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Hidden Treasures of Venice and the Veneto

April 3-8 2018

Enjoy 5-star luxury in one of Venice's most beautiful and historic hotels, whilst exploring many of the city's artistic treasures, including private openings and visits to palaces and gardens which are not open to the public.

Please note: this tour is now fully booked but let us know if you would like to join a waiting list in case of any cancellations

We are delighted to have secured a number of rooms at the award-winning Ca' Sagredo, a luxurious 5-star hotel which looks out majestically onto the Grand Canal. The building is a 15th century palazzo which was acquired by the prestigious Sagredo family who were responsible for its grand refurbishment in the 18th century, employing some of the greatest architects and artists of the day including Pietro Longhi and Giambattista Tiepolo. The building has been declared a National Monument and its exquisite recent renovation preserves the untouched beauty of an ancient noble residence whilst providing all the comforts required from a modern hotel. We will enjoy a private dinner with music in its magnificent ballroom, as well as an aperitif one evening in the palace's portego on the piano nobile, decorated with beautiful 18th century landscapes and overlooking the Grand Canal.

This holiday will be of particular interest to those who may have already visited the city or joined our previous tours to Venice, since it includes a number of visits to private palaces, gardens and collections which are not open to the public, as well as private out-of-hours visits such as a special evening tour of the Basilica of San Marco when we will be able to enjoy its magnificent mosaics outside normal opening hours, after all the crowds have departed.

We will explore many “off the beaten track” elements of the city alongside many well-loved favourites.  For example, we discover a number of lesser-known churches as well as Cannaregio's historic synagogues and we spend time getting to know exquisite smaller collections such as that of the Palazzo Querini-Stampalia. An excursion to the mainland allows us to visit a number of beautiful Palladian villas, including one which is still privately owned, and we will stop at Castelfranco to admire Giorgione's sublime altarpiece in the cathedral. A delicious lunch at the Villa Cipriani is also included.

We are also arranging tickets to the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto which puts on delightful operatic evenings for small groups, where the performance takes place in a number of rooms including one covered in frescoes by Giambattista Tiepolo.

Travelling out of season will also ensure that we avoid the crowds, and our visits are as always punctuated by plenty of delicious dinners and lunches. Some of our visits have important literary associations, and our walks will often be accompanied by references to the poems and writings of various well-known travellers and authors who have visited the city over the years.

The tour is led by Siân Walters who has lived and worked in Venice and looks forward to sharing some of her favourite sights with you.

Please note: this tour is now fully booked but let us know if you would like to join a waiting list in case of any cancellations

 

Itinerary

Introductory Study Day on 28th MARCH
For those who are able to come, there will be an introductory late morning tour at the National Gallery a few days before the tour departs, giving us an opportunity to meet other members of the group and explore works by Venetian artists in the National Gallery collection. We will examine paintings by Titian, Bellini, Tintoretto, Longhi and Rosalba Carriera as well as views of the city by Canaletto, Bellotto and Guardi. The tour will last approximately 1½ hours and a light lunch is arranged for those who would like to join the group

Day 1 (3rd APRIL)
We depart from London Heathrow at 09.00 with British Airways, arriving in Venice Marco Polo at midday. We travel by private water taxi to our hotel – the best way to approach the city. We have reserved rooms in the luxury 5-star Ca' Sagredo, a stunning 15th century palazzo on the Grand Canal of outstanding historic importance. The hotel opened just 10 years ago but has already won countless awards: there are just over 40 rooms which give it the intimacy of a boutique hotel, and yet its grand public spaces including the magnificent frescoed halls and monumental marble staircases transport one back in time to the grandeur and hedonism of the Venetian Golden Age.

The public rooms boast artworks by many of the leading artists of the 17th and 18th century including Sebastiano Ricci, Nicolò Bambini, Pietro Longhi and Giambattista Tiepolo and the bedrooms are all beautifully and elegantly furnished. There is an excellent restaurant with an outdoor panoramic terrace on the Grand Canal facing the historic Rialto market, and a rooftop terrace where drinks are served when the weather is fine.

On arrival there will be some free time for lunch and a rest, followed by a gentle walk for those who would like to come when we will discover the area around the hotel. We will visit some lesser-known churches such as Santi Apostoli which boasts a beautiful Renaissance chapel designed by Mauro Codussi containing one of Tiepolo’s most beautiful altarpieces, as well as the nearby Ca’ d’Oro, one of the architectural gems of the Grand Canal, named after the gold decoration which once covered its rich Gothic façade. It was restored by Baron Giorgio Franchetti who left his impressive collection of art to the state upon his death, including works by Mantegna, Tintoretto and Titian, as well as impressive tapestries, furniture, bronzes and other objets d’art.

A private dinner with wine is included this evening. We have hired the magnificent ballroom of the Ca’ Sagredo, a space which extends to a height of two floors and is decorated with a series of illusionistic architectural frescoes by Gaspare Diziani.  We will also enjoy a traditional aperitif in the palace's portego on the piano nobile, decorated with beautiful 18th-century landscapes and overlooking the Grand Canal. The evening will be accompanied by a classical harp recital given by Aurora Fabbian. It will be a unique and memorable experience to enjoy music and dinner in such a historic setting.

Day 2
Venice is divided into six districts or “sestieri” and today we spend the day strolling through the San Marco and Castello districts. We head for the nearby Rialto bridge and learn about the history of its construction, visiting lesser-known churches such as San Salvatore (which has two beautiful works by Titian) and San Giovanni Crisostomo, the last work of the early Renaissance architect Mauro Codussi. This church contains one of Giovanni Bellini’s greatest altarpieces, a late work commissioned when he was in his eighties and one of a number of his paintings which we will see in their original locations. Bellini was without doubt one of the most important and influential artists working in Renaissance Venice. Brought up in one of the leading family workshops in the city, he developed a radical approach to style and technique, introducing a softer and more tonal use of light and colour which would revolutionize Italian painting. The church also contains an important altarpiece by Sebastiano del Piombo, made just before he left for Rome in 1511.

We then stroll towards Piazza San Marco and study the architectural development of the Piazza and the smaller Piazzetta next door. We pop into the peaceful 12th century cloister of Sant’ Apollonia, the only surviving example of a Romanesque cloister in Venice, and head to the nearby church of San Zaccaria to see another great altarpiece by Giovanni Bellini, still in its original location.  This serene and luminous painting was declared by John Ruskin as being one of "the best pictures in the world".

After lunch (optional) we explore the lesser-known collection in the Palazzo Querini Stampalia. Like a number of the palace museums now in the city, this has survived as a wonderful evocation of Venetian aristocratic life thanks to the generosity of the family who once lived there. Count Giovanni Querini was the last descendant of the Querini Stampalia family and left the ancient residence of his family to a foundation created in 1869. The palace contains beautiful collections of precious furniture, porcelain and sculptures as well as a fascinating series of paintings by Gabriel Bella, a contemporary of Canaletto whose works offer us a charming record of Venetian life in the 18th century, from formal state festivals and carnival festivities to more unusual pastimes such as bull-chasing, ice-skating, and bridge fighting!

Our visits this afternoon also include a fascinating painting cycle by Carpaccio in San Giovanni degli Schiavoni and a chance to discover the little-known works of Giulia Lama, one of Venice’s most prominent 18th century female artists

After some time for an independent dinner, we enjoy an exclusive after-hours opening of the Basilica of San Marco where we will be able to enjoy its magnificent illuminated mosaics outside normal opening hours, after all the crowds have departed. Our tour includes the Pala d’Oro, a magnificent example of Byzantine workmanship made of hundreds of precious jewels and enamels, as well as areas which are not usually open such as the crypt, said to be the place where the bones of St. Mark are kept.

Day 3
This morning we explore the neighbourhood of Cannaregio which offers a glimpse of the hidden Venice, less visited by tourists. It is home to the world’s oldest Jewish ghetto (the word ghèto is in fact a Venetian word) which is still a centre of Jewish life in the city.

We have arranged a private opening and tour of three of the area’s historic synagogues which were founded in the early 16th century.  These are of great interest not only culturally but also architecturally – the design of the Scuola Grande Tedesca resembles the lavish design of 18th century Venetian theatres and the Spanish synagogue was renovated in 1635 by Baldessare Longhena, also the architect of Santa Maria della Salute and the Ca’ Rezzonico.

The area was also Tintoretto’s district and we will spend some time visiting the church of Madonna dell’Orto where he is buried and where several of his greatest canvases can be found.

Lunch is arranged for those who would like to join the group, and the afternoon is free for independent exploration.

Dinner (optional) is arranged this evening in Siân’s favourite Venetian restaurant, not far from the hotel. It serves delicious local dishes in a beautiful location, looking out towards the atmospheric island of San Michele in Isola.

Day 4
An excursion to the mainland allows us to visit a number of exquisite Palladian villas, including one which is still privately owned. Palladio was perhaps the greatest Italian architect of the 16th century but whilst famous for his monumental Venetian churches was also much sought after by prominent and wealthy nobles who required country retreats on the mainland which would be impressive yet functional at the same time. The Palladian villa was the perfect solution which combined his classical erudition and knowledge of all’antica sources with all the practical requirements of modern rural living.

After our first private visit we will stop at Castelfranco to admire Giorgione's sublime altarpiece in the local cathedral, followed by a tour of the recently reopened Giorgione House Museum. This renowned yet shadowy painter composed a small number of beautiful, intimate and atmospheric paintings with lyrical overtones during the early 16th century before his untimely death aged little more than 30 years old. These works, commissioned by a newly emerging Venetian class interested in poetry and music, would transform the stylistic evolution of Venetian art.

Today lunch with wine is included at the glorious Villa Cipriani, which boasts beautiful panoramic views over the local countryside surrounding the medieval town of Asolo. Once owned by Robert Browning, it was later acquired by Giuseppe Cipriani of Harry's Bar fame and then, for a time, by the Guinness family.

After lunch we continue our Palladian theme with a visit to one of his most famous buildings, the Villa Maser, commissioned by the brothers Marcantonio and Daniele Barbaro. Decorated with frescoes by Paolo Veronese and sculptures by Alessandro Vittoria, it was a declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. There will also be a chance to sample some of the award-winning prosecco and wine produced by the estate.

Dinner tonight is independent – you may like to use the hotel’s excellent ground floor restaurant, l’Alcova.

Day 5
Today we spend the morning in the Accademia museum studying masterpieces by artists such as Bellini, Giorgione, Lotto and Guardi. This will be followed by a visit to the Frari church, as well as the Scuola di San Rocco where we pay homage to Jacopo Tintoretto since 2018 marks the 500th anniversary of his birth. The vast canvases which cover the walls and ceiling of this elegant Renaissance building represent one of his greatest achievements, a project encompassing around 60 paintings to which he dedicated well over 20 years of his life.  We consider their impact and influence on subsequent generations of artists including Rubens, Velázquez and El Greco, who famously praised Tintoretto’s Crucifixion as being the greatest painting in the world.

There will be some free time in the afternoon. Siân will be on hand to offer suggestions, but we would recommend the nearby Ca' Pesaro or visiting the evocative Rialto market, perhaps indulging in some delicious local cicchetti or small snacks which are served in the local traditional bars and small restaurants.

We enjoy an early dinner at the Taverna La Fenice, followed by opera (optional) at the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto. The concert performance of Verdi’s La Traviata is accompanied by string trio and piano and takes place in a number of rooms in the palace, including one covered in frescoes by Giambattista Tiepolo and another rich in stucco decoration and baroque furniture. The proximity of the artists creates an intimate setting in which the spectator feels very much part of the opera.

Day 6
This morning we will enjoy some exclusive visits to palaces and gardens which are not open to the public.  These are kindly being opened by special arrangement with the owners.

Lunch today is independent. We will leave our hotel by private water taxi in the mid-afternoon to catch our flight with British Airways, arriving in London Heathrow at 7.00pm.

Further Tour Information

Accommodation
5 nights’ accommodation including breakfast in the luxury 5-star Ca’ Sagredo. It is situated in the more peaceful Cannaregio district of Venice, yet within just steps of many local shops and good restaurants. Facing the historical fish and fruit market, between Ca’ D’Oro and the Rialto Bridge, it is ideally located near Venice's main landmarks and just steps away from the vaporetto, gondola and traghetto (gondola ferry) stands.

The rooms are all elegantly furnished with a choice of a king-size or twin beds and individually decorated in classic Venetian style with period-style furnishings and rich fabrics in keeping with the historical legacy of the 15th century palace. They are finished with up-to-the-minute amenities that provide contemporary comforts. We have requested rooms with views onto the rooftops or the charming Campo Santa Sofia square. 

Alternatively, upgrade to a Junior Suite - these luxurious rooms offer a large sitting area with a sofa and spacious marble bathroom. Grand Canal facing rooms are now fully booked.

Please see below for more information regarding upgrades.

Itinerary and Meals
I will lead guided tours on all days, giving you some free time too (please feel free to join the group or be independent). A detailed, confirmed itinerary will be provided nearer the time and all reservations made where necessary. Please note that flight times may be subject to alteration. All will be done to ensure that the details of the trip remain as indicated, but museums and churches may close without warning, and if this happens I will always make every effort to organise alternative arrangements. I will always suggest good places for lunch and dinner, so we can either eat together as a group or you can be independent – it’s up to you. Other optional activities can be arranged such as gondola rides or perhaps a visit to Harry's Bar to sample one of their famous Bellini cocktails!

How Strenuous?
Please note that there is a fair amount of walking involved in the trip, although at a gentle pace and not strenuous. There will be regular coffee stops and breaks during each day, and the use of headsets for guiding allows you to sit down when listening to your lecturer or guide's commentaries, wherever seats are available.

Price
The price will be £2199 per person for those sharing a twin or double room, and there is a single room supplement of £339.

Junior Suites upgrades are available at an extra cost of £80 per room per night, and Grand Canal facing rooms (doubles) are available at an extra cost of £130 per room per night. Please indicate when booking which type of upgrade you would prefer . 

The price includes scheduled flights and taxes with BA; 5-star hotel accommodation for 5 nights, city taxes and breakfast; transfers by private water taxi; all other transport such as a private coach on the mainland and a weekly vaporetto pass; fully guided tours; a number of specially arranged private visits; a study day at the National Gallery; lunch with wine at the Villa Cipriani; dinner with wine at the Ca’ Sagredo; a private drinks reception and harp recital; a wine tasting; porterage; gratuities; receiver headsets to listen to guide/lecturer from a distance; tour notes; reservations and all entrance fees in the itinerary. It does not include meals other than those indicated; travel to and from Heathrow; opera tickets; insurance and personal spending.

Participation
If you would like to join the tour please complete the online booking form. If you would prefer to send a booking form by post please download a copy here.  

Please note a £225 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of booking. I will send your tickets, full travel details and other practical information approximately 3-4 weeks before travel. Numbers on this trip are strictly limited, so do get in touch earlier rather than later if you would like to join the group, to avoid disappointment. There has already been a lot of interest in this trip so we would recommend booking early, to avoid disappointment.

Please let us know if you are interested in the opera performance, which will cost approximately £75 including interval drinks and last approximately 2 hours. We will contact you nearer the time to confirm if you would still like to attend, and to confirm payment details.

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for booking this trip.

All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate

A whole week has gone by since our return from Venice and still the images are pouring in, reminding me of our truly wonderful visit. I could make a long list of the highlights, which kept on coming day after day. Thank you for such a well organised trip and for all the information you poured out to us each day. ”

Mrs Margaret Brown

Read more testimonials and comments

Highlights

  • Enjoy 5-star luxury in one of Venice's most beautiful and historic palaces
  • Private openings and special visits to collections and gardens which are not open to the public
  • Day trip including Palladian villas, Giorgione's Castelfranco altarpiece and lunch at the Villa Cipriani
  • Private after-hours evening visit to San Marco
  • Private dinner with music in the Ca Sagredo's historic ballroom
  • Opera in the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto

Practicalities

  • Tour Price: £2,199.00
  • Single Supplement: £339.00
  • Room Upgrade: £80.00 per room per night
  • Deposit: £225.00
  • Lecturer: Siân Walters

Booking

Fully booked.

If you have any questions regarding the tour or booking please send us an email or
call on +44 (0)1932 267322

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