Lavish palaces and marvelous churches tower above the narrow canals and rippling waters of the Venetian Lagoon. Beautifully decorated gondolas glide down the hidden passageways and beneath the arching stone bridges. Cafes offer the rich aroma of fresh espresso around the 118 connected islands that create the single city of Venice. The neighborhood of Cannaregio overtakes the former Jewish Ghetto and contains the preserved markings of the former walls that once separated the neighborhood from the surrounding city. The opulent palace of Ca d’Oro offers a perfect example of Venetian Gothic architecture.
The rich paint and marble filigree represent the popular, lavish design of the legendary Venetian Republic. Your flight lands at Venice Marco Polo Airport, where your private transfer greets you upon your arrival. You step aboard a private boat at the dock of the Grand Canal. The famous waterway stretches through the city reaching a length of two miles. Barges and vaporettos careen past the wooden plinths, helping to support the various marble structures lining the canal. You spot the golden weathervane atop the campanile glinting above the remarkable skyline of the historic city in St. Mark’s Square.
You arrive at the hotel along a private dock and take a moment to settle into the comforts of your luxurious hotel. Your guide greets you in the lobby, eager to take you through the marvels at the heart of the city. Cross over the splendor of the Rialto Bridge. The marble structure was erected in the 16th century to replace an older wooden bridge. Stone arches support the covering around an opening offering views to the greater canal. You reach St. Mark’s Square to find the eponymous basilica shimmering with golden hues beneath the bulbous Byzantine domes.
The aroma of espresso and fresh-baked brioche emanates from the elegant galleries a popular local cafe. The elaborate décor and servers dressed in black ties represent the maintained grace of a bygone era within Piazza San Marco. After breakfast, you step aboard a boat on your hotel’s private dock for a day of touring the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. You begin on the quiet, colorful fishing island of Burano. The homes along the canal glimmer with pastel colors to create a rainbow visible for the fishermen to notice when returning from sea. Boats wade in the gentle canal and along the edges of the island.
Women sit in the doorway and sew detailed embroideries and intricate lacework. Old women open their doors along the second-story of their buildings and watch the activity of the day from above the blossoming flowers in their flowerpots. You walk into a boutique shop to find the room draped in the graceful stitching of elaborate lace. The women of the island began stitching lace in the 16th century to pass the time while their husbands were at sea. You can watch an artisan at work, crafting a Venetian mask or a stunning tablecloth inside the shop along Via Galuppi.
The aroma of grilled octopus cooked over an open flame with lemon zest drifts through the streets from a nearby restaurant. You continue to the island of Murano, which is known for the colorful history and craftsmanship of glassblowing. The 19th-century clock tower in Camp di Stefano soars above the main plaza. The furnaces blast in the artist studios around the island. The Venetian doge moved the glassblowers to Murano in the 12th century to protect the main city of Venice from fires caused by the furnace and stray kindling. The artisans grew to prominence due to the majesty of their craft, which remains coveted throughout the world.
The morning light washes over the beauty of Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi. The renaissance palace provides insight into the splendor of the Republic through its architecture, with a perfect display of symmetry and grandeur inspiring replicas across Venice and greater Europe through the ages. After breakfast, you have a private boat to mainland Italy to meet your transfer south to Florence. The floodplains and flatlands around the lagoon lead to the slopes of the Apennines and the shading canopy of the woodlands around Emilia Romagna.
The scenic drive gives way to the idyllic rolling hills and cypress trees of Tuscany before you reach the city celebrated as the cradle of the Renaissance. Your guide greets you in the lobby of the hotel, keen on introducing you to the splendid neighborhoods and remarkable architecture on a private walking tour. Florence feels like an open-air museum in which you can touch the artifacts in the form of the architecture and preserved statues. The cathedral at the heart of the city towers above the cobblestones with a brick dome reaching more than 375 feet tall.
The rosy color stands out against the white, pink, and green marble decorating the façade. A remarkable rose window stands above the bronze doors. The interior contains hints of myrrh and frankincense lingering in the gothic arches and floating past the stone pillars. The 44 stained glass windows provide ample natural light shimmering with vibrant colors. Stand beneath the dome and look up, admiring the 16th-century fresco of Vasari’s Last Judgment. In autumn, the scent of fig resonates in the dining room of a local cafe, while in spring zucchini blossoms offer a burst of flavor.
The clock tower on Palazzo Vecchio casts a shadow over the cobblestones paving Piazza Signoria. The jewelers along the historic bridge of the Ponte Vecchio open their doors to showcase the solid silver and gold ornaments decorating their shops. The scent of cappuccino offers a semi-sweet and chocolaty aroma to the morning air. Your guide leads you along the wide boulevards at the heart of the historic center to reach the renowned galleries of the Uffizi. The Medici funded the structure to house the magistrate of Florence in the 16th century.
The museum now contains a breathtaking collection of artwork bequeathed to the city by the last heiress of the Medici, who died in the mid-18th century. The sunlight passes through the large windows framing the outer halls. The galleries display works focused on the Renaissance but range from the 13th century to the 17th century. You pause at The Annunciation by legendary artist Leonardo da Vinci. The painting brings a sense of nature into the mystical and religious themes.
Your guide points to the bird-like wings of the angels. A cloud passes over the mountain in the background, providing a sense of central movement framed by the flanking characters. Travel by the Vasari Corridor, a secret passageway, to pass over the Arno River and arrive at the Pitti Palace on the former outskirts of the city center. The palace façade stretches nearly 670 feet long and contains an art collecting that can rival the Uffizi Gallery with the works of Raphael, Titian, and Tintoretto.
The pearlescent white façade of Santa Croce Basilica glimmers against dark blue lining. A statue of the famous Florentine poet Dante Alighieri overlooks the wide piazza. The sunlight pours through the rose window and shines over the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. After breakfast, you begin the scenic drive south to Rome, taking your time to traverse the beauty of Tuscany along the way. Cypress trees line the country roads. Vineyards and pastures swell along the verdant hills. Oak trees lead to vibrant olive groves.
You stop in the quiet cobbled lanes of Montalcino, a fairytale hilltop town emblematic of the Italian countryside. Small wine shops offer tastings of olive oils made from local farms. Red and yellow flowers bloom against the windowsills along the houses. The city center catches your attention with the imposing walls of the 14th-century fortress. The rugged, tall ramparts offer spectacular views over the countryside. Small cafes set tables and chairs along the narrow lanes and offer gorgeous wines for which the region is famous.
Locals and visitors bask in the bold flavors of Brunello and enjoy the relaxing ambiance of the town. You continue to the town of Pienza for another renaissance experience in Tuscany before reaching Rome. Pope Pius II helped renovate the city in the 15th century with the help of celebrated architect Leon Battista Alberti. The town hall frames the main plaza known as Piazza Pio II. The travertine stone shimmers with a pink and gold hue against the silver cobblestone.
Locals of the historical center in Rome take to the walkways around the Villa Borghese in the morning, walking, jogging, or bike riding through the blossoming park often considered the Central Park of Rome. The aroma of fresh espresso drifts out of the corner bars and cafes framing the hidden cobblestone lanes and wide piazzas. Visitors take to the Trevi Fountain to watch the water cascade down the magnificent stones beneath the rugged, classical figure of Oceanus. Your guide takes you on a whirlwind tour of Rome’s magnificent history and masterful creations, which continually draw visitors from around Italy and the world.
After discovering the ancient wonders of the city around the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill, your guide takes you to the heart of St. Peter’s Square. An Egyptian obelisk rises out of the center of the oval piazza. Large, thick columns wrap around the plaza and frame the gorgeous façade of the basilica, crowned by the dome crafted by Michelangelo in the 16th century. Over 320 steps lead to the top of the roof, with another 330 steps leading to the cupola for an unforgettable view of the rooftops of Rome.
The basilica carries the aromas of frankincense and myrrh amidst the masterworks of renaissance and baroque artistry. After entering, you immediately find Michelangelo’s celebrated Pieta, which the master artist completed in the year 1500. The dramatic interpretation of the Mary holding her son offers delicate and intricate details that make the biblical figures lifelike. Michelangelo carved the statue from a single slab of Carrara marble when he was 24 years old. You notice Mary’s face, which resembles that of a youthful, vibrant woman.
The golden stones of the Castel Sant’Angelo shimmer against the historical marble statues lining the bridge. The castle once stood on the outskirts of the city center and was erected as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. The castle later became a fortress for successive popes who expanded upon the 65-foot tall walls. Bernini designed the ten angelic figures that overlook the bridge in the mid-17th century. Artists take to Piazza Navona to capture the way the sunlight washes over the baroque palaces and marble fountains. The aromas of flour and egg drift out of cafes crafting handmade pasta for the lunch menu. After a breakfast balancing the sweetness of a caramelized crust of a brioche with the decadence of a fresh espresso, your private transfer escorts you to Rome Fiumicino Airport for your flight home.
The best of Rome, Venice, and Florence embodies culture, art, and gastronomy during your 7-day Italy itinerary, capturing the brilliance of history and the continued customs inspired by the past. Your exciting exploration begins with your arrival in Venice. Your private transfer greets you at Marco Polo Airport and escorts you to a private taxi boat in the Grand Canal. Moor at the private dock of your luxury accommodation at the heart of the city and relish the comforts of your gorgeous room. Your guide greets you in the lobby and leads you on a fabulous tour of the city’s opulent history and vibrant neighborhoods, taking you from the Doge’s Palace to the famous Jewish Ghetto.
The following morning, you step aboard a private boat to traverse the unique islands of Burano, Murano, and Torcello, discovering the colorful homes, dramatic strongholds, and famous glassblowing studios. Then, your private transfer greets you at the hotel and escorts you south to Florence, the city of the Renaissance. After settling into the charms of your hotel at the heart of the city, your guide takes you on a sensational exploration of the cobbled lanes and wide boulevards. Visit the Central Market and enter the gorgeous nave of the Duomo. View the Medici Chapel and the tomb of Michelangelo inside the Basilica of Santa Croce.
Venture out into the legendary galleries of the Uffizi on a private tour featuring the brilliance of the artwork made locally in the city. Enter the Vasari Corridor, a hidden tunnel crossing the Arno River, to reach the Pitti Palace to continue your artistic tour of the city’s history. Spend time with the artisan craftsmen in the neighborhood of the Oltrarno. Your private transfer then collects you at the hotel and escorts you towards Rome, stopping in the Tuscan towns of Montalcino and Pienza.
Enjoy the charming ambiance of the iconic hilltop lanes and renaissance palaces before indulging in an evening walking tour of the city center of Rome’s historic center. Relish the beauty and history of Rome with an exclusive, full-day tour taking you to the ancient streets of the Colosseum and Roman Forum, along with the marvelous artwork of Vatican City, including the beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica. On the final day, your private transfer greets you at the hotel in the historical city center and escorts you to Rome Fiumicino Airport for your flight home.
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