- Spend eight-days in Italy travelling from Florence to Venice - the perfect pair of artistic cities
- Stay in beautiful hotels in the heart of each city, with a train journey to link the two
- Enjoy unique private visits, a gastronomical tour of the market and a meeting with a photographer
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Florence and Venice may both be hugely popular cultural cities, but they still have surprises that are hidden away waiting to be found. Lovers of art, beauty, history and culture will be in their element in these romantic locations. This itinerary begins in Florence before heading by train to Venice, and gives you time to find your feet and get your bearings in each city, while also relaxing in hotels that combine charm with an excellent location.
Take a tour of Florence with a private guide, who will explain the city's history and key figures such as the Medici, Dante and Michelangelo. Stop for a gastronomical visit of the San Lorenzo market and taste the best Tuscan products, advised by your personal guide.
FLIGHT TO FLORENCE
We hope you’re ready, because today you will be embarking on your Italian adventure. When your three hour and 40-minute flight lands in Florence, you will be met by our local representative who will transfer you to your hotel in the centre of Florence. Here you will be immersed in the heart of the Florentine Republic and surrounded by hot spots, including Palazzo Vecchio, the Loggia dei Lanzi and the Uffizi. The Piazza del Duomo, which is home to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Baptistery of Saint John, is just a few minutes’ walk away. Have a wander through the ancient winding alleyways, before settling down in a rooftop bar as the sun sets over the city.
RENAISSANCE ART RENDEZVOUS
Florence is often associated with the Renaissance movement, and rightly so, which you will discover with your private guide as you take an in-depth look at the Piazzi della Signoria and del Duomo, as well as also Ponte Vecchio and other lesser-known sites. Your guide will tell you the ins and outs of the history as well as stories that surround these monuments, including Fra Angelico decorating the convent of Saint Mark, Savonarole's condemnation and execution in 1498, and Machiavelli teaching Laurent II of Medici. When your brains have been filled with all kinds of fascinating facts, and legs are weary, find yourselves a cosy pizza spot or bustling bar and settle in for the evening.
MARKET TOUR AND FOODIE’S PARADISE
Tantalise your tastebuds on a guided gastronomical tour of the San Lorenzo Covered Market - a foodie’s paradise. It offers an extraordinary selection of regional delicacies, allowing visitors to sample the best of Florentine cuisine. Think cheeses, meats, olive oil, schiacciata, cantucci... not forgetting the famous red wine produced just outside of Florence: Chianti Classico. When the tour comes to an end, you will get the chance to taste different meats and cheeses as well as fresh focaccia and delicious truffle-based products (including oil, cream, honey and butter). Choose between a to-die-for pasta dish or first-class wine tasting to round off your tour.
FLORENCE ON FOOT
Today is the day you’ll get to head out and explore Florence’s beauty by yourselves. The red roofs and dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence rise up between the banks of the Arno River and the Tuscan mountains, and the city’s splendour is evident in its Renaissance palaces, churches and royal villas, thanks to the Medici family. Art and culture lovers should take a trip to the Uffizi Gallery, which is one of the most stunning in the world, as well as Pitti Palace, the Galleria dell'Academia, the Specola and its fantastic collection of wax anatomical models, and the History of Science Museum, which has a section dedicated to Galileo. All this sightseeing is bound to make you peckish, and food fanatics shouldn't miss out on a traditional bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine steak) or mouth-watering pasta with white truffle.
If you fancy a little more structure to your day, there is the option of a guided tour of the Fra Angelico neighbourhood, home to the illustrious Italian monk and painter of the Early Renaissance, to explore the Convent of San Marco and the Hospital of Innocents, with its most famous paintings.
TRANSFER BY TRAIN
This morning you will hop aboard the train and slowly wind your way through the Italian countryside, on a three-hour journey past sprawling lowlands and cypress-topped hillsides. You will be collected from the station and taken to your beautiful Venetian hotel, from which you can head out and get your bearings around this waterway-filled city. The best way to discover Venice is to get a little lost. There is plenty nearby to discover, including the Grand Canal, St. Mark's Square and the basilica and its mosaics, before enjoying a coffee and a zaletti (Venetian cookie) at Florian. Visit the Gallerie dell 'Accademia before wandering around the Rialto fish market and the Pinault collection of contemporary art. When legs inevitably get weary, sit back and relax on a gondola ride at Punta della Dogana.
INS AND OUTS OF VENICE
After a leisurely morning, it’s time to head back out into the pretty streets of Venice. Exploring the city in the company of a local guide is the very best way to unlock the secrets of the many sites, monuments and buildings that line the waterways. Your guide will kick things off in St. Mark’s Square with an introduction to the buildings which surround one of the most beautiful and ancient squares in the world. You’ll be able to admire the Procuratie from the outside, as well as the Bell Tower, the Library and the imposing Byzantine era Basilica that was dedicated to St Mark. You will then reach the Doge’s Palace, which is one of the greatest examples of Gothic architecture, where masterpieces by some of the greatest Italian artists such as Titian, Tintoretto and Guardi are preserved. Although Venice is one of the most visited cities in the world, it hasn’t lost its secrets and charm. When you part ways with your guide, wander through cobble-stone squares or along the winding waterways to get a real feel for Venice.
FILL YOUR CAMERA ROLL
Get your camera at the ready. Today you will spend a few hours with a professional photographer who knows Venice inside and out. They will combine some iconic sites with some of the more off-the-beaten-path, secret sites, streets and piazzas that will make for fantastic photos. You'll learn some of the skills of photo snapping, and how to capture the best moments of your day. Take things at your own pace and stop for an aperitif as the sun begins to set on your last night in Venice.
LEAVE ITALY BEHIND
The time has come to hop on your flight and head home. You will be privately transferred to the airport in good time for your flight.
A la carte
San Marco Convent and Fra Angelico, with a private guide
Make a visit to the district of Fra Angelico (the famous Renaissance monk and painter) to discover the convent of San Marco and the Ospedale degli Innocenti with its most famous paintings. Built in the 15th century by Michelozzo for Dominican monks by order of Cosimo de' Medici, the convent houses the works of Fra Angelico (including an Annunciation overlooking the staircase), who decorated each cell with a fresco. No matter how many beautiful places you've seen, this will still impress. Don't miss Domenico Ghirlandaio's Last Supper in the small dining room and the beautiful library.
Take a walk off the beaten tracks between cloisters and into a dining hall to discover the secrets of the Renaissance.
Private tour of San Lazzaro degli Armeni Island
Very close to the Lido, this small island (a former leper colony) was given in the 18th century to the Armenians, who, driven away by the Turks, established a convent there. The island was an important centre for the dissemination of Armenian culture. The convent houses a museum, a picture gallery, a unique printing press from the 18th century and a rich library of more than 150,000 volumes, including a valuable collection of illuminated manuscripts. It also offers the visitor beautiful grounds to explore with its huge garden. The nuns are delighted to welcome visitors at the dock to show them around the church, the refectory and the Archives room where 4,000 manuscripts are kept.
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