The beauty and culture of northern Italy awaits you. Explore the picturesque Lake Garda region which includes an excursion into the magnificent Dolomite Mountains. Connect with the elegance and history of Venice, including a free day to either unwind or further dive into the city’s culture at your own pace. Tickets to a once-in-a-lifetime performance at the Verona Opera round out this unique journey to discover northern Italy.
Departure from the United States on your overnight flight to begin your tour of Lake Garda, Venice & the Verona Opera.
Upon arrival at Milan’s Malpensa airport you’ll be met by your English speaking tour escort. Your private motorcoach driver will transfer you east through the Italian region of Lombardy to arrive at Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake. The lake’s southern area is wide and surrounded by hills that were left behind after Paleolithic glaciers had receded. The lake’s northern area is narrow and surrounded by mountains that create its fjord-shape configuration and provide a very mild Mediterranean climate. Lake Garda is 34 miles in length, 11 miles at its widest point and 2 miles at its narrowest point. With its temperate climate, majestic landscapes and flourishing vegetation – mainly olive and lemon groves, palms, cypresses, oleanders and orange trees – the Lake Garda area is one of the most charming in Italy. Learn about its unique history and culture as you explore the region and discover new places. Relax and make yourself comfortable for the remainder of the day at your 4* hotel in the Lake Garda area. Tonight, you’ll enjoy a Welcome dinner in a local restaurant (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Breakfast included at hotel. Depart with your motorcoach for a transfer to the nearest port on the southern shore of Lake Garda for a boat excursion on the public ferry to Riva del Garda. Marvel at the breathtaking landscapes as you sail north and enjoy a 3 course lunch onboard (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person). Disembark upon arrival in Riva del Garda – the northernmost town on Lake Garda and located in the Trentino Alto Adige region of Italy. Riva’s marvelous location is exactly where Lake Garda ends and the Brenta Dolomite mountains, part of the Southern Alps, begin. The 2nd largest city on Lake Garda, Riva has historically been a strategic point for invading foreigners from the north and has been ruled by many, including the Venetian Republic. It became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1815 for 100 years and still retains a very calm and Germanic feel, if compared to other parts of Italy. After some time in Riva del Garda, your motorcoach will meet you for a drive down the eastern shore of Lake Garda. You’ll drive through a few of the lakeside towns in the Veneto region such as Malcesine and Bardolino. Malcesine is in the foreground of the Monte Baldo mountain range and is known for its stunning lakeside 13th century castle. Bardolino is another charming lakefront town, but is uniquely known for its winegrowing and for the variety of red wine named after the town. Stop in Bardolino for a visit to the Olive Oil Museum which has been run by the same olive oil producing family on Lake Garda for over 30 years. Continue your drive back to your hotel and enjoy dinner tonight at your hotel (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Breakfast included at hotel. Pack your bags this morning and depart with your private motorcoach to transfer to the city of Venice. Relax as you drive through the countryside and the towns of the Veneto region to reach the magical city known as Serenissima – Venice. Upon arrival in Venice, your motorcoach will drop you off where you will then walk 200 – 300 meters to the pier. You’ll take a boat to St. Mark’s Square where your luggage will be transported for you from the boat to your 4* hotel. Enjoy some free time to grab a quick lunch before your guided afternoon tour of the city. Its unique location, design and rich history makes Venice one of the most interesting cities in the world. Take in the city’s canals, bridges, piazzas and palazzos as you start your tour in St. Mark’s Square with your English speaking local guide. View St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice’s largest cathedral, which originally began as the private chapel for the Doge and other Venetian aristocracy. Enter the basilica and marvel at the golden mosaics, Byzantine influenced architecture and historic furnishings. Attached to the Basilica is the landmark Doge’s Palace, the administrative seat of the Venetian Republic and opulent residence of the Venetian doges. View the famous Campanile – the bell tower in St. Mark’s Square, a memorable symbol of the city located just opposite the Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. You’ll have a guided tour of the Doge’s Palace (headphones included with ticket). Today, this magnificent museum is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture where you’ll be allowed to explore parts of its large halls, rooms, courtyard, armory and prison. Continue your walking tour with an external view of the famous Bridge of Sighs. This enclosed stone passageway was designed to link the palace’s interrogation rooms to the city’s prison and is thusly named for the sound prisoners would make while getting their final view of Venice prior to their imprisonment. Enjoy some free time before your group dinner tonight at a local Venetian restaurant (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Breakfast included at your hotel. Meet with your English speaking local guide for a private boat tour of the Venetian Lagoon islands: Murano and Burano. Depart by boat for your first stop in Murano, famous since the 13th century for its glassmaking. Visit a local glassmaking factory and watch the glass masters at work. Next stop on your boat tour is the island of Burano. This small picturesque island is famous for its lace making workmanship and for its richly painted houses. Enjoy a special fish lunch at a local restaurant in Burano (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person). In the afternoon, return by private boat to Piazza San Marco and return to your hotel. The remainder of the day and dinner tonight is at your leisure.
Breakfast included at hotel. Depart from your hotel with your English speaking guide to assist in your departure from Venice. You’ll walk to Piazza San Marco where you will take a boat to the Tronchetto parking area where you’ll then board your private motorcoach. Your luggage will be transferred separately from your hotel to the Tronchetto parking area. Say “Arrivederci!” to Venice as you drive the short distance to the city of Verona – named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and made famous by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Meet with your English speaking local guide to discover Verona’s Roman, Medieval and Renaissance history. The first part of your tour will be on your motorcoach as you drive along the Adige River and the city walls. Drive to see the most important church in the city – the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore. Built in the Romanesque style with its famous rose window on the facade, this specific basilica was featured in both Romeo and Juliet and Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Continue your drive to the Victory Bridge which was built to commemorate the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I. Your walking tour will begin here near the Porta Borsari, the 1st century Roman gate that was the city’s main entrance. Walk to the Piazza Erbe which was once a forum during Roman times, but is now a vibrant square with a daily market. Go to nearby Piazza dei Signori – famous for its magnificent palazzos that line the square and its imposing statue of Dante. Next, walk over to Juliet’s House. Entrance included to the restored 14th century house that has Juliet’s famous stone balcony. This house is thought to have once belonged to the Capulet family – on whom Shakespeare based his story. Finally, the focal point of the city of Verona is the spectacular Arena located at the Piazza Bra. This Roman amphitheater was built in the first century and still serves as the city’s open-air opera house and also holds other musical concerts. Enter the Arena and see where gladiators fought during Roman times and where games and tournaments were regularly held during medieval times. You’ll have some free time for lunch on your own and to further explore the historical city center. After departing from Verona, stop in another town such as Desenzano along Lake Garda. Desenzano is next to Sirmione and has the largest population on the lake. It has a rich Roman history and was an important location in the various Italian Wars of Independence. Drive to your 4* hotel in the Lake Garda area. After checking in, you’ll enjoy a group dinner tonight in the hotel (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Breakfast included at hotel. Depart with your private motorcoach for an excursion north into the Dolomite Mountains. Spend the day exploring the Trentino Alto Adige region of Italy, also known as South Tyrol, and marvel at the spectacular mountain landscapes while breathing in the fresh alpine air. The Dolomites, the southern edge of the Alps, is renowned for its winter ski resorts, national parks and summer hiking and mountain climbing. Learn about the historic significance of the Dolomites during World War I and about the region’s unique culture and foods. German is more widely spoken than Italian in some areas as is the unique Ladin language – most closely associated with the Swiss Romansh language. Drive north into the mountains through the Val di Fiemme- one of the main valleys in the Dolomites that stretches along the Avisio River. Known for its numerous ski areas, the Val di Fiemme is also known for its prized wood and forests. Drive to the charming town of Canazei which is located in the shadow of Marmolada, one of the highest Dolomite peaks. Enjoy lunch in a local Canazei restaurant (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person) and some free time here after lunch. Continue your drive through Val Gardena, a valley famous for its woodcarving and where the majority of the citizens speak Ladin. The Val Gardena is famous for its skiing and for being part of the Sellaronda ski circuit, a panoramic 40 km ski route made up of slopes and lifts that circle through 4 mountain passes. Relax on your drive back out of the Dolomites as you return to the Lake Garda area for dinner at your hotel (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Breakfast included at your hotel. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach for a tour of the Sirmione peninsula. Your English speaking local guide will share the history of Sirmione, once called “the pearl of the islands and peninsulas” by Latin poet Catullus. Located on the southern shore of Lake Garda, Sirmione is famous for its thermal water with its healing properties. Made popular by writers such as Stendahl, Lawrence and Goethe, the city center is characterized by its narrow alleys and stone walls. Your guided walking tour will highlight the town’s main attractions for you. If there’s free time available, you can return to any of the sites on your own to further explore. Your tour will include the beautifully impressive Scaligeri Castle – a unique medieval fortress built by the ruling Scaligeri family in the 13th century to protect the port. Check out the area of the thermal baths which still draw people to this medieval village. See the house that famous opera singer Maria Callas lived in for 9 years in the 1950s. You’ll see the Santa Maria Maggiore Church built in the 15th century on the site of an earlier built 8th century church. See the ruins of the original church dedicated to San Salvatore which was built in the 8th century by the Lombard queen. Also see where the San Pietro in Mavino Church is located – Sirmione’s oldest church has frescoes dating back from the 12th through the 16th centuries. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant in Sirmione (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person). After lunch, embark on a 30 minute boat excursion that will give you panoramic views of the peninsula. Depart from the dock located on Lungolago Diaz (left before the port and 300 m from the bus parking). Sail around the peninsula and view the castle, the thermal spa, the villa of Callas, the caves of Catullo (the warehouses of the Villa Romana di Catullo), the sulfur spring source “boiola” and then return by passing under the drawbridge inside the walls of Sirmione. Depart Sirmione by motorcoach for a wine tasting at a local winery. The small Lugana wine region, just south of Lake Garda, has just over 100 producers of mostly white wine made from the Turbiana grape. Return back to your hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day and dinner tonight at your leisure.
Breakfast included at hotel. Depart with your private motorcoach for a tour of the Isle of Garda and the town of Salò. Once in the Salò area, take the private boat on the crossing to the stunning Isle of Garda for a tour of the Villa Borghese Cavazza. Also known as the Isola Borghese, it’s the largest island in Lake Garda. This Venetian-styled villa was built between 1894 and 1901 and is still the private residence of the Cavazza family. It was built by Duke Raffaele De Ferrari di Genova on pre-existing remains, since the island has been inhabited since pre-Roman times. Your guided tour will include the gardens, a few rooms inside the villa, a short tour of the island’s nature park and a welcome aperitif. The formal gardens beside the villa include bridges, canals, artificial caves and ancient settlements; while the wide variety of fruit trees, flowers and plants will impress you. Return by boat to Salò for some free time for lunch and to visit this unique town. Salò was the capital of the Magnifica Patria (Magnificent Homeland) during the period of Venetian domination. More recently, it was the capital of Mussolini’s Fascist government of the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945. Traces of its prestigious past can still be seen in Salò’s elegant historic center filled with buildings of great historical and artistic value. After some free time, return to your hotel to prepare for your evening tonight at the Verona Opera. Depart around 5:00 PM for the drive to Verona. Dinner tonight will be at 6:30 PM at a local restaurant in Verona (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person). The Opera at the Verona Arena begins at 8:00 PM (ticket with reserved seating included). This legendary amphitheater has been the site of numerous operatic productions for over 100 years and is home to the famous Arena di Verona Festival. Enjoy your night at the opera!
Breakfast included at your hotel. Transfer with assistance by your private motorcoach from your hotel in the Lake Garda area to the Milan Malpensa Airport. Say “Ciao Italia!” as you return home with cherished memories of your time in Lake Garda, Venice & at the Verona Opera.