Guided Tours in Venice
Venice by Private Gondola
Venice by Private GondolaNothing conveys the romance of Venice like a gondola -- these elegant, black, hand-built wooden boats have been an unmistakable feature of the city for almost 1,000 years! Choose between two different routes that allow you to explore the major monuments and picturesque byways of the Sestiere San Marco or the Sestiere San Polo, on either side of the Grand Canal. Classic Venice: Meet the gondolier at Calle Vallaresso in front of Harry's Bar, right off Piazza San Marco. Glide along the Grand Canal by the Punta della Dogana and the monumental church of the Salute. A series of side canals leads to the backside of the Teatro La Fenice, the Palazzo Ca' Corner and the palace where Mozart stayed during the Carnival of 1771. Return past the Campo San Moise' to your starting point. Hidden Venice: Meet the gondolier at the San Toma' traghetto stop on the Grand Canal, on Venice's quieter Left Bank. Glide along the Grand Canal almost as far as the Rialto Bridge and return downstream past the aristocratic palaces of the Mocenigo, Ca' Garzoni, Pisani Moretta and Dona'. A small side canal leads to the expanse of Campo San Polo; return past the 15th century Palazzo Bernardo to your starting point. Please note that this is NOT a guided tour. The gondolier usually does not speak to clients nor provide any information about Venice. Routes may differ depending on the season, the tides, the amount of boat traffic and the time of day. At the height of the tourist season (June, July, August), the Hidden Venice route may offer a less crowded, more enjoyable ride.
From $140.00 Per Group
Venice for Beginners
Venice for BeginnersVenice's layers of history and mazes of calle can seem like a big undertaking to first-time visitors, but with a little guidance and the proper introduction, the city becomes yours to discover. This tour gives you a complete introduction to Venice, from its foundation, to its historical significance to the city today, covering the must-see sites and more! The tour begins in St. Mark's Square, where your guide will debrief you with a short history of the city, followed by an explanation of the square's importance as the religious and political center of Venice. This section of the tour includes an introduction to the architectural wonders of the square, such as the ornate Byzantine St. Mark's Basilica, the majestic Doge's Palace, Sansovino's Library, and the Bell Tower. From this stunning piazza, your guide will help you orient yourself to the city, introducing you to present-day Venice and its people. You'll navigate Venice like the locals do, crossing bridges and snaking through the interconnected streets and canals. The tour ends with a visit to the commercial center of Rialto whose stunning views, outdoor market, and rows of shops have been captivating visitors for centuries.
From $87.00 Per Person
Insights into the "real" Venice: A Small Group Tou...
Insights into the "real" Venice: A Small Group TourThis small group walking tour provides excellent insight into the "real" Venice, far from the crowds in Piazza San Marco. It is designed to take you deep into the heart of Venice's colorful past, as you walk in the footsteps of some of the city's best known characters. Meet your guide in St. Mark's Square and then head to La Fenice opera house, a true Venetian jewel that has been restored since it was severely damaged in the fire of 1996. The surrounding artist's neighborhoods of Sant'Angelo and San Samuele, where Antonio Vivaldi and Casanova once roamed, are filled with the inviting shops of present-day artisans. A traghetto ride across the Grand Canal provides the chance to join the locals on this characteristic gondola shuttle. Sestiere di San Polo was infamous as Venice's "red light district" but Carlo Goldoni, the great 18th century playwright, had a palace here, as did two of Venice's most significant female personages: Isabella Teotochi Albrizzi and Caterina Cornaro. You will be enchanted by the Rialto market, a lively hub of commerce, bustling with vendors selling food and other goods. The streets are lined with stylish cafes and wine bars where Venetians sip Prosecco while enjoying their evening snacks called cicchetti. More shops line both sides of the Rialto Bridge and crossing it brings you to the San Giovanni Grisostomo district, home to many silk merchants in the Middle Ages, where Marco Polo and his family lived. The tour ends with a taste of the best gelato in town... your guide will make sure you get back to St Mark's Square, only five minutes away.
From $84.00 Per Person
The Power of the Past: A Small Group Tour
The Power of the Past: A Small Group TourNowhere else in the city is the incredible glory of the Venetian Empire felt than when standing in front of St. Mark's Basilica and the extravagant Doge's Palace. This tour is designed to transport you back to the golden age of power that Venice wielded for centuries, shedding light on the gilded basilica and the mighty palace. Your tour begins in St. Mark's Basilica, whose history dates back to 800 AD. Your guide will take you through the stories told in the sparkling mosaics as you tread on the colorful marble floor: decorative elements in both are derived from the Eastern world. After exiting the church, your guide will present the buildings in St. Mark's Square, each of which had significance in the political, religious, and everyday lives of Venetians during the Empire. From here, you will continue into the Doge's Palace which housed the rulers of Venice for over nine centuries. As you walk through the ornate rooms, you will learn about this powerful maritime republic, its role in trade with the East, and its avant-garde political thinking. Your guide will point out the impressive paintings by Tintoretto and Veronese, the armory, and the Great Council Hall before leading you across the Bridge of Sighs into the New Prisons to conclude the tour.
From $87.00 Per Person
An Island in the Venetian Lagoon: Murano
An Island in the Venetian Lagoon: MuranoThe ephemeral beauty of blown glass is a perfect metaphor for Venice and its lagoon. Experience the wonder of this delicate art with a guided visit to the island of Murano - for over seven centuries home to the glass making industry that was transferred here from Venice in 1291 as a precaution against fire. The island is only a short ride from Saint Mark's Square and boasts a miniature version of the Grand Canal lined on both sides with glass factories and shops. Watch the skilled artisans at work as they manipulate the molten glass into masterpieces of color and form; you will have the chance to question them about the age-old techniques of mouth blown and molded glass, as well as to purchase an exquisite example of their craft as a souvenir. Next stop is the Museo Vetrario housed in the stately 17th century Palazzo Giustiniani, once residence of the Bishops of Torcello and now one of the largest collections of Venetian glass in the world. Here the whole history of glass making from Roman times to the present day is illustrated with pieces ranging from elegant wine goblets to enormous flower-festooned chandeliers. A few steps from the glass museum is the 12th century church of Santa Maria e Donato where a lovely elongated mosaic figure of the Virgin Mary stands in solitary prayer against the gold of a Byzantine heaven. The relics of the patron saint Donato are kept behind the high altar, along with bones of a ferocious dragon he is said to have slain.
From $84.00 Per Person
One-Day Venice: An Introduction to the City
One-Day Venice: An Introduction to the CityIs it possible to understand Venice in only one day? That is the goal of this walking tour that uncovers twelve centuries of Venice's glorious history. The starting point is St. Mark's Square. Praised by Napoleon as the most beautiful drawing room in Europe, this spacious square is the only one in Venice to merit the title "piazza." Its graceful Renaissance arches shelter some of the city's most elegant shops and historic cafes. At the piazza's eastern end rises the St. Mark's Basilica with its multitude of marble pillars and five white domes. Begun by Greek architects in 1063 to house the relics of the patron saint St. Mark the Evangelist, the church is a treasure-chest of mosaic decoration both inside and out. We will climb to the gallery level to admire these glittering, golden mosaics at close range and to see the four ancient gilt-bronze horses stolen from Constantinople in 1204 to grace the basilica's facade. A short walk takes us to the lively neighborhood around the Rialto Bridge. On the opposite side of the Grand Canal is the fish market, displaying all the rich bounty of the Adriatic Sea, and nearby is the Franciscan church of Santa Maria dei Frari with precious altarpieces by Titian and Giovanni Bellini. In the afternoon we will visit the Ca'Rezzonico, the most magnificent palace on the Grand Canal. With its lacquered antique furniture and frescoed ceilings, it has the authentic atmosphere of a great 18th century house. The day concludes at sunset at an outdoor cafe along the Zattere; here the imposing line-up of Palladian churches across the channel provides a romantic backdrop against which to enjoy a relaxing drink or gelato.
From $748.00 Per Group
The Craft of Mask-Making: Fun for the Entire Famil...
The Craft of Mask-Making: Fun for the Entire Family!You probably know that masks are worn during Venice's Carnevale, but have you ever bothered to scratch the surface and learn about the intriguing and mysterious legends behind Venetian masks? In this 1 1/2 hour hands-on workshop, you will learn the craft of mask making from a real Mascareri, one of the skilled artisans who, for hundreds of years, have made original Venetian masks in their ateliers located all over Venice. Here you will have the opportunity to see extraordinary Venetian carnival costumes, along with all their related accessories. You'll hear amazing stories of the Carnevale's history and learn about its most popular characters: Arlecchino, Pulcinella and Pantalone, beloved by kids and adults alike. Afterwards you'll get to choose your favorite character and one of the artisans will guide you through the fun process of painting and decorating your mask with glitter, feathers, sequins, ribbons and fancy trimmings like little silver bells. And instead of taking home one of the commercial, mass-produced masks that you can buy at every street corner shop in Venice, you will walk away from a memorable experience with your very own one-of-a-kind Venetian mask!
From $161.00 Per Person
A Guided Visit to the 56th Venice Biennial of Art
A Guided Visit to the 56th Venice Biennial of ArtThe 56th Biennale di Venezia will animate the city of Venice from May 9th through November 22th, 2015. Since this international art exhibition was first organized in 1895, the green expanse of the Napoleonic-era Giardini has been the traditional venue for the most prestigious contemporary artists to display their works. The ancient Arsenale complex was renovated in the early 1980's for the promotion of younger artists. Choose from either a half day guided tour of the national pavilions in the Gardens, or a full day tour that also includes the artworks displayed in the brick buildings of the Arsenal. Giardini: Alongside the Central Pavilion, built in 1894 and later restructured and extended several times, the Gardens are occupied by a further 29 pavilions built at different periods by the various nations participating in the Biennale. Set amidst tall trees, the pavilions themselves form a sort of anthology of important twentieth-century architecture: Aalto, Hoffmann, Rietveld, Scarpa, and Stirling are just some of the famous architects who worked here. The tour guide will select the most representative pavilions to give an idea of the scope and richness of contemporary art. Arsenale: Works by younger, less established artists are displayed in this complex of brick buildings, originally built in the 1300's as shipyards for the construction of Venice's impressive maritime fleet. Foremost among them is the Corderie where hawsers and naval ropes were once manufactured. This long narrow building, fully covered by wooden trusses, measures over 1,000 feet in length and is 32 feet high, making the structure ideally suited for the display of large-scale works of contemporary art. The tour guide will select the most representative artists on exhibit in the Arsenal to give an idea of the scope and richness of contemporary art.
Off the Beaten Path in Veneto
Off the Beaten Path in VenetoEnjoy a relaxing day in the Veneto hills to the north of Venice. Stroll around enchanting villages and towns, and savor the delicious Italian cuisine and famous wines of the Veneto. During this full-day tour you will travel along scenic back-roads, with enough time to enjoy each destination. The first stop on this tour is the medieval town of Marostica, with its imposing fortified castle and a giant chessboard permanently laid out in the town square, where a famous living game of chess is played every two years. Then you'll move on to the picturesque town of Bassano del Grappa where you will visit the magnificent Palladian bridge. As you walk through the narrow streets and spacious squares of this town, renowned for its hand-painted ceramics, you will enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding hills and mountains. You'll also sample some of the local "firewater" known as grappa. Next stop is the enchanting and elegant hill town of Asolo - 'the pearl of Veneto' - filled with full of medieval houses, beautiful Renaissance palaces and spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Famous for being the most richly decorated of all the Palladian villas, with amazingly detailed Renaissance frescoes by Paolo Veronese, Villa Barbaro at Maser is the highlight of your afternoon. The tour will end with a visit to Treviso, a small city with canals just like Venice, but with frescoed house facades, medieval arcades and charming (and still working) waterwheels.
From $772.00 Per Group
The Doge's Dominion: St. Mark's Basilica and the P...
The Doge's Dominion: St. Mark's Basilica and the Palazzo DucaleThe elegant Piazza di San Marco, the political and religious heart of Venice for over 1,000 years, is the starting point for this guided tour. At the eastern end of the spacious piazza is the Basilica of San Marco, built in 1063. With its Byzantine style domes and its stunning golden mosaics, the Basilica is a testament to Venice's historical power as a sea-trading empire, and to its political links with both East and West. Our next stop will be the adjacent Palazzo Ducale, or Doge's Palace, the seat of the Venetian government until Napoleon's conquest in 1797. Today the Doge's Palace houses myriad Renaissance masterpieces, including Tintoretto's Paradiso, one of the largest paintings on canvas ever produced. The Doge's Palace also contains the infamous "Bridge of Sighs," where prisoners took a last, wistful look of Venice before descending to the dank cells below. We will conclude the tour with either a climb up to the Loggia dei Cavalli for a close-up view of the famous equestrian statues, or a visit to the Basilica's stunning gold altarpiece known as the Pala d'Oro. PLEASE NOTE: Due to changes in the booking policy of the Doge's Palace, this tour no longer includes a visit to the "Secret Itineraries" portion of the Palazzo Ducale. The Secret Itineraries is available at Select Italy: Doge's Palace - Secret Itineraries Tour
From $498.00 Per Group
Venetian Renaissance after the Plague
Venetian Renaissance after the PlagueOut of the millions visitors that Venice welcomes every year, only a few are aware of the tremendous impact that the plague had on La Serenissima. Between 1348 and 1509 the Black Death struck the city and its mainland possessions 28 times, continuously challenging Venice's very survival. This fascinating tour starts with a visit to the church of San Rocco, patron of plague victims, which preserves the remains of the Saint and the great works by Tintoretto dedicated to the miracles performed by the Rocco infirmaries where patients were housed. The visit to the church is then followed by a stop in a Venetian mask workshop where the origins and the outfit of the costume worn by the "doctors of the plague" are mapped out for you, according to the interpretation of the disease symptoms. Mask after mask, decade after decade, century after century, you will be able to follow the evolutionary process of providing different interpretations of the plague. The experience continues with a stop at the old wells to discuss the treatment of drinking water and how Venetians could denounce those who did not respect the laws for the prevention and cure of the fatal malady. Our walk ends at the church of Santa Maria della Salute, the votive sanctuary funded by the Senate in 1631 in an attempt to stop the epidemic that cost the lives of 46,000 Venetians. Its history and its popularity are evidence that hope for a future of peace and prosperity are often contingent on both fervent faith and great collective effort. The paintings of the young Titian and Tintoretto and the richness of the pictorial and sculptural decoration of the interior make this church one of the most representative monuments of Venetian civilization.
From $409.00 Per Group
Venetian Rowing Lesson
Venetian Rowing LessonUndoubtedly, Venice's uniqueness stems from its means of transportation: maritime traffic is what has made this beautiful city run since its emergence many centuries ago. Inhabitants have always moved around on different kinds of boats that have become the true symbol and essence of Venice. During this private rowing lesson, you will participate in an authentic Venetian experience that few tourists get to try. In these 90 minutes of unforgettable fun, you will learn the basics of the voga alla veneta, the traditional Venetian rowing style, while at the same time having the opportunity to appreciate the historical and truly traditional aspects of Venice. You will feel just like a real gondolier as you stand up and row both at the prow and at the stern. You will first start by testing out the movement, without putting the craft in motion. Then you will traverse the gorgeous side canals of the Cannaregio district and, after you have become confident, daringly enter the open lagoon. The lessons will be held in rare, hand-crafted wooden craft called batela coda di gambero ('shrimp-tailed'). These beautiful batele are particularly adapted for first-time rowers; they're quite spacious but more stable than gondole, and also represent one of the most common historical Venetian craft. Indeed, 18th century masterpieces by great painters such as Carpaccio and Canaletto picture Venice's canals filled with these versatile, functional boats. Want to break away from the usual touristic beaten path? A Venetian rowing lesson is your best option to do that while acquiring an insider's view into the authentic soul of Venice. We recommend scheduling your lesson early in your stay, just in case the weather doesn't cooperate (rain or wind).
From $56.00 Per Person
Venice for Children: Belltowers, Gondola Makers an...
Venice for Children: Belltowers, Gondola Makers and Sailing ShipsThis full-day tour offers an entertaining and informative look at Venice's illustrious maritime past. Starting at the Victor Emanuel Monument on the Riva degli Schiavoni, a short vaporetto ride across the Bacino di San Marco takes you to Palladio's domed church of San Giorgio Maggiore, which floats like a huge galleon on the waters of the lagoon. From the vantage point of its tall brick bell tower you will enjoy a stupendous bird's eye view of the city and the lagoon. On a clear day, the craggy snow-covered peaks of the Dolomites can also be seen. Back down on ground level, the tour continues with a look at the elegant private yachts moored in the harbor and another vaporetto ride across to the quay of the Zattere. On a quiet canal is the old boat-building yard (or squero) of the Tramontin, the only one of its kind left in Venice. Here the art of gondola making will be explained by a member of the Tramontin family: the purpose of the gondola's distinctive curved shape, the choice of eight different woods and other jealously-guarded secrets of a handicraft passed down through the centuries from father to son. From here you?ll go by vaporetto to the massive brick Arsenal, guarded by two friendly lions; this was where the war galleys and trading ships that made Venice the "Queen of the Seas" were built. Last stop will be the Museo Storico Navale. It houses a model of the famous Bucintoro, the doge's ceremonial barge (the original barge was destroyed on the orders of Napoleon).
From $795.00 Per Group
Two Islands in the Venetian Lagoon: Murano & Buran...
Two Islands in the Venetian Lagoon: Murano & BuranoThe ephemeral beauty of blown glass is a perfect metaphor for Venice and its lagoon. Experience the wonder of this delicate art with a privately guided visit to the island of Murano - for over seven centuries home to the glass making industry which was transferred here from Venice in 1291 as a precaution against fire. With a miniature version of the Grand Canal lined on both sides with glass factories and shops, you are invited to watch the skilled artisans at work and can purchase an exquisite example of their craft as a souvenir at the end. Your private water taxi will then pass through a navigable channel marked by wooden piles. Soon the peaceful, cypress-covered island of San Francesco del Deserto appears on the right; according to a medieval story, St. Francis of Assisi was shipwrecked here and preached his legendary sermon to the birds. Neighboring Burano is dedicated to more secular pursuits. Most of the island's inhabitants are fishermen and some of their wives and daughters still make the lace for which the place is famed. With its brightly-painted houses in shades of lemon, lilac, and tangerine, Burano has a more southern appearance than anywhere else on the lagoon and boasts all the charm that nets, sailcloth, and fishermen give to any port. You will have a complete tour of the island where the local lace making technique "a tombolo" will be explained.
From $157.00 Per Person
Jewish Venice & Cannaregio (Half Day)
Jewish Venice & Cannaregio (Half Day)A melancholy calm permeates the Venetian Ghetto, which today is home to a mere 50 Jews. During the Renaissance, however, it was a beehive of activity with an intense cultural life and five Synagogues to serve the various nationalities of Jews who settled here.The oldest of these is the Scuola Tedesca of 1528 where German Jews followed the Ashkenazi rite, while the Scuola Levantina (1538) and Scuola Ponentina (1580) administered to Sephardic Jews from the Balkans and Spain. We will visit several of these Synagogues, as well as the Jewish Museum with its fascinating collection of antique ketubboth, or marriage contracts. A striking bronze monument to the Holocaust stands in the Ghetto's main square. The whole neighborhood was once full of foundries where bronze cannons were cast - "gettare" in Italian - from which derived the name "ghetto" subsequently applied to the Jewish quarters of other European cities. On the Calle del Forno the old outdoor oven for baking unleavened bread is still in use. After a snack at a kosher bakery, the tour continues along the quiet Rio della Misericordia. To the right of the Ponte dei Mori is the little palace [no. 3399] where the great 16th century painter Tintoretto spent the last 20 years of his life. He was buried in the nearby Gothic church of the Madonna dell'Orto close by two of his largest and most dramatic canvases: the 50-foot high "Last Judgement" and "Worship of the Golden Calf".
From $367.00 Per Group
The Architecture of Joy: Palladian Villas
The Architecture of Joy: Palladian VillasExplore the verdant countryside of Venice's terra firma in this full-day tour that takes you to three of Palladio's most celebrated villas. You'll visit enchanting Asolo, too - called the 'Pearl of the Veneto,' it is one of Italy's most beautiful hill towns and is the perfect place to sample the local wines and regional recipes. Departing from and returning to Venice's Piazzale Roma, first stop is Vicenza - "the city of Palladio" - which UNESCO has made a World Heritage Site due to its wealth of buildings by the famous architect. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, instead of going to Vicenza, you will have the possibility of visiting the Villa Malcontenta on the Brenta Canal. Built for the wealthy Foscari family, it is one of Palladio's most admired structures. Asolo provides the perfect interlude between villas. A walking tour of this picture-perfect little hill town is followed by a leisurely lunch at a local osteria where you'll enjoy delicious regional cuisine and some of the local wines. Villa Barbaro is up next - the most richly decorated of all the Palladian villas, famous for its delightful frescoes by Paolo Veronese. These frescoes were the source of the famous conflict between Palladio, the patron Marcantonio Barbaro and Veronese as they wrestled over the design and ideology of the building. Set in the hillside at the rear of the villa is a spectacular spring-fed statuary grotto known as a nymphaeum. The villa is still the private home of the Volpi family, who has lived here since the 1930's. The last stop of the tour will be Villa Emo in the mainland village of Fanzolo. The villa's simple form, unencumbered by lavish decoration and surrounded by elegant gardens, makes it one of Palladio's purest creations. Its famous five-part profile was used in later Palladio-inspired architecture, including the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
From $917.00 Per Group
Gondola Ride with Cicchetti on Board
Gondola Ride with Cicchetti on BoardExperience Venice with all your senses during this romantic ride that reveals the most characteristic pleasures of this magical, watery city. Gliding along the canals and admiring the stunning buildings, you will be offered a glass of Prosecco and a sampling of cicchetti, the classic Venetian appetizers that are made up of small portions of bite-size delicacies, similar to tapas. The tour starts on the Canal Grande, not far from the Franciscan basilica of the Frari. From there your gondola will take you into increasingly smaller canals, where you will stop to pick up your tray of cicchetti and bottle of Prosecco, continuing into quieter areas of the San Polo neighborhood, where you can admire beautiful buildings that can only be viewed from the water. You will reemerge onto the Canal Grande, from where you will see the Palazzo Barbaro and Palazzo Corner Spinelli and catch a glimpse of the Rialto Bridge, before being dropped off at your departure pier. Please note that this is not a guided tour, but the chance to enjoy a typical Venetian aperitivo as you float silently upon the canals. The route may differ depending on the season, the tides, the amount of boat traffic and the time of day.
From $56.00 Per Person