Hidden Trails of Italy Tour: An Escape to the Road Less Traveled

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Total Trip:

10 Days
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Countries Visited:

Italy
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Places Visited:

Venice, Castelfranco, Brenta Canals, Treviso, Asolo, Bassano del Grappa, Marostica, Vicenza, Berici Hills, Soave, Verona
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
The paths outside of Venice wind along the region of Italy rich with Renaissance art, succulent cuisine, and vibrant culture. Your custom tailored tour will take you from the Venetian Lagoon to the foothills of the Italian Alps to enjoy the splendors of the impressive architecture and the captivating landscape. Marvel at the lush cherry orchards and vineyards around Vicenza, and then delight in the aromas of sage and pumpkin near Soave. Follow the trails that connect the Venetian islands for a

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Day 1

Venice – Arrive in Venice and Enjoy an Introductory Walking Tour

Venice is the city of the Grand Canal and lavish architecture, labyrinthine lanes and opulent palaces. Your flight will arrive at Marco Polo International Airport, and your private transfer will greet you at baggage claim. You will venture to the edges of the waterway and board a private boat that leads you along Venice’s celebrated Grand Canal. The iconic bulbous domes of St. Mark’s Basilica rise above the elegant pillars that frame the edge of the piazza, which belongs to Doge’s Palace. Gondolas float on the water between speeding vaporettos as locals linger at tables that overlook the canals in view of brickwork homes accented with blossoming hydrangeas on the windowsills.

Large umbrellas cast shade over the café patrons as they enjoy their afternoon espresso. Your boat will moor at the hotel private dock, and you will step onto the quay and into luxury as you walk in the lobby of the Venetian palace turned hotel. Take your time to relax and settle into the comforts of your room before you meet your guide for an introductory walking tour. The scent of creamy risotto emanates from the restaurants hidden by the stone ledges and lion statues as bridges arch over the narrow canals of the backstreets off the main artery of the Grand Canal. The impressive white marble façade of the 16th-century Scuola Grande di San Rocco catches your eye. The interior contains décor equally as remarkable as the extravagant exterior with frescoes that drape across the walls with a ceiling painted by master Renaissance artist Tintoretto.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

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Day 2

Venice – Embark on a Full Day Tour of the Brenta Canal and Villas a

The opulence of the 16th to 18th centuries of the Venetian Republic will captivate you today as you travel along the serene waterways of the Brenta Canal. At breakfast, the aroma of rich espresso will revive you, accompanied by the sweet delicacies of freshly baked brioche. After your meal, your guide will lead you to the city of Padua to follow the trail that leads more than 17 miles back to Venice. The Brenta Canal was erected as a system of locks and bridges to ease travel between Padua, the villas, and the port of Venice. The beautiful architecture and magnificent culture arose in the 15th century after the Venetian Republic spread inland, and expanded their powers from the water to the mainland.

Small towns have risen between the opulent villas and frame the countryside with stone homes draped in bougainvillea. The trails are well maintained and offer a mixture of scenery, from the tranquil waters with passing boats to the peaceful villages with locals riding their bicycles to and from work. Your guide will take you to the first villa, known as La Malcontenta. The villa was erected in the mid-16th century atop an 11-foot pedestal. The main façade offers a view to the water framed by Ionic columns around the loggia as the backside of the villa overlooks the garden and the expansive countryside beyond. The interior contains frescoes that depict mythological scenes from Ovid, which contrast with the paintings representing villa life.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Castelfranco – Explore the Town of Treviso en route to Castelfranco Veneto

The sunlight in Venice spreads over the marble palaces to make the morning appear brighter as it highlights the elaborate architecture of the Republic’s Renaissance. After an early breakfast, your guide leads you away from the shores of the Grand Canal and to the trails that crisscross Veneto, this time taking you north to the town of Castelfranco, by way of Treviso. A trail follows an old trading route forged by the Serenissima Republic, which was what Venice was once called. The small paths take you along the flat marshlands that border the canal to the rolling verdant hills near Treviso. Cypress and chestnut trees create the perfect skyline above the sporadic country homes as the herbaceous scent of grass surrounds you.

The first half of the trail takes you more than approximately 25 miles to the medieval walls and narrow cobbled streets of the historical town. Small canals crisscross through Treviso to add to the overlooked splendor of the peaceful townscape. An arched stone bridge leads into the heart of town at Piazza dei Signori. Cafes with outdoor tables provide the perfect spot to enjoy a refreshing drink where you can watch the vibrant culture in the vicinity of historical town hall located inside the Palazzo dei Trecento. A small local island includes a fish market at its most active in the morning, accentuated by the working waterwheels that twirl along the canal.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 4

Bassano del Grappa – Discover the Hills and Trails to Bassano del Grappa

In the morning, the quiet charm of Castelfranco Veneto stems from the high defensive walls around the historical city center, framed by the remaining towers and moat. The church at the heart of town contains the work of Giorgione’s Castelfranco Madonna, one of the few surviving paintings crafted by the master Renaissance artist. After breakfast, you will venture out along the trails to reach the enchanting town of Bassano del Grappa, by way of Asolo, taking you more than 16 miles. The town of Bassano del Grappa stands on the banks of Brenta River on the foothills of the Alps.

The 16th-century covered bridge of Ponte degli Alpini leads you into the heart of town. You can see the peak of Monte Grappa as it reaches a height of more than 5,823 feet above sea level. Your guide will point to the mountain ridges and show you where Ernest Hemingway once drove his ambulance around the slopes of the region during World War I. After the ride from Asolo, you will begin your exploration of the medieval streets at the Convento di San Francesco, whose cloisters contain the entrance to the Museo Civico, a gallery exhibiting 500 paintings alongside an extensive archeological collection.

The town is most known for its locally harvested and produced grappa. The Poli Museo della Grappa leads you on an in-depth tour of the liqueur’s production, taking you on a journey from soil to bottle. Producers use the stems, peel, and seeds of the grapes once used for wine, utilizing the remnants to ferment and form the herbaceous grappa. At the end of your tour, your guide will offer you a sample of the locally produced liqueur, which brings aromas of anise and plum.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 5

Vicenza – Venture to Vicenza by way of Marostica and a Wine Tour

The morning in Bassano del Grappa will offer you a spectacular view of the Alps. In the spring and summer, the Brenta River rises due to the snowmelt coming from the mountain peaks, and the old wood bridge accommodates for the wealth of water that rises along the riverbanks. After breakfast, you will venture away from the bridge and travel southeast towards the town of Vicenza, by way of Marostica, a journey of approximately 20 miles. The foothills of the Alps are lush with grass, cypress trees, and pine and the fresh herbaceous qualities of the trail will urge you forward. The scenery between towns is lush and inviting with the plains to the south and the hills to the north as they frame Marostica.

The old castle ruins adorn the hill on which the town stands. The defensive walls enclose the hill base that encircles the town center. During the second weekend of September, the town erupts with activity due to its tradition of hosting a live, life-sized chess game, with participants dressed in costume. The pebbled walkways meander beneath bright yellow facades and red-tiled rooftops. The statue of St. Mark in the main piazza reminds visitors of the town’s connection to the Venetian Republic’s domain. Venture to the top of the castle hill for a view of the walls and life-size chessboard that overtakes an entire piazza.

After wandering through town, you will travel next to a nearby vineyard on the hills outside Marostica. The scent of cherry emanates from the orchards near town as the local vineyard overtakes an old farmhouse. The vines stretch along the foothills, and your guide will explain that the most subtle variation in atmosphere or weather can change the flavor of the wine. After a walk-through of the winemaking process, your guide will pour you a sample of the wine where you find the aroma of cherry once more, this time emanating from your glass.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 6

Vicenza – Relish the Scenery and Culture on Trails through the Berici Hills

The Basilica Palladiana adorns the edge of Piazza dei Signori in the town of Vicenza. The 16th-century masterpiece features open colonnades with Doric and Ionic columns that harken back to the elegant architecture of classic tradition. The first-floor hall stretches 170 feet beneath a vaulted wooden ceiling. After breakfast, you will set out for the Berici Hills where the verdant valley fills with grass and fertile farmland as the chestnut and oak trees overtake the hills that lead to the mountains in the distance.

Your guide will lead you to the ancient village of Brendola, which rises above the trees on the gentle slopes of a nearby hill. The church spire of Saint Michael points to the remains of the Bishop’s Fortress, which was first erected in the 10th century. The plateau of Monte Spiado towers above the fortress and creates a tier of history, encompassing the homes, church, fortress, and mountaintop. Cherry trees overtake the sprawling vineyards. During truffle season, locals venture out into the forests in search of the elusive and treasured ingredient, following their dogs on the hunt around damp soil and tree roots.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 7

Verona – Visit Soave for a Cooking Class before Reaching Verona

In the morning, you will visit the marvels of the Teatro Olimpico, a 16th-century structure built of wood and stucco. The master architect Palladio adapted Renaissance artistry to the ancient building principles. The outside seems much larger than the interior as the architect performed the illusion through the unique set design, creating an effect of long streets running to the horizon, hiding the shallowness of the stage. After enjoying some time in the marvelous town of Vicenza, travel to the small town of Soave, more than 35 miles away. The storybook setting of medieval walls and 24 soaring watchtowers continues the fascinating history and culture of Veneto.

The countryside contains vineyards of Garganega grapes as the scent of risotto and porcini mushrooms emanates from cellar restaurants. The charm of the cobbled streets leads you into a private kitchen to learn the secrets of the provincial cuisine, including the unique dish of tortelloni stuffed with pumpkin. Your instructor will introduce you to the traditional methods of making pasta. Dig your fingers into the flour to make a mound, mix the egg and flour until the dough forms. You will roll it out and flatten the dough before cooking the sweet and savory pumpkin mixture, which fills the kitchen with the aroma of cinnamon, mustard, and nutmeg. By the end of lunch, you will have mastered the art of pasta and indulged in a dish topped with crispy fried sage.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch

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Day 8

Venice – Return to Venice with an Encompassing Tour of the Grand Canal

The history of Verona dates back to its Roman roots in the 1st century BC, and the image of its past derives from the Roman amphitheater bordering Piazza Bra opposite Palazzo Malfatti. The structure contains 44 rows of stadium seating which continues to accommodate up to 22,000 spectators in the summer months during the opera festival. After breakfast, you will have a guided tour of the cobbled street, and the main square of Piazza delle Erbe leads to the mythological home of Juliet Capulet, the main heroine in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. You will make your way to the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, a structure erected between the 11th and 12th centuries and remains a fine representation of Romanesque architecture.

The Romanesque bell tower accentuates the brick and white tufa façade of the basilica. Bronze doors along the front portal contain outstanding reliefs that depict both biblical and mythological scenes. After discovering the inner and outer beauty of Verona, you will give your legs a rest with a private transfer back to Venice. On the shores of the Grand Canal, again you will board a private vaporetto for a tour of the winding waterway. The palaces border the canal and highlight the architecture spans the 12th to the 18th centuries. The Santa Maria di Nazareth Church embodies the Baroque architectural style with decorative columns and adorning statues as the interior features canvases by Tiepolo, including the famous work Apotheosis of St. Teresa.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 9

Venice – Relax in Venice with a Day to Explore the Famous City at Leisure

In the morning, the cafes return their tables to the cobbled lanes that rise above the splashing water of the canal at low tide. The refreshing aroma of rich espresso returns to the city. After breakfast, you will turn to the trails of Veneto, first taking a bike ride through the streets of Venice along the Ciclovia delle Isole or the Bicycle trail of the Islands. The path takes you through the diverse culture of the villages and islands around the Venetian Lagoon. The first island you reach is Pellestrina, and the aroma of grilled fish accented with freshly squeezed lemon fills the streets. Fishermen cook their breakfast along the quays and provide the indulgent aromas as they blend with the seaside air.

The fishing boats wade in the tranquil water after recently returning from the sea. The houses belonging to the fishermen shine with brightly painted terraces as the fishermen pull up their nets as the fish grills over the hot coals. The bike path continues to Lido, which harbors a different atmosphere than the relaxed pace of the fishing island of Pellestrina. Lido runs along the sea walls, and the lavish resorts date back to the turn of the 20th century. The path is smooth and gives you an easy view of the sandy shore and the art nouveau facades that overlook the water. The breeze brings the refreshing seaside aroma to the shore.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 10

Venice – Depart for Home

The Fondamenta Turchi and Natural History Museum was once one of the oldest palaces in Venice, with its foundations laid in the 9th century. Its current iteration derives from the 13th to the 15th-century refurbishments. The mixture of Byzantine and Venetian architecture represents the reach of the Republic during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The beauty of the city on the Lagoon is never less than impressive. You will have traversed the islands, lagoon shores, and mountain foothills of Veneto, finding the splendor in the hills, valleys, and culture of the region. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at the hotel and escort you to Marco Polo International Airport with plenty of time to check-in to your flight home.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Traverse the paths that connect the various islands and small towns around the Venetian Lagoon
  • Enjoy the lavish landscape of Veneto as it leads from the foothills of the Italian Alps to the lush valleys carpeted in vineyards
  • Explore the beautiful hills around the medieval walled city of Marostica and savor a private wine tasting experience
  • Relish the beauty of the cobblestone streets and the stone walls of Soave before partaking in a private cooking lesson based on provincial favorites
  • Witness the unique history and evolution of grappa in a town known for its production of the herbaceous liqueur
  • Bask in the grandeur of Venice with a complete tour of the Grand Canal and the small network of canals that wind through the city
  • Follow the Brenta Canal that leads from Padua to Venice on a mixture of paths and boat rides to enjoy the lush greenery of the countryside along with the opulent Venetian villas
  • Follow the Old Roman Road around Monte Grappa in search of the same route Ernest Hemingway took during his tenure as an ambulance driver 
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Detailed Description

The fame of Veneto derives from the rich landscape and medieval towns, opulent palaces and extraordinary frescoes. Your 10-day tour offers you an exciting, active discovery of a region that touches both the Adriatic Sea and the Dolomite Mountains, and extends from the manmade canals to the Italian Alps. You will arrive at Marco Polo International Airport to meet your private transfer as a vaporetto will escort you from the canal shore to your hotel’s private dock. Your guide will greet you in the lobby ready to show you the beauty of Venice first-hand during your private introductory walking tour of the iconic architecture and labyrinthine streets. Next day, you will enjoy an excursion to the edge of Padua to wind along the canal-side paths that border the Brenta Canal. You will stop along the way to visit the small towns and lavish Renaissance villas that once belonged to Venetian aristocracy.

The next day, you will Venice behind and take the paths to Castelfranco, a 12th-century city surrounded by medieval walls. En route, you will make a stop in Treviso, a town with as much beauty as Venice, but much smaller and easier to navigate. Travel next to the small town of Asolo before you will reach Bassano del Grappa. Asolo stands on the foothills of Monte Grappa and lends itself to the pristine beauty of the countryside. Once in Bassano del Grappa, you will have a chance to enjoy the streets and museums, including the Grappa Museum, which culminates in a tasting of the famous liqueur. You will then trek along the old Roman Road, on which Hemingway once traversed in his ambulance during World War One.

Delight in a visit to the enchanting town of Marostica the following day, known for its life-sized chessboard and delicious cherries. Visit a local vineyard for a wine tasting experience before you continue to the gorgeous city of Vicenza. The next morning will bring you out into the Berici Hills to discover the hidden villages and remarkable history of the undulating countryside, and then on the following day, you will have a chance to tour Vicenza before moving on to the city of Verona. En route, you will stop at Soave, a captivating town known for unique regional cuisine. You will meet your private cooking instructor to create a luxurious and delectable lunch, and then continue to Verona and relax among the castles and cobbled streets. The next morning, you will enjoy a private tour of Verona before returning to Venice.

Next, you will board a vaporetto to explore the grandeur and impressive details of the Grand Canal. Take your time and enjoy the stunning culture and architecture of the islands on the lagoon. The evening is at your leisure to delight in the city as you desire, and the next morning your private transfer will meet you at the private dock of your hotel ready to escort you to Marco Polo International Airport for your flight home. 

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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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