Splendours of Northern Italy, Venice, Florence & Rome
Venice, which was founded in the sixth century, controlled all European trade with the East during the Middle Ages. Local guides will lead you through hidden alleys where tourists rarely go to the Piazza San Marco and the Doge’s Palace, which is brimming with artistic treasures. The tour concludes at Rialto Bridge; stay in the city and explore on your own, or return to the ship. Cap off your day with a most memorable experience: an exclusive, crowd-free visit to spectacular St. Mark’s Basilica. In the evening enjoy a Captains Welcome Reception and Gala Dinner. (BB, L, WD)
Note: It is not always possible to arrange after-hour visits to St. Mark’s Basilica. If religious functions or festivities are taking place in the evening, we will visit during regular hours.
Enjoy magnificent farewell views of “The Floating City’s” grandest sites as your ship departs Venice for Chioggia. In the afternoon, you will be driven to the Medieval walled city of Padua, one of Italy’s oldest towns and home to one of the oldest universities in the world. Here, many notable scholars sought academic freedom, including Galileo and Copernicus, and two of Italy’s most famous writers, Dante and Petrarch, were students. Join your local guide on a walking tour of Padua through ancient arcades and porticos to Palazzo della Ragione, Padua’s historic city center, and then visit the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua. Later in the evening, reboard your ship and sail to Polesella. (BB, L, D)
Spend the whole day in Bologna, called la grassa, meaning bountiful. Its portico-lined streets are home to the oldest university in Europe. But does it really have the best food in Northern Italy? You be the judge. There’s more to the city than Bolognese sauce, that’s for sure—there’s Parma ham, parmesan cheese, and perhaps the best tortellini in the world, all on lavish display in the amazing food markets. Join a pasta-making workshop and learn how to create your own fabulous pasta. Or spend a half day in Ferrara, one of Italy’s best-kept secrets, where you’ll discover how the city became an artistic hub for the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, and Petrarch, among others. (BB, L, D)
Ravenna, a vital seaport and Italian capital of the Byzantine Empire, is celebrated for the fifth- and sixth-century mosaics that adorn its churches. You will see the UNESCO-designated Basilica di Sant’Apollinare and the mausoleum of Galla Placidia. The buildings are sheathed in spectacular mosaics. Spend the afternoon rambling through the lovely historic downtown on your own and enjoy an artisinal foods tasting, or enjoy the morning at leisure onboard your floating hotel as your ship sails from Polesella to Taglio di Po. Today, you’ll visit Porto Levante, which is located south of Venice on the Northern Adriatic Sea. This is the perfect place to relax and unwind as you take in the beauty of the Po Delta Nature Reserve with 2 million trees of 150 different species. Be treated to a delicious seafood lunch. Later in the afternoon, reboard your ship in Chioggia and sail to Venice. (BB, L, D)
Shakespeare endowed Verona with enduring fame when he wrote of two star-crossed lovers, but Verona has been an important city in Northern Italy for 2,000 years. Though Juliette and her Romeo are Verona’s best-known pair, Verona’s best-known landmark is the pink-marble-sheathed Roman arena, where many of today’s famous composers, musicians, and opera singers still perform. Savor the magic of Verona and get swept away in its romance. (BB, D)
See Venice like a local during a walking tour of the Dorsoduro district and the Rialto, the city’s historic core. Visit the markets and indulge in a Venetian aperitivo. Or, if you didn’t join the arts center visit on day one, you can do so today. See master glassblowers and lace makers, arts for which Venice is renowned. During the afternoon, sail through the scenic Venice Lagoon. In the evening enjoy a Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner. (BB, L, FD)
Today you travel to Florence; en route, enjoy lunch in the Tuscan countryside. The birthplace of Italy’s national poet, Dante Alighieri, and of the Renaissance, Florence offers innumerable artistic treasures. The city rose to prominence under the Medici family in the 14th century. The Medicis were the greatest patrons of art in Europe, employing Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Titian, and Fra Angelico, many of whose works you’ll see today. (BB, L)
Travel by foot to get a close-up view of some of the city’s most glorious sights: Florence Cathedral, the Piazza della Signoria, and the Piazza della Repubblica. From the banks of the Arno, take in views of Pitti Palace and the Ponte Vecchio. (BB, D)
Travel via motor coach through the breathtaking Tuscan countryside to Rome. Stop en route for a homemade lunch and wine tasting at Castello di Verrazzano, a gorgeous estate in Chianti country. (BB, L)
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Rome in European history, a historical fact you’ll discover on today’s tour which includes: St. Peter’s Basilica, the Arch of Titus, the Villa Borghese, and the Coliseum. Or “Do as the Locals Do” and walk the heart of Rome, seeing the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, and the Trevi Fountain. (BB, D)
Spend the morning on a tour of the Vatican museums, ending at the Sistine Chapel, with its spectacular ceiling frescoes by Michelangelo. (BB, L)
Note: Order of sightseeing may change throughout the itinerary. Substitute visits to other sites may occur during your trip due to water levels or other uncontrollable factors.