A stay in a charming Italian village like Lucca was exactly what I was looking for when I called Railbookers to see if they could help me find a side trip to take before heading home from Venice, where I had sailed the first post-pandemic river cruise for Americans on Uniworld's S.S. La Venezia.

I've not spent a lot of time in Italy, but in 2019 had done a two-week trip that had taken me to all the major cities and must-sees along Italy's most popular routes. On this trip, I didn't have a lot of time, but I wanted to try the high-speed rail between Venice and Rome, with an easy stop slightly off the main tourist track.

I also didn't have the time, or the desire, to research and try to book hotels and rail routes along the way. That's when I thought of Railbookers, which recently ramped up marketing of European rail trips for agents looking to book add-ons of any length and variety for river cruisers. It was one of their very knowledgeable salespeople who suggested, and then arranged, my visit to Lucca.

First, they booked my high-speed rail from Rome to Venice for the cruise, which proved to be a great alternative to waiting some 10 hours for one of just two daily flights from Rome to Venice. After the long trip from Albuquerque, N.M., to Rome, I simply walked to the airport rail station, hopped a train to Rome's main terminal then settled into for my first-class, comfortable four-hour ride -- and nap -- to Venice.

Coming back, I made the two-hour high-speed rail trek from Venice to Florence, then hopped a commuter train through the Tuscan countryside to Lucca.

My Lucca visit is just one example of the many easy trips Railbookers can help plan, either as river cruise add-ons or more extensive rail-based itineraries throughout Europe.

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