Day 1: Arrival: Milan and Welcome Dinner
On your arrival at the Milan airport, you will be met by your chauffeur for a private transfer to our historical hotel in the center of Milan. After arriving, you'll have some time to rest after your flight, before meeting your fellow travelers at 3:00PM for a welcome drink in the hotel's lobby. Afterward, we'll set out on an introductory tour of the city. We'll see Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, the La Scala Opera House, and the magnificent Duomo Cathedral, where we'll take the elevator up to its roof to walk among the forest of 3,200 statues, spires, pinnacles and pillars and to admire the stunning view of the city. In the evening, we'll enjoy our welcome dinner at an elegant Milan restaurant. We'll toast our upcoming journey and share in anticipation of the Italian adventures that await us.
Day 2: Milan to Lake Como
This morning, we'll set out to further explore the city of Milan. Associated with Barbarossa, Napoleon and Victor Emmanuel II, the city was founded by Celtic tribes in the 7th century B.C., then conquered by Rome in 222 B.C., and today it is Italy's most prosperous city, synonymous with high fashion, design, and art. This morning, we'll visit the Galleria Vittoriio Emmanuele II, "Milan's drawing room" and afterwards walk through the vibrant city center to visit the Santa Maria della Grazie church, which is home to one of the world's most recognizable works of art: Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, painted directly on the wall of the refectory and lovingly restored from its original 15th-century completion. In the afternoon, we'll transfer to our lakeside villa in Lake Como. Lined with villas set in tropical gardens, verdant hills, and the snowy Alps in the distance, the poetic Lake Como signifies grandeur, tranquility, and understated elegance, and it has been a resort since the days of the Roman Empire. After settling into our rooms, we'll enjoy dinner at a local lakeside restaurant.
Day 3: Villa Balbianello - Tremezzo - Varenna
Today, we'll set on a private cruise on Lake Como, sailing along its shores studded with Belle Epoque villas, palaces, and gardens. We'll visit Villa Balbianello, one of the most seductive grand houses on the lake, complete with fountains, statues, and lush flower gardens. Then, we'll continue to the town of Tremezzo, where we'll enjoy an opulent lunch at a restaurant overlooking the peaceful waters of Lake Como. After lunch, we will visit the amazing Villa Carlotta, Lake Como's best-known villa. Built in the 17th century, this place of rare beauty perfectly combines stunning interiors of stuccos, ceiling frescoes and a great art collection with luxuriant, terraced gardens tumbling down to the lake. Afterwards, we'll continue by boat to Varenna, perhaps the loveliest spot on the whole lake, shaded by pines and palm trees and dominated by narrow stepped alleyways and waterfront cafes. We'll have time to explore the beauty of Varenna at our leisure, before the boat brings us back to our hotel. The evening will be free to take a swim in the hotel's pool, be pampered at its spa, or simply relax and enjoy the tranquil splendor of Lake Como.
Day 4: Bellagio
After breakfast today, we'll set out to explore the chic town of Bellagio, the "pearl of Lago di Como", considered a place of romance and a playground of the glitterati for decades. After visiting the Romanesque church of San Giacomo, we'll take a leisurely walk along the lake's shore to the nearby Villa Melzi, whose terraced gardens have replaced the vineyards that once surrounded it, and it now boasts more than 500 species of exotic plants. After lunch at a local cafe, consisting of local specialties, such as freshly caught fish with risotto and ravioli, there will be ample time to stroll Bellagio's narrow streets that lead down to the lake, linger at a café or shop for silk accessories that made Bellagio famous ever since the times of Marco Polo.
Day 5: Verona - Transfer to Venice
In the morning, we'll leave Lake Como, and travel the scenic route through the culturally rich and visually stunning Veneto region. En route, we'll stop in Verona, one of Italy's most beautiful cities, known as piccola Roma. Here, we'll enjoy a guided tour, including the pink marble Roman Arena, where grandiose operas are still regularly staged and Casa di Giulietta, where we'll breathe in the spirit of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Afterewards, we'll enjoy a gourmet lunch at one of the city's exquisite little cafes. In the afternoon, we'll continue to Venice, and after a romantic ride in a water taxi along the ancient waterways, we'll arrive at our canal-side luxury hotel. In the evening, we'll celebrate the magic of Venice with a Venetian dinner, where the culinary emphasis will be on seafood, with such regional specialties as risotto with cuttlefish, pasta and bean soup, thick spaghetti with duck ragout, and the Venetian coffee-and-cream dessert tiramisu.
Day 6: Venice: San Marco District
Our first day in Venice will be devoted to Venetian history. We'll start with an introductory guided walk of the city to admire Piazza San Marco, the Grand Canal, the Bridge of Sighs, Teatro La Fenice, the Rialto Bridge, the Campanile and other significant locations in the San Marco area. Afterwards, we'll enjoy a private tour of the iconic St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace, formerly the seat of Venetian government, the very symbol of Venice and a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. During our free afternoon, you can either indulge in more art and visit the Accademia Gallery or Peggy Guggenheim Collection or you can wander along the ancient, narrow streets in search of that perfect Venetian mask or a piece of Murano glass.
Day 7: Venice: Frari Church - Scuola Grande - Ca'Rezzonico - Gondola Ride - Vivaldi Music Concert
Having gained the appreciation for the Venetian history, today we'll explore the world of Venetian art, which over many centuries defined this city. After a leisurely walk through the "secret Venice", we'll take a private tour of the Frari Church showcasing Titian and Bellini masterpieces and Scuola Grande di San Rocco with Tintoretto's dramatic cycle of paintings. The art of Venice tour will culminate with a guided visit to Ca' Rezzonico, a palazzo on the Grand Canal, dedicated to art of the 18th century Venice. Afterwards, we'll relax over lunch of Venetian specialties in a local trattoria, and in the afternoon, we'll enjoy the quintessential Venetian experience: a romantic gondola ride, followed by a Vivaldi music concert in the atmospheric interiors, where it was originally performed.
Day 8: Murano - Burano
Today, we'll travel over water to the island of Murano, where we'll learn about the history of glass making, visit glass makers' studios and artisans' shops, where skilled glass blowers follow the exact procedures of their predecessors to produce stunning masterworks famous the world over. Then, we'll continue to a colorful island of Burano known for its lace-making traditions and spend some quiet time experiencing the way of life that used to be that of Venice itself. In the afternoon, there will be time to explore the enchanting Dorsoduro district with Santa Maria della Salute Church, before we celebrate our adventure with a canal-side Venetian farewell dinner.
Day 9: Venice - Departures
In the morning, we'll say good-bye to Venice with two private water taxi transfers to the Marco Polo Airport, or, if you are joining the Classic Tuscany Tour, we'll take a water taxi to the Santa Lucia train station, from where we'll take a train to Florence.
The Veneto Region | Venice Unveiled | The Masks of Venice | Art in Venice | Murano Glass | Milan | Lake Como | Italian Fashion | Italian Gelato | Prosecco and Asiago | Venetian Cuisine | Books & Movies