~ NORTHERN ITALY TOUR ~

Extend your trip

Are you planning to spend more time in Italy before or after the tour? Italy has so many beautiful cities and regions, you might want to prolong your Italian journey, to include a few more amazing destinations!

If you’d like to explore on your own after your Northern Italy tour, we are happy to offer recommendations for things to do, places to stay, restaurants and directions.
Or, if you prefer, we will be your guides for an extension tour, tailored to your preferences. We love Italy and will be delighted to help you continue your exploration!


Here are some suggestions:

MILAN
Milan is Europe’s fashion capital, with many chic shops and boutiques, and is also Stefano’s hometown! Visit vintage shops, view street art, explore Milan’s canal district, and sample this city’s delicious cuisine. If you want to see l’ultima moda (the latest fashion), the beautiful Duomo di Milano Gothic Cathedral, or Leonardo’s Last Supper, add a couple of extra days to your journey. From Milan, by train, you can easily reach some well known tourist destinations:

  • Bologna: from 1 to 2 hours
  • Firenze: from 1.5 hours to 2 hours
  • Rome: from 3 to 6 hours
  • Venice: 2.5 hours
PADUA and VENICE
Add 5 wonderful days in Padua and Venice, designed as a post-Northern Italy extension tour

A New Adventure Begins!

From Sirmione, where our Northern Italy Tour ends, we will depart in the early morning for Padua, where we will stay for one night.
After we check in at the hotel, we will take a 15 minute stroll to the Scrovegni Chapel and meet Cinzia, our tour guide.
After the 30 /45 minute visit, we will take a short walk into the downtown area to have lunch at Caffé Pedrocchi, an elegant historical café founded in 1831 and visited by famous artists, politicians, and travelers for almost 200 years.Caffe Pedrocchi, PaduaIn the afternoon, Cinzia will show us Padua’s must-see sights, allowing us some free time before we return to the hotel.
We will dine at Michele and Gleda’s trattoria to enjoy traditional Venetian cuisine, prepared with local products.

PADUA

The picturesque city of Padua, is the economic capital of the Veneto region. Its historical center is the perfect fusion of medieval palaces, Renaissance buildings, cobbled streets, churches and modern architecture. Padua’s 800-year-old street market still thrives, bustling with locals and bursting with beautiful produce. Founded in the 10th century BC, Padua is considered the oldest city in Northern Italy and inspired Shakespeare, who set The Taming of the Shrew here. It is also home to the world’s fifth oldest university, which hosted Galileo as a lecturer. Padua was the wealthiest city in Italy outside of Rome at the end of the first century BC but was sacked and ravaged by the Magyars in 899. By the 12th century, after Padua had grown in power and had a well established government, a fire devastated the city. Again, during the early 13th century, the city prospered. During the next two centuries, Padua entered a period of extraordinary economic and cultural development, characterized by masterpieces like the wonderful frescoes by Giotto, the Basilica of Saint Anthony (photo below), and works by Andrea Mantegna and Donatello.Basilica di Sant'Antonio, Padua

CAPPELLA DEGLI SCROVEGNI

The Chapel degli Scrovegni was an annex to the Scrovegni family’s luxurious palace, built in the early 1300s, in the area on which a Roman arena had previously stood. Enrico Scrovegni wanted this chapel as the family's private oratory and also as a funerary monument for himself and his wife. The Chapel contains one of Giotto’s most important and complete series of fresco cycles, masterpieces that were considered innovative in the 14th century, because the figures are not stylized but have faces and gestures that were based on close observation. The frescoes cover the entire walls; the lower parts contain a series of allegories illustrating Vices and Virtues and, on the wall opposite the altar, Giotto's majestic Last Judgment.

A Fantastic Cruise on the Naviglio del Brenta

Today we will be sailing the Brenta canal down from Padua to Venice.
After breakfast, our driver will drive us to Villa Pisani for our first visit before boarding the Burchiello, a watercraft that will take us along the Riviera del Brenta with its marvelous villas overlooking the waterway.
Our next stop will be at Villa Widmann.
Lunch will be served at the Burchiello restaurant. Then we will visit the last villa en route, Villa Foscari, before sailing into the Venetian Lagoon, entering the Giudecca Canal and stop at St. Mark’s.
By foot or vaporetto (boat) we’ll get to our hotel where we will have time to freshen up before a short walk to our first dinner in Venice.

VILLA PISANI

Villa Pisani, more like a palace than a villa, is the grandest structure on the banks of the Riviera del Brenta, and was built at the beginning of the 18th century by the prestigious Venetian Pisani family. Giambattista Tiepolo, one of the great artists of the 18th century, painted the gorgeous frescoes of the dance hall, including the remarkable Glory of the Pisani family. The villa was home to Napoleon, who bought the house in 1807 for his stepson, as the Pisani family had lost their fortune because of gambling. Napoleon’s room, including his sumptuous four-poster bed, will be part of our tour in the Villa.Villa Pisani

VILLA WIDMANN

Built in the 17th century by the architect Tirali, this villa is considered one of the Venetian jewels of the late Baroque Period. The master house includes brightly colored frescoes painted by Giuseppe Angeli depicting the abduction of Elena and the sacrifice of Iphigenia. On the ceiling, a homage to the Widmann family is illustrated through characters of Greek mythology.The Villa is also home to one of the few remaining felze, the traditional cabin cover of the Venetian gondola.Villa Widmann

VILLA FOSCARI

Villa Foscari is one of the masterpieces of the architectural genius, Andrea Palladio. Built and currently owned by the Foscari family, this villa allegedly owes its nickname Malcontenta to the unhappy life of a lady of the Foscari family, Elisabetta, who was confined here in solitude for her last 30 years as punishment for her licentious conduct (in the 1800s). It seems that Venetians already called this area Malcontenta in the Middle Ages, with the meaning of “mal contenuta” (badly contained), referring to the frequently overflowing river. Villa Foscari stands on a tall base that gives a magnificence to the building, raised on a podium with columns resembling an ancient Greek temple with two flanking stairways, giving a monumental effect, yet using simple materials like brick and plaster. Villa Foscari Malcontenta

Venice, the Open-Sky Museum

After breakfast at the hotel we will meet our tour guide Paola, who will show us the most splendid sights in Venice: St Mark’s Basilica and its piazza, the Rialto Bridge and the Ducal Palace, all must-see places for first timers in Venice.

We will have lunch with Paola at a bacaro, a typical Venetian bar where locals often dine on the tasty cicchetti, finger food similar to tapas.  After lunch, we will visit lesser-known areas, like the Castello sestiere.
In the afternoon, you will have some free time to explore, shop or return to a spot you particularly liked.
Afterward, we’ll meet at the hotel and walk to our dinner venue, an osteria in the Dorsoduro sestiere.

VENICE

Although a popular destination for visitors, Venice still has some unbeaten paths and secret spots for us to visit! Of its six neighborhoods (sestieri), San Marco is the most well known with its stunning Piazza San Marco, St. Mark’s Basilica, and the Doge’s Palace but the lesser-known sestieri also have much to offer. Sestiere Dorsoduro, known for the painters and musicians who have resided in it, is also home to the Accademia, Venice’s most famous art gallery. Peggy Guggenheim’s palatial canalside home in Dorsoduro now showcases her art collection, with pieces by Dali, Duchamp, Picasso, Mondrian, and Kandinsky and the Church of San Sebastiano is famed for its cycle of paintings by Veronese, as well as paintings by Tintoretto and Titian. The island of Giudecca, to the south of Venice, is also included in the Dorsoduro district.

Cannaregio is another overlooked sestiere in the Northern part of Venice. This neighborhood, the birthplace of the painter Titian and the merchant traveller Marco Polo, is filled with Venetian daily life, cafés full of people taking their quick morning coffee on the way to work, children going to school and grocery shops along the sidewalks. We find here also the Jewish Ghetto, the Campo Santa Maria Nova and the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli. Castello, largest of the six sestieri of Venice, is almost untouched by the tourist crowds; here’s where to see old women gossiping between windows and children kicking soccer balls in piazzas. Its various areas are distinctive - like via Giuseppe Garibaldi with its floating markets and coffee shops, the Bridge of Sighs or the Venetian Arsenale, Venice’s ancient shipyard. This sestiere is renowned for its campos and churches: the Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Church of San Giorgio dei Greci, Scuola of San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, the Church of Sant' Elena. the Church of San Zaccaria (home to paintings by Giovanni Bellini, Tintoretto, Tiepolo, and Van Dyck), the richly-decorated Scuola Grande di San Marco, and the church and piazza of Santa Maria Formosa.

Lace and Glassblowing

After breakfast, we’ll board a vaporetto (boat) for a ride in the Venetian Lagoon.
First stop: Murano, where we will visit a glass foundry to watch a glassblowing demonstration.
Second stop: Mazzorbo island, we’ll visit a unique vineyard where the wine is produced using the autochthonous Dorona grape, known as the Golden Grape and loved by the Doges of Venice. Here we will enjoy a special wine tasting and lunch.
Mazzorbo
We will take a pleasant walk to cross a bridge and find ourselves in beautiful Burano island, known for its colorful houses and its lace work.
Third stop: Before heading back to Venice, we will visit Torcello, which was once the most prosperous settlement in the Venetian Lagoon and still holds an invaluable archaeological heritage.
We’ll return to the hotel to pack for tomorrow’s departure before our last dinner in Venice.

MURANO

Murano, well-known for the multi-century craftsmanship of glassmaking, is located northeast of Venice and is composed of seven islands linked by bridges. This tiny area became the center of the glassmaking industry in 1291, when it was decreed that the glassworks from Venice must be transferred to Murano, since their ovens were often responsible for disastrous fires. The glassmasters were obliged to live on the island and could not leave Venice without a special permit. However, glassblowers were granted the right to wear swords, enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the notoriously high-handed Venetian state, and their daughters were allowed to marry into Venice's blue-blooded families. Nowadays there are still about 250 glassworks in operation.

BURANO

Burano is filled with brightly-painted buildings, flowerpots with geraniums, and fishermen coming home with their catch of the day. For centuries, the brightly colored paint was used to designate where one family’s quarters ended and a neighbor’s began. It also made homes more visible in the fog or from the sea. Throughout the history of this region, it was necessary to ask a superintendent for permission to change the color of a house. In the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci visited Cyprus and returned with a fine lace cloth for the Duomo of Milan altar. Inspired by this lace, Burano women began making lace with needles and soon their lace was exported across Europe.Burano

TORCELLO

Torcello is one of the most tranquil islands to visit in the Venice area. Once the oldest and most prosperous settlement in the lagoon, it is now known for its marvelous Byzantine mosaics located in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell'Assunta. Built in 639, the Cathedral has a tall 11th century bell tower that dominates the skyline. There are still traces of Torcello’s prosperity - orchards and vineyards, as well as a glass workshop. At present less than 2 dozen people live in Torcello; much of the island is a nature reserve, accessible only on the walking paths.Torcello

A Last Surprising View of Venice!

We will pack and have breakfast before we departure to Milan… but today we still have time to explore Venice. You may choose to enjoy the city on your own or come with us to San Giorgio Maggiore, one of the islands of Venice, to visit the 16th century Benedictine church built between 1566 and 1610.
Here we will take the lift to the top of the bell tower for a splendid view of Venice.
We can enjoy lunch before meeting at the hotel where our driver will pick us up to take us to our hotel in Milano, for the last night of our journey before returning home.

SAN GIORGIO MAGGIORE

The island of San Giorgio Maggiore is the perfect, quiet place to enjoy the beauty of Venice. The patrician family Memmo donated this tiny island in front of St. Mark's Square in Venice to a Benedictine monk in 982. The Benedictine order built the monastery and the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore, a very beautiful structure, designed by the influential architect Andrea Palladio. Built shortly after the previous bell tower collapsed in 1774, the current tower was designed by Benedetto Buratti in a neo-classic style.San Giorgio MaggioreDuring the Napoleonic period, the monastery stopped its activities almost completely and the island became a military garrison. A dock was built equipped with two towers and service warehouses and established as a free port. Since 1951 the monastery and and the whole island have been restored and managed by the Giorgio Cini Foundation, which also built an open-air amphitheatre called Teatro Verde.


 


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