The great maritime Republic of Venice was once the Italian capital of trading, art and finance, and today it’s one of the world’s most alluring destinations.

Prepare to be enchanted by the watery topography of Venice: the city is comprised of 117 islands floating in the Venetian Lagoon! We’ll explore the legendary art and opulent architecture of the City of Bridges, traverse its canals, ride the Vaporetto (water bus), meet lots of friendly locals and eat plenty of delicious food. Venice is an absolutely amazing place, and it’s no secret, so the city can have a reputation of being overrun with tourists. While at times we’ll feel a part of the crowd, we’ve taken care to arrange lots of special exclusive experiences and find the best local guides to make sure our group gets a real behind the scenes look at “The Queen of the Adriatic.”

Then let’s head inland to the foothills of the Alps, just over an hour north of the city, to spend two nights at a gorgeous villa hotel where we’ll enjoy cooking classes with a  Michelin-starred chef and also set out to sip some fizz at the wineries on the nearby “Prosecco Road,” the epicenter of Italy’s bubbly production. Yes, the Veneto region is as beguiling and special as it sounds, and we invite you to experience it with us!

Saturday, September 23—Welcome to Italy!

  • Settle in at an elegant hotel in the heart of Venice.
  • Take turns rowing a gondola through the city canals.

Bienvenido! Upon arrival at Venice’s Marco Polo Airport your Onward Travel guide, Kat, will be waiting to meet you. Get all your things and we’ll set out on the water taxi, into the heart of Venice. There are no cars in Venice, the canals serve as streets for this floating metropolis composed of 118 small islands.

We’ll enjoy a casual welcome lunch together and then check in to Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo. Our home for the next five nights is this elegant and comfortable residence, tucked into a quiet neighborhood just far away enough from the tourist center of Venice to provide much needed relief from the crowds there yet still in the heart of the city and convenient to everything we’ll want to do. Expect old world, Venetian style opulence – 18th century furnishings, grand beds and Murano glasswork adorn the rooms.

Later this afternoon we’ll enjoy getting to know Venice in the best possible way – from the water. We’ll bring along some local wine and enjoy the opportunity to get our bodies moving a little bit after the long journery here – because this isn’t just a sightseeing tour, it’s also a chance to learn to row Venice’s famous gondola boats ourselves. After we’ve experienced some of the sights and sounds of Venezia, it’s time to relax and experience the amazing flavors – particularly the fresh seafood that abounds here. Dinner tonight will be at a delicious canal-side restaurant in the Canareggio neighborhood, the historic Jewish ghetto of the city, that has become one of its most energetic and exciting neighborhoods.

Sunday, September 24—Venetian Immersion

  • Get to know Venice from a local’s perspective.
  • Tour one of the world’s best art private collections.

Enjoy a delightful breakfast at the hotel this morning as you will each day of the trip. Put on your walking shoes and bring your sense of humor, Venice has a reputation for being a bit touristy and today we’re joining the masses to experience the can’t miss sights with a charming local guide. We’ll begin at the famous St. Mark’s Square, the former political centre of the Venetian Republic, containing many famous and beautiful buildings. The star of the square is St Mark’s Basilica, a 900 year old church complete with golden Byzantine and Medieval mosaics and an alluring architectural blend of east meets west. Our guide will lead us through the back streets, skirting the crowds, and teach us about the history of this magical city, culminating in a walk across Rialto Bridge, the oldest crossing of the splendid Grand Canal.

After our tour we’ll have a little downtime to relax over lunch or do some solo wandering. In the mid-afternoon we’ll hop on a Vaporetto (water bus) together and make our way to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection: one the most important museums in Italy for European and American art of the 20th century, located in Peggy Guggenheim’s former home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on the Grand Canal. Ms. Guggenheim was a New York heiress, prominent art collector, and lover of the good life who spent the last 30 years of her life in Venice. Her collection is as one of a kind as she was and it will be a real treat to enjoy it on a private guided tour.

Let’s continue to explore the opulent good life on offer here in Venice with aperitivo on the terrace at the next-level-luxurious Hotel Danieli. Take in the magnificent view of the Venice Lagoon as you sip on a spritz, a bellini, or a simply perfect glass of prosecco. Then we have a very special dinner tonight at a tiny Venetian supper club of sorts, a favorite among locals, where the husband-wife chef-manager duo will welcome us as friends for a truly memorable dining experience.

Monday, September 25—Into the Venetian Lagoon

  • Wander among the candy-colored houses on Burano Island.
  • Enjoy a progressive tasting dinner with a local foodie guide.

Today we will set out on a watery adventure, visiting two of Venice’s most iconic islands: Murano and Burano. Murano is the famous home of the Venice glass making tradition and we’ll enjoy a special private tour of the glass museum there. Then we’ll take the Vaperetto even farther out into the lagoon to visit Burano, with its pastel colored houses, tiny canals and many bridges it’s hard to imagine a more picturesque location. Enjoy time on your own for shopping and lunch.

Tonight half of our group will head out for a casual pizza and vino party at a pizzeria with an ancient courtyard. The other half will set out on a culinary expedition with a local foodie guide, for a progressive tasting dinner – you’ll visit five of the city’s “hidden gem” restaurants to taste the house specialty, along with a glass of wine, at each of them. Your fun friendly guide will teach you all about the culinary history and traditions of the Venetian isles.

Tuesday, September 26—Cucina Fun in the Kitchen

  • Tour iconic Rialto Market with a local chef and a sommelier.
  • Spend the day in an island villa learning to cook Venetian classics.

Roll up your sleeves today and get in the kitchen yourself… it’s time for an exciting Venetian cooking class. A local chef and a sommelier will meet us at the iconic Rialto Market to select fresh seafood and other ingredients. Then a private boat will whisk us off to a villa on Lido island, the famous Venetian beach destination, for an unforgettable cooking class experience. We’ll spend the whole day cooking in the villa where you can expect to learn all about the local culinary tradition with our friendly local chef instructor and then enjoy a delightful, elegant sit down meal with thoughtful wine pairings.

Wednesday, September 27—Churches and Cicheti

  • Learn all about the Venetian glass tradition, and maybe pick up a piece or two to take home with you.
  • Enjoy a casual pizza party in an ancient courtyard.

Our local guide will meet us again this morning at the hotel, and we’ll set out into the Venetian maze of canals, stately buidings and picturesque bridges to go deep into some of the city’s most interesting details. Today’s tour will focus on art, history and food… it doesn’t get better than that!

We will start with a visit to the Frari Church, the main Venetian Franciscan church possesses some absolute masterpieces of Venetian painting: Giovanni Bellini’s “Sacra Conversazione” (1488), Titian’s revolutionary “Assumption of the Virgin” (1516) , and his “Pala Pesaro”, still on their original altars. We’ll proceed  to the vast Campo Santa Margherita and through the Dorsoduro district we reach the Punta della Dogana and Salute Church. From the Salute we’ll cross the two most important bridges of Venice: Accademia and Rialto. When we reach the Rialto area we’ll stop in a nice osteria for a glass of wine and to taste some cicheti.

It’s your last afternoon in Venice. Find a place along the water to enjoy some wine, or get your shopping fix. This evening you’ll do the opposite activity from Monday night: half of the group will experience a progressive tasting dinner with a local foodie guide, and the other half will have a fun pizza party in an ancient courtyard pizzeria.

Thursday, September 28—Towards the Alps

  • Transfer to a villa hotel in the agricultural region north of Venice.
  • Roll up your sleeves for a class with a Michelin-starred chef.

After breakfast and a little free time in the morning for last minute souvenir shopping it’s time to bid Venice farewell… we’re off to the foothills of the Alps to the region where prosecco is produced, time moves a little slower, and everywhere you look is another beautiful vista.

We’ll stop on the way for a wonderful lunch at a country trattoria, and then check in at our regal villa hotel with an onsite restaurant run by a Michelin starred chef. Less than an hour and a half from Venice, Hotel Villa Abazzia feels worlds away. It’s time to relax and you’ll love the quirky, country elegant furnishings at this palatial hotel. Have a soak in the outdoor jacuzzi, or contact Onward to arrange a massage during your free time here.

Half of our group will have a very special hands on cooking class with the chef this afternoon. The other will set out to explore the “prosecco road,” a string of wineries where the delicious fizzy white wine is produced. We’ll visit two wineries today to see how prosecco is produced, meet the makers, and of course enjoy some bubbly!

This evening you’re on your own to relax and explore Follina, the historic hamlet where we’ll spend the next two nights. There are a number of nice little local restaurants here for you to enjoy.

Friday, September 29—Prosecco, Grazie!

  • Sip some fizz from the source on the scenic “Prosecco Road.”
  • Enjoy an elegant dinner of your own creations at the villa.

After a wonderful breakfast this morning you may enjoy walking the scenic country roads, a visit to the stunning 12th-century Follina Abbey right across from the hotel, or just sitting with a cup of tea and a good book in the hotel’s lovely drawing room.

In the afternoon we’ll swap activities from the day before – that means you’ll be rolling up your sleeves with a Michelin chef, or popping bubbly on the Prosecco Road. Tonight our whole group will dine together in the hotel’s luxurious dining room. And what will we feast upon? Our own cooking class creations! Delizioso!

Saturday, September 30—Farms of the Veneto

  • Visit an Italian cheese farm and check in to an Agriturismo.

After a leisurely morning we’re off again… This time stopping at a local cheese farm to learn about their process and of course taste some cheeses and enjoy lunch. Then we’ll continue on our way to our last hotel of the trip, Agriturismo Ca’Beatrice. Ca’Beatrice is an elegant, family run countryside hotel with its own gourmet restaurant. At only 2 kilometers from the airport with an on demand shuttle bus, our stay here will make departure convenient for everyone. Tonight we’ll enjoy a farewell feast at the on site restaurant where the homemade dishes will be a perfect accompaniment to the laughs and flowing wine.

Sunday, October 1—Arrivederci!

  • Head home with wonderful memories!

Transfers to VCE airport this morning are available from Ca’Beatrice, or continue your Italian journey with our Cinque Terre Extension, in which case private transportation will whisk you off to the Italian Riviera today. Contact Onward for more information. Andiamo!

  • $3,650 based on double occupancy.
  • Air travel is not included but Onward Travel is happy to assist.
  • Contact Kat with questions at 215.272.9968 or katerina@onwardtravel.co.