small towns, great food and wine best escorted tours Italy
a group tour of Italy that goes off the beaten track
Personally-escorted 10-day tour with expert local guides
Stays in Venice, Padova and Verona
Visit beautiful towns and villages that most tourists miss, including Treviso, Citadella and Bassano del Grappa
Take a day trip to the Valpolicello wine district for wine and food tasting
Explore the small towns on Lake Garda on a day trip, including Sirmione and Bardolino
Guided walking tours, including evening tours of Venice's quieter areas, the chance to sample some great Venetian cicchetti, and to experience Giotto's frescoes on the Scovegni Chapel in Padova, explore Vincenza's Palladian past and look for Romeo at Juliette's balcony in Verona
Great food, great wine, great new friends
All breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners
Maximum group size: 6
We'd been to Venice before and had no idea these places were right at the door."
"There's something nice about getting away from the usual tourist places and having a more authentic experience."
Join us on a 10 day escorted small group tour roaming beautiful towns scattered throughout the Veneto region of northern Italy; starting in Venice and continuing on to great places including Treviso, Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Bassano Del Grappa, and Sirmione.
Day 1 – Welcome to Venice
Guests will be arriving at different times and your hosts will be on hand to assist when you check into your hotel and to help orient you. You will then have free time until 5:00 pm, when all our guests will join us for welcome drinks and the chance to talk about your time in the Veneto region. Later we will take a walk to familiarise you with the local area before taking a guided evening tour to explore some of Venice’s quieter areas. This will finish at a lovely Venetian restaurant for our first meal together, and the opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers.
Inclusions: Welcome drinks, orientation walk, guided evening tour of Venice
Day 2 – A first excursion into the Veneto - Treviso
Treviso is an attractive town in the Veneto region, with a population of around 80,000. You’ll enjoy a pleasant morning walk to the railway station, where a regional train will have us in Treviso in around 40 minutes. Our group will be met at Treviso station by your expert local guide who will take you on a journey that explains Treviso’s colourful past and lead you through the town’s rambling maze of streets lined with arcaded walkways. The town is circled by a town wall and by waterways and canals that carry water around the town, past houses, grassy banks, weeping willows, waterwheels and little parks. The town's defensive walls, moat and imposing gateways are still impressive sights. It’s a great first step into the Veneto. After some free time to explore the town independently, we’ll return to Venice later in the afternoon.
Inclusions: Return train pass, guided tour of Treviso
Day 3 – Learning how to do cicchetti
Today is yours to explore Venice independently until later in the afternoon. If you’ve not been to Venice before, there are some ‘must-dos’, and you are a return visitor you’ll know the joys of just getting lost in Venice’s myriad of little lanes and canals. Later you will join us for a special guided walk: learning how to enjoy the Venetian approach to the aperitivo: cicchetti (pronounced chi-KET-tee), which are local appetizers that line the counters of little bars all over town at the end of each workday. It’s a local tradition to celebrate this time of day with a cool drink and some appetising nibbles. Our local expert will take you to a series of lovely bars to enjoy a few quiet drinks whilst you sample a range of treats like deep-fried mozzarella cheese, calamari, artichoke hearts, crostini (small toasted bread with a topping), marinated seafood, olives, and prosciutto with melon. It’s a great way to experience the local culture, and usually I don’t have room left for dinner!
Inclusions: Cicchetti tour, including drinks and nibbles
Meals: Breakfast, cicchetti
Day 4 – Padova or Padua? (It’s Padova but the locals don’t really mind)
Today you will leave Venice, taking the vaporetto – or local waterbus – to Piazzale Roma where you’ll be taken by private minibus for the hour-long trip to Padova (called Padua in English). You’ll arrive at your hotel which is right by the amazing Prato piazza. After settling in you’ll enjoy a guided tour of Padova: a city that is both a living religious monument and centre of revolutionary scientific learning. Having one of Italy’s major universities means Padova has a young and vibrant feel which you’ll get to know as you explore its piazzas and alleyways. You’ll also get to visit the amazing Scrovegni Chapel to see the brilliant frescoes created by Giotti in about 1305 and considered to be a masterpiece of Western art. You’ll be provided with a Padua Card, which will give you free use of Padova’s easy to use tram system as well as entry to a range of museums and galleries to explore in your free time in the city over the next two days. Later you’ll join us for a lovely group meal in a local restaurant.
Inclusions: Vaporetto pass, private minibus transfer to Padova, 2-day Padua Pass, entry to the Scrovegni Chapel, guided tour of Padova
Meals: Breakfast, dinner
Day 5 – Vicenza: Palladian wonder
Vicenza – a short drive by minivan from Padova – was a prosperous town under Venetian rule, and its pride was demonstrated in fine architecture, much of which still survives today. Many of its buildings are the work of influential sixteenth-century architect Andrea Palladio and have resulted in the town being a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. You’ll be met at the station by our local guide, who will lead you on a tour of Vicenza to explore and understand the importance of Palladio: not only in his time but to architectural design across centuries. After some free time to independently explore Vicenza, we’ll return to Padova by regional train.
Inclusions: Return transfers by private minivan to Vicenza, guided tour of Vicenza
Day 6 – A day in the Veneto
Today you will be picked up at your hotel to venture out by small bus further into the Veneto. First stop will be the lovely little town of Cittadella: notable for its remarkable medieval fortifications with the centre of town enclosed within a tall circular wall, studded with towers and ringed by a moat. Next stop will be a guided tour of Bassano del Grappa, best known for its covered bridge over the Brenta, the strong grappa liqueur produced in the area, and locally-produced ceramics. Your final destination today will be Marostica: a picturesque town, with a hill crowned with a large ruined castle with walls descending to enclose the hillside and the town centre below in a protective embrace. Marostica bills itself as the 'City of Chess': every two years a medieval-themed festival is held here when a giant chess game is enacted with human chess-pieces.
Inclusions: Guided tour of Bassano del Grappa, walking visits to Cittadella and Marostica, private bus transport
Day 7 – Verona: Juliette and that….
After a few great days in Padova, today you transfer to Verona. You’ll be taken by private minivan to your hotel in the historical centre and settling in, you’ll take a guided tour of the city. It’s a city with so much history, as well as great architecture and a thriving modern lifestyle. You’ll even get to visit Juliette’s balcony (but pay attention to the story behind that….). After the tour, there’ll be plenty of time to go exploring. It’s an easy city to find your way around and your hotel is very central.
Inclusions: Transfer to Verona by private minivan, guided tour of Verona
Day 8 – Valpolicella wine adventure
Today you’ll take a small bus tour out into the rolling hills and vineyards just outside Verona. The Valpolicella scenic vineyards start in the fertile plain and climb up to the hills north of Verona, offering a magnificent view over the town. This is an area full of history, culture and some of the best Italian wine. As well as enjoying the countryside, you’ll get to visit wineries and learn the subtle differences between some of the various wines for which the area is rightfully famous.
Inclusions: Private bus tour, including wine-tastings.
Day 9 – Beautiful Lake Garda
Today you’re going to visit beautiful Lake Garda, where you’ll enjoy a day visiting some of the pretty small towns that dot its southern shores. The largest lake in Italy draws a cosmopolitan crowd who flock annually to these pretty little villages, whose winding lines and piazzas are filled with shops, bars and restaurants. Our private minibus will collect us from Verona for the trip. First stop is Bardolino on the eastern side of the lake, but on the way you’ll stop at one of the region’s famous wineries for a wine tasting of organic Bardolino wines, each matched with a different kind of local or homemade food (salami, cheeses, bread, olive oil) as a light lunch. After free time in Bardolino, you’ll head down to lovely Lazise, before driving over to Sirmione. This popular town sits on a peninsula that pokes out into the lake and has been inhabited since Roman times. We’ll wander the town and enjoy a boat tour to get a great view of the famous castle and the Grotte di Catullo. When you return to Verona later in the day, you can rest up for a while before you head out to enjoy our final night group dinner at a local restaurant.
Inclusions: Transport by minibus, wine tasting, boat tour of Sirmione peninsula
Meals: Breakfast, light lunch, dinner
Day 10 – Farewell from Verona
This is our last morning in Verona. We will be available to assist in your transfers to the airport or the rail.
You can download the tour itinerary here.
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