Adriatic to Mediterranean: Explore Venice, Lake Garda & Cinque Terre Tour

A 8 day trip to Italy 
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Let Italy enchant you with its long tradition of beautiful cities and elegant towns set in the dream-like landscape between the Adriatic and Mediterranean. Marble palaces offer insight into the former prestige of noble families as storybook castles protect the shores of a glassy alpine lake while mountain outcroppings preserve the beauty of medieval fishing villages that overlook the sea. Your custom tailored tour will immerse you in the traditions of Venice, Lake Garda, and Cinque Terre, as you indulge in the cuisine, marvel at the sites, and wander along the cobblestone streets and meandering trails. Embrace the grandeur of Italian heritage and bask in the luxury. 

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General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Venice, Murano, Burano, Torcello, Padua, Verona, Riva del Garda, Torbole, Limone, Malcesine, Torri del Benaco, Garda, Sirmione, Peschiera, Desenzano, Parma, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Venice – Arrive in Venice with a Private Exploration of the Grand Canal

Venice has a history of feasts and festivals set inside the opulent palaces and along the cobblestone streets meandering beside the canals. Hidden wine bars known as bacari offer locals glasses of wine and small plates of culinary specialties to bask in the enchanting afternoons of the city. Your flight will land at Marco Polo International Airport where you will meet your private transfer at baggage claim. At the edge of the Grand Canal, you will board a private boat to take you to the dock of your historical, luxurious hotel at the heart of Venice’s main island.

The city of Venice is a collection of 117 islands connected by bridges and traversed by gondolas and vaporettos. The comforts of your hotel fill a former palace that overlooks the grandeur of the city’s famous canals. Gold trim around the window glints in the natural sunlight as polished marble floors accentuate the frescoes that decorate the walls and ceilings of the lobby. You will meet your guide on the hotel’s private dock, eager to set out onto the Grand Canal for an introductory tour. The canal stretches two miles long with smaller waterways that reach outward between the antique homes and labyrinthine walkways.

The city pulses with life beside its main highway as gondolas and vaporettos cruise down the water. Wooden plinths rise out of the canal to support the marble structures and moorings. Gray-haired women watch passersby from their open windows as produce vendors unload baskets of fruit and vegetables from their boats onto loading docks. Between the faucets of everyday life, the splendor of the Venetian Republic continues to decorate the islands, including the Santa Maria della Salute. The church was built in gratitude and devotion at the end of the plague in the 17th century as more than one million timber plinths were driven into the lagoon floor to support the weight of the structure adorned with a magnificent dome. 

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, dinner

Day 2: Venice – Traverse Elegant Neighborhoods and History of St. Mark’s Square

The morning light will wash over the cobblestone streets to highlight the unique configurations of the famous Venetian masks that decorate the shop windows. Vendors fill their stalls around the Rialto Market with fresh seafood caught that morning and with colorful produce grown on the island of Sant’Erasmo. After breakfast, your guide will meet you in your hotel lobby and introduce you to the traditional daily market at the edge of the Rialto Bridge. Locals wander through the walkways with bags brought from home as the aroma of bitter red chicory drifts from the pyramid of produce situated on the stands.

The vibrant seafood, from oysters to decadent mussels, sits atop buckets of ice. Marble plaques on the walls around the market show regulations literally set in stone centuries ago as the neighborhood of Cannaregio shares the same side of the island as San Marco. The bulbous domes of the Basilica, along with the soaring capital of the more than 320-foot tall Campanile are visible above the homes of the neighborhood, which includes the Jewish Ghetto and Rialto Bridge. Wander along the Strada Nuova until you reach a taste of the Venice the locals know, set amongst the meandering cobblestone streets and quiet cafes hidden in small piazza.

The Ca’ d’Oro, also referred to as the Gold Palace due to the way the Gothic palace once shimmered with gold, now houses an art museum wrapped around a charming courtyard as the narrow pillars along the loggia overlook the Grand Canal. The palace was erected in the 15th century and retains its luster in both design and allure. The Moorish influences of the courtyard show in the mosaic flooring and aged columns. The quieter neighborhood and elegant architecture of Cannaregio inform the coming splendor of Piazza San Marco.   

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Venice – Visit Islands Murano, Burano, and Torcello before a Bacari Tour

After breakfast, you will step onto a boat that is moored at your hotel’s private dock to traverse the waters of the Grand Canal once again, this time venturing past the edge of the canal for a more detailed look of the lagoon. Pass beneath the Ponte dell’Accademia, a bridge erected in the 1850s, taking away the Rialto Bridge’s claim as the singular structure crossing over Venice’s main waterway. The breeze carries the aroma of the sea from the distance as the white marble façade of 17th century Ca’ Rezzonico glints in the spreading sunlight.

You will reach the shores of Torcello, an island at the northern edge of the lagoon. The tranquil ambiance swirls around the grassy foreground of the 7th-century Cathedral of Santa Maria dell’Assunta. The island offers the most greenery you have seen since your arrival into Venice, due to much of Torcello’s land having been designated a nature reserve. Walking paths lead to marshes and mudflats flush with egrets searching for their next meal as the main path leads from the dock to the lone piazza adorned by the impressive church.

The façade features stonework and decorative columns that date back to the 11th century. The interior hints at an earthy, herbaceous scent as a glass panel protects a section of a 7th-century mosaic that depicts scenes of the last judgment. The small Torcello Museum is situated inside a 14th-century mansion once the seat of local government for the island as medieval artifacts from Roman times to Paleolithic peoples fill the galleries. Back aboard your boat, the refreshing breeze will wash over the hull. You will make your way next to the legendary island of Murano to witness the treasured and timeless art of glassblowing.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Lake Garda – Relish Charm in Padua and Verona en route to Riva del Garda

In the morning, the images of the hidden wine bars around the local neighborhoods of Venice fill your thoughts. In the maze-like streets of the city, it is easier to remember the fun atmosphere and delicious flavors provided by the wine bars than finding them once more. You have quickly fallen into the Italian tradition of a rich, hot espresso accompanied by a sweet, flaky brioche for breakfast.  After you finish, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel to escort you across the Grand Canal back to mainland Italy, traveling west towards the shores of Lake Garda.

En route to the lakeside Riviera, you will stop first in Padua, a quiet city at the edge of the Brenta Canal. Charming arcades line the historical cobblestone streets as locals carry on traditions passed down through the generations in a city founded in the 12th century BC. The University was founded in the 13th century and overlooks the riverbanks. Famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri attended the University and renowned astronomer Galileo Galilei lectured in the great halls. Gorgeous oak and chestnut trees grow along the water’s edge as the campus holds the oldest Anatomical Theater where students learned anatomy based on their observations of live dissections.

Local women weave baskets outside an arcade, and the city feels more like a town in which everyone knows their neighbors. In the Civic Museum, you will discover art and artifacts that reflect the rich history of Padua. A collection of significant frescoes from the 14th to the 18th centuries highlights works by Tintoretto and Veronese. A depiction of the crucifix as captured by Giotto will stop you in your tracks as the artist gave Mary human characteristics and emotion, wringing her hands at the feet of her son for an impressive dramatic effect. 

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Lake Garda – Bask in the Beauty and Culture Lake Garda’s Riviera

The red-tiled rooftops of the homes at Riva del Garda stand out against the emerald mountainside and turquoise waters of the lake. The town resembles a postcard as opposed to an actual place in which you are staying. Your luxurious hotel will offer unadulterated views to the water and the rugged cliff that borders the shoreline opposite the small inlet. The aroma of cypress and oak trees combine with the scent of fresh water as boats cast their sails and cruise across the gentle swells of the 143 square mile lake. Your hotel is located at the northern edge of the lake where the Brenta Dolomites begin, offering an alpine escape.

The towns closest to your hotel are Nago and Torbole, which locals refer to as Nago-Torbole. The two towns are remarkably different yet have immense charm amidst the surrounding countryside. Sailboats fill the marina at Torbole and windsurfers cast their sails in the breeze, using the wake to propel them into the air. Narrow cobblestone streets crisscross through the village of Nago set beneath the historical fortress that overlooks the water. An enchanting park adds to the greenery that frames the village, referred to by locals as the “Garden of Europe.” You will discover the paths lined with lemon trees that fill the air with a subtle and refreshing hint of citrus.

For an unforgettable escapade, venture out to Tremosine’s breathtaking wilderness where you will take part in a unique canyoning experience guided by locals at SKYclimber. While hiking along the river ways, you will enter new dimensions exploring Lake Garda’s mountain-sides by climbing, sliding, jumping, rebelling, and swimming in crystal clear water. After your incredible Gumpenfever tour has come to an end you will reminisce on the days excursion on the relaxing drive back to your hotel.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour with SKYclimber, breakfast

Day 6: Riomaggiore – See Parma and a Cheese Factory en route to Cinque Terre

In the morning, the gentle waters of Lake Garda splash at the pebbled beach along the shoreline. Yachtsmen return to their boats and set out along the lake that crisscrosses the calm turquoise waters for a view of the vineyards and the mountain range. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you in the lobby and escort you to the city of Parma en route to the luxurious Ligurian coast at Cinque Terre. The city of Parma was once a Roman colony set along the main road that connects the Empire to the Alps. Elegant piazzas recall the tastes of Farnese dukes and the influence of Marie-Louise, Napoleon’s second wife.

The Ducal Palace rises above the banks of the Parma River in the old city, and the sounds of opera emanate from the local cafes amidst the aroma of fresh espresso. The Farnese Theater was once the largest in the world after its construction in the 17th century, and the wooden construction highlights the styles of the great northern Italian architect Palladio.  The structure is able to hold up to 4,500 patrons, and the interior of the Royal Theater radiates with splendor, embodying its heyday after its construction in the 19th century.

The theater is known across Italy to hold the most challenging lovers of opera. The acoustics are flawless, as a whisper carries across the opulent crescent formation. A backstage tour will take you behind the scenes of the wardrobe, sets, and orchestra rehearsals. Outside the city, your guide will introduce you to a local cheese farm that produces wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Inside the factory, you will learn the basics of pasteurizing the milk and harvesting the cheese curd and watch as the cheese makers set the covered wheels on a shelf in the warehouse to age before partaking in a sampling of the latest wheel to open. 

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Riomaggiore – Delight in Pleasure in Cinque Terre and the Italian Riviera

Cinque Terre is a collection of five towns located on the Ligurian coast and connected to the Italian Riviera. A network of trails connects the towns once secluded by jutting precipices and cliffs of the Maritime Alps. Wake up in the town of Riomaggiore, the most southern of the five towns. Locals have painted the medieval architecture with lavish colors that contrast with the rugged cliffs and lush foliage that overtakes the mountains. Fishermen would find their way home based on the brightness of the buildings that shine in the sunlight. Narrow cobblestone lanes wind around the car-less town and open to views of the Mediterranean Sea.

A mountain spur features a 15th-century castle reinforced by Genoese forces to protect the coastline from marauding pirates. You will take the coastal trail that leads from Riomaggiore to the next town of Manarola. The pathway meanders beneath the cliff and along the turquoise Mediterranean as the aroma of the sea blends with the minerals from the rocks. The easy walk will open to the tiny natural harbor and the colorful town that climbs the cliff. The 14th-century church of San Lorenzo features a rose window framed by Carrara marble set beside a 16th-century watchtower. On the hills, the wildflowers bloom beside olive groves and terraced vineyards, and while you have only visited two of the five towns, you will have already found enchanting culture and stunning panoramas.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Riomaggiore – Depart for Home

The crystal clear water offers a view into the boulders that rest at the bottom of Riomaggiore’s tiny harbor. Fishing boats wade in the gentle tide that pushes and pulls against the mountain base as the scent of fresh pastries emanate from the local pasticcerie. Trails lead outside of town to the secluded Abbey of San Fruttuoso as the medieval structure hides along a stretch of white-pebbled beach set between the lush mountains. Locals and visitors alike either hike the trails or set out on boats to spend time on the sand and linger in the gaze of the charming medieval Abbey. When you are ready, a hotel representative will guide you to the train station for a short local train ride to the city of La Spezia to meet your private transfer. You will then continue to the airport in Pisa for your flight home.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer 


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.