Venice - Verona - Bolzano - Follina

Cultural Venice, Veneto & Alto Adige

Destination
Venice - Verona - Bolzano - Follina
Dates From
25/09/2019
Duration
11 Nights
12 Days
Price From
$7,300
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SMALL GROUP TOUR

Our itinerary begins with two nights in incomparable Venice, the world’s most famous lagoon. We’ll explore the islands of Burano and Torcello and take a boat ride down the Grand Canal. We’ll visit Padova and the Scrovegni Chapel on the way to a three night stay in romantic Verona with its first century Roman Arena. The villas of architect Andrea Palladio and his incredible Teatro Olimpico follow. A ferry ride across Lake Garda will take us to Riva and further north to the Dolomite mountains, wonderful Bolzano and Austrian Italy. A 17th century Venetian noble palace in Follina is our base for exploring the Prosecco wine region. We’ll discover the village charm of hilltop Asolo and Antonio Canova’s sculptures at Possagno. All this and more you will discover in the northeast Italian regions of Veneto and Alto Adige!

Inclusions

  • City walking tours with local guides in Venice, Padova, Verona, Vicenza & Bolzano
  • All activities and admissions listed
  • 11 nights 4/5 star accommodations in charming hotels
  • Tourist accommodation tax
  • All ground transportation and porterage Days 3-11
  • All breakfasts, 5 dinners and 3 lunches, beverages included
  • Full time professional tour manager
  • Drop off at Verona airport or station

Itinerary

Day 1

The history of Venice began in the 5th century when hordes of murderous Goths and Huns swept down the Italian peninsula, laying to ruins 1200 years of Roman civilization. With little possibility of escape frightened inhabitants along the northern coastline of the Adriatic Sea fled to islands in the lagoon where barbarians, ignorant of seafaring, could not follow.

Over the following centuries, as more and more refugees arrived, millions of posts were sunk into the shallow lagoon and used to support an artificial surface that would connect most of the 117 small islands. While the rest of Italy receded into the Dark Ages Venice grew into a powerful and prosperous seafaring republic. Enduring one thousand years the republic at times teetered but did not fall until the arrival in 1797 of the forces of Napoleon, who personally never saw the place.

For most of its long history the only entrance to the city was by sea and transport was through its 150 canals. Train service was initiated in the 1860s and the auto causeway completed in 1933. Both take you only as far as Piazzale Roma from where you have the choice of entering via water taxi or by crossing a pedestrian bridge into the maze of winding alleys and additional 400 bridges

Afternoon arrivals to the luxury Hotel Bauer Palazzo (two nights) a short walk from Saint Mark’s Square. Your tour manager will be expecting you for a late afternoon welcome meeting and aperitifs at the rooftop hotel bar Settimo Cielo followed by an included dinner.

Day 2

Today begins with a local guide tour of St. Mark’s Square that includes the Doge’s Palace and the Basilica, the power and soul of the 1000 year maritime republic.  And after time on your own to get lost in the maze of Venetian alleys we’ll board our private boat for an exploration of the Venetian Lagoon.

Our first stop is Torcello – in ancient times a summer retreat for the Roman nobility; during the 5th and 6th centuries one of the first refuges from the barbarian invasions; and in medieval times a productive and powerful center of commerce. What remains today is a quiet fisherman’s port, archeological remains, a 7th century cathedral and a fabulous restaurant where we’ll experience a delightful array of Venetian specialties accompanied by Bellini and Prosecco.

A short distance away we’ll visit the island of beautiful Burano, known for its colorful homes and the production of handmade merletti (lace).

Cruising through the Grand Canal with tales of historical palaces and ancient intrigues will conclude our first full day on tour.

Evening free in Venice

Day 3

Padova, an ancient Roman town, has a long and rich history. It is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities (1221), counting among its illustrious alumni Petrarch, Dante and Galileo, and was the setting for Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. This morning we’ll have a guided city walking tour highlighted by a visit to the Scrovegni Chapel with the extraordinary early 14th century frescoes of Giotto.

Verona, one of Italy’s most magnificent and picturesque cities, is situated on the looping Adige River and boasts wide pedestrian lanes and squares, elegant shops and cafés. Roman origins are amply demonstrated by the ancient forum, theater and famous amphitheater – one of the best preserved of antiquity and now hosting a vibrant summer season of opera. Verona’s rich medieval heritage, immortalized by Shakespeare, attracts romantics from all over the world seeking traces of the star-crossed Romeo and Juliet.

Our lodging for three nights will be the Hotel Due Torri, a lovely 14th century palazzo in the center of town.

Included dinner

Day 4

In the 13th century after a period of feuding and vendettas, not unlike that of the fictional Montagues and Capulets, one family rose to power, the della Scala. They greatly expanded the power and territory of Verona, hosted Dante in exile and were patrons of the arts. Towards the end of their reign, as the populace grew tired of their increasing tyranny, Cangrande II (big dog junior) erected an enormous castle with an escape-route bridge across the Adige river.

Our morning will commence with a visit to this Scaligero Bridge and Castelvecchio, also home to the Civic Museum.  Our guided tour of the historic district including the famous Arena, the ancient Roman amphitheater, will follow. Afterwards we’ll leave you to your own explorations of this most pleasing town. Your included Verona card will provide you entrance to many other interesting sites and museums.

Evening free in Verona

Day 5

From the 15th to the 18th centuries, thousands of luxurious villas and gardens were built as summer homes throughout the Veneto by wealthy Venetians. We’ll begin this morning with a guided tour of Villa Valmarana ai Nani and the sublime frescoes of Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo.

For the rest of the day we’ll occupy ourselves with the works of one of the most important architects of this or any era, Andrea Palladio, the master of harmony and proportion. A five minute walk will bring us to the Villa La Rotonda, his best known creation, where we’ll have a private tour of the interior and gardens.

The afternoon will find us in sparkling Vicenza, the city of Palladio, highlighted by the Teatro Olimpico, the oldest working indoor theater in the world (1580) and one of the marvels of the Renaissance.

Evening free in Verona

Day 6

Lake Garda, the largest in Italy, is where we’ll spend our morning. After a cappuccino stop in the village of Malcesine we’ll board a ferry for a cruise that will take us across the lake, past the village of Limone and north up to Riva del Garda for a leisurely lunch in the scenic port.

The Adige River, the second longest in Italy, has its source in the alpine areas near the borders of Austria and Switzerland, flows south through Verona, then east to the Adriatic sea. The river gives its name to the Alto-Adige, a bilingual province also known as Südtirol, which up until the end of WWI was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With the majestic Dolomite mountains in the background, its fertile valleys are prolific producers of fruit, wine and cheeses.

Bolzano, the provincial capital, will be our host for three nights, staying at the centennial Park Hotel Laurin. This evening at our included dinner we’ll have a taste of Austro/Italian cuisine.

Day 7

It’s difficult to imagine a more delightful city than Bolzano, with its wonderful architecture, pedestrian lanes, market squares, parks, rivers and flowers. Our day begins with a local guide tour of the town and its unique history as the most important trading center between northern and southern Europe.

Afterwards we’ll visit the medieval Castel Roncolo with its excellent cycle of frescoes on the story of Tristan and Isolde.

Late afternoon we have a fascinating appointment at the South Tyrol Archaeological Museum to see Otzi, the 5,000 year old Iceman – the discovery of his frozen mummy and artifacts in 1991 revolutionized the knowledge of our human past.

Evening free in Bolzano

Day 8

The Renon, the high plateau above Bolzano, is a beautiful area of sunny meadows and farmhouses where 97% of the population is German speaking. To arrive there we’ll ascend 3,000 feet on a 12 minute cable car ride; travel 30 minutes in a 1907 vintage narrow gauge train; and take an easy walk with our local guide to hear stories of the Teutonic Knights and to see the earth pyramids, a rare geological formation; enjoy wonderful views of the Dolomite mountain peaks followed by a stop for lunch and a delicious local treat kaiserschmarren.

Afternoon and evening free in Bolzano to enjoy a truly unique experience of Italy.

Day 9

This morning we’ll take the Dolomite panoramic route back to the Veneto. But before leaving the Alto Adige we’ll have a cappuccino stop in the mountain hamlet of Moena, 3,900 ft above sea level.

Italy has no end of beautiful towns and we’re about to discover another. Situated on the Piave River with the Dolomite Mountains as backdrop, Belluno has a lively pedestrian center with Venetian architecture and excellent trattorias. (Try the polenta and montasio cheese filled ravioli with black truffles!)

Follina is a charming village, well known for its position along the Strada del Prosecco and for its beautiful 12th century abbey. The lodging for our three nights’ stay is the Hotel Villa Abbazia, a 17th century complex containing sixteen rooms.

Included dinner

Day 10

Prosecco is a “ready to drink” sparkling wine made from the glera grape, fermented in autoclave (tanks) rather than bottles. The Prosecco DOCG (superior) region lies in between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. Our day begins in Follina with a visit to the Abbey of Santa Maria followed by a tour of a local winery where we’ll taste their Brut, Extra Dry and Dry versions of Prosecco. After a light lunch we’ll take a scenic drive through lush, vineyard covered hills to reach Conegliano where our guide will lead us on an exploration of the town. On our return to the hotel we’ll visit another winery in the Conegliano hills.

Evening free in Follina

Day 11

Guided visit to Villa Barbaro di Maser, a medieval palazzo transformed into a country villa designed by Palladio, decorated with a cycle of frescoes, the master-work of Paolo Veronese.

Asolo, a small hill town that has been home to artists and poets over the centuries, is an enchanting place where, according to some, time slows and the inhabitants live in a perpetual state of spring fever. The truth of this you will attest to yourself but its beauty and charm are undeniable.

Antonio Canova (1757-1822), one of the most accomplished sculptors of all time, was a native of Possagno, just six miles from Asolo. The Canova museum includes his birth home and the gipsoteca, a splendid collection of all of his works in gypsum, the material he used after modeling in clay and prior to sculpting in marble. We’ll also visit his Tempio Canoviano, the neo-classical temple that became his ultimate resting place.

For our farewell dinner we’ll dine at Villa Abbazia’s Michelin starred restaurant.

Day 12

Morning transfers to Venice Marco Polo airport and Venice Mestre train station

DATES & PRICES

Starts Ends Price Status Book
25/09/201906/10/2019$7,300 p/p twin shareFully Booked
30/09/202011/10/2020$7,300 p/p twin shareAvailable
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Exclusions

Single supplement (is available if required)
Optional excursions/sightseeing
Meals and beverages other than those specified
Tips/Gratuities
Everything which is not clearly specified under inclusions