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Selected departures up to December 2016 & January to December 2017
Venice really is both genuinely unique and one of the most beautiful cities on earth. It has an amazing history, steeped in violence, intrigue and politics.
Venice really is one of the few cities on earth that genuinely can be called unique and when you arrive you will be staggered that every painting, TV programme or photograph you have ever seen of this wonderful place is telling the simple truth: Venice is one of the most beautiful cities on earth!
You cannot walk for more than a few minutes without admiring an amazing church, museum, swish restaurant or just a stunning view that can only be this wondrous city. It has a unique atmosphere too - from the bustle of St Mark’s Square, home to arguably the world’s most beautiful basilica to the quieter areas where time has stood still and you can enjoy an unhurried coffee in this most Italian of cities. It has an amazing history, steeped in violence, intrigue and politics. The first settlers were 5th century refugees fleeing Attila the Hun followed by domination by the Byzantine Empire. If a single act though was to define Venice as an independent state, it was the 9th century theft of the body of St Mark from Alexandria. Less than 100 years later the Venetian Empire, made immensely rich by its monopoly of trading networks with the Orient, dominated the eastern Mediterranean. With an unbroken series of ports stretching to the Black Sea, ship loads of wealth tumbled into the city with the silks, spices, porcelain and other exotic cargoes Europe’s aristocracy craved. Fortunes were made and Venice became the world’s wealthiest city for the next five hundred years with its rich merchants finding expression in the huge array of palaces, aristocratic mansions, churches and galleries you see today. The world’s finest artists and sculptors descended en masse, keen to divert some of this new wealth in their own direction, filling the city to bursting point with some of the finest art treasures ever created. Today the number of ‘must see’ churches alone is over fifty, whilst the Academia, full of Venetian Art contains nothing but masterpieces. Indeed Venice is almost Canaletto’s personal trademark whilst the San Rocco and San Giorgio degli Schiavoni are full of Tintoretto’s, Carpaccio’s and other priceless renaissance works. Venice today however, is so much more than art, monuments and buildings. It has a quieter side too; wander where your feet take you and lose yourself in the tangle of alleys within the delightful smaller parishes, discovering another Venice – that of the Venetians. Here are the traditional shops heaving with colourful fresh vegetables, children playing in the streets and the locals stopping to pass a few words in the street. This unique city awaits you.
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. The price includes return flights, four nights with breakfast, single rooms available at the relevant supplement, return transfers, sightseeing tour of Venice, timed entrance to St Mark’s Cathedral, entrance to the Doge’s Palace , sightseeing tour of undiscovered Venice, boat tour to Murano and glass-making demonstration, services of a Riviera tour Manager.
You should arrive at the airport to take your flight to Venice or Treviso. On arrival you will transfer to the central four-star Hotel Principe staying four nights with breakfast. The hotel is a tasteful conversion of three 16th century merchants’ houses situated on the Grand Canal. You enter into the classically designed lobby, featuring wood panelling and comfortable leather armchairs and continue through to the very good and typically Venetian restaurant. The bar is superb, with a wonderful terrace directly onto the canal, lined with flower-filled terracotta pots and is the ideal spot to rest your undoubtedly sore feet after the day’s sightseeing! The rooms themselves feature many antiques plus the amenities you would expect from a four-star hotel and of course everything is air-conditioned.
Venice, La Serenissima, really is unique in the truest sense of the word and this morning’s guided walking tour reveals many of the city’s most famous sights including the glorious Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s with its magnificently decorated Basilica and grandiose square, the legendary Bridge of Sighs plus a host of fascinating features. Next we have a ‘timed’ entrance to the incredible St Mark’s Basilica, final resting place of St Mark the Apostle with its interior for which there are not enough superlatives! Firstly the floor is made of beautifully coloured 12th century marble whilst the walls and vaulted ceiling are completely covered with an amazingly intricate 4,000 square metres of 13th century coloured mosaics. There is also superbly crafted treasure and artefacts you can visit too at a small extra charge. This is probably the world’s most opulent cathedral! Finally we have a visit to the Doge’s Palace, traditional home of Venice’s most important citizen the Doge, also effectively the city’s seat of government and crammed with yet more art treasures.
Every afternoon of this holiday is at leisure to explore as you wish, perhaps starting with a peaceful jaunt in a Venetian gondola on Venice’s backwaters or take the iconic Vaporetto water bus along the Grand Canal which teems with vessels of all sorts just as it has for centuries. For art lovers, visit Accademia, with its worldclass masterpieces, or the Guggenheim for modern art. The view from the top of the Campanile bell tower is unrivalled probably anywhere in the world or enjoy the resonating melodies at one of the numerous classical music concerts taking place throughout the city.
Away from the bustle though, is another equally fascinating Venice - endless quiet corners waiting to be discovered, washing stretched high across narrow canals between picturesque yet crumbling buildings, locals chatting in tiny bars and local shops dotted here and there. It is remarkable how close these wonderful quarters of the city are to the classic ‘sights’. This morning we take a tour of the city’s undiscovered face. We see the old Jewish quarter – the original ‘ghetto’ now wonderfully restored, the house of Tintoretto and where Marco Polo used to live, plus much more. Your guide will enhance the tour with anecdotes and stories bringing the city of the more humble Venetians to life before ending at the traditional Rialto market. You could round the morning off with a leisurely lunch in one of the charming cafés and restaurants of all styles – perhaps al fresco in one of the delightful piazzas to be found everywhere in this fascinating city – the choice is yours.
This morning commences with a boat ride across the lagoon to the smaller island of Murano, famed across the world for its exquisite coloured glass, produced here for centuries. The glassblower’s skill is just mesmerising and we see a demonstration of this ancient art. Each artisan has their own individual style with some making jewellery, others vases, bowls and some even complete chandeliers. The beautiful colours, intricate and imaginative design is quite outstanding. After this captivating display you are free to explore the rest of the island as you please. Murano is far quieter than Venice itself and is representative of how the city was decades ago, or should you wish you can return to Venice.
Today at the appropriate time, you will transfer to the airport for your return flight home.
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