Our flight with BA leaves London Gatwick in the late morning, arriving at Venice airport in the mid afternoon. We transfer directly to the hotel via private water taxi - a delightful way to approach the city. We will stay in a beautiful 4-star hotel, whose décor is inspired by the exoticism of ancient Byzantine traditions since Turkish tradesmen lived in this now peaceful quarter of the city. After a traditional Venetian aperitif, we enjoy a delicious dinner in a local family-run restaurant (dinner and drinks are included this evening).
We begin the day with a pleasant vaporetto ride along the Grand Canal. We will look at the architectural development of the Piazza San Marco and the smaller Piazzetta next door, and after passing the Bridge of Sighs we pop into a tiny Romanesque cloister which is unknown to many visitors to the city, but full of charm. We then explore some of Venice’s most beautiful churches including San Zaccaria, Santa Maria Formosa and Santa Maria dei Miracoli and a fascinating painting cycle by Carpaccio in the scuola of San Giorgio degli Schiavoni. Lunch will be arranged if you would like to join the group.
This evening I will arrange tickets to the famous Fenice Opera, for those who would like to join the group.
Venice is divided into six districts or “sestieri”, and today we explore the neighbourhood of Dorsoduro where our visits will include the Scuola dei Carmini, richly decorated with Tiepolo frescoes; the sumptuously restored and richly furnished Ca’Rezzonico which is one of the few palaces in the city open to the public, once owned by Robert Browning, and the charming Archangel Raphael church made famous in Salley Vickers’ novel “Miss Garnet’s Angel” (see recommended reading). There will be further visits after lunch, and dinner is arranged for those who would like to join the group this evening.
This morning we take a vaporetto to the Accademia bridge and spend the morning in the Accademia museum studying masterpieces by artists such as Bellini, Giorgione, Titian and Carpaccio. After lunch we enjoy a tour of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and see works by Picasso, Mondrian, Calder and many of the other artists whom Peggy knew and sponsored. After lunch we will study a spectacular series of canvases by Tintoretto in the Scuola di San Rocco as well as Titian’s Assumption in the Frari church. Lunch and dinner will be arranged for those who would like to join the group.
Cannaregio offers a glimpse of the hidden Venice, well off the beaten track. This is home to the world’s oldest Jewish ghetto which is still a centre of Jewish life in the city, and home to five synagogues. 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. This morning we also visit 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
After lunch near the Rialto bridge we enjoy some hidden treasures such as a fascinating spiral staircase, one of the city’s architectural delights, and a specially arranged private tour of Venice’s famous theatre, La Fenice, the site of many famous operatic premières.
This morning, we board our privately chartered boat for an excursion to the atmospheric and picturesque islands of the North Lagoon. The main islands such as Murano are well known to visitors, but I have arranged a special alternative tour which will offer us an unusual opportunity of visiting some lesser known places which are havens of serenity and beauty. We end the day with a private tour of a monastic island rarely accessible to the public. Dinner this evening is independent.
Located on the Grand Canal, the Palazzo Vendramin Calergi is one of the first great palaces of the Venetian Renaissance, built after designs by the architect Mauro Codussi. In 1882, Wagner rented the entire mezzanine floor of the palace and spent his last winter here in the city with his family, before passing away on February 13 1883. Alessandra Althoff Pugliese is the President of the Wagner Foundation in Venice and has kindly agreed to open the rooms for us and to present a special lecture on Wagner’s relationship with Venice. After some free time for lunch we leave Venice in the early afternoon by private water taxi to catch our flight with BA arriving into London Gatwick.