Tour description

The two major cities, Rome and Venice, are so unique from each other. If it weren’t for the Italians who spoke in the streets, you might think they were from different countries! Rome is vast and full of clues to its distinctly Roman history, with ancient monuments still standing proud and tall. Massive baroque piazzas throughout the city are the size of ball fields, even in its historic center. Venice is almost otherworldly, so the history and romance of Florence and Rome but a uniqueness that makes the city all its own. It’s the perfect place to fall in love, a city full of romantic canals and gondolas, bustling markets, grand piazzas, and local Venetian cuisine. 

On our small group tour, we will visit all these beautiful cities and more, covering the history, culinary delights, and culture that make Italy famous. Secret Italia will take you on a whirlwind tour of Italy you’ll never forget! 

 Read what our friends have to say about this fantastic tour over on Tripadvisor.

HIGHLIGHTS & INCLUSIONS: 12 DAYS/11 NIGHTS

Highlights

  • Visit popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Visit the lace and glass museum.
  • Cable car ride into the Italian Alps
  • Enjoy a sunset gondola ride.
  • Create a masterpiece in a hands-on cooking class
  • City tours of Venice, Burano, Murano & Padua, and more

Included

  • Small group tour of 12-14 participants
  • Knowledgeable English-speaking tour director
  • Entrance fees for all sites
  • Tour transportation in a private air-conditioned motor coach
  • Local guides in the outlined cities and towns
  • Hotel city and service taxes at all accommodations and restaurants are included
  • Transfers to Turin Airport at scheduled times
  • Baggage transfers and porters are included
  • All breakfasts, five lunches, and three dinners are covered. Main meals include wine, mineral water, espresso, or tea.
  • Activity level: Light/Moderate
  • Terms & Conditions/single supplement and FAQ

Not Included

  • Travel insurance and visa fees/Trip Interruption & Cancellation Insurance
  • Any charges for extras not listed in the itinerary
  • Room services, telephone charges, laundry fees
  • Gratuities are given to the tour director and local driver
  • Single room supplement
DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARY

Day 1: Welcome to the Romantic City of Venice!

Welcome to Italy & the romantic city of Venezia. Your driver will be waiting to pick you up at Venice airport and will drive you to your centrally located hotel. Depending on your arrival time, you’ll have some time to get settled or take a walk around the city. At 18.00, you’ll meet your tour director and the rest of the group members in the hotel lobby for a welcome drink followed by dinner in a local Italian restaurant.

Meals: Breakfast and lunch on your own, dinner included

Accommodation: Overnight in Venice, Palazzo Paruta” or Hotel Al Codeca 

Day 2: Shining Stars of Venice & a Sunset Gondola Ride

We’ll start our first day in Venice by visiting the bustling Rialto Market, stopping for mid-morning cicchetti (bar snack) and prosecco in one of the market’s wine bars. Afterward, we’ll peruse the delicious fruits and vegetables in the market and take a private boat along the Grand Canal to reach the neighborhood of San Marco with its majestic Basilica at the center. The Basilica boasts a Byzantine mosaic rendition of scenes from the life of Christ as well as a stunning Treasury, home to jewels and Byzantine and Islamic art from the Crusades. , you’ll head to the adjacent Palazzo Ducale to see paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese and a glimpse of the opulent Doge’s restored apartments. After time on your own for lunch, we’ll explore the district of San Polo, Venice’s smallest neighborhood, before heading to the magnificent Gothic Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari to see the Titan’s glorious Assumption of the Virgin. In the evening, we’ll gather together for a romantic sunset Gondola ride through the canals. 

Meals: Breakfast included, lunch and dinner on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Venice, Palazzo Paruta” or Hotel Al Codeca 

Day 3: Explore the Colorful Murano & Burano

Today, our journey begins with a private boat ride along the Venetian Lagoon to two islands famous for their handicrafts and architecture. Much like Venice, Murano is a cluster of small islands full of colorful homes and shops, all connected by bridges. Historically, Murano has been the center of the glassmaking industry, which was first established in 1291. We’ll explore the island on foot to visit a museum dedicated to the art of glassmaking, and you’ll get to watch skilled glassblowers working in their element. You’ll also visit some of Murano’s famous palaces and Veneto-Byzantine style churches, some with mosaics and ornamental motifs designed in the 12th century. After enjoying lunch together in a local restaurant, you will then continue to Burano. This nearby island is well known for its canals lined with brightly painted houses that add life to the little town. Here, we’ll browse local lace shops and visit the museum dedicated to the craft of lace making. Before heading back, we’ll enjoy an aperitif in a cafe on the canal with the perfect view of the vibrant houses that characterize this lovely island town. We’ll return by private chartered boat to Venice for free time in the city. 

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Venice, Palazzo Paruta or Hotel Al Codeca 

Day 4: Passionate Padua & the Vibrant Lake Garda

Our tour begins today with a trip to discover the ancient Roman town of Padova. This alluring and historic town has a long and rich history and is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities. The university’s world-famous alumni include Petrarch, Dante, and Galileo, and the university was also 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 its magnificent early 14th-century frescoes of Giotto. We then continue our drive towards the lake town of Sirmione, where you’ll have some time in the early afternoon for your leisure to shop, enjoy a coffee, or stroll the narrow streets. We recommend visiting Catullo Caves, the nearby ruins of a historical villa, or Scaligero Castle. We will reconvene in the late afternoon to depart for the elegant city of Rival Del Garda, where we will stay for the next three nights. 

Meals: Breakfast included, lunch and dinner on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Riva Del Garda, Grand Hotel Liberty” or similar

Day 5: Pearls of Lake Garda-Limone and Malcesine

Our day starts with a private boat tour to discover the popular medieval towns of Malcesine and Limone sul Garda. Malcesine is nestled between lake and mountain with direct access up to the Monte Baldo range. Its most prominent landmark is the 13th century Castello Scaligero (Scaliger Castle), which offers spectacular views down onto the opposite shore. Famous for its lemon groves and old village charm, Limone sits on a tiny harbor framed by mountains and greenery. Enjoy walks along the lake or more challenging hikes in the mountains. Return to Riva del Garda for time at leisure.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner included, lunch on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Riva Del Garda, Grand Hotel Liberty” or similar

Day 6: Cook Like a True Italian & Explore Riva Del Garda

Today, we will begin our adventure with a hands-on cooking class led by an Italian chef. This is an excellent opportunity to learn new cooking skills to bring home and impress your friends and family. Afterward, we’ll enjoy the fruit of our labor and have a delicious lunch together.  You’ll have this afternoon to explore the stunning lakeside town of Riva Del Garda on your own. You might like to relax by the hotel’s patio with a breathtaking view of the Alps & Lake, read a book on the beach, or go into town for some great shopping in a local boutique. Riva del Garda belonged to Austria until 1918, so you will notice an Austrian influence in the language and cuisine of this region. Locals say danke as well as grazie as a sign of thanks, and many restaurants serve schnitzel and sausages, and apple strudel rather than tiramisu. We highly recommend visiting some of the main attractions in the town, like the Rocca fortress and the 13th-century Torre Apponale tower. 

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Riva Del Garda, Grand Hotel Liberty” or similar

Day 7: The Majestic Dolomites & The Alpine Village of Ortisei

Our tour today focuses on the awe-inspiring views of one of the most beautiful areas in the Italian Alps: the Dolomites. Our spectacular drive will wow and amaze you as we weave our way through the scenery and charming mountainous Alpine villages such as Canazei and Ortisei. We’ll stop for a group lunch with typical South Tyrolean specialties, including grilled sausage, mushrooms, cheese, beef stew, and polenta.  After lunch, we’ll continue to the Passo Pordoi, which is called “La Terrazza delle Dolomiti” (the terrace of the Dolomites). Here, you can test your bravery and ride on the suspension car that lifts you high above the clouds to view the most important peaks in the Alps and the famous Marmolada Glacier. Feel on top of the world as you ride high above the villages below into the Italian Alps. In the early evening, we’ll drive to the quaint town of Bolzano for the next three nights.

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Bolzano, Hotel Stadt or similar

Day 8: Italy & Austria Come Together in Bolzano

This morning, we’ll meet our local guide to explore the charming streets of Bolzano. Once voted Italy’s most livable city, you’ll notice that the Tyrolean culture dominates Bolzano’s language, food, architecture, and people. It can be hard to remember that you are in Italy and not Austria when walking with our local guide along the city’s cobblestone streets. You can spot some truly unusual architecture from the quaint winding streets, a distinct blend of Austrian and Italian influence. Take in some of the local culture as our guide shares the tales and history of the city. We’ll also enjoy a visit to see the fascinating Iceman, located at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology. Nicknamed Ötzi, this mummy lived during the copper age in the Alps. Afterward, we’ll visit the medieval Castel Roncolo, which has beautiful frescoes that feature the stories of Tristan and Isolde.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner included, lunch on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Bolzano, Hotel Stadt or similar

Day 9: Historic Cable Car Ride in South Tyrol

The Renon, the high plateau above Bolzano, is an expansive field of sunny meadows and farmhouses as far as the eye can see. You’ll be surprised to find that about  97% of the population is German-speaking, showcasing the diverse culture of this landscape. We’ll ascend the t3,000 ft high plateau on a 12-minute cable car ride, taking approximately 30 minutes to reach the top in a 1907 vintage narrow gauge train. At the top, we’ll take an easy walk with our local guide to hear stories about the Teutonic Knights and see the earth pyramids, a rare geological formation. Marvel at the wonderful views of the Dolomite mountain peaks, followed by a stop for lunch and a delicious local treat, kaiserschmarren. This lightly sweet and fluffy shredded pancake is a staple treat in this region, originating from the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. You’ll have the rest of the day free in Bolzano to enjoy a truly unique experience of Italy.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner included, lunch on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Bolzano, Hotel Stadt or similar

Day 10: Charming Bressanone, Novacella Abbey & Funes Valley

After an early breakfast, you’ll meet your guide for a drive to the charming town of Bressanone. The town is situated on the rivers of Eisack and Rienz and has a rich and ancient history going back thousands of years, being the oldest town in the South Tyrol region. Your guide will show you around the mediaeval centre and will teach you about the significance of the 18th-century Baroque churches and historic castle, the gems of the town. You’ll get to explore the lively squares found throughout the town, including the picturesque pastel-coloured buildings at Piazza Duomo and Piazza Parrocchi. Wander through the labyrinth of narrow streets filled with shops, Italian gelaterias, and charming hidden courtyards. After our walking tour, the next stop is the magnificent Novacella Abbey, an ancient Augustinian Canons’ Monastery of Novacella founded in 1142. The picturesque abbey is set amongst vineyards and landscaped gardens that we can explore. Spend some time visiting the ornate church and strolling around the abbey’s community gardens, where vegetables, fruit, and medicinal herbs are grown. You won’t want to miss the strikingly decorated ceilings in the chapel! Enjoy a visit to a unique feature of this abbey, the wine cellar. They store the 70% white and 30% red wine produced here since the 12th century. On the way back, we’ll drive through the peaceful and fairytale-like Funes Valley, bordered by the Odle Mountains. Don’t forget to look up at the towering Odle Massif peak as we pass through the valley on the way back to Bolzano.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner included, lunch on your own.

Accommodation: Overnight in Bolzano, Hotel Stadt or similar

Day 11: Trento, Asolo and Prosecco

Departing Bolzano we take the long way to Venice, stopping first at the lovely hilltop town of Asolo. The town’s rich history includes its gifting to the former Queen of Cyprus, Caterina Cornaro, by the Republic of Venice in 1489 but it later found fame as the home of artists and writers including Robert Browning and Dame Freya Stark, the indomitable travel writer whose villa, complete with Roman remains, we visit. Continuing on to Maser, we stop for a light lunch complemented by a glass of Prosecco, the lightly sparkling wine produced in the region. We also visit Palladio’s elegant Villa Barbaro, decorated with stunning frescoes by Veronese, before continuing to our hotel in Venice.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner included, lunch on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Venice

Day 12: Arrivederci Italia 

Today, private transfers will be provided to Venice airport or train station. If you choose to continue exploring Italy, we recommend trying our small group tour of Sicily or the Amalfi Coast.

TOUR DATES & PRICING

2025 TOUR PRICE: € 5,300    SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: € 1,200    currency converter

Prices are per person based on double room occupancy for 12 days/11 nights

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