The Heart of Italy

Tauck Heart of Italy - 1440

Travels off beaten paths experience an Italy most visitors seldom see, behind the scenes in three of its most beguiling cities. In Venice, at a glassblower’s studio in Murano, unlocking the ancient secrets of Venetian glass, finding masterpieces in the bohemian backstreets of San Polo, lunching with a contessa at her private palazzo, and viewing Baroque villas that line the Brenta Canal. On a Florence tour, get a rare look at Renaissance art restoration, wine and dine at a hilltop fortress that shelters the wine cellars of the Frescobaldi family (vintners since the 14th century), visit the palazzo of a concert pianist in the heart of the city for an intimate evening of music, aperitifs, and an insider’s look at local history and politics. In Rome, wind your way around the tourist crowds to Trastevere (a medieval town within the city) for a walking tour of an open-air food market with a food & wine expert followed by a cooking demonstration on Roman cuisine, and a visit to the Vatican Museum, off-hours, including halls and rooms seldom open to the public.

Discover Rome, Florence, Venice the Culturious way, close and personal, outside the lines.

 

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MEMBER BENEFIT**

  • $75 savings off the purchase of Tauck international coach class air -or-
  • $300 savings off the purchase of Tauck international business class air

 

INCLUSIONS

  • All small group departures, averaging 21 guests 
  • A private demonstration by a cutting edge glassblower in Murano
  • Lunch with a contessa at her family’s private Venetian palazzo
  • A private wine-pairing dinner at the Frescobaldi family vineyards in Chianti Rufina
  • An exclusive behind-the-scenes look at art restoration at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence
  • Private aperitivo & recital at the Palazzo Bargellini in Florence
  • A  drive amongst stunning villas from Venice to Padua & to see Giotto’s masterful art at Scrovegni Chapel
  • An after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel, including rooms seldom open to the public
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure
  • 15 meals, service charges, gratuities to local guides and drivers, admissions, taxes and porterage

 

ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrive Venice

Tour begins: 3:00 PM, The Bauer Venezia. A transfer from Marco Polo Airport (or the Santa Lucia Train Station) is included to The Bauer Venezia, your five-star hotel just off the Grand Canal, steps from San Marco Square; a popular spot in Venice, it’s eclectic – a 1940s façade in a Baroque square, with an Art Deco interior! First up is a visit to St. Mark’s Basilica, followed by a short orientation walk. A welcome reception at your chic hotel precedes dinner tonight at a local restaurant as your Venice, Rome and Florence tour begins!

Meals: Dinner
Hotel: The Bauer Venezia

 

Day 2: Glass art of Murano and more

The little island of Murano in the Lagoon was once the premier glassmaker in all of Europe, its exquisite productions so prized that its artisans were forbidden by law to leave the city or share their secrets. Today, one of the island’s world-renowned artists shares his skills with you at his studio, where you may even be invited to lend a hand in binding, elongating, slicing or shaping semi-liquid glass into dazzling objects of light and color. Next up in your off-the-beaten-path day is the bohemian neighborhood of San Polo, where a church known as the Frari harbors a breathtaking altarpiece by Titian, The Assumption of The Virgin. How about a little lunch with a contessa at her palazzo – followed by a serenaded gondola ride, a Venetian classic – before returning to the hotel for a free afternoon and evening to explore as you please?

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Hotel: The Bauer Venezia

 

Day 3: The Renaissance by way of Padua

Today’s drive heads out along the Brenta Canal, built in the 16th century to connect the Venetian Republic with her inland “empire.” The city’s newly landed aristocracy lined the canal with magnificent villas – like La Malcontenta, designed by Andrea Palladio (called “unhappy” for the exiled wife who lived here); Mocenigo, now part of the University of Venice, and Villa Widman in the village of Mira Pointe. At Villa Pisani, commissioned by a patrician family in the 18th century and now a national museum, you’ll tour the sumptuous rooms, frescoes and gardens that have been called home by doges, kings and emperors. Continuing on to Padua for lunch, stop to visit the Scrovegni Chapel whose wall-to-wall frescoes are considered a masterpiece of Western art. From here the pace accelerates on a high-speed train to Florence, in First Class.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel: Hotel Santa Maria Novella

 

Day 4: Florence, the Uffizi & the Castello di Nipozzano

Discover your Florence surroundings on a morning walk: the green-and-white marble Renaissance façade of Basilica Santa Maria Novella and Signoria Square, the civil center of Florence and an open-air museum of sculptures. Next, immerse yourself in Renaissance masterpieces on a guided visit to the Uffizi Gallery, and explore the art of everyday Florentine life on your own. Then head out to the vineyards of Chianti Rufina and a hilltop castle fortress – the Castello di Nipozzano – that houses the wine cellars of the Frescobaldi family, vintners whose client-list included Michelangelo and Henry VIII. Tonight, “Exclusively Culturious” – a world-class wine and olive oil tasting followed by dinner and Frescobaldi wines, paired perfectly to each course.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Hotel: Hotel Santa Maria Novella

 

Day 5 Insider art, politics, and music in Firenze

Open to the Culturious only, Opificio delle Pietre Dure is today’s first stop. Once a workshop specializing in designs using pietre dure (hard stones like lapis lazuli and malachite) this prestigious institute, rarely open to the public, now specializes in art restoration. A former student who now specializes in ivory, explains the process of restoring works like Leonardo da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi – currently undergoing restoration here. After a free afternoon in Florence, join us at Palazzo Bargellini for a visit with concert pianist Gregorio Nardi and his wife Annagret; their welcome includes a tour – once the home of Nardi’s grandfather, a beloved former mayor of the city – a piano recital, conversation and an aperitivo before an evening spent as you please.

Meals: Breakfast
Hotel: Hotel Santa Maria Novella

 

Day 6: Rome and the Vatican seldom seen

Travel by first-class rail to Rome; your hotel is set within the Via Giulia, located in the famous “Rione Regola”, built by the most inspired architects and artists of the Renaissance. The Pantheon beckons, as well as the colorful Piazza Navona. Drop in at the Church of San Luigi dei Franchesi for a look at rogue painter Caravaggio’s famous The Calling of Saint Matthew. Tonight it’s another Tauck Exclusive – an after-hours visit to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, including rooms not usually open to the public like the Gallery of Statues and the Cabinet of the Masks. No crowds, no hassles… just amazement.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Hotel: Hotel Indigo® Rome – St. George

 

Day 7: A true taste of Trastevere in Rome

A morning tour provides a broader look at Rome, from Via Veneto to monumental Piazza Venezia, with stops to view the Colosseum and Circus Maximus. Continue on to the Trastevere district, a medieval village within the city, and a fascinating escape from crowds. Visit the historic Basilica di Santa Maria, one of Rome’s oldest churches, with its gilded mosaics and coffered ceiling. Connect with the culture on a walking tour of an open-air food market with a food and wine expert followed by a cooking demonstration on Roman cuisine and lunch. As you enjoy antipasto, the chef demonstrates a mouth-watering pasta dish – for your enjoyment with seasonal wines, of course. After some free time, join us for a farewell reception in your hotel’s garden, followed by a farewell dinner on the hotel’s rooftop (weather permitting) overlooking the city of Rome… you are now an Italy “insider.”

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel: Hotel Indigo® Rome – St. George

 

Day 8: Journey Home

Tour ends: Rome. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Hotel Indigo® Rome – St. George to Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Fiumicino. You should allow three hours for check-in.

Meals: Breakfast

 

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*Tour prices are per person in U.S. dollars. All hotel accommodations, motor coach transportation, admissions, entertainment, special dinners, sightseeing, porterage, and the services of hotel and restaurant staff, local guides and drivers are included. International airfare is additional. Transportation from Venice’s Marco Polo Airport or Venezia Santa Lucia train station to the Bauer Palazzo in Venice is included, regardless of the time you check in to the hotel, provided you have furnished us with accurate flight or train arrival information at least three weeks prior to the start of your tour. Transportation from the Indigo St. George Hotel to Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) Airport, Ciampino Airport or Roma Termini train station is also included when you check out of the hotel. Transportation to and from airports and railway stations may be shared with other Tauck guests. 

**In the case where air through Tauck is not available to purchase, Tauck will provide a $50 per person allowance off the tour price.