Cultural Exploration Family Tour of Northern Italy

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Total Trip:

10 Days
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Countries Visited:

Italy
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Places Visited:

Venice, Bolzano, Milan, Padua, Verona
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
From the canal waters of Venice to the jagged and daring peaks of the Dolomites, Northern Italy’s diverse landscape brims with adventure and ancient history. Embark on a gondola ride down Venice’s famed Grand Canal, shop on the 16th-century Rialto Bridge, hike the rugged Dolomite Mountains, and discover the allure of bustling Milan. You will relax on the picturesque Lake Como, making memories with your children as you splash in its refreshing waters. Visit 500-year-old villas, explore an elaborate

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Day 1

Venice – Arrive in Venice and Enjoy an After Hours Tour of St. Mark’s Basilica

Located on a calm lagoon in the Northeastern corner of Italy, the enchanting city of Venice surpasses all expectations. The colorful yellow, pink, and purple homes line the narrow and winding canals where cars are replaced by boats and dark asphalt is replaced by calming waters. All of this and more will be yours to explore with your private tour guide who will meet you at customs once you arrive at Venice’s Marco Polo airport. Your guide will then transfer you and your family to your luxurious accommodation that will be located in the heart of Venice. Once your family is settled, your guide will lead you on a captivating walking tour of many of the city’s most iconic sights.

Piazza San Marco, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is dramatically stunning. Lined with the stately Doge’s Palace, the Campanile Tower, and St. Mark’s Basilica, you will be introduced to the grandeur and regality that has long characterized this city. Your kids may want to let off some energy and join the other children who are chasing pigeons around the square, or they may be interested in hearing about the exciting history of Venice and how it was a thriving Republic a few centuries ago. Together, you will learn about the many Doges that ruled Venice and about the trading routes that originated in the city to make it an epicenter of prosperity. History will become exciting and three-dimensional as you stand in its midst.

You will enjoy the beauty and magnificence that emanates throughout the church on your exclusive after-hours tour of St. Mark’s Basilica. A holy peacefulness will linger quietly in the air, which may render your kids speechless. You will be entranced by the amount of Byzantine gold that decorates the towering walls and domes. The late evening sun will filter through the stained-glass windows to illuminate the 43,000 square feet of golden mosaics and marble. Your expert guide will lead you behind the ropes where all the crowds are not allowed: to the crypt of St. Mark and the hallowed main altar. Afterward, you can climb the stairs to the balcony and watch the bustling crowds in the enormous square below you.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 2

Venice – Cruise the Grand Canal on a Private Gondola Ride

The whizzing sound of a cappuccino machine will greet you as you begin your first morning in Italy. The staff will gladly prepare you and your family a customized breakfast while you sit back and enjoy the sounds of Venice in the morning. The sky will begin to turn a royal blue as the early morning sun reflects off of the boats that wade in the water, and the lingering mist will slowly lift off of the placid canal.

After you are finished with breakfast, your tour guide will lead you to the private gondola that waits for you at the dock. The gondolier will escort you on a cruise down the Grand Canal, and you will experience the city in a unique way that was once reserved only for the extremely wealthy. Your guide will familiarize you with the many unique buildings and Venetian architecture that line the canal. You will see the Palazzo Labia, which is an extravagant, Baroque residence, which was completed in the 18th century and houses a ballroom that is decorated many famous and world-renowned palaces and buildings. You will explore the smaller canals that turn and twist through local neighborhoods and pass under the infamous Rialto Bridge. The floating city is truly a sight to behold, and you will also pass every boat imaginable: boats that are ambulances, grocery stores, mailmen, taxis, and even garbage trucks. Your kids will be amused, and you will be able to soak up the distinct sights of Venice.

In the afternoon, you will take part in the time-honored tradition of creating a mask. A thoroughly enjoyable event for adults and children alike, this extravagant tradition is associated with Venice’s annual pre-Lent celebration. Carnevale di Venezia, otherwise known as Carnival, occurs approximately 40 days before Easter and attracts millions of people worldwide to partake in the festivities. Central to this celebration are the elaborate porcelain masks that have come to characterize Venice, which you will see sold throughout the streets. Even if you are not visiting Venice during this celebration, you and your family will be invited to take part in the merriments and design of unique masks to take home as souvenirs.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Venice – Explore Venetian Villas on the Brenta Canal

Today, you will encounter a charming corner of the Veneto region that frequently goes unnoticed to most tourists who are passing through Venice. The Riviera del Brenta, which is commonly known as the Brenta Canal, connects Venice to the fascinating city of Padua. A few centuries ago, the wealthy Venetians opted to build impressive villas in the countryside in order to escape their harried city life. Today, you will embark on your private boat tour through Venice, which will lead down this same canal, floating past sleepy Italian towns, grand villas, and palatial gardens. As you glide through the calm waters, you will notice the distinct beauty of each garden. In the 18th century, these gardens were specifically designed to provide entertainment to the residents’ many wealthy guests. Some of the bushes were crafted to look like animals, while other gardens were designed to be the stage where musical comedies would take place.

You will visit a couple of different villas on this cruise through the countryside, and one of them will be the elaborate Villa Foscari, which is also known as La Malcontenta. Designed in 1560 by one of the most influential architects of the era, the inside is ornately decorated with gorgeous frescoes. These incredible works of art even caught the attention of King Henry III of France when he attended a party here in 1574. Further down the canal, you can explore the exquisite Villa Pisani and its intriguing garden maze. Completed in 1720, this is one of the most famous mazes and the best preserved in all of Europe. You can run through the maze and its nine concentric hedge circles with your kids, getting lost together and working together to find your way back to the entrance. Your expert guide will then accompany you to Padua, where you will have time to explore this charming city and the notorious Basilica di Sant’Antonio that millions of pilgrims flock to visit each year in order to pay homage to the patron saint.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 4

Verona – Learn History and Culture on a Walking Tour of Medieval Marvels

Picturesque Verona has a fascinating way of capturing everyone’s heart. From those who are enamored with Shakespearean dramas to those who delight in Roman history, everybody is enamored with this city that is perfectly nestled along the Adige River. Dating to the era before Christ, Verona is steeped in antiquity, mystery, and controversy. You will join your private guide as you and your family are escorted through the city to become acquainted with the many stories that have characterized Verona for over a millennium.

You will be provided with the opportunity to explore the Arena, which is the third largest Roman amphitheater. Completed in 30 AD, this arena was able to hold the entire population of 15,000 people that called Verona home at that time and consisted of 44 tiers of stone seating. You will venture into the belly of the arena and witness where gladiators once prepared for the battle of their life in the narrow maze of passages. The entire arena used to explode with cries and cheers that accompanied grotesque events. Now, you can calmly sit and watch opera shows in the open air seating and clap your hands to magnificent performances.

Your personal guide will lead you to the 13th-century Casa di Giulietta, which is otherwise known as Juliet’s house, to see where Shakespeare allegedly got the inspiration for his famous play of Romeo and Juliet. By traveling a few streets further, you will encounter the Arche Scaliger, which are gothic tombs that belonged to the Scaligeri family who ruled Verona in the 13th and14th centuries. Just beyond the ancient tombs, you can stroll through the sunny Piazza delle Erbe, where tourists seamlessly mix with locals at the many outdoor cafes while they sip delicious and fruity Campari. With the Renaissance era buildings surrounding you and the picturesque fountain in the center, this will be a perfect place to rest with your family and refuel for your next adventure.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 5

Bolzano – Delight in a Personalized Food Tour that Combines Cultures

Freshly baked Italian pastries and croissants waft through the foyer and invite you to breakfast. Your kids can wake up as they please, and you can wander through the streets one more time before you meet with your private guide in the lobby who will transfer you to the majestic Dolomite Mountains. You will enjoy a relaxing and luxurious trip up to the rugged Northern reaches of Italy.

Bolzano is seated in the center of the Italian Dolomites and is a great base to begin your exploration of this spectacular region. Besides being known for its scenic views and incredible beauty, Bolzano also has a wide array of vineyards nearby, which means that delicious wine is only minutes from your lips and fingertips. First, you will settle into your deluxe accommodation before venturing outdoors to discover the uncommon allure of this town. The local atmosphere is genuine and friendly, and you will quickly see why Bolzano has been voted numerous times as the town were Italians would most prefer to live. As you head to the center of town, which is known as Piazza Walther, you will hear German and Italian as they ricochet through the narrow streets. You can meander through the town, admiring the Gothic spires that pierce the air and the lovely frescoed houses. You can continue to explore the fountains, markets, churches, as well as Otzi, which is the Ice Man from 5,000 years ago that is on display in the Natural History Museum. Your day will be sure to be a rich mix of culture, beauty, and education.

In the evening, you and your family will reconvene with your private tour guide back at your hotel. Together, all of you will embark on a personalized food tour that will introduce you to the many unique flavors of the region. In this eclectic town that combines an intriguing mix of Italian and German culture, the cuisine is a direct reflection of its roots. You will taste mouth-watering Tyrol delicacies such as savory Knodel, which is a German bread and dumpling dish, and Grostl, which is beef that is cooked in a saucepan with potatoes and onion. The flavors that express themselves in these dishes uniquely and effortlessly combine traditional Italian pasta dishes with Germany’s country cooking. You will simultaneously be pleased and amazed.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast, Dinner

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Day 6

Bolzano – Soar to New Heights on a Funicular and Hike through the Mountains

The mountain air will be crisp and refreshing. As the sun comes up over the snow-capped Dolomite peaks, the air will begin to warm, and the fresh scent of the flowers will begin to awaken all of your senses. The Dolomites are frequently referred to as the “pale mountains” and belong to the portion of the Southern Limestone Alps that extend across Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia. After your family enjoys a hearty breakfast, you will meet your tour guide in the lobby, where you will set out on the adventure of a lifetime to explore this spectacular mountain range.

A funicular sits in the middle of town, waiting to lead you to unimaginable new heights. You will want to bring your camera when you board because you will be ferried off to charming villages that look like they jumped off the pages of a postcard. You will come face to face with emerald green meadows, bright pink and orange wildflowers, and jagged mountain peaks. There are many hiking trails that originate in this town in which you can indulge, or you can take a small mountain train to discover even more remote regions. Regardless, your knowledgeable tour guide will uncover the right trails to fit your family’s hiking desires, whether that be a leisurely stroll through a flat meadow or an exhilarating hike along stunning cliffs.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 7

Bellagio – Experience the Unique Beauty of Lake Como on a Private Boat Tour

After delighting in a traditional Tyrol breakfast, your private guide will pick you up at your hotel in Bolzano and escort you to the crystal-clear waters of Lake Como. The scenic drive from the Dolomites will amaze you and your family as you make your way to the lake. Situated between tall mountain peaks, this lake of glacial origin has been a vacation destination for the wealthy and aristocrats for centuries. In 2014, it was deemed the most beautiful lake in the world thanks to its unique microclimate and environment. As you descend from the north, you will see the lovely and colorful villages that line the shore of the jade-colored lake. Purple bougainvillea flows over large terraces, winding promenades skirt through the villages and along the waters’ edge, and prestigious villas sit in the middle of sweeping garden estates. You will have officially arrived at the romantic and unforgettable Lake Como.

Your guide will escort you to your luxurious accommodation that sits directly in central Bellagio. Cobblestone streets will lead you to quaint shops, lake-side parks are present for your kids to run through, and opulent cafes and restaurants line the streets and emanate with the delicious aromas of local cuisine. You can meander through the village, sip a handcrafted espresso, and sample the many rich and exceptional flavors of gelato. You will then board a private boat tour that will whisk you around the pristine lake. You can sit back, soak up the bright sunshine, and feel your hair as it blows in the breeze. Do not forget to pack your bathing suit so you and your kids can find a secluded cove that will allow you to splash in the cool, refreshing waters.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 8

Bellagio – Discover Lavish Villas and Picturesque Lakeside Villages

Iron lanterns will hang over the winding cobblestone streets, and palm tree-lined promenades will greet you as you begin your day in the beautiful town of Bellagio. The town is quiet, but you can hear the cafes as they serve up their specialty drinks and the boats in the distance as they start their humming engines. The white, billowy clouds in the distance will begin to disperse and reveal the majestic mountains that hug the rim of the lake.

You will meet your guide in the lobby, and they will accompany you to the town dock to set off on a tour of the surrounding villages. It will be easy to feel like a 19th-century aristocrat as you are whisked around Lake Como on your own private boat. You will stop in charming Varenna, which is possibly the most beautiful and popular town on the lake, before wandering past the brightly hued homes that lead you up to the notorious church that sits proudly in the center of town. You will resume your climb up the steep steps another fifteen minutes, where you will encounter the intriguing ruins of Castello di Vezio. Once you reach the apex of the climb, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of Varenna and the magnificent blue waters of the lake. After you return to the town, you will proceed to the low-key lido that sits adjacent to the ferry dock. Your kids will welcome a chance to cool off and play freely in the refreshing waters.

Your private boat waits for you to continue to other iconic lake destinations. Isola Comacina is the only islands on the lake that is reachable by boat and is a must-visit destination. This wooded island is steeped in diplomatic controversy but abounds in history. Your kids will enjoy tales of the drama that took place on this now very sleepy and uninhabited island. You can venture on to explore the town of Lenno and the stunning, 18th-century Villa Balbianello. Perfectly manicured gardens and decadent statues surround this elegant villa where a number of Hollywood movies have been filmed such as Star Wars and Casino Royale.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 9

Milan – Enjoy a Behind the Scenes Tour of Milan’s Duomo

The vibrant city of Milan is waiting to welcome you. Your private driver will escort you directly to your exclusive accommodation in the heart of this lively city. World-renowned art and modern industry intersect in this sprawling metropolis, and high-fashion is an extremely revered form of art that seems to only get better with time. Women walk their children to school, clicking the cobblestones rhythmically in 4-inch stilettos while men in Gucci suits sip espresso and read the newspapers at the train station. Milan is truly a unique city that will fascinate you.

Your personal guide will wait for you in the lobby of your hotel and will lead you through the streets toward the infamous Duomo. Haute couture shops line the streets in addition to awnings that hang over the large glass windows to display the newest fashion items. You will pass through the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is the large, glass-domed mall that hosts many trendy and classic stores that are full of Italian and international fashion designers. You will end up at the magnificent Duomo, which is Milan’s massive cathedral. The breathtaking wonder of this gothic cathedral will leave your family speechless. It looms in front of you as you walk down the street, and you will hear crowds of people in various languages as they utter shouts of unbelief at this amazing feat of architecture. It sits in the middle of a large square, showcasing its splendor and giving permission to tourists to try to capture its beauty. You will enter into the Duomo on your private, behind-the-scenes tour and simultaneously learn and experience the authentic history of this notorious cathedral.

Construction began in 1386 and finished 500 years later under the pressure of the King of Italy at the time: Napoleon. Marble from nearby Lake Maggiore was shipped in using specially made canals to provide the materials that renowned architects and sculptors, including Leonardo da Vinci, used to create the cathedral. The resplendent interior is just as awe-inspiring as the exterior. 52 pillars line the central nave with one for each week of the year. Sunlight often glimmers through the stained-glass windows and quietly inspires a holy reverence. You will make your way up to the expansive roof terrace, where gargoyles line the exterior each making a different face. Your kids will enjoy running on the terrace, laughing and grimacing at the gargoyles while you have the opportunity to sit and marvel at the sunset over Milan with a specially crafted aperitif in hand.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 10

Milan – Depart for Home from Milano Malpensa Airport

The gears that turn Milan will begin to churn well before sunrise, but you can experience a leisurely morning with your family. You can delight in a freshly roasted Italian espresso and handcrafted pastries before indulging in another walk around your favorite neighborhood of the city. You will then meet your private transfer in the lobby of your hotel to begin your journey home.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Discover the history and treasures that lie within St. Mark’s Basilica on your private tour, including seeing the resting place of Jesus’ disciple Mark
  • Embark on an exclusive gondola ride down the Grand Canal in Venice with your personal gondolier, floating past a regal display of canalside palaces
  • Cruise down the enchanting Brenta Canal, visiting elegant 16th-century villas and their luxurious gardens
  • Become acquainted with the patron saint of “lost things,” walking in the footsteps of religious pilgrims on your customized tour through beloved Padua
  • Uncover ancient secrets of medieval tombs and the 3rd largest Roman Amphitheater in Verona
  • Engage with local culture, and revel in its unique gastronomy on an exclusive food tour in the Dolomites
  • Soar high above the villages on a funicular, leading you to remote alpine villages and incredible hiking trails
  • Dive into the crystal blue waters of Lake Como on your private boat tour with the Alps providing a splendid backdrop for your excursion
  • Experience a fascinating behind the scenes tour of Milan’s Duomo, which may be completed with a vibrant sunset as viewed from the expansive rooftop terrace
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Detailed Description

Iconic Venice welcomes you to explore the narrow cobblestone streets, the colorful shops, and the calming lagoon waters. You will arrive in Venice’s Marco Polo Airport and meet your tour guide at customs. You and your family will then be escorted to your luxurious accommodation in the heart of the city via private boat taxi. Once you become settled, your guide will lead you on a walking tour of this magical city, highlighting important and mysterious details of the legendary buildings. A private, behind the scenes tour of the glorious St. Mark’s Basilica awaits you at the end of the day. Shopping on the gorgeous Rialto Bridge, exploring the quaint nooks and crannies this city is known for, and basking in a private gondola ride will be just the beginning of what you will experience here in Venice.

Cruising down the Brenta Canal will afford you the opportunity to explore 500-year-old villas and their bountiful gardens. Toward the end of your excursion, there will be a fascinating garden maze that delights kids and adults alike. Here, you can become hopelessly lost amidst the tall green hedges before venturing to lovely Padua to tour Basilica di Sant’Antonio, which is the basilica that millions of Catholics flock to annually in order to pay homage to the patron saint. You can explore medieval marvels and architecture in Verona while becoming entranced with the dramatic stories that emanate from the ancient stones. Shakespeare fans will enjoy visiting the 13th-century home that was the inspiration for the play Romeo and Juliet. Afterward, you can even visit Juliet’s tomb. History buffs will appreciate the largely intact Arena in the center of town that hosted naval battles and gladiator games, and if you time it right, you can sit and watch a delightful Opera where gunfire and combat used to take place.

Then, you will gain altitude quickly as you venture from the coast up into the Dolomite Mountains. Here, your family will enjoy a unique food tour that will introduce you to the unique flavors of this region. You will then set out on a guided hike through trails that display the exquisite views for which this area of Italy is cherished. After a trip into the mountains, it will be time to return to the water and delight in the beauty of Lake Como. Your whole family will be overjoyed during a private boat ride around the lake that will be complete with an opportunity to swim and splash in the crystal-clear, glacial waters. You will be escorted through various lakeside villages and explore timeless villas and their immaculate gardens that sprawl along the shore. Finally, you will culminate your trip in bustling Milan and tour the infamous Duomo, where you can enjoy the vibrant sunset over the city on the rooftop terrace that will be accompanied by hundreds of gothic gargoyles.

Zicasso works closely with the top Italy travel operators to ensure that you have a fully personalized trip of a lifetime.

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Starting Price

$2745 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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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.

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