Shakespeare & Masquerades: A Lovers’ Escape to Venice, Verona and Lake Garda

Boats and gondoliers on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy
A 8 day trip to Italy 
4.75 out of 5 stars
16 reviews

Passion will never be sweeter than it is during your personalized tour of Italy that will immerse you in decadent Venetian banquets, lakeside storybook towns, and the star-crossed romance of Juliet Capulet and her Romeo. The bronze statue of Shakespeare’s heroine will shine in the sunlight amongst handwritten letters as you get lost in the celebrated story. Move next to join the gondoliers that drift along the serene canals of the lagoon city, and then enjoy the medieval towns with the vibrant, dramatic castles that overlook the tranquil waters of Lake Garda. Stroll hand-in-hand through the beautiful gardens and lavish villas as you share delightful meals and unforgettable moments together. Travel to the mountaintops and relax on pebbled beaches while indulging in the pleasures of Italy.  For more inspiration as you consider touring Italy, browse our other Italian itineraries to create your ideal immersion in Italian culture. 

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General Information

Beautiful view of traditional Gondola on famous Canal Grande with Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venice.
Romeo and Juliet balcony in Verona.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Venice, Verona, Garda, Fassa Valley, Fiemme Valley, Limone sul Garda, Sirmione, Desenzano del Garda, Riva del Garda

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Venice – Arrive in Venice with a Romantic Walking and Food Tour

Venice is a city of romance and intrigue, seductive masquerades and enchanting hidden neighborhoods. The streets create a labyrinth and offer secluded getaways while the restaurants place tables and chairs alongside the quiet lapping waters of the lagoon for an idyllic dinner graced with candlelight. Your flight will arrive at Marco Polo Airport, and your private transfer will greet you. You make your way to the edge of the famous Grand Canal and board a private boat bound for the dock of your luxurious hotel as the vaporettos cruise down the water casting wakes behind them.

Gondoliers paddle on the narrow waterways ducking beneath the arching bridges. Settle into the comforts of your accommodation which will blend the opulence of a former palace of the Republic with the comfort of modern luxuries. Your guide will greet you in the lavish lobby of your hotel eager to lead you on a fabulous introductory tour of Venice.

Bakery windows are filled with delectable fritters stuffed with cream as mask shops showcase the fine art of papier-mâché painted with elegant hands to promote the picturesque history of an exuberant banquet. Your guide will lead you through the bustling and charming bacari, the cozy restaurants serving traditional cicchetti, little dishes. A traditional dish of long, thick noodles are similar to spaghetti and dressed in a sauce of onion and cured-fish creates a delicious welcome to the city. You can sip your glass of wine and listen to the water lapping against the stone canal and savor the romantic ambiance of Venice.   

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

Day 2: Venice – Explore St. Mark’s Square and Relish a Private Gondola Ride

The rich scent of espresso will fill the hotel dining room at breakfast as the sounds of the bustling city emanate from the Rialto Market, one of the oldest markets in the world. Your guide will lead you through the aisles near the famous Rialto Bridge and point to a plaque on a bordering wall that holds the regulations for vendors and visitors in the market. Apples and persimmons fill boxes along the tables as nearby the fishmongers present their marlin and ruby prawns.

You will reach St. Mark’s Square and immediately notice the incredible skyline that is decorated with the bulbous domes of the Basilica and the gilded weathervane of the Archangel Gabriel that tops the more than 320-foot tall campanile. Gilded mosaics decorate the recessed archways on the façade while architectural styles from Constantinople and Jerusalem decorate the façade and interior of the 11th-century edifice due to a decree by the Doge that stated that all returning ships to Venice must bring with them something precious to decorate the Basilica. More than 500 columns are made of rare marble, alabaster, and jasper.

You will find the sweet and fragrant aroma of frankincense in the Basilica will add to the atmosphere of the endless golden mosaics that overtake the more than 45,600 square feet. The light that pours through the windows causes the mosaics to glitter above the marvelous inlaid marble floor. In the afternoon, you will board your gondola with a private photographer who will capture the quiet, romantic moments that the two of you find around the city, beginning with an unforgettable ride down the serene, narrow waterways away from the movement of the Grand Canal.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Venice – Delight in the Grandeur of Opulent Villas on a Brenta Canal Cruise

Campo Santa Margherita buzzes with life at all hours of the day as fabulous gelateria fills the square with the aromas of strawberries, vanilla, and chocolate. Venetians sip espresso at the corner bar on their way to work as old gentlemen linger in cafes while sipping cappuccino and talking about soccer. You will venture out of the city after breakfast to explore the traditional grandeur and glamor of the Venetian Republic located on the Brenta River. The aristocracy moved away from the city to enjoy the comforts and space of the countryside but traveled easily back to the Republic by the canal, which leads back to the Venetian Lagoon.

The manicured gardens embody the picture-perfect beauty of opulent Italian villas. You will stop first at Villa Foscari, a three-story palace celebrated for its symmetry. Two apartments fill the interior with the same design, both composed of three proportionate rooms. 16th-century frescoes decorate the rooms with representations of popular artistic styles of the time, including a feminine figure that represents the Arts and Virtues. You will look to the ceiling to find a depiction of the myth of Astrea, and the nearby garden contains secret hideaways in which you can even steal a kiss.

In the evening, you will arrive at the Ducale Villa, which once belonged to the Duke of Venice. The ambiance carries a regal allure, and the grounds exhibit the aristocratic splendor of the Republic. You can sip your wine and enjoy special hors d’oeuvres. The aroma of fresh pasta will fill the dining room, followed by delicately prepared fish and rich meat. You will feel like royalty attending a ball in the historical romance of a Venetian feast.   

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

Day 4: Verona – Transfer to Verona to Find the Charm of Romeo and Juliet’s City

After breakfast, your transfer will greet you on the private dock of your hotel. Travel across the Grand Canal and continue by car to the gorgeous city of Verona. The city rises out of the bend in the Adige River as the water sweeps down from the Alps, and the historical center overflows with locals passionate about history and romance, traditional cuisine and delicious wine. You will immediately find the remnants of Imperial Rome near Piazza Bra as the sunlight highlights the pink tint of the marble used to make the arena in the 1st century AD.

The theater is still in use and seats up to 30,000 spectators in the summer for the amazing harmonies and acoustics enjoyed during the famous Opera Festival. Across the river grows the sculpted Renaissance Giusti Gardens, which opened to the public in the late 16th century. Cypress trees line the walkways and offer shade to strolling lovers in the labyrinth of hedges and roses that lead to the stunning lookout over the city.

The café in Piazza delle Erbe offers the sweet aroma of orange cream as it blends with the decadent scent of fresh espresso. You will reach the tunnel that leads into the courtyard of the house of Juliet Capulet as notes written to the famous star-crossed lover line the brickwork alongside the lipstick kisses left for decoration and gratitude. A statue of Shakespeare’s noble heroine stands beneath the balcony and glints with bronze, and the romantic atmosphere emanates from the legend of love between Romeo and Juliet that envelopes the entire city of Verona.

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

Day 5: Lake Garda – Venture to Lake Garda for a Day in Passionate Leisure

The charm of Verona returns with the morning light as the aroma of rustic almond shortbread fills Piazza delle Erbe. You can sip your frothy cappuccino in the comfort of your elegant hotel before meeting your private transfer in the hotel lobby. You will make your way to the town of Garda, located on the southern shores of the eponymous lake as nearby villas and homes represent the centuries while rock etchings in the hills lead to the Dolomite Mountains embody the ancient settlers who once called the region home.

The water ripples against the promenade while the pine forest grows along the edges of the granite cliffs and the ascending mountains. Sailboats drift along the lake before returning to the small marina, and your luxurious hotel stands at the base of the rolling rocks with a private view of the shimmering water. The former 19th-century villa once provided a getaway to the wealthy aristocracy and carries on the tradition of elegance and comfort. The town once fell under the reign of Austria’s Hapsburg Empire before the Belle Époque, and the remnants of the culture have shaped the towns edging the lakeside.

The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy the splendors of the hotel and the warm ambiance of the town. Relax in the tranquil atmosphere along the lakeside promenade as cafes and restaurants offer tables and chairs on the walkway to watch passersby and the sporadic white sails of cruising boats as the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore crowns the historic city center.

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

Day 6: Lake Garda – Enjoy the Towns around Lake Garda with a Private Driver

In the morning, the aroma of fresh cappuccino drifts with the refreshing breeze that blows off of the lake as the lingering aroma of petit fours fills the dining room. Your private driver will greet you after breakfast eager to introduce you to the towns and villages that surround the lakeshores as you travel at your preferred pace. You will find yourself basking in the rich light, and colorful waters of Sirmione as the town overtakes the edge of a long promontory at the southern edge of Lake Garda. The beautiful entrance to the town takes you across a moat and drawbridge that leads into the forecourt of the historical castle.

The ambiance will strike you like a fairytale offering a romantic escape from the world outside of the city gates. The Scaligeri family built the walls in the 12th century as a defense against Milan’s ruling party. Ducks linger in the water and search for fish while boutique shops line the cobbled walkways beside the designer stores like Armani and Versace. The scent of creamy gelato drifts out of the quiet, cozy ice cream shops. The former home of opera singer Maria Callas looks over a quaint park, and you will continue to the unique archeological site of Catullo Grotto, which encompasses nearly five acres. The ruins of the 1st-century AD Roman villa offers an idyllic scene of teetering stone arches and crumbling walls set against the backdrop of the Dolomite Mountains. Terraces texture the hillsides, and the top floor of the three-story structure offers a 360-degree view of the water.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Lake Garda – Discover the Beauty of the Dolomites on a Full Day Excursion

The morning light will wash over the town of Arco located north of the lake. The dramatic cascade of Varone has caused a corkscrew into the vertical gorge that plunges into the glacial lake. The town sits on the banks of the Sarca River with a luxurious view over the southern landscape that glows emerald with the lush vegetation. Orchards blossom and promenades shimmer with magnolias and palm trees, and your private driver will lead you around the mountainous landscape at your leisure, stopping in towns like Arco to experience the diverse beauty Lake Garda and the foothills of the Dolomite Mountains.

The verdant landscape of the mountain valleys reminds you of scenery out of Austria rather than Italy. The town is located at 3,280 feet above sea level on the sun-drenched shelf in front of the Lagori Mountain chain. The crenelated bell tower soars above the village streets and imitates the surrounding peaks. The tranquil ambiance feels like a secluded, romantic village to enjoy pleasurable company, so you can sip a decadent hot chocolate at an outdoor café while enjoying the view to the Palace of Magnifica Comunita. The Austro-Hungarian architecture adds a colorful twist to the landscape, and the cableway carries you to Alpe Cermis, the summit offering a magnificent view of the rolling mountain peaks.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Lake Garda – Depart for Home

The romance of your week will continue through the morning with the return of the light flickering against the cobalt lake. The castle of Rocca di Garda towers above the streets of town as the calm water laps at the pebbled beach. You will wake to the aroma of fresh espresso accompanying deep-fried apples as the lush trees reflect in the water as sailboats glide the various towns across the water. You will have discovered pleasure and passion, romance and adoration while in Italy, dining like the aristocracy and taking the time to enjoy your surroundings. Your private transfer will greet you at your hotel and escort you to Milan’s Malpensa Airport for your flight home.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast


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.