican and witness Michelangelo's masterpiece at the Sistine Chapel. A visit to Rome is not complete without visiting the Roman Forum and the view from Palatine Hill, the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and one of the most ancient parts of the city.

Day 7: Rome.

Meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a full day of leisure in Rome. Sample delicious fresh pasta and pizza, or spend some time people watching at a local café.

Day 8: Rome/USA.

Meals: Breakfast

Your memorable journey to Italy comes to an end as you make your way to the airport for your return flight. Arrive in the USA later today.

Availability

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Price From $ 1,749
Price Per Day: $ 219 per day
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22 Friendly Planet Travel Reviews & Ratings

86%
4.5 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 19
Great 0
Average 0
Disappointing 0
Terrible 3
Value
4.5
Guide
4.5
Activities
4.5
Lodging
4.5
Transportation
4.4
Meals
4.4

Italy by Rail

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Company Reviews

First class tour

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I did the Discover Havana tour with Connie (Friendly Planet Guide) & Neicy (Cuban Guide). The tour really was first class. I was particularly worried about the meals, but every meal that was included in our tour was great and exceeded my expectations. They were usually multiple course meals with a mojito welcoming drink and a beer & coffee included in the meal, which I was also not expecting.

The guides went out of their way to arrange dinners and tours outside of our guided tour. The guides were overly helpful and friendly. Our Cuban guide was candid to the extent that she could be given that she was employed by a state-run tour company. I would definitely recommend reading some history before doing this tour (Everything You Need to Know About Cuba by Julia Sweig, Havana Nocturne, Trading With The Enemy, and Moon Guide Cuba) so that you can see things from a balanced perspective and experience your "own reality" of Cuba. There are things that the tour guide may not show or say and view points that you are exposed to that being informed will truly help you appreciate to a greater extent.

We had a group that aged from 27 to 70, and everyone got along really well. The group was diverse in perspective, career, and age. I can say that I probably would not have enjoyed some of the other Cuba groups (Friendly Planet and other companies like Gate 1) based on my interactions with them and their lack of diversity.

There are inherent negatives of People to People tours regulated by the US government in that they highly structure your tour and you don't have much free time. Also, there are negatives of having a state-run tour agency arrange the activities of the tour based on Cuban regulations. However, Friendly Planet did the best job I believe they could have under the regulations, and overall, the tour was first class.
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Buyer Beware!

1.0
Details
Value1.0
Guide1.0
Activities1.0
Lodging1.0
Transportation1.0
Meals1.0
Circumstances out of your control will cause you to lose your money with this company! After checking with the company several times to make sure we could go on an available trip scheduled less than 60 days away, we purchased a trip to India. Under 60 days in advance, purchasing travel insurance is not straight forward on the site. We are supposed to be on the Taj Mahal Express tour right now. However, US Airways canceled our flight at 1am, our flight was supposed to leave at 1:20am. In spite of the airline searching for another flight to get us to JFK in time for the Air India flight departure, 12 hours later, nothing could be found. Between 1am and 4am, on top of working with US Airways, we called Air India trying to see if we could be rerouted through Chicago. We even called the emergency phone number we found after rifling through the numerous pages of travel information. We called "Friendly" Planet, at 3AM and again at 4:25AM, but had to leave a message because nobody answered. Friendly Planet did not open until 9:30 AM. (Apparently, the emergency number is the same at the regular number, and you must push a secret option 6, even though only options 1-3 are mentioned in the recording). Air India representatives could not change the flight because it had to be done the office in New York. The JFK office did not open before 10 AM. Nobody could help us in time. We also could not access our checked luggage in our departure city since US Airways' baggage claim and ticketing areas were closed several hours. My husband continued to look for potential flight solutions online and wrote an email to Friendly Planet explaining our dilemma, hoping the company would allow us to reschedule the trip or offer us some credit for a future tour. We decided to sleep for a bit, since it was now after 6 AM. Finally, we received a phone call that morning and the first thing Kathy at Friendly Planet said was, "Why didn't you call the emergency line?" We told her we had, and more than once, and that we had left a message! "Did you press option 6?" I was thinking, uh...I've done all I could, I just woke up and what can you do to help me? I told her it would have helped if option 6 had been a recorded selection. (The recording DOES NOT MENTION OPTION 6! Option 6 connects you to a live person). The remaining phone conversations and emails that occurred over the course of the rest of the day were at best condescending and rude until it was brought to the Customer Service Manager's attention that she had terrible customer service skills. At the end of the day we were told our only option was to go on the tour a day late missing the main attraction that swayed us to even go on the trip. Friendly Planet tried to pressure us to go on the trip anyway, but the airline hadn't even located our checked bags yet. How could we go on the trip we had been looking forward to now? One bag had been sent on a later flight and the other had been lost somewhere in our departure city. We didn't even board a plane and lost out on $3,500+, a great trip, and lost of sleep. Our luggage arrived at 9AM the next day. Hopefully, we can still go on this trip one day and not miss out on any of it
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Impressive tour!

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Currently on the Best of South Africa tour and I am very impressed with the Tour Guide, especially David in Jo'burg. He is very knowledgeable the history on his country and also could talk on the animals that we saw. He was very organized and kept us on time.
This was my first time on a guided tour and it is the best vacation ever!... I have a few more days to complete my vacation and I know I will enjoy it to the very end.
Kudos to Friendly Planet Travels and their associates.
Will definitely use and recommend you to others.
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I want to warn potential travelers about 'Friendly Planet'

1.0
Details
Value1.0
Guide1.0
Activities1.0
Lodging1.0
Transportation1.0
Meals1.0
I want to warn potential travelers about 'Friendly Planet' and their lack of follow through and horrible accommodations. I just returned Friday July 17th, 2015 from a tour with Friendly Planet, the Beijing/Tokyo tour. A travel mate and I were very excited about the trip. Before we left the states FRIENDLY PLANET was very inconsistent with service in providing us with dates and itineraries for the package we paid for. Often one or both of us would have to call FRIENDLY PLANET numerous times in order to get (conflicting) dates, time, information. This was not very encouraging when traveling to a foreign country.

My 1st issue was when we finally got our itinerary 4 days before the trip and only after I had called and spoke a rude young woman who lectured/quizzed me about how spam folders worked. The information we received (because my travel mate had not gotten her itinerary yet either) had a conflict with the Air China website about luggage weight. No one could give a clear answer so with a possible 200 dollar over weight fee at stake we were left uncertain and anxious about the appropriate weight of our luggage.

The next issue was the hotel in China and CITS (the vendor in China and the people who did our visas, hotels and tours). We were booked at Beijing International hotel a supposed 5 star hotel. The 1st night was fine but we noted that the hotel had stained carpet throughout and smelled of cigarette smoke. The 2nd night we had an issue, water pouring into our room from above. The water gushed from above down into our room from between the door jam of the hallway and the bathroom door. We called the front desk but with limited English/Chinese skills it took 15 to 20 minutes before we could get someone upstairs to look at the problem. We called and emailed FRIENDLY PLANET about the situation. Eventually maintenance came up and mopped up the water then put a mat down. About 15 minutes later another maintenance person came with a ladder looked at the yellowed/mildewed stain on the wood paneling and said "Yep" and left never to be seen again. We had no idea where the water came from or if it would happen again. My friend took pictures of the water damage and we noted this had been happening for a while because the wood was water stained and warped, so warped it made opening and closing the bathroom door difficult.
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Do lots of research and buyer beware!

1.0
Details
Value1.0
Guide1.0
Activities1.0
Lodging1.0
Transportation1.0
Meals1.0
Did "The Sale of Two Cities" tour to Beijing and Tokyo and could not be any more disgusted with Beijing International Hotel and the level of service provided by Friendly Planet. From not sending itineraries in a timely fashion, to changing hotels and not notifying tour companies, to booking shotty hotels that are definitely not 5 star, to thinking that there resolution tactics work, FP dropped the ball... BIG TIME!!

I've traveled all over the world and have stayed in huts that were better than Beijing International Hotel. The place wreaks of smoke, has filthy worn, water damaged carpet throughout, electrical problems with rigged wiring and staff that could care less. FP should never book travelers into this hotel. We were moved to 3 different rooms because there were MAJOR issues in all. Faulty a/c, water leaking from the ceiling and burning electrical wiring. I did not feel safe in that hotel. Also, don't count on FP to help, as they'll delegate that to their vendors and think that a free dinner is sufficient for subpar service. They offered no resolution or rectifying of the bad experience. If it were not for the great excursions and the beauty of the city, then Beijing would have been a total bust. Our guide was great and did what she could to help.

I will also say that Tokyo was a lot better after getting our excursion service together, that FP messed up by switching the hotel and not notifying them. I'm a pretty easy person, but when my life is in danger by a facility that I'm staying at and am supposed to be comfortable at, that's where I draw the line. I would have loved to rave about the vacation, but I can only do so about the sites I saw and not the service rendered by FP. So do lots of research and buyer beware!
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Colors Of Cuba was a wonderful trip

5.0
Details
Lodging5.0
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Colors Of Cuba was a wonderful trip. The fact that it was snowing in New Hampshire while it was 90 in Havana didn't hurt either. Connie, Osmin and "Pupo" are a team without equal.T he people we met were all welcoming and engaging. The itinerary was interesting and varied. Great hotels, and good food. AND, Cuba produces really good beer.
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Details

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Independent

Trip ID#:

ItaRaiFri

Trip Excludes

  • International Flights
  • Passport and Visa Charges
  • Personal Expenses

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