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best 10 day Senior tour of Rome, Venice, Florence?

best 10 day Senior tour of Rome, Venice, Florence?

Old Sep 20th, 2021, 01:18 PM
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best 10 day Senior tour of Rome, Venice, Florence?

We are 2 women in early 70's who want to see Rome, Florence and Venice. What is a good upper scale tour of these cities? I am investigating Tauck, and Rick Steves. Any thoughts on Rick Steves? Any suggestions?
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Old Sep 20th, 2021, 02:46 PM
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Are you in good health with good mobility? Have you done much traveling before? I would suggest you do this on your own. There are many places where a tour would be very worthwhile logistically, but these three cities are mostly flat, easy walking and have great train connections city center to city center. Do it on your own at leisure, staying in the hotels you like, eating where you want, seeing the places and museums that interest you most, stopping for a snack or drink whenever you want, without waiting for a group or hurrying to catch up with a group. In these cities, there is absolutely no need for you to have a strict schedule except for ticketed tours you arrange yourself. With the amount of money you would spend on a tour, you can get extra splurges like a water taxi to your hotel in Venice, hire private guides for tours if you like everywhere, use taxis in Rome, and eat at interesting, small restaurants. Everybody here can help you plan this perfectly. When do you hope to go?
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Old Sep 20th, 2021, 02:57 PM
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I have done RS tours, although not recently, and have always thought Tauck too expensive. Although I have visited Rome and Venice on my own I have not been to Florence, and have considered taking this specific RS tour, although I think I may not be up to the physical demands these days. I was interested in the tour because I wanted a guide for Florence, and I wouldn't mind one for a second visit to Rome.

In general I have been impressed with the quality of RS's guides, both the main one for the tour as a whole, and the local guides. I have found the hotels central and comfortable, and the included meals very good. I've also enjoyed the other people on the tour.
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Old Sep 20th, 2021, 03:33 PM
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Follow the perfect advice of doing it on your own. Once you are in the cities you can book a food tour, art tour, etc. and you will see so much more. Rome is to be savored and let it sink in your soul. You can book your hotel, museums, etc from the comfort of your own home. I have been on one organized tour to Spain. All I remember is the bad restaurants, bus ride and early morning calls. We are planning our 6th trip to Rome now. We arrive in November. Sassafrass has it 100 percent correct.
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Old Sep 20th, 2021, 04:25 PM
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Independent travel is the choice of many/most of the participants on the Fodor’s forums. My husband and I have travelled in the US, Canada, Asia, and Europe for many years, making our own arrangements for transportation, lodging, meals, and day trips or local tours. That said, we have done two tours with Road Scholars (formerly Elderhostel) which we enjoyed. Letting someone else take care of the logistics and arrange the sightseeing was different, and a welcome change. When you look at their website, you will see that the activity level for each tour is indicated and the itinerary lists the daily plan. Note that some days have free time or a meal is not provided. You have the opportunity to explore on your own and select your dining preference.

We have friends who use only Tauck. They are very pleased with their experiences with them.
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Old Sep 20th, 2021, 04:53 PM
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If you wanted to tour, say, Provence or Sicily or the towns and villages of a country like Germany, or anyplace you would be moving around a lot, etc, I would say a tour for the logistics, planning and ease of transportation would be nice. Venice, Florence and Rome, however, are just so easy and directly connected, there is no need. Actually, I have been to all three several times. Twice I did a couple of tours of Italy that included the three and that was not nearly as convenient or good as when I went independently. Visiting other places by tour was fine, but especially Venice and Rome are wonderful in the evening. Scheduling my own times to see things, finding my own special places to eat, seeing the museums and sights that really interested me and are almost never on a tour was so much better and more memorable. Other really nice things about doing it on your own is selecting a hotel that is located so you can return easily to your room for a nap or freshening up before dinner and enjoying a leisurely breakfast (in some cases served in your room) before heading out for the day. One of my favorite small hotels in Venice used to bring a tray and set it up by a window overlooking the Grand Canal. I felt I was in a movie set.
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Old Sep 20th, 2021, 05:02 PM
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No reason the OP can't spend extra time in Venice and Rome before and after the tour. And RS tours stay in small, centrally located hotels, so that's not a particular concern.

There are scrapbooks put together by tour members available on the RS website. There are a couple for this tour in the 2019 section and more from 2018.

https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/scr...lum-scrapbooks

Last edited by thursdaysd; Sep 20th, 2021 at 05:05 PM.
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Old Sep 20th, 2021, 05:18 PM
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Good reminder, thursdaysd. And if you are traveling to a distant time zone, arrive a day or two early before the start of the tour to allow your body to adjust and overcome jet lag.
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Old Sep 21st, 2021, 08:16 AM
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Prior to my solo trip to Northern Italy in 2017, I wouldn’t have thought twice about encouraging you to do this on your own. I love the planning, staying where I want to stay, doing what I want when I want, and the memorable encounters with others quick to connect to the solo traveler. The bridges in Venice and getting on and off trains—and I love train travel—turned out to be problems on that trip. While I am in good health and can walk miles, lifting my carryon luggage has become an “issue.” That said, I have a neighbor who has taken a number of Tauck tours—the hotels are as much of a destination for her and her husband as the sights—and had a friend, for most of her life an independent traveler (her last solo trip was to Cameroon traveling by local bus) who enjoyed Road Scholar tours later in life.

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Old Sep 21st, 2021, 10:36 AM
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Higher end, Tauck. We're going next year to Croatia on an Insight Vacations tour, highly touted by a friend who did one on France in 2019. You might want to check them out as well. I only agreed to do the Insight tour because I saw her trip from 2019 and it looked great, I did in-depth research on this tour, including all of the hotels, and it has a LOT of free time on our own, which is most important to us. I also passed it on to my friend, who is from Croatia, to review the itinerary and critique it. He gave it a thumbs up.

Friends of mine that I originally met on a Cal Berkeley Alumni tour to the Greek Islands, are huge Tauck supporters.

While it sounds like we take a lot of tours, we don't. Of our 30+ major (and by "major" I mean 2 - 3 week trips overseas) my husband and I have gone on since we married in '85, we've gone on only two tour groups, one with Cal Berkeley, and one (to New Zealand) with UCLA Alumni. Not that we've been adverse to tours, just love the planning and I've lived in both England and France, so I kind of know my way around Europe. We figured we could do the tour thing when we get older (which we now are) and less mobile, or feel uncomfortable with trying to quickly learn a new language (like Croatian!).

However, with visiting Rome, Venice and Florence, I would agree, unless you really aren't into planning (finding that great hotel or restaurant, or not good at making online reservations for transportation or at museums and points of interest), this is an easy peasy DIY trip. And here at Fodors, we could really help you with the logistics!
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Old Sep 21st, 2021, 09:31 PM
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I've been to all of those cities on my own. I've traveled extensively and have never done a trip with a tour group. BUT ... I do enjoy going on day tours. i.e., from Florence I did an awesome tour of San Gimignano and two other Tuscan towns with an amazing lunch at a vineyard. In Rome, we hired a guide to avoid the line and get an exceptional tour of the Vatican. I knew someone in Venice who served as a private guide. In Tokyo I hired a private guide who was able to usher us onto trains and knew just where to take us based on our particular interests.

So for me, the ideal is a bit of a hybrid: book my own hotels then take the tours I want--or hire a private guide. However, I travel very light and have no trouble carrying my luggage onto trains or buses. If that is an issue for the poster a guided tour might be the best approach.

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Old Sep 21st, 2021, 10:28 PM
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Have not stayed in hotels RS uses on tours, but they look lovely and interesting and well priced, so I will look at them for next time we travel to Italy. I have stayed at a number of his higher recommended hotels a few years back and they were always good at the time of recommendation. One thing might or might not matter to you. Tauck may have porter service, but Rick Steves does not. You will have to carry or pull your own luggage from the bus, boat or train to your hotel, which may be a block or two walk if the bus cannot drive directly to the hotel. This will certainly be the case in Venice and likely in Florence. A few of the older hotels also still do not have a lift. You might have stairs or steps to navigate. I do not see that as a negative, but it is something of which to at least be aware. There is usually at least one person at the hotel to help, but not always. Actually, the Rick Steves tour of Venice, Florence and Rome looks quite good to me. The timing looks good as do the tours. One other thing. The RS tours seem really great for walking, which I think is the absolute best way to see these cities. Unfortunately, I can no longer do two or three miles on cobblestone at one go, We need frequent rests, and we end up using taxis in Rome. So, for the OP, you know what you can do and what you want to do. Good luck with your decision. I hope you let us know what you decide, and after the trip, return with a report on exactly how it worked out.
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Old Sep 21st, 2021, 11:36 PM
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wordsmith1, I'm not much older than you and I would prefer to not take a tour with a group of other older people. Providing I had decent mobility, if I did a tour (which I actually wouldn't with a simple Italian itinerary) I would want a mix of ages.

For myself, if I thought I couldn't manage my luggage myself, I'd take less. When considering any tour (which I rarely do), the most important things to me are: small group (less than 12); and central accommodation. Value, use of local transport and flexibility also get big ticks with me. I don't need fancy hotels and would never want to eat a meal at my hotel other than breakfast. I reckon it's really important to decide what your criteria is for selecting a tour. What suits one person might be a nightmare for others.

Like Songdoc, I occasionally take a tour for a few hours or a day, especially walking tours.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2021, 04:24 AM
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Thanks

Thanks for all your input. You have given me many options to think about!
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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 08:53 AM
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Independent travel with booked tours seems just about perfect to me. For ex, on Tripadvisor, Viator and other companies offer all kinds of day, half-day, and other tours. And there's always a travel agent.

When traveling independently to a region we didn't know well, we took a half-day tour in a small shuttle minivan out of Aix to see the countryside and some small towns when we didn't want to get a car.

Traveling light (carry-on plus personal item) frees you to travel well by trains, especially the high speed trains between these cities. Taxis to the hotel, and then your hotel concierge/manager would likely be happy to arrange for tours, restaurants, and the like, especially with well chosen hotels.

Lots of recs here for hotels in those areas -- plenty here for Venice (I love Hotel Al Ponte Antico, though it is a splurge for us), Rome (Albergo del Senato, near the Pantheon, maybe?), and Florence (love Hotel David, across the Arno river from the Duomo etc; others can recommend closer to the Duomo). Some fantastic small family-run hotels and of course the large hotels; all can help you plan your days.

Whatever you choose I hope you have a great time! I planned a trip for my four sisters and me about ten years ago after some major milestones, all independent travel; you'll have a wonderful trip!
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 06:31 PM
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I've only been to Venice (twice) but would be comfortable doing those 3 cities on my own. It seems a very straight-forward itinerary. You just need plane tickets (into Rome and out of Venice or the other way around saves backtracking) and 3 hotel reservations (choose central walkable locations in each city). You can arrange city tours, walking tours, cooking classes, etc, depending on interests.

If you do want to go with a group, I would prefer mixed ages not going only with other "seniors". Rick Steves has a solid reputation and I would not hesitate to try that company for Italy. See his website for lots of information and posts from previous travelers. Road Scholars (formerly Elderhostel) is good if you want the group to be more older people.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 06:33 PM
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One more thing... for me 10 days is a little tight for 3 cities. Arriving and departure days pretty much are taken up in logistics. So call 10 days more like 8 days. And subtract a half day when you are taking the train between cities, so now 7 days on-the-ground divided between 3 cities isn't all that much time.

If you can't extend your time, this may be another reason to stick with the organized group tour idea. They move people around faster than most independent travelers can do.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 07:26 PM
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Agree that self planning for these three cities is fairly easy to do, have done it a few times. If possible, arrange your flights to arrive into Rome and depart from Venice (or vice versa, but preferably Rome first.)
Also agree with suze that the available time is a pretty tight schedule. If that is all that is available, I'd go for 4 nights in Rome, 3 nights in Florence and 2 nights in Venice. So that would look like:
Day 0 - leave home
Day 1 - arrive Rome, stay 4 nights in Rome, reserve admission to Vatican, other sites of interest such as Coliseum, Ostia Antica, catacombs, Pompeii
Day 5 -train Rome to Florence ( about 1.5 hours on high speed trains)
Day 5-7 - hotel in Florence; book museum tickets in advance, consider a small group tour to Tuscan sites (Pisa, winery, etc.) which can take up a whole day. Indulge in delicious Tuscan food!
Day 8 - train to Venice (about 2 hours)
Day 8-9 hotel in Venice - hit tourist spots, enjoy local cuisine
Day 10 - fly home

You mention your ages but not mobility status or other limitations. Don't let any decreased mobility stop you, just take it into account when planning to allow for rest periods and avoid especially demanding activities. (Been there, done that!) Venice, for example, is fraught with bridges and cobblestones. Some of the visits to Tuscan towns involve significant walking on often steep streets.
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 02:14 PM
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I agree with everyone that a trip like this is very easy to plan for your particular interests. Open jaw Rome/Venice booking via any number of airfare websites. Book high speed train between your cities. The website man in seat 61 is very useful for this purpose. Read up on your destinations with any number of travel guides to decide on what you want to do/see. Can you possibly extend your trip a few days? I would plan a trip like this if I had the time with 5 nights Rome, 3 nights Florence and 3 nights Venice. You can of course reverse this trip. Remember your first day depending on your travel arrangements may not give you much time to do anything and you will lose a 1/2 day each time you move. If you have more time you could explore more of Tuscany from Florence.
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Old Sep 28th, 2021, 09:40 AM
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Rome has just so much going on... have you considered Hadrian's Villa and Villa d'Este? I would rather spend more time in Rome and Venice than Florence on a 10 day trip.
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