Venice is a city of opulence and prestige, grand feasts and pristine palaces, enchanting culture and captivating history. Priceless churches hidden in the narrow backstreets of the city contain Veronese facades and sculptures. Master artwork crafted by Titian and Tiepolo decorates ceilings and palatial walls. Elegant masks stare out the storefront windows of artisan craft shops, depicting mythical figures of the Commedia dell’ Arte. Your flight lands at Marco Polo International Airport, where you meet your private transfer at baggage claim, eager to view the iconic city rising out of the lagoon. Venice is a collection of more than 115 islands connected to one another through a network of bridges arching over the renowned canals.
You meet your private boat on the edge of the world-famous Grand Canal for your introduction to the city along its most popular waterway. Gondolas glide beneath the Rialto Bridge. Vaporettos cast a wake behind them as they ferry locals and visitors to and from St. Mark’s Square. The marvelous extravagant façade of Ca’ Rezzonico glints in the sunlight. The structure was erected between the 17th and 18th centuries with Baroque embellishments. Gondoliers wade in the water, passing the thin marble columns adorning the second and third stories.
The interior contains upwards of 40 rooms, each decorated to demonstrate the style and affluence of Venice’s former aristocracy, from lacquered furniture to bronze treasures, along with a collection of original 18th-century Venetian costumes. The culture of Venice brims along the walkways beside the canal, filled with the daily, ongoing life of locals. Women open their windows and chat over the stone divides. Workers replace rotted wood plinths by pounding new mooring piles into the sea floor. Cats sleep on windowsills, which are open to allow the refreshing breeze into the house. Exploring the Grand Canal puts you at the heart of a romantic city and makes you feel as though you’ve stepped into a painting.
In the morning, the seductive aroma of espresso emanates from Café del Doge near the Rialto Bridge. The small coffee bar roasts and blends their own beans, providing a mixture of robust flavors, elegant designs, and charm hidden in the narrow backstreets of the city. After breakfast, your guide meets you in the hotel lobby and escorts you through the bustling Rialto Market, which began in the 11th century, and into the center of St. Mark’s Square. The gilded frame of the Basilica shimmers in the sunlight, highlighting the bulbous domes and Byzantine frescoes adorning the receding archways.
The interior contains hints of frankincense spreading across the gold-leaf walls and floor to vaulted ceiling Byzantine mosaics. Huge pillars support the five domes, each more than 42 feet in diameter. Natural light pours through upper windows shining against the colored glass and gold leaf to create an ethereal ambiance inside the 45,638 square feet of gilded artwork. After exploring the exhilarating artwork and secret chambers of St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, your guide leads you on an unforgettable tour of Venice’s vices, beginning at Camerlenghi Palace.
The edifice stands at the curve of the Grand Canal near the Rialto Bridge and once acted as the mint to the Republic. The structure was erected in the 16th century and also contained a debtor’s prison. Your guide points out the unique relief adorning the front gate before eventually escorting you to the Palace of Bianca Cappello, home to the mistress, and later the wife, of the Grand Duke of Florence in the 1580s, causing a dramatic stir in the city and relations between the two republics.
In the morning, the scent of freshly baked tarts and olive scones drifts out the doors of a local bakery. The unassuming façade opens to a variety of freshly baked bread and an endless selection of daily specials. At breakfast, you sip a refreshing cappuccino in view of passing gondolas before meeting your guide for a tour. You begin at the Accademia Gallery in the Dorsoduro district. The charm of the often-overlooked neighborhood stretches east to Dogana Point. Working class homes wind alongside the smaller canals, leading away from the traveling artery of the main waterway. The church of San Sebastian has a bright façade designed by Paolo Veronese, whose tomb is also located inside the church gallery.
The Zattere promenade offers a charming walkway along the southern shore of the canal leading to the Jewish Ghetto. You enter into the Accademia to find a collection of pre-19th-century Venetian and northern Italian artwork. The gallery was founded in the 18th century but grew in notoriety after a Napoleonic decree. The preserved lavish interior accentuates the unique exhibits, leading you to the marvelous painting of Stealing of St. Mark’s Body, by Tintoretto. The work depicts how the city’s patron saint arrived in Venice. The edifices bordering the square contain ghostly textures as if the painter was connoting the opulent structures to come. The dramatic shading and humanistic character on each figure personify the craftsmanship for which Tintoretto was considered a master.
In the morning, locals traverse the labyrinthine streets of the city with ease, passing through the aromas of decadent chocolateries and patisseries. You join your guide after breakfast to follow in the footsteps of one of Venice’s most famous residents, Giacomo Casanova. The historic figure remains a symbol of aristocratic life in 18th-century Venice, due to his charm and the vices enjoyed by his lavish lifestyle. The tour begins at St. Mark’s Square beneath the campanile. The clock tower stands more than 320 feet tall, shining with rosy brick beneath the copper spire.
Your guide offers stories and commentary on the life and times of Casanova as you wander through the commercial streets of the Mercerie. You pass by the elegant masks staring at you from the windows, and beyond the entrance of the Ridotto Venier, a small house modeled after Venetian palaces with a central hall and side rooms that offered gambling and offers of ill repute. The stucco finishing decorating the household became representative of each particular casini, the small homes of which Ridotto Venier was a part.
At Campo Santa Maria Formosa, you discover the Palazzo Querini Stampali, a structure once belonging to the friends of the historic figure and which now contains a collection of rich furnishings, busts, and paintings displayed beneath a breadth of stucco ceilings. Silk drapery adorns the upper salons adding to the tastes of the count in the 18th century. Later, you and your partner step out on the town for an evening of dinner and music, bringing the lavishness of the 18th century to life with a four-course gourmet meal and an enticing concert.
In the morning, the doors to Libreria Acqua Alta open to the public. The bookstore is furnished with stacks of used books situated inside retired gondolas and parts of old fishing boats. The doorway stands nearly level with the lagoon, with stairs leading down into the submerged gallery. The scent of seasoned leather blends with the aroma of antique papers offering insight into the reading trends of Venetians and visitors from around the world. After breakfast, you venture to the boatyard of Squero San Trovaso to witness the making of gondolas in real-time.
The tradition has been passed down from father to son for generations. Artisans bring in the wood, and cut, shape, polish, and decorate each vessel according to a specific specification. The scent of fir, oak, and walnut wood fills the boatyard. You meet your gondolier on the private dock of your hotel after learning of the history of Venice’s iconic craft. Your gondolier takes you into a hidden waterway away from the bustling Grand Canal. Your gondolier offers history and legend of the profession as you pass beneath dangling lines of laundry and arching bridges.
The gondolier explains the importance of motion and fluidity in rowing the vessel before offering you the chance to steer the gondola. You press the pole into the water, propelling the craft forward. Momentum and pace help keep the boat steady while keeping you from tiring out. The romantic ride through the secret waterway of the city provides a charming and educational experience inside the splendor of a traditional gondola. In the afternoon, you meet a private instructor for a half-day cooking course inside an antique Venetian palace.
The sunlight washes over the city and returns the rosy hue to the towers bordering the canal at the Venetian Arsenal. Sailboats moored in the marina near the Campanile sway in the wake of passing vaporettos. You meet your guide after breakfast to uncover the secrets of Venice hidden in the Castello district. Your guide immerses you in the ancient and authentic life of the hidden neighborhoods, crossing small bridges and leading you into the labyrinthine cobblestone lanes connecting the islands. The Church of San Zaccaria is one of the oldest churches in the city, which was originally erected in the 9th century to house the relics of Saint Zaccaria, located today beneath the second altar.
The tiered facade has a unique blend of arched windows and columns blending gothic and renaissance styles. The flooded crypt creates a unique illusion through the undisturbed reflection of the vaulted ceilings, domes, windows, and marble tombs. You reach the old Arsenal of Venice, the former heart of the shipping industry for the Republic, and find a resurgence of life filling the former spaces. A two-mile wall surrounded the area to protect the ships from possible sabotage. After strolling the streets of the city, your guide helps you onto a private motorboat for a different view of the buildings, passing ancient palaces and intimate canals opening to views of San Michele and Murano islands.
Today you set out on a private tour of the famous islands around the Venetian lagoon. You board a boat on the dock at your hotel and enjoy the rush of wind sweeping past your cheeks. The island of Murano fills with glistening glassworks displayed in boutique shops lining the narrow canals. The workshops emanate heat from the kiln moved from the main island of Venice, as per royal decree in the 13th century. You continue to Burano, a quiet island with fishing boats wading in the calm canal waters set against the backdrop of pastel-painted homes.
Boutique shops display elegant lacework crafted by the women of the island. You can still see older women sewing blouses, table-runners, and placemats in the doorway to their homes in a tradition started when women would wait for their fishermen husbands to return from sea. When you return to Venice, your guide leads you through the streets onto the trail of the sweet aromas of crumbly shortbread and homemade ice cream spanning the neighborhoods of Santa Croce, Dorsoduro, and Cannaregio.
The picturesque views of the city are always captivating, no matter the time of day, accentuated with the invigorating aroma of espresso. Your guide is a local baker in tune with the quality of cafes and patisseries producing delectable treats and traditional confections. One particular chocolaterie has an unassuming façade with a window open to the interior candies. The citrus aroma of chocolate dipped oranges drifts upwards from the display case. Elegant chocolate truffles and caramel chocolate bars make your eyes widen. The shop is located near the former residence of Marco Polo and offers a taste of the sweet culinary traditions of Venice.
The light spreading across the gilded façade of St. Mark’s Basilica matches the grandeur of the ceilings decorating the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. The 16th-century structure contains frescoes documenting the life of Mary sweeping across the assembly hall. Master artist Tintoretto used his unmatched ability of shading to craft the Ascension with cataclysmic drama. The frescoes in the Grand Salon depicting the Old Testament resembles the pages of a contemporary graphic novel, utilizing motion and shading while humanizing the religious figures to breathtaking effect. You have covered the squares of Venice and uncovered the city’s secrets, finding romance on the canals and seductive artwork in the palaces. Your private transfer meets you at the hotel when you’re ready and escorts you to Marco Polo Airport for your flight home.
Venice embodies pleasure and romance, prestige and history. Your 8-day tour offers you an exclusive Venice, from the splendor of the Grand Canal to the enchantment of traditional Venetian masks. Your discovery begins with your arrival at Marco Polo Airport. Your private transfer meets you and your partner at baggage claim and escorts you to the Grand Canal for an introductory tour into the marvels of the historic waterway. After the tour, you settle into your luxurious accommodation located near the heart of the bustling city.
The following morning, your guide leads you on a magnificent tour of the Rialto Market and St. Mark’s Square, highlighting the hidden niches of the basilica and the secret chambers of the Doge’s Palace. You follow the prestige of the famous piazza with a tour unveiling the vices and surprises of the city’s history on a private walking tour of seductive Venice. Then, you visit the Accademia Galleries to view the expansive art collection exhibiting the progressive styles of the Venetian Republic.
Explore the neighborhood of Dorsoduro for insight into the past and contemporary culture of Venice. Afterward, you follow in the footsteps of one of the most famous romantic characters of all time, Casanova. Enjoy a tour connecting the dots of the lover’s life before delighting in an evening of stature with a four-course meal followed by an enrapturing concert. You set out on a gondola ride in the back canals of Venice before embarking on a rowing class to learn the proper way to steer the iconic Venetian vessel.
In the afternoon, you meet a private cooking instructor for a lesson in preparing a proper Venetian meal while inside a historic palace. Bask in the romantic atmosphere of the city by exploring the hidden corners and charming palaces during a guided tour of the city. Relax in quiet squares and discover captivating artwork often overlooked by visitors. The next day, you visit the islands of Murano and Burano before partaking in a delectable tour of Venice’s celebrated bakeries, gelaterias, and chocolateries, as guided by a local confectioner. Your private transfer meets you and your partner at the hotel on the final day and escorts you to Marco Polo Airport for your flight home.
$2195 per person (excluding international flights)
Tell us all about your
We match you with top
travel agents who
compete for your trip.
Book only once your
itinerary is refined to