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Cuisine & Culture: Rome, Florence & Venice

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9 days From $2,951 per person
4.6 stars(44 reviews)
Cuisine & Culture

Wine, architecture and all-encompassing culture welcome you to Italy on this 9-day rail vacation that takes you from the sacred surroundings of Rome and Vatican City to romantic Venice, where the water is as much of a part of the city as the residents themselves.

Travel on your own following a well-planned itinerary
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In celebration of our 20th anniversary in 2024, you can save up to $300 per person on independent vacations priced $2,000 or more. Book by February 29th to lock in savings.

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2024 Tour code: ST-RFVN-24

About the tour

Through museum visits, guided tours and culinary experiences, delve into the history and incredible culture of Italy. This nine-day expedition follows a northerly course that takes travelers from Rome in the south to Venice on the cusp of the Adriatic Sea. Each stop along the way paints a memorable picture of Italy's immense beauty. Distinctive offerings pair with regional delicacies and art expressed through frescoes, sculptures and even architecture to give each location its own feel. As you travel, soak it all in with both planned and optional excursions, as well as ample time to sightsee independently. Begin in Rome, where you enjoy a nighttime city tour, as well as a tour of the Vatican Museums and a wine tasting. From here, continue by train to Florence, where the rich culture of Tuscany takes hold. In Florence, enjoy a sampling of wine and snacks at a winery and a walking tour that explores the city's most famous sites, including the Accademia Gallery. Getting to Venice takes on a fresh look as this journey includes both a trip by train and a transfer to the hotel along the local canals by boat. Your time in Venice is highlighted by a food and wine tour of Venice's bacaris and a guided walking tour that explores St. Mark's Square and the stunning Doge's Palace. Daydream of the possibilities to come on this journey for the ages.


What’s included


Day 1 - Rome

As you arrive in Rome, a driver greets you for your private transfer to your conveniently located hotel.  Settle into your room, and perhaps grab a bite to eat before joining a small group for a tour of the Eternal City this evening. This tour is one of the most unique ways to experience Rome, as many tourists have cleared by these hours and the city's most famous sites are aglow in lights. This tour shows off several famous piazzas, including Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Navona and Piazza Venezia. Other points of interest along the way include the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier. Marvel at spectacular illuminated vistas of the city from Gianicolo Hill before returning to your hotel for the night. Overnight Rome.

Day 2 - Vatican City Sightseeing

Enjoy a leisurely morning in Rome to take in the sites on your own or simply soak in the ambiance of the city while sipping espresso in one of the many charming cafés. After all, espresso isn't just a drink, it is a way of life for Romans; there is no better way to immerse yourself in the culture. Perhaps revisit sites from last night to get a fresh look in the light of day. You could also wander through one of Rome's stunning parks, such as Villa Borghese, with its well-kept pathways.

This afternoon, a driver greets you at the hotel to escort you to Vatican City for a small group tour of the Vatican Museums. Your excursion allows you to skip the lines at each of the museums and enjoy the narration and guidance of an English-speaking escort. The tour proceeds through exquisite rooms filled with tapestries, sculptures, paintings, and artifacts. With the group, venture through the Gallery of Tapestries and the Gallery of Geographical Maps. Look upon beloved works of art in the Raphael Rooms. The Whisper audio system offers further insight into these fantastic pieces. From here, the tour proceeds to the breathtaking Sistine Chapel, where one of the most incredible frescoes in the world looks down upon you from the ceiling. For an upgrade, you may choose to do this as a private tour rather than a group excursion, and selecting this option affords you a return transfer to the hotel.

This evening consider participating in a wine tasting at Enoteca L'angelo. This cozy bar has been in place for many years and welcomes you for wine and antipasti. Overnight Rome.

  • Breakfast
Day 3 - Rome Explorations

Your final day in Rome comes with an array of options of touring, though, of course, you are welcome to spend the day meandering through the city at your own pace.

You may elect to take a small group tour of the Roman Forum and Colosseum. Meet your driver at the hotel this afternoon for transit to the epicenter of ancient Roman life, the Colosseum. Here, you meet an English-speaking guide and the remainder of the small group for an insider's look at this impressive amphitheater. Next, continue to what remains of the Roman Forum buildings. Each stop offers a glimpse back in time to this golden age of European history.

Alternatively, you may wish to embark on a Roman Food Tour. Savor the tastes of Italy on this 3-hour immersion into Rome's culinary scene. Begin in Campo de' Fiori, home to one of the oldest street markets in Rome. With the guidance of an English-speaking escort, venture through the market to taste offerings such as porchetta, olive oils and balsamic vinegars, with each variety boasting its own unique essence derived from the region in which it was produced. Continue to the Antica Salumeria near the Pantheon, where you are treated to a spread of cured meats, focaccia bread, hand-crafted cheeses, sottoli (vegetables preserved in oil) and local wine. The excursion presses forth with a walk through town, which concludes with a platter of traditional Sicilian pastries and a cup of espresso from none other than Tazza d'Oro, a coffee shop that has been serving Romans for more than three decades.

Or, you may take an optional small group tour to Pompeii and Naples. Unbelievable history beckons just outside of Rome, and it is yours to behold as you venture to Pompeii and Naples on this full-day excursion. A private car takes you to Rome's train station, and here, you board a train to Naples. An English-speaking guide is waiting at the platform in Naples when you arrive. Together with the rest of the group, you travel to Pompeii in the shadows of Mount Vesuvius. Walk amongst the houses, buildings and shops that once lined these ancient streets while learning about the region's history and the volcano that destroyed it all. Enjoy a light lunch with the group, then the excursion proceeds to Naples for a panoramic tour that highlights the immense beauty that surrounds the city. Your guide drops you back at the train station for your return journey to Rome. Overnight Rome. 

  • Breakfast
Day 4 - Rome to Florence by Train

This morning, check out of your hotel and meet your driver for a private transfer to Rome's train station. Settle onto your train for a first-class journey north through the boot to the beautiful city of Florence. On arrival, a driver is waiting to take you to your hotel in the city. You have plenty of time to settle in and freshen up ahead of this afternoon's wine tasting at Le Volpi E L'uva wine bar. Since the early '90s, this establishment has prided itself on cultivating relationships with small wineries throughout the country, bringing the flavors of Italy right to Florence. You are free to begin your city explorations independently following the tasting. Overnight Florence. 

  • Breakfast
Day 5 - Florence Touring

Get acquainted with Florence with the help of a knowledgeable guide on this morning's walking tour. Meet your guide and the rest of the small group outside Cafè Rivoire-Collini in Piazza Della Signoria. Together, meander through this historic square to see sights like Loggia dei Lanzi arcade and Palazzo Vecchio. From here, proceed toward Piazza del Duomo, home to the Duomo Cathedral, Giotto's Bell Tower and the Baptistry. Each stop unveils a new layer of culture, art and history that speaks to Florence's past. This amazing excursion concludes at the Accademia Gallery, a museum, home to the one and only "David" by Michelangelo. You have plenty of time to admire the art throughout the museum before the tour concludes around lunchtime. The remainder of the day is yours to continue your sightseeing throughout Florence. You may wish to continue looking upon spectacular works of art at the Uffizi Gallery or visit the shops that line the one-of-a-kind Ponte Vecchio bridge. No matter where you turn, enchanting medieval architecture transports you back to another age.

This afternoon, there is an optional half-day wine tasting tour. This excursion explores one particular varietal of wine: chianti. Taste this ruby-red wine in establishments throughout the city. Overnight Florence. 

  • Breakfast
Day 6 - Florence Explorations

Continue your explorations of Florence's museums, chapels and historic sites on your terms today. Renaissance art abounds throughout the city, as do delicious food and fine drink. For a more structured day, consider joining an optional tour:

Embark on a small group Florentine Food tour for a 3-hour introduction to the flavors of Florence. The excursion begins with coffee and pastries in a local café and then moves to the Mercato Centrale, dating back to the 1800s. This lively market is the perfect place to peruse local offerings ranging from freshly caught fish to fruits, vegetables, and baked goods. Wander through the vendors, soaking in the energy that engulfs this market. Sample fried fish, fritto Toscano and fantastic vegetable offerings before the group exits the market and ventures further into the heart of the city to sample Florentine Shiacciatta bread topped with truffles and creamy gelato. Wrapping up the excursion, cross the Arno River and venture to one of the finest wine houses in Florence in the Oltrarno District. On arrival, a beautiful charcuterie board is served, filled with cold cuts and flavorful cheeses. A toast with a glass of chianti is the perfect end to this memorable excursion.

Alternatively, join a small group Chianti tour with wine tasting and lunch. Head out of Florence and deep into the Chianti region of Tuscany. An English-speaking driver greets you at your hotel and drives you through the area's beautiful rolling hills. The first stop comes when you arrive in Greve, where you have time at leisure to enjoy the medieval surroundings. Perhaps the most famous site in Greve is the triangle-shaped square surrounded by lovely centuries-old buildings. From Greve, the tour continues to a local farmhouse for a walk through the farm's vineyards and wine cellars and a wine tasting of four varietals complemented by cured meats, cheese, hand-made bread and pasta. The drive back to Florence is perhaps even more scenic than the drive out of the city, as we visit picturesque Montefioralle and make a stop in Badia a Passignano for an unmatched view of Florence from an Abbey built centuries ago. Overnight Florence. 

  • Breakfast
Day 7 - To Venice by Rail and Private Boat

Your journey to Venice begins this morning with a private transfer from your hotel to Florence's train station. Enjoy first-class accommodations during the rail trip, which takes you into northern Italy and out to the coast of the Adriatic Sea. In all, the ride takes under three hours to complete. When you arrive in Venice, the next leg of your trip takes place on Venice's famous canals. Board a private boat for transfer to your hotel. You have some time to freshen up after checking in to your room, and then you are treated to a small group tour of Venice's bacari, or wine bars. A local, English-speaking guide leads you through Venice's back streets to charming bacari, where authentic tastes of Venice await your tastebuds. Over two hours, savor local wines and finger foods while looking upon the gorgeous architecture of the City of Water. Overnight Venice.

  • Breakfast
Day 8 - Venice Sightseeing

This morning is your chance to get an up-close look at the incredible beauty of Venice on a guided walking tour. Meet your guide and the rest of the intimate tour group in front of Caffé Florian St. Mark's Square, widely considered one of the most stunning squares in the world. Begin your explorations here, looking upon beloved structures, such as the Procuratie, the Byzantine Basilica, the Bell Tower, the Clock Tower and the National Library Marciana. Each distinctive building features impressive detail, with arches, statues, columns, and frescoes. It is truly breathtaking. The tour concludes at Doge's Palace, an exquisite Gothic fortress that has been built in layers dating back to the 1300s. Your entrance is included with the price of the tour, allowing you to look upon breathtaking works of art from Italian artists like Titian, Tintoretto, Guardi and Tiepolo. Before the tour wraps up, set your sights on the 17th-century prisons and the famous Bridge of Sighs.

The remainder of your day is at leisure to enjoy Venice's endless beauty. Wander across Rialto Bridge to look out over the Grand Canal or simply walk along the waterside while meandering through the neighborhoods. Palaces, churches and centuries-old buildings line the narrow streets, and there are plenty of museums and galleries to explore. For an authentic Venetian experience, perhaps join an optional 30-minute gondola ride along through the city's iconic canals. Overnight Venice. 

  • Breakfast
Day 9 - Venice

From the ancient surroundings of Rome to the intimate bridges and canals of Venice, this memorable journey comes to a close this morning. A private driver greets you at your hotel to take you to the airport for your return flight home. 

*If transfer time required is before 6:00am, a supplement may be applicable.

  • Breakfast

Additional information

Pricing Plans

Hotels commonly used include Rome - Damaso Hotel, Hotel Ariston; Florence - Hotel Rosso 23, Hotel della Signoria; Venice - Hotel Montecarlo, Hotel Rosa Salva. Rail reservations are in standard class.

Hotels commonly used include Rome - Hotel Dei Borgognoni, Hotel dei Mellini; Florence - Hotel Santa Maria Novella, Hotel Rapallo; Venice - Ruzzini Palace Hotel, Hotel Kette. Rail reservations are in business class.

Hotels commonly used include Rome - The Inn at the Roman Forum, Palazzo Scanderbeg; Florence - Hotel Ville Sul'Arno, Hotel Bernini Palace; Venice - Sina Centurion Palace, Hotel L'Orologio. Rail reservations are in business class.

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.




4.6 stars4.6 / 5 · 44 reviews

  1. 5 stars
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3 stars

Submitted 17 Nov 2023

Some of the guides were poor. The hotels were not close to the organized activities, so taxis, buses or walking was needed. Did not go in the Duomo; no tickets so only looked outside. One hotel we had had a dead rat out front. No restaurants in any of our three hotels. The people who met us and took us to the airport and trains and hotels were always on time and easily found. That was appreciated! Some excursions got cancelled so we had to book things independently and pay a lot on our own. The meals provided were primarily free buffet breakfasts, one cheese board with a wine tasting, and a few samples plus another meat and cheese board on the walking food tour. The scheduling person before the trip, Carina, was very accommodating and responsive. This was our first European trip and we did enjoy it, but felt the scheduled activities were the inexpensive and non ticketed attractions which we could have done in our own. Examples, night tour in a van with a driver who played google explanations of the sites, outdoor walking tour and inside tour with a guide of Academia, but not the Duomo or Effizi. Coliseum tour cancelled, etc. Getting our luggage ourselves on and off trains was expected but was exhausting and we won’t book a tour like this again.

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5 stars

Submitted 17 Nov 2023

This was my first independent tour with vacations by rail and I like the balance of planned activities and free time. The tour guides we had were very good.

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Holly Gibson

5 stars

Submitted 15 Nov 2023

We loved our tour! Not knowing what to expect when we arrived in Rome, there was our driver with our name on the sign. We knew then we would be ok! Our included tours were exceptional, our guides were a wealth of information. The major tourist sites were crowded even in November. We decided to walk to little known churches and weren’t disappointed. I loved that we had the option for our own adventures. We decided to tour all the cities on our own on the free days. The hotels were great, every city seemed to be an upgraded hotel. Our food & wine experience was fun! I tried things I never would have tried and they were delicious! The trains were fun, wish we had that kind of transportation in the States. Can’t wait to do another tour with Vacations by Rail.

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5 stars

Submitted 15 Nov 2023

The local tour guides and drivers were very friendly and informative

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5 stars

Submitted 13 Nov 2023

We had a great time! Communication was easy, and we were able to easily personalize our trip. The local tour guides were very knowledgable, and we enjoyed that out tour groups were small. Great balance between planned events and free time. All hotels were very nice and rail transfers were easy.

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5 stars

Submitted 31 Oct 2023

This is my first trip to Europe. The service gave me peace of mind in planning and reliability throughout the trip.

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