Italy, Vatican City
Venice, Rome, Vatican City
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Illusive history and unobstructed power brought legends and secrets that have unraveled over throughout Italy. Discover the splendor and wonder of the Venetian Republic and Roman Empire during your tour custom tailored to your interests. Meet the craftspeople that shape the iconic gondolas of Venice as their art has been passed down through generations. Step beyond the guardrails of the Vatican to see a chapel off-limits to other visitors and then follow in the footsteps of noblemen and gladiators...
Venice – Arrive in the Lagoon City of Venice with an Introductory Tour
The City of Venice is a collection of more than 115 islands that are connected by more than 400 bridges. Gondolas and vaporettos traverse the canals both narrow and wide as plinths rise out of the water and support the palaces and private docks. Church spires rise above the antique homes and old women open their window shutters to watch the action of the city as it passes by their homes. You will land at Marco Polo Airport and meet your private transfer at the baggage claim, and then be escorted to the shores of the Venetian lagoon. You will have a view of the city and its vibrant life both on land and water as you arrive.
Step aboard your private boat for an introductory tour of the two and a half mile waterway known as the Grand Canal. You can hear the water splashing at the wooden posts as gondoliers paddle against the current. The city has inspired musicians such as Wagner and writers such as Hemingway. As you pass the Galleria dell’Accademia, the premier art museum in the city that contains the works of Venice’s most famous artists between the 13th and 18th-centuries, it’s easy to why. Much of the collection was assembled from churches, palaces, and monasteries that once flourished across the city. The former 12th-century Monastery of Santa Maria della Carita houses the museum and the galleries showcase work in chronological order to offer visitors a chance to compare the contemporary works of artists, including the celebrated Pieta by Titian. The grandeur of the lagoon and Venice open up to you immediately and welcome you to the opulent city on the water.
Venice – Explore the Iconic Sites of Venice on a Half-Day Guided Tour
The Rialto market has stood at the heart of Venice’s community since the end of the 11th-century. Fresh produce from the farming island of Sant’Erazmo shines with bright colors, from the purple eggplant to the ruby tomatoes. The stalls encircle the Campo San Giacomo Rialto as locals venture to the coveted fish market in search of the freshest catch of the day. Vendors call out to passersby and draw attention to the clams and anchovies. After breakfast, your guide will meet you at your hotel and leads you along the cobblestone streets to what was once the center of the religious and civic life of the Venetian Republic, St. Mark’s Square.
The iconic basilica crowns the piazza with a gilded exterior and towering bulbous domes. Loggias wrap around the public open space and draw your attention to the famous pigeons that snack on the bird food strewn across the stone floor. After your introduction to the square, enter into the Doge’s Palace, the seat of power for the Venetian Republic in a structure rebuilt in the 14th-century. Ornamental and allegorical figures adorn the Porta della Carta as the Lion of St. Mark stands before a kneeling figure that represents Doge Francesco Foscari, alluding to an individual kneeling before the state.
Your guide will lead you through the opulence of the palace and highlight how each room, from the Golden Staircase to the Doge’s apartment, captures the wealth and artistic tradition of the decadent past. The room that may captivate you most is the Sala delle Quattro Porte, a group of chambers that show the sinister side of the government known as the Council of Ten. The court was in charge of the secret police who kept control over public and private life in the city. The room contains an elegant wood paneling with gilded paintings that depict Jupiter throwing thunderbolts and fighting against the vices. An open slot inside a mouth offered people a place to slip letters of denunciation to the council in private.
Venice – Relish a Chance to Discover Venice’s Streets, Art, and Architecture
In the morning the shop windows open to elaborate displays of Venetian masks. Cafes fill the air with the scent of espresso and freshly baked brioche as bakeries place delicate cakes in the windows for passersby to see. After breakfast, you will step out into the refreshingly cool air to wander along the cobbled streets that wind around the city like a labyrinth. The city was once known by the nickname, “La Serenissima,” which meant, Most Serene, and you will soon see why. Children play soccer in charming little squares as women sit in their doorways to shell peas and talk to neighbors from the window.
The Grand Palace of Ca’Rezzonico was erected in the 17th-century and has captured the grandeur of life near the end of the Venetian Republic. The ballroom contains lavish frescoes painted by Visconti and Battista Crosato to depict the wealthy lifestyle of the city’s nobles. Natural light spills in through the floor to ceiling windows and spreads across the elaborate colors of the historical paintings. The family’s private gondola is also on display to show how the style of the time and the taste of nobility. Make your way next to the San Trovaso Square to glimpse at the tradition of gondola making by artisan craftspeople. The boatyard was founded in the 17th-century and still contains upwards of 350 gondoliere, most often an occupation passed from father to son.
Enjoy a demonstration of the work as the craftsman shapes the mahogany, cherry, or oak base. A single gondola can take more than a month to create. Time to explore in the boatyard offers you a chance to see the gondolas at different stages of the process, including the final stage of its decoration. The boats move with grace along the water, propelled by the current and a gondolier’s paddle. After your visit concludes, you will meet a gondolier guide ready to show you the hidden art of rowing a gondola along the canals of Venice.
Venice – Visit the Lagoon Islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello
The pleasures of Venice and its decadent history lie beyond the connected islands of the historical center and stretch out into the lagoon at Murano, Burano, and Torcello. After breakfast, you will board a private boat to take you the one and a half mile journey across the water to the shores of Murano, the largest of the three major islands of the northern lagoon. The Murano canal divides the island and leads to the main square where fishermen sell the fresh catches of the day and the heat from the glass workshops mixes with the cool air of the canal forming a light mist.
The tradition of glassblowing on the island dates back to the 12th-century when the Doge ordered the kilns off of the main island to avoid fire. The industry grew to such prominence, and gave the Venetian Republic so much wealth, that glass workers rose to a nearly noble status. The illustrious past coincides with the republic’s anxiety that glassworkers would take the secrets of the craft to other states. The history of the craft, exhibiting the evolution of design, color, and taste fills the Glass Museum, which includes vials dating back to ancient Rome.
You will then visit a local workshop specializing in the art of Murano mirrors. The glassworker will blow a flat, elegant shape before etching geometric designs into the corners. Before the glass is treated, it will resemble a gorgeous display window without a reflective surface and offer you insight into the hidden history behind the elaborate work of art.
Venice – Traverse the Splendor of the Brenta Canal on a Full Day Cruise
The influence of the Venetian Republic spread from the Adriatic Sea and inland towards to foothills of the Italian Alps. After breakfast, you will venture to the mainland shores to reach to the historical university town of Padua. Padua is home to a youthful atmosphere, a Renaissance culture, and the beginning of the Brenta Canal. The Brenta River fed the waterway and diverted to the Venetian lagoon to ease passage and trade between the city and the republic. You will have time to wander around the cobbled streets and visit the lavish anatomical theater, the first of its kind. The theater was erected in the 16th-century near the shores of Brenta River. The walnut interior could hold up to 300 students encircling the dissection table. The Latinate inscription in the room states, “This is a place where the dead are pleased to help the living.” The university was built in the 13th-century and housed visiting lecturers such as Galileo.
Your cruise will then set off down the canal and lead you back to Venice. The banks that once ran along open space and farmland now offer views to the mountains in between elaborate villas and sporadic villages have sprung up since the decline of the Venetian Empire. The villas remain as lustrous and elegant as the day they were built, and many date back to the mid 16th-century. You will stop at Villa Pisani, referred to as the “Queen of Venetian Villas,” due to its grand design, opulent décor, and remarkable garden. The estate was erected in the 18th-century and includes 114 rooms to celebrate the 114th Doge of Venice. The broad façade contains impressive statuary and elegant columns supported by caryatids. The ballroom will take your breath away as you notice the elaborate painting that covers the ceiling. The Pisani family sits on a puff of clouds, and the figures nearly burst from the ceiling as the blue sky recedes to provide a three-dimensional sensation.
Rome – Enjoy Ravenna, Assisi, and Civita di Bagnoregio en route to Rome
Today you will replace the canals of Venice with the banks of the Arno River. The bulbous Byzantine domes of St. Mark’s Basilica will soon turn into the singular magnificent dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. The road to Rome is paved with history, majesty, and opulence as settlements date back the Etruscans. You will stop at a collection of towns and cities along the way to discover the distinct culture and common threads that lead from Venice down to Rome, beginning with the city of Ravenna. The city served as the capital of Western Roman Empire from the 5th to the 7th-centuries and nurtured creativity, embodied in the lavish churches and elegant mosaics preserved throughout the streets.
The epic poet Dante Alighieri once described the mosaics of Ravenna as a “Symphony of Color,” which also drew the likes of Lord Bryon. The Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe contains a central apse mosaic that depicts the city’s patron saint juxtaposed against the verdant landscape. Before you reach Rome, the last city you will visit is Civita di Bagnoregio, situated atop a pinnacle above an expansive canyon. The Etruscan’s settled the area and cut stone passageways into the hillside more than 2,500 years ago. The town that you see was erected in the 12th-century, adorned with a Romanesque arch that leads you onto the smooth cobblestones of history.
Rome – Uncover the Secrets of Ancient Rome and Vatican City
Rome brims with activity at all hours of the day to continue its reputation as the center of the world dating back to the Roman Republic. The market in Campo di Fiori fills with locals in search of artisan goods, delicious produce, and gorgeous flowers. The sweet and herbaceous aroma of tulips and hydrangeas emanates from the florist stalls. Your day will begin at the ancient heart of Rome with a guided tour of the Colosseum. The famous arena was erected in the 1st-century AD with four stories that reach a height of nearly 180 feet above the Roman streets.
The exterior shines the color of hay in the morning light, but the rugged stone provides a dramatic impression. Your guide will take you into the arena where up to 50,000 spectators could watch the games. The scent of old stone fills the air as you wander through the maze of passageways once covered by the wooden stage that hid gladiators and wild animals waiting their turn to enter the stadium. The walls rise upwards of two-stories and once used elaborate machines to raise people and animals to the arena floor. The marvels of ancient Rome are endless, from the Forum to Capitoline Hill.
In the afternoon, you will venture to St. Peter’s Square to meet your guide on a behind the scenes tour of the Vatican Museums. The Basilica crowns the oval square with a dome that reaches 435 feet tall. Inside the museum, your guide will lead you up the lavish Bramante staircase to the Gabinetto delle Maschere. The most exciting part of the tour is when you enter the Cappella Noccolina, a 15th-century chapel that is closed the public that displays frescoes painted before Michelangelo was born.
Rome – Depart for Home
In the morning, locals fill the cafes and stand at the counter to sip their espresso before heading to work. The aroma of fresh brioche fills the city, drifting from bakeries hidden in the meandering streets of the historical center. The thick, ancient pillars of the Pantheon glint in the rising sunlight as the former temple was erected in the 1st-century AD. With a dome that reaches a height of 141 feet above the polished marble floor, Michelangelo and Brunelleschi were inspired by this space in their hopes of harmonious and lavish architectural feats. The dome contains an opening that reaches nearly 30 feet in diameter, which is also the only source of light in the structure. You have uncovered the truth of Rome as it’s in the ancient streets, Baroque palaces, and stunning museums that have preserved their majesty over the ages to easily captivate visitors and locals from around the world. After one last glorious Italian morning, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you the Fiumicino International Airport for your flight home.
- See the shipyard in which gondolas are made before you partake in a private gondolier class on a hidden Venetian canal
- Watch a captivating glassmaking demonstration to learn the secrets of the once coveted art of crafting a Murano mirror
- Venture into the depths of the Doge’s Palace to find the hidden passageways and secret chambers of the Venetian Republic powers
- Enjoy the true culture of Venice in the Rialto Market, where the city shops for vibrant produce and fresh seafood
- Bask in the grandeur of the Venetian Republic with a cruise down the Brenta Canal, home to opulent villas, including Villa Pisani
- See the stunning Byzantine and early Christian mosaics of Ravenna, capital of the Western Roman Empire for three centuries
- Explore the stunning location of the Medieval city of Civita di Bagnoregio, standing atop a pinnacle that overlooks a canyon
- Uncover the hidden tunnels of the Colosseum on a private tour of Rome’s ancient monuments
- Go past the velvet ropes of the Vatican Museum to see the remarkable Cappella Niccolina and its elaborate 15th-century frescoes
Mystery leads to adventure and adventure leads to excitement during your 8-day journey of Venice and Rome’s hidden splendor. You will land at Marco Polo International Airport to meet your private transfer who will deliver you to the shores of the Grand Canal. Upon arrival, you will board a vaporetto ready to take you along the winding waters of Venice for an introductory tour. Marbled palaces and elegant churches frame the canal that has acted as Venice’s central highway for centuries for you to enjoy before you settle into your luxury accommodations. Next day, your guide will lead you on an engaging tour of the city’s iconic sites, from the Rialto Bridge to St. Mark’s Square. Venture into the depths of the Doge’s Palace for an insightful look at the hidden chambers of the secret government of the old republic. The remainder of the day is yours to uncover the celebrated wine bars of the city known as bacari.
Next, you will traverse the cobbled streets of Venice for an immersive look at the culture with a visit to the Galleria dell’Accademia of Venice and the artwork of Ca’Rezzonico. Continue to San Trovaso Square to see the process of making gondolas before your private instructor will meet you beside the boathouses ready to teach you the art of steering a gondola in the Venetian canals. Next day, you will explore the greater lagoon on a boat tour of northern islands beginning with Murano, the island known for glassmaking. Enjoy a historical and artistic perspective as you visit the Glass Museum and a glassblowing demonstration from Murano mirror experts before you continue to the quiet streets of Burano and Torcello.
Travel next to Padua for an introductory tour of the picturesque streets as you board a boat docked on the Brenta Canal for a cruise alongside the lavish villas once owned by Venetian nobility. You will stop to visit a number of villas before you return to the shores of Venice. The next day takes you out of Venice and onto mainland Italy as your private transfer will escort you to Rome by way of a selection of cities and towns off the beaten path. Discover the exciting early Christian mosaics of Ravenna, follow in the devout footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi and delight in the unique preserved medieval town of Civita di Bagnoregio before you reach Rome. After settling into your hotel, you will have a sensational evening walking tour of the city to see the Baroque fountains and palaces that glow in the streetlights.
You will next enjoy a full day of Roman exploration beginning at the ancient center of the Roman Empire. Tour the once hidden passages of the Colosseum before you traverse the Roman Forum and Capitoline Hill. In the afternoon, you will have a grand tour of Vatican City and the Vatican Museum as you enjoy an after-hours view of galleries normally off limits to regular museumgoers. Conclude as your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport for your flight home.
$2,195 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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