Our family of four is scheduled for a June VFR Rick Steves tour followed by a week in Rome. We are trying to use Context and Walks of Italy credits from our cancelled March 2020 trip to Rome. We settled on a Context private tour to Ostia Antica in place of our original Pompeii and Naples tour. We are still trying to figure out our Walks credits. In 2020 we had Pristine Sistene and a Premium Colosseum tours scheduled, but with our RS tour I think we are covered for those sites. Should we do a food tour? Appian Way? Underground crypts? We have a 150% credit so a lot to spend. We also looked at Venice tours since we will arrive a couple of days early. Any thoughts from someone who has done VFR as to what isn't covered?
I don't know anything about the tour companies whose credits you can use, but I can tell you what I did with extra days before and after my VFR tour.
In Venice I visited the Frari Church, Correr Museum, Santa Maria de Salute, San Giorgio Maggiore, Naval Museum, Ghetto, and Ca' Rezzonico, plus a day trip to Padua. Plus a lot of aimless walking and maxing out my vaporetto pass (including some accidental boardings in the wrong direction). I went to the Doge's Palace on the free afternoon during the tour.
In Rome I went to the Borghese Gallery, Capitoline Museum, National Museum (the one near Termini), Ostia, Baths of Diocletian, and Victor Emmanuel Monument, plus a lot of wandering. In hindsight I regret missing St. John Lateran Church. In free time during the tour I went to the Palatine Hill and Ara Pacis. I don't know whether the mausoleum of Augustus is available now to visit, but I would have then if it had been possible. I'd wanted to see the evening light show at the Imperial Forum, but the weather turned bad.
I hope those ideas help somewhat. I had about four extra days in each city, more than you in Venice and fewer in Rome.
I also had some credits with Walks of Italy. In Venice I am going to take the "Venice in a day" tour since I am not there as part of any other tour. I liked that it hit some highlights and included a gondola ride which somehow seems necessary when visiting Venice (at least once). I notice that they also offer food tours if you are concerned that this would duplicate what you will do on the RS tours.
In Rome, I went ahead and signed up for the Underground Colosseum tour since I didn't think that this was a complete overlap with RS tours.
Venice has something called a Chorus Pass, which gives you discounted admission to quite a few churches, and provides information about the art they contain. Just going around finding the churches got me seeing parts of the city I might have missed otherwise, not to mention appreciating how beautiful the churches are.
I believe the Chorus Pass covers admission to the fifteen (as of 2021) churches, not just discounted entry.
We haven’t done this tour, but we are arranging our details for an upcoming My Way Italy and checking what walks of Italy has to offer. It looks like your Venice tour visits St. Mark’s Basilica or I would suggest the Walks of Italy “ Exclusive Alone in St. Mark’s & Doge’s Palace” tour that we’re considering. The food tours look good. It will be our 3rd visit to Rome, so we’ve ticked the big boxes. We are considering the Walks of Italy “ Like A Local” which is a driving tour that hits some areas we haven’t seen before and are a little harder to get to, like the Appian Way. They also do a Borghese Gallery tour, but that is pretty easy to do yourself. I think any one of your suggested ideas with Walks of Italy would be good.
Thank you all for your ideas! I guess my main issue is that I put a lot of time and research into our canceled trip that was just to Rome, and had exactly the tours I wanted and what I thought the whole family would enjoy. Now our trip is almost three times as long as the original including Venice and Florence, but the RS portion is covering quite a bit of what I had planned for Rome. It's good to know that the Colosseum might be worth an additional tour for more access, so I will look at Walks for that. I might even add another day trip from Rome besides Ostia Antica. As for Venice, I would love to do a special tour of Doge's Palace but I haven't found one through Walks that won't repeat St. Mark's (which we are seeing with our RS tour).