Hidden Treasures of Venice and the Veneto

September 29th - October 3rd 2020

Owing to popular demand we are delighted to be re-running this tour which ran so successfully in 2017 and 2018: please see our Photos page for some pictures of the holiday.

Update - We now have 1 double/twin Superior room and 1 double/twin Deluxe Grand Canal View Room remaining on this tour.  There are no more single rooms or regular doubles, but please let us know if you would like to join a waiting list.

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 which are not open to the public.

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 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 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 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 in the early autumn means that we will avoid the crowds and yet the weather is often still clement in late September. 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.

You will I am sure have followed news of the recent tragic high water in the city and may be wondering how this may affect our trip next year but please don’t worry, we are not visiting at the time of year when the very high waters such as these can occur. Acqua alta is a frequent occurrence in the city but they are generally confined to San Marco area (the lowest-lying part of Venice which is not near our hotel) and recede within hours. Ones such as last month’s are extremely rare, thank goodness. There will be no change to our published itinerary and we’ll be able to see everything as normal.  Meanwhile, AHF has made a donation to the support those who were affected by the flood.



Introductory Study Day (Tuesday 22nd September)
For those who are able to come, there will be an introductory late morning visit to the National Gallery the week 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 and Guardi. The tour will last approximately 1½ hours.

Day 1 (Tuesday 29th September)
We depart this morning from London Gatwick and fly to Venice Marco Polo. We then travel by private water taxi to our hotel – the best way to approach the city. Rooms are reserved 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, exploring 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 the lesser-known church of San Salvatore which has two beautiful works by Titian. We then stroll towards Piazza San Marco to study the architectural development of the Piazza and the smaller Piazzetta next door, followed by a visit 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 a break for coffee we will also see a fascinating painting cycle by Carpaccio in San Giovanni degli Schiavoni, the Dalmatian scuola or confraternity.

After lunch (arranged at a delightful local trattoria) you may like to return to the hotel or enjoy an afternoon at leisure. Alternatively, join Siân for a visit to 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!  

This evening we enjoy an evening of opera (optional) at the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto. The performance of The Barber of Seville will be 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 3
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 visit 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 produced by the estate.

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

Day 4
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.

The afternoon join Siân for a guided tour of the Accademia museum where will will admire masterpieces by artists such as Bellini, Giorgione, Lotto and Guardi.

In the early evening we enjoy an exclusive, private after-hours opening of the Basilica of San Marco where we can admire 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.  Supper at the nearby Taverna La Fenice is arranged for those who would like to join the group.

Day 5
This morning is free for independent exploration: you may like to visit the evocative Rialto market opposite the hotel or simply enjoy a coffee on the beautiful terrace overlooking the Grand Canal.

We will leave by private water taxi at lunchtime to catch our mid-afternoon flight, arriving into London Gatwick at 5pm.

Further Tour Information

4 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 superior room - these luxurious rooms offer a sitting area and spacious marble bathroom.

You may prefer to upgrade to a deluxe Grand Canal View room - please contact us for availaibility and see below for more details.

Upgrades at prices indicated are available for doubles/twins only.

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 quite a lot 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.

The  price will be £2375 per person for those sharing a twin or double room, and there is a single room supplement of £399.

Superior upgrades for twin/doubles are available at an extra cost of £60 per room per night, and Deluxe Grand Canal View rooms (twins/doubles) are available at an extra cost of £190 per room per night. Please indicate when booking which type of upgrade you would prefer.

Single occupancy rooms are all spacious doubles.

The price includes scheduled flights and taxes with EasyJet; 5-star hotel accommodation for 4 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 recital; 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 Gatwick; opera tickets; insurance and personal spending.

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 and there has already been a lot of interest, so do get in touch as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Please let us know if you are interested in the opera performance, which will cost approximately £82 including interval drinks and last approximately 2 hours. We will contact you nearer the time with further details, to confirm if you would still like to attend and to take payment.

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

Once your booking has been accepted, we will notify you by email. If you have not received an email confirmation, please check your ‘deleted items' and 'junk mail' folders. If you have not received a confirmation please do contact us to ensure that we have received your booking.

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 

Having caught our breath after your Venice extravaganza, we need to thank you for an outstanding tour. Every detail was organised and communicated with the lightest touch and the detail, context and history of what we were looking at was explained with the confidence of considerable scholarship. Your highlights, carefully paced during the trip, created memories we shall treasure ”

Mr and Mrs Garth Coles

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  • Enjoy 5-star luxury in one of Venice's most beautiful and historic palaces
  • Day trip including Giorgione's Castelfranco altarpiece and lunch at the Cipriani in Asolo
  • Exclusive after-hours evening visit to San Marco
  • Private dinner with music in the Ca Sagredo's historic ballroom
  • Private openings of palaces
  • Opera in the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto


  • Tour Price: £2,375.00
  • Single Supplement: £399.00
  • Room Upgrade: £60.00 per room per night
  • Deposit: £225.00
  • Lecturer: Siân Walters


To book your tour please complete our online booking form.

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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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