ITALIA, IL BEL PAESE
(Naples, Sorrento, Amalfi coast, Rome, Florence, Venice)
As all the tours I design are customized, this is a TOUR Itinerary presented as one of the many ways you can experience Italy on your PRIVATE TOUR with Audrey.
Tour starts in Naples and ends in Venice
Your arrival and departure airports are:
Nápoli (Naples)/Capodichino International Airport (NAP)
Venice is Marco Polo Airport (VCE)
First time to Italy? With so much to see and experience, this trip to Italy is sure to take your breath away. Italy’s endless historical sites and cultural activities can turn planning a trip into an overwhelming task. Many travelers end up “packing too much” into a short amount of time, leaving them exhausted and feeling like they haven’t really gotten the authentic local experience.
This is why Travels with Audrey has designed a special trip for travelers who want to see the best of Italy, a cultural experience that includes major historical sites, as well as savoring delicious regional cuisine and off-the-beaten path destinations.
When you think about a visit to Italy, there is usually a list of “must see” sights. Many restrict themselves to the country’s star cities, but with us you will discover there is more to Italy than Michelangelo’s masterpieces and Roman ruins. So due to popular requests and keeping our travel philosophy in mind, we carefully crafted the perfect tour for you to see and experience the best Italy has to offer, from major must-see attractions while taking you to some lesser-known gems; giving you the chance to enjoy the authentic local experiences, from historical sites to savoring delicious regional cuisine, without the overwhelming task of planning it yourself. With local sightseeing skip the line access, unique excursions and authentic experiences from your welcome dinner in Rome to your farewell dinner in Venice. We do not create the cheapest tours nor the shortest, but we feel we have created the best tour for the first time traveler to Italy.
If you have been “Dreaming of Italy” then this might be the perfect private tour for you.
Need a vacation? Then why not take the ultimate escape and head to Italy. Join me on this amazing itinerary discovering some of the best Italy has to offer and some of its most famous sites. With so much to see and experience, this vacation to Italy is sure to take your breath away.
Book this Italy hand-crafted private tour for an inspiring introduction to the best of Italy, not only for its museums, cities and monuments but also its fantastic food, wine, culture and people. Traveling with Audrey is not about checking things off a list, but about sustainable tourism and authenticity.
€5,400 PER PERSON double occupancy, pricing based on a minimum of 8 people
Get a group together and let’s get something on the calendar!
Join Tour Manager Audrey for a wonderful adventure through Italy, or contact us to help you create your own independent travel experience inspired by this itinerary. We know that the decision to spend your valuable time and money traveling is a costly investment. Contact us to create the perfect guided or independent travel custom itinerary. We work closely with groups who want a personalized, private experience. Travels with Audrey is who you want when planning a remarkable family vacation, celebrating an anniversary or any other occasion. Experience Italy like never before!
HIGHLIGHTS & INCLUSIONS of YOUR PRIVATE TOUR TO ITALY
About our included dinners: As Europeans, for us dinner is a celebration of good food and wine, a celebration of culture, a celebration of family and friendship. Hosting this celebration is one of the joys of being a tour manager. We guide you to your favorite dish … or help you choose something you’ve never tried before. We choose the perfect wines and throw in some local delicacies to broaden your palate and surprise you a bit. When we are at a cooking lesson or a wine tasting, be sure to know you’ll go home with new knowledge that will draw you under its spell and increase your hunger for more.
NOTE: On every tour, we have included dinners as a group as well as nights on your own. Of course you are always invited to join me at my favorite places or as I explore new and interesting restaurant finds. I also have a lot of recommendations and would be happy to make reservations for you.
- Private 14 day tour + 24/7 support
- Expert local guides with skip the line private touring
- Dedicated local tour leader, driver-guide
- Insider access to the Italian way of life
- Accommodations that blend a mix of Italian hospitality, comfort and local character (Breakfast included)
- Hand-picked Insider Experiences from wine tastings to culinary delights
- Private transportation during tour and High Speed train tickets where applicable
- Move beyond Italy’s signature cities and travel to the picturesque countryside regions
- Enjoy a private walking tour of the oldest city in Europe, Naples
- Experience the lavish art of the Florentine Renaissance in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence with your private guide
- Relive ancient history in the ruins of Rome
- Wind your way through the ancient romantic waterways of Venice
- Savor tasty regional cuisine in specially chosen local authentic ‘trattorias’ and restaurants
- Wander Sorrento’s bustling streets, lined with craft shops and enjoy breath-taking views of the Gulf of Naples
- Visit the impressive Greek temples of Paestum, dating back to the 6th century BC
- See how Mozzarella di Bufala is made at an organic farm
- Visit the legendary idyllic island of Capri and find serenity on the chair lift from Ana Capri for fantastic vistas
- Visit Herculaneum a superbly conserved Roman fishing town to relive ancient history
- Enjoy the awe inspiring views on the Amalfi coast road and visit the inspiring coastal villages along the Costiera, including Positano, Amalfi and Ravello
- Walk through Rome’s amazing sites with an expert local guide and skip the line access to step back in time while visiting the Colosseum and Roman Forum
- Visit the Vatican museums, the impressive Saint Peter’s basilica, Sistine chapel with your own private guide and skip the line access
- Visit the unique charming medieval hamlet of Civita di Bagnoregio
- See Florence’s Renaissance masterpieces at the impressive Galleria dell’ Accademia (first art school of Europe) featuring Michaelangelo’s David up close and personal with your own private guide-Florence a true art lover’s dream
- Enjoy orientation walks by your tour manager: Sorrento, Capri, Rome (Spanish steps, Trevi fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona), Civita di Bagnoregio, Florence, Venice
- Visit one of the most magical and romantic cities in the world, Venice and marvel at the 11th century mosaics of St Mark’s Basilica
- Enjoy a private boat ride to the Island of Murano with a visit to a traditional glass blowing factory followed by a visit to the islands of Burano and Torcello
DAY 1: ARRIVAL NAPLES and HERCULANEUM
Welcome to Italia!
Southern Italy is a fascinating area with its Roman and Greek temples, and extensive archaeological remains. Naples, founded by the Greeks is one of the oldest cities in the world.
You will need to book your air travel so that you arrive into the Naples Airport (NAP) by noon for pickup and transfer to your Sorrento hotel, overlooking the beautiful bay of Naples and powerful Mount Vesuvius. The transfer will be by van and is included in the price.
Herculaneum: The eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 completely engulfed the towns of Pompeii and the wealthy Roman seaside resort of Herculaneum with debris. Herculaneum was covered with a thick layer of lava and mud – this layer preserved it almost perfectly, whilst Pompeii was covered in cinders and volcanic ash. Archaeological excavations have uncovered private villas, shops, bathhouses, and a fascinating range of everyday objects. The small town of Herculaneum offers the most concise and moving monument to the great eruption. Its ruins might be less extensive than those of Pompeii, but they are far better preserved. Many of the buildings have weathered the centuries so well that they look virtually the same as they would have done millennia ago.
Sorrento lies in one of the most beautiful areas in Italy. Here mountains erupt from the Mediterranean and pastel-hued villages cling to their sides. This area is filled with dazzling antiquities like Herculaneum and Pompeii and breath taking natural wonders. You will spend the next few days in this picturesque region that has been a favorite vacation destination since Roman times.
DAY 2: PAESTUM AND MOZZARELLA DI BUFALA
Today we have a full day of wonderful discoveries!
Your professional Italian Driver will pick you up after breakfast for a day of unique discoveries with a visit of Paestum, some of the world’s best preserved Greek temples.
Paestum is situated along the central west coast of Italy, south of both Naples and Salerno. Once a time-honored Greek colony, Paestum remains off the beaten path yet there are few destinations in the country that are as rewarding as this ancient community. Another great reward for visitors who visit Paestum is the solitude throughout the area. Often, there is not a soul around. A far cry from its Italian counterparts such as Milan, Rome, and Florence, Paestum’s combination of historic monuments, peaceful surroundings, and coastal location make it an ideal stop.
The stately honey-colored temples were once part of the Greek colonies that once held sway over much of southern Italy. The Greeks capitulated to the Romans in 273BC and Poseidonia, as it was known, remained a thriving trading port until the fall of the Roman Empire. After your visit, time to stop for a special treat! A visit of a farm that produces the superbly soft and creamy mozzarella made from the organic mild of water buffalo. Late afternoon we return to Sorrento.
DAY 3: LA DOLCE FAR NIENTE
Capri playground of roman emperors
After breakfast, together with your tour manager, you will go down to the harbor in Sorrento to board your ferry to Capri (weather permitting), the world’s most enchanting island. You can explore to your heart’s content on your own or with your tour manager (Includes taxi to ferry dock and your round trip ferry ticket). You may choose to stay on the island all day or choose for the balance of the afternoon to simply explore the sights and ambiance of Sorrento, a special Italian resort town.
On the island I recommend sharing the cost of a convertible taxi cab for the time you need it and your tour manager (Audrey) can also show you some awesome simple hikes.
A vacation spot of Roman emperors and movie stars for centuries, you’ll be equally captivated by the charms of Capri. The jaw dropping and spectacular scenery is sure to impress any traveler and the colorful bougainvillea, fragrant lemon groves and grapevines are a delight for any photo-fanatic.
Tiberius had his Villa Jovis built here, now an evocative cliff top ruin with breathtaking views, and his ruling seat in AD26 and Emperor Augustus made it his private playground.
The hallmarks of this 5 square mile getaways surrounded by emerald waters are the Faraglioni, three needlelike rocks towering just off the rugged coast.
It’s also a hugely popular day-trip destination and a summer favorite of holidaying VIP’s. Inevitably, the two main centers, Capri Town and its uphill rival Anacapri, are almost entirely given over to tourism, with the high prices that predictably follow. But explore beyond the swish cafes and designer boutiques and you’ll find that Capri retains an unspoiled charm. All of this overlooks the deep blue water that laps into secluded coves and mysterious grottoes.
Take a chairlift to the top of Monte Solaro and take in the views of the cliffs and sea so dramatic that the hair will stand up on the back of your neck. Visit the church of St Michael, known for its 18h century majolica floor depicting the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
In Anacapri, we also highly recommend visiting Villa San Michele: is a magical place that must be experienced. Some speak of Feng shui perfection, about a node for magnetic flows, and others about its enchanting beauty. Villa San Michele is undoubtedly unique and a living example of the dream that became reality with its lush Mediterranean gardens that offer a chance to escape the day tripping crowds. “The soul needs more space than the body”
For lunch why not try “La Fontelina” where the sun, the sea, good wine and great food comes together simply but gloriously on a sun-dappled seaside terrace with the Faraglioni in sight. Diners can sunbathe and swim before and after a lunch that is likely to include the restaurant’s signature fruit filled sangria and simple “insalata caprese”, the islands specialty of super fresh mozzarella and just picked tomatoes.
You can choose when to return to the mainland for the afternoon to spend time wondering the narrow alleys of Sorrento, with wonderful shops (linen clothing, crafts, jewelry, ceramics), known as the city of orange and lemon groves. Sample the local popular liqueur in a local shops, Limoncello, or quite simply sit by the pool (weather permitting) enjoying the sweetness of doing nothing.
Optional tours and activities:
A day in Pompeii: Pompeii is the most famous and visited archaeological site in the world (Includes round trip transfer and private tour)
Cooking lesson: please inquire with us about the various types of cooking lessons and cost available in Sorrento
DAY 4: DIVINE AMALFI COAST ESCAPE
“Italy’s Dream Drive”
Today is a full day of discovery, leaving at 08:30, for a drive along the famous and spectacular Amalfi Coast, one of Europe’s most dramatic shorelines and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Our first stop on the Amalfi Coast is the charming town of Ravello. Perched 1100 feet above Amalfi, on towering cliffs above the sea is aptly described as “the place where poets go to die”. From your included visit of the romantic gardens of Villa Cimbrone, enjoy the never ending views of the turquoise blue sea.
After lunch, continue to Amalfi, once a mighty maritime republic; enjoy a walk through town and a chance to visit the Duomo di Sant’Andrea which glitters when the sun strikes the 12th century gold mosaics on its façade (not included in the cost of the tour).
On our way back toward Sorrento, we stop in Positano, the pearl of the Amalfi coast, with its colorful houses clinging to the hillside overlooking the sea.
On Italy’s most scenic stretch of coastline, famously steep and narrow and kinked with hairpin turns, it winds up cliffs and down into deep gorges, the colors thrill, a living kaleidoscope that swirls and changes with every turn: pastel hued villages terraced into the hillside, deep green gardens blanketed with brilliant blooms, sunny yellow of the local lemons, and the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean.
The towns have inspired writers and artists for centuries from 14th century writer Giovanni Boccaccio to 19th century composer Richard Wagner and 20th century playwright Tennessee Williams. John Steinbeck described it as “a dream place that is not quite real when you are there and beckoningly real after you have gone”.
DAY 5: NAPLES, PIZZA
Twenty five centuries of culture, Neapolitan style
When most visitors think of Italian food, they are usually thinking of the dishes of Naples and Sorrento, spaghetti with tomato and basil, mozzarella and pizza, which are from this area.
After breakfast, our private transportation and driver will pick you up for a private guided tour of Naples, seeing Piazza del Gesù, Gesu Nuovo Church, the Monastery of Santa Chiara, the church of San Domenico Maggiore, the Chapel of San Severo (with the Veiled Christ), and time permitting the Cathedral of Naples.
Let’s not forget to have lunch at a local historical Pizza place, in the city that created Pizza!
Naples: Naples is Italy’s most misunderstood city and is also one of its finest. The Unesco listed “centro storico” (historical center) is an intoxicating warren of streets packed with ancient churches, citrus filled cloisters and first rate pizzerias. It is here, under the washing lines, that you will find classic Neapolitan street life, overloaded Vespas hurtling through cobbled alleyways and bullying market vendors. Move towards the sea and the cityscape opens up. Imperious palaces flank beautiful squares where Gucci clad shoppers strut their stuff, then lunch in chandeliered cafes. This is Royal Naples, the Naples of the Bourbons, that so impressed the 18th century grand tour visitors.
More than two millennia of history stokes the vitality and energy of this modern day port city famous for its high spirited, chaotic, everyday life, Naples was the seat of a powerful, independent kingdom for more than 500 years and drew Europe’s finest architects and artists. Explore its many historic overlays in the colorful Spaccanapoli, at the heart of the old city. The bay fronting Castel Nuovo, a massive fortification dating back to the 13th century, holds the civic museum; Palazzo Reale, the art jammed 17th century palace that was home to the Naples monarchs and the famed Teatro di San Carlo opera house, one of Europe’s largest and most splendid.
Then it is time for your high speed train to take you up to Rome.
“If there was no Rome, I would dream of her”, Sir Laurence Olivier in Spartacus
Romans call Rome, “Roma Caput Mundi”, Rome Capital of the world. Start the trip of a lifetime in one of the world’s most fascinating cities! Your hotel is located right in the historical heart of the city, steps away from the major historical sites. An epic, monumental metropolis, Italy’s capital is a city of thrilling beauty and high drama. Its historic centre, which according to Unesco, boasts some of the major monuments of antiquity, has been a world heritage site since 1980.
After checking in to your hotel in Rome located in the historical heart of the city walking distance to all major sites, you will have time to freshen up before meeting your tour manager for an orientation walk through the streets of this fascinating city, Rome.
On your walk with your tour manager you will have a chance to see some amazing sites, Santa Maria sopra Minerva (a must see Gothic church), Pantheon (the best preserved of Rome’s ancient monuments and one of the most influential buildings in the world), Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Trevi fountain to throw in your coin!
DAY 6: ROME OF THE CAESARS
After breakfast, your sightseeing today is with a local expert guide on your private walking tour of ancient Rome; visit with skip the line access (no waiting in line) the Roman Forum, once the beating heart of the ancient city, followed by the most iconic ancient monument, the Colosseum. Travel back in time in the Roman Forum where you will be walking through the site along the Via Sacra (Sacred Way), seeing the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, Arch of Titus, Arch of Constantine, the temple of Caesar where he was burned, Curia or Senate House, Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill. The Colosseum was officially designated as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007. The towering 1st century AD amphitheater where gladiators met in mortal combat and condemned criminals fought off wild beasts.
After your guided tour (approximately 3 hours), spend lunch and the afternoon pursuing your own passions. Here are just a few of our recommendations:
- No visit to Rome would be complete without visiting a few of the many churches and basilicas: the basilica of St John Lateran, the medieval basilica of San Clemente, Santa Maria Maggiore, all repositories of relics and magnificent art.
- Borghese gallery, with a rich collection of the finest artists, like Bernini, Casanova, Caravaggio and other treasures to fill several rooms in this wonderful 17th century villa (We can arrange admission tickets, please check with us at time of booking for pricing).
- For a touch of mystery explore the ancient Christian burial sites tunneled under the old Apian way. The murky catacombs of St. Callistus hold some 170.000 graves (now empty), the crypt of St Cecilia, and paintings from the second and third century’s AD.
- Take in the swirling traffic and exuberance of life in the Italian capital and it is easy to believe that all roads lead to Rome. The city can overwhelm its visitors with millennia of history, unrivaled art collections, neighborhoods that feel like small villages and an enviable marriage of ‘carpe diem’ and ‘la dolce vita’. See the sights, embrace the vitality, and do as the Romans do: linger awhile with an espresso or ‘aperitivo’ while watching the amazing spectacle that is Rome unfold.
Lucian, the second century Greek rhetorician, described Rome as “a bit of paradise” and 15th century Tuscan scholar Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini praised the city as “the most beautiful and magnificent of all those that either have been or shall be”. These opinions about the eternal city survive and why not? Almost 3000 years of history, layer upon layer of it, testify not only to the genius, perseverance and adaptability to the people who founded Rome and developed it through the ages, but also to that of those who followed.
DAY 7: TREASURES OF VATICAN CITY
This morning meet your tour manager and your professional private expert guide in the lobby of your hotel and board your vehicle for a quick transfer to another country, separate and distinct from Italy! The Vatican: the smallest state in the world, one eight the size of Central Park in New York City.
With your local expert guide and skip the line entrance tickets, you will tour the Vatican museums (including the Hall of Maps, Gallery of Tapestries), Sistine chapel (a very impressive head tilting chapel where you see The Last Judgment, painting by Michelangelo, during the years 1535 to 1541) and St Peter’s Basilica, the largest and grandest church in Christendom. See Michelangelo’s Pieta, sculpted when he was only 24, as well as Bernini’s seven story bronze canopy located above the main altar; and as the tour draws to a close, you can admire the magnificent St Peter’s Square where you can see the balcony from which the Pope delivers his public addresses. For many visitors, a guided tour of Vatican City is a dream come true experience. With us you save yourself a very long 2 to 3 hour line (Visit approximately 3 hours and return to hotel via private transfer in time for lunch)
For your afternoon at leisure today, we recommend the following options:
- Castel Sant’Angelo: The Mausoleum of Hadrian has served a variety of uses throughout history. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. In front runs the Tiber river and the one of the many bridges of Rome, the Ponte Sant’ Angelo with its beautiful statues of angels by Bernini.
- Shop on Via Condotti, close to the Spanish steps, the top fashion street in Rome, with Italian upscale fashion shops.
DAY 8: CIVITA DI BAGNOREGIO
This morning we say “arrivederci” to Roma and head into the Italian countryside.
Today’s first visit is to the unique charming medieval hamlet of Civita di Bagnoregio in the region of Lazio, isolated by earthquakes and erosion creating an inland island of only a few inhabitants, accessible now only on foot across a 300 meter bridge! It is a true marvel and one of the most spectacular sights in all of Italy.
Just before traveling up to Florence, passing beautiful rolling hills of Umbria and Tuscany, you will get a chance to visit a family owned winery and taste the local famous wine, Orvieto Classico. One of our exclusive experiences!
After checking in to your hotel in Florence located in the historical heart of the city, within walking distance to all major sites, you will have time to freshen up before meeting your tour manager for a short orientation walk through the cobblestone streets on your way to your included dinner. Your tour manager would love to show you one of the most spectacular settings, magical location before going for dinner, but it will require taking taxis at your own cost. But well worth it! (Dependent on sunset time and weather)
DAY 9: RENAISSANCE DISCOVERIES
Florence, the cradle of the renaissance and home of Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Medici, Florence is magnetic, romantic, unique and busy. A couple of days is not long enough here but is enough for a breathless introduction to the city’s top sights.
Today start the day with a private walking tour in the heart of Florence, the birthplace of Renaissance, visiting some of Florence’s most important sights. Included on the tour are the Galleria dell’Accademia (first art school in Europe) to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David, up close and personal, with your skip the line tickets (no waiting in line).
The capital of Tuscany, Firenze (Florence) is, most famously, the cradle of the Renaissance, epitomized by the cupola that Filippo Brunelleschi designed for the Duomo more than 600 years ago. Michelangelo’s David and countless other treasures fill the city’s museums and churches. The Florentine lifestyle is a work of art in itself, to be savored in historic cafes, welcoming ‘trattorias’, trendy boutiques and the city’s medieval streets and piazzas rimmed with fortress like ‘palazzos’.
Your tour manager can walk you to the Mercato Centrale (market) after your tour, a great place for lunch and shopping for typical Tuscan delicacies. Your tour manager can also show you the best place in town to buy excellent quality leather!
For the afternoon you are free to explore this magnificent city, and there are so many choices:
- The first fashion city of Italy has great shoe and clothing stores; spend time in the Uffizi gallery which houses one of the world’s great art collections including works by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and many other Renaissance maestros; Palazzo Vecchio; Pitti Palace and the Boboli gardens; Medici Chapel; Galileo museum or climb the Duomo for an awe inspiring view of the city, to name a few.
- Or quite simply stroll through the medieval streets taking in the sculptures, art and architecture that surround you.
- Though Florence’s’ top tourist sites are popular for a reason, take a local’s advice to escape the crowds, and see things everybody else misses. “While the tourist hordes flock to Michelangelo’s David and the Uffizi”, says medieval historian Gloria Papaccio, “we Florentines come to the peaceful chapel of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi to revel in the ideal vision of the Renaissance. A three fresco cycle painted in 1460 and tucked away in the depths of a palace that belonged to the Medici, the powerful banking dynasty that dominated Florence for almost four centuries.
- Museo Nazionale del Bargello is to renaissance sculpture what the Uffizi is to paining. A gothic fortress from 1255 is houses Italy’s greatest collection of renaissance sculpture.
- Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, with its original 13th century facade, with some of Florence’s greatest treasures: frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Filippino Lippi, Nardo di Gione. Two famous crosses, one by Giotto and one by Brunelleschi; Masaccio’s Trinita and the pulpit from which Galileo was denounced for saying the earth orbits the sun.
- Visit the famous Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria just around the corner on Via Della Scala. Since 1221 monks have formulated balms and ointments from herbs still used today for soaps and scents (great for purchasing unique gifts)
- Medici chapels: Michelangelo’s first architectural project, to house the remains of Lorenzo the Magnificent and other members of the ruling clan.
DAY 10: FULL FREE DAY IN FLORENCE
Many options available for you on this day and here are just a few of the ones you can choose from:
- You could choose a guided tour to Pisa to view the Leaning Tower of Pisa, among the most instantly recognizable structures on earth along with the Cathedral and Baptistery. Architects say it would be world famous even if it were perfectly straight.
- One of Italy’s most popular activities for locals is shopping, which abounds in Florence where you will find many of the famous designer shops. There are several leather markets and the Ponte Vecchio is known for its many gold and silver shops. You can find delicious treats and some unusual gifts. You can even visit the Shoe Museum in the Ferragamo shop. You might want to stop into my favorite chocolate shop, Rivoire, located right on Piazza Signoria. You can find delicious treats and some unusual gifts.
- Tuscany’s cuisine is world famous. Today could be the day you give yourself that opportunity to learn how to prepare a Tuscan meal yourself with great cooking class options. (please check with us for options and prices)
- You could choose a guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, one of the largest, oldest, and most outstanding art museums in the world, if you wish to dig deeper into the vast riches of Florence’s art heritage. We can arrange admission tickets and private guide for you in advance.
DAY 11: ROMANTIC VENICE
“Your visit to Venice becomes a perpetual love affair”, Henry James
Your tour continues today with a journey aboard the sleek high speed train from Florence to Venice, known as La Serenissima (the most serene). Transfer by canal boat to your hotel, conveniently located in the historical heart of the city, near St Mark’s square.
Welcome to Venice! The Queen of the Adriatic, an elegant and magical floating city! A magnificent, unforgettable, hauntingly beautiful city and one of the world’s most enchanting. For 1000 years it was one of Europe’s great sea powers. No matter how many times you visit this floating city, there is always something new to discover.
Many first-time visitors are often stirred deeply by this almost fantasy world unlike anything they have ever seen before.
Visiting Venice without an experienced tour manager or guide can be difficult, as most visitors do not know where to go or what to look for. After lunch, embark on an orientation walk with your tour manager who will show you some of the back streets of Venice leading to St Mark’s square. Napoleon referred to this square as “the most beautiful drawing room in Europe”. Enjoy a skip the line entrance to the Basilica, including the balcony which provides amazing views over Piazza San Marco, a balcony few visitors take the time to see. For sheer wow factor little can compare with the Basilica di San Marco and its 24 carat gold mosaics.
Learn from your experienced and knowledgeable tour manager all about Venice, and some of the important sights on this orientation walk.
This evening before dinner, enjoy your included once in a lifetime gondola ride with private serenade with professional musicians (weather permitting).
DAY 12: EXPLORE VENICE
After breakfast, you will meet your local expert guide for a private walking tour of this fascinating city that for centuries was Europe’s top superpower. But what will be unique is that she will lead you along its intricate alleyways, to lesser known gems that few tourists see, where locals carry on their daily life, finishing at the famous Piazza San Marco and a tour of the sumptuous Doge Palace (once the official residence of the elected officials of the Venetian Republic) and the Bridge of Sighs.
After lunch, your own private boat will take you over to the Murano islands for a visit to a traditional glass factory and demonstration where glass masters have been creating the most intricate designs for chandeliers, vases, jewelry for over five centuries. Yes, you may purchase glass but this is not required or the intent of our visit.
For the remainder of the afternoon enjoy Venice with your tour manager, off the beaten path.
Enjoy your private boat ride over to the lesser traveled to islands of the lagoon. Visit these unique islands, that unfortunately many travelers to Venice miss visiting. Get to enjoy Venice from the sea, as it was intended to. Check out the precious and historical island of Burano, a colorful quaint fishing village with brightly colored homes of the “buranesi” fishermen that appears worlds away from Venice. Burano is best known for its exquisitely hand embroidered linens. It is still a small community where time stands still.
After a lunch break, visit the island of Torcello, perhaps the most charming of the islands. It was the first of the lagoon islands to be called home by the mainland population fleeing Attila and his Huns, but today consists of little more than one long canal leading to vineyards and the oldest Venetian monument the Cattedrale di Torcello (Santa Maria Assunta) whose foundations date from the 7th century.
“Venice’s lagoon islands-give Venice the time it deserves. Enjoy the lesser known islands in its lagoon as well as the world famous sites. Most of the 3 million people that visit Venice each year trudge around on foot and spend less than a day in the city, sticking to the central islands that are home to St Mark’s square the Doge Palace and the Rialto Bridge. But la Serenessima, as Venice is k known, has a lot more to discover. Take to the water like Venetians do and visit scarcely populated islands like Torcello one of the most magical with its cathedral Santa Maria Assunta with 12th century mosaics. Nearby island of Burano with its pastel painted houses has been famous for lace-making since the 15th century.”
DAY 13: VENICE AT YOUR LEISURE
Today is your day to explore this city on water to discover its magic, its mystic, feel a sense of freedom and peace from lack of traffic noise and indulge in all things Venetian. You will have a chance to “get lost” in the city’s labyrinth of canals, bridges and small campos.
Venice confuses and enchants, so toss the map and let yourself wander. Give in to this fragile, watery world built on over 100 small islands and lose yourself among byzantine domes and palazzos. Step back in time to when Venezia, the queen of the Adriatic, ruled much of the Mediterranean world. Meander through neighborhoods where not much has changed since native son Marco Polo set sail for the distant corners of the world, courtesans and doges passed in the shadows in the narrow alleyways, and Casanova glided down the Grand Canal on his way to a nocturnal rendez-vous.
It won’t hurt to master the phrase “Dov’e’ Piazza San Marco?”
Choices are endless!
- You could enjoy the included admission to Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale and Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana at your leisure. Other options we recommend are Gallerie dell’Accademia with the most extensive collection of venetian masters in the world, Chiesa dei Frari an immense Franciscan bastion build in 13th century which stands out as a showcase for titian, Ca’Rezzonico dedicated to 18tth century Venice, to name a few.
- A whole city floating on a lagoon, Venice is a magical combination of grand ‘palazzos’, magnificent churches and ordinary houses amid a network of age old alleyways and canals. Museums and art galleries attest to the city’s glorious past, when it was a wealthy superpower. A stroll through some of the quieter ‘sestrieri’ (districts) is the best way to gauge the pulse of this unique city.
It will be hard to say ‘arrivederci’, but I know you will take home great memories of your time spent with friends and family on your trip of a lifetime experiencing “Italia, Il bel Paese”!
Following dinner, I always like to take my guests for one last look at Piazza San Marco (weather permitting), to enjoy one last moment in Venice, one of the greatest, most beloved, and most beautiful cities in all of Italy.
DAY 14: DEPARTURE DAY
Transfer to Marco Polo airport.
Ready to experience Italy like never before?
Audrey specializes in private custom tours and itineraries to Europe, providing guests with delights that excite the senses that are genuine, intimate and unique experiences of Italy and beyond. With a balance of culture, food, wine and stunning natural and man-made landscapes, this tour captures everything that a guest would be looking for in an Italian experience. Audrey warmly invites you to come along and experience “La Bell’ Italia”.