Countries Italy Venice Cultural Tours

Palatial Venice

Ruler of one fourth and one half of the Roman Empire

Doge Enrico Dandolo (1107-1205)
Thomas Abbott
Thomas Abbott is an independent art and architectural historian. He graduated in Psychology and Art History at Carleton College, Minnesota, and studied his Masters at the Louvre School of Art History in Paris. He is a specialist in architectural history from the Baroque to the 20th century. He has a been a resident of Berlin since 1987 and has successfully led cultural tours for many years across Europe.
What's included...
  • Return flights with British Airways (economy) to Venice from London Gatwick
  • All entry fees to museums, palazzi and galleries
  • A Secret Tour of the Doges Palace
  • The services of your tour lecturer and tour manager
  • A Private tour of St Mark’s Basilica
  • An evening at the opera; La Traviata in a Grand Canal palazzo
  • A vaporetto pass
  • Transport by private water taxi to/from Venice airport and the hotel, and to Murano Island
  • 5 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 4 dinners and 1 drinks' reception (lunch and dinner with wine, water and coffee included)
  • 5 nights in the sumptuous luxury 4-star Hotel Locanda Vivaldi
  • All taxes and tips
Hotel Locanda Vivaldi
Getting about
Participants should be reasonably fit. There is a significant amount of
walking, standing and use of stairs.
Inspirational tours frequently booked together
St Mark's Basilica is connected to the Doge's Palace. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has only been the city's cathedral since 1807. Sapienza Travel has arranged exclusive access for you to enjoy the splendour of the treasures, mosaics and decoration within St Mark's without anyone else with you other than your fellow Sapienza Travel guests.
By special arrangement, Sapienza Travel has gained access to Venetian palazzi that are ordinarily not open to the public, to give you a greater insight into the homes in which the families of the doges lived.
Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto is one of the most beautiful palazzi on the Grand Canal, housing exquisite Venetian baroque paintings. It is in the palazzo's sumptuous rooms that you will experience Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata, performed by the finest voices from the world of opera, accompanied by a group of string instruments and a piano. This evening is your opportunity to experience opera in a most intimate setting.

The quality of the music, the splendour of the setting, the power and the passion of the singing! The Daily Telegraph
This secret tour through the Doge’s Palace covers the rooms and chambers where the delicate work of some of the most important bodies in the Venetian administration was carried out. These spaces offer an interesting insight into and acknowledgment of the civil and political history of the Venice Republic, its public organisations, and its institutional bodies deputed to government and justice.  

Murano is famous for its glass but we are travelling to the island to visit two churches that house beautiful paintings by Il Pordenone, Paolo Veronese and Giovanni Bellini; Santa Maria degli Angeli and San Paolo in Martire.

There is time in the afternoon for you to visit the glassworks on the island.
Sapienza Travel is hosting a drinks reception for you on on the terrace at the Hotel Locanda Vivaldi where all guests and lecturers can watch life on the waters of the Venetian Lagoon and discuss what has already been visited, and what is still to see on this wonderfully rich tour of Venice.
For more than 1,000 years, the chief magistrate and leader of the city of Venice and later of the Most Serene Republic of Venice was styled the Doge, an Italian title derived from the Latin Dux. Doges of Venice were elected for life by the city-state's aristocracy. Families like the Dandolo, the Cornaro, the Barbarigo, and Loredan. Commonly the person selected as Doge was one of the shrewdest elders in the city. The Venetian combination of elaborate monarchic pomp and a Republican (though "aristocratic") constitution with intricate checks and balances makes "La Serenissima" (Venice) a textbook example of a crowned republic. Despite the great power given to them, the Venetian Doges were restricted by law to spend the rest of their lives inside the Doge's Palace complex and St Mark's Basilica, occasionally leaving for diplomatic reasons.

This Sapienza Travel tour takes us on a journey across Venice and its islands, to tell the story of the aristocratic families of Venice from whose ranks the Doges came. We explore their lives through the glorious frescoes and paintings they commissioned, and in which they are featured, visit the palaces in which they lived and the churches in which they are buried. We have a private tour to St Mark’s which was once the private church of the Doges. In the evenings, we enjoy dinner and opera in their family palaces to experience life as it was for these noble families. 
After landing at Venice airport, we travel in style to our hotel aboard water taxi, alighting directly onto the hotel's terrace. After lunch together, we tour Ca' Rezzonico with its outstanding Tiepolo frescoes. We dine together in the evening.
Following breakfast, we set off for the Church of San Zaccaria famous for its Giovanni Bellini, San Zaccaria altarpiece, and tombs of numerous doges. The remainder of the morning is in the Doges Palace, including a secret tour to see its rich Renaissance interior. In the afternoon, we visit the Basilica of SS Giovanni e Paolo where twenty-five doges are buried. We return to the hotel for a drinks reception on its terrace.
This morning, we cruise up the Grand Canal taking in the waterfront palazzi, some of which we visit later, to the Church of San Stae. In the church, we see the Mocenigo family tomb and works by a young Tiepolo and Sebastiano Ricci. Afterwards, we explore Palazzo Mocenigo. In the afternoon, we visit the Cornaro family chapel in SS. Apostoli before an early dinner. In the evening, we attend a performance of Verdi's La Traviata opera in Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto.
In the morning, we visit the enormous Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, with its incredible monument to Doge Giovanni Pesaro, Paolo Veneziano’s Doge Francesco Dandolo and His Wife Presented to the Virgin by SS. Francis and Elizabeth and Titian’s Assumption. We visit private palaces for the remainder of the day, before our private tour of St Mark’s Basilica. We dine together this evening.
After breakfast, we depart for the beautiful island of Murano to visit the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli containing funerary monuments of the doges Sebastiano Venier, Lorenzo Contarini and Jacopo Soranzo. The church is home to exquisite paintings by Il Pordenone, Francesco Zugno, Antonio Molinari and Palma il Giovane.  In San Pietro in Martire, we find a Baptism of Christ attributed to Tintoretto, two works by Giovanni Bellini and a Paolo Veronese. The afternoon is at leisure, either to explore the glassworks on Murano or return to Venice. We dine together in the evening.
Having checked-out of the hotel, we devote the morning to the Accademia, where Thomas Abbott takes us on a curated tour of paintings commissioned by the leading families of Venice. We then take our water taxis back to Marco Polo airport, arriving in London Gatwick early evening.
As the Hotel Locanda Vivaldi is a historic building, all of the rooms and suites are unique. They vary in size, outlook, and furnishing. Sapienza Travel has secured a number of rooms directly facing the Lagoon for your stay. With that in mind, we are offering these rooms and suites at varying prices to reflect their differences.

Flights - The outward flight departs London Gatwick at 8.25am. The return flight leaves Venice at 5.05pm, arriving at Gatwick at 6.15pm.

If you would like to fly BA Club class, please contact us and we will provide a price for the upgrade. We make the tours available without flights for those of you who would like to make your own travel arrangements. Regional departures may be possible. Please, contact us with your requests.

Travel advice - Please refer the Foreign Office's website to make sure you are comfortable with the travel advice they provide for the destination(s) you are visiting. 

Activity level - Our tours involve a lot of walking, climbing stairs and standing still for periods of time. The historic centres of cities are often uneven and cobbled requiring everyone to be confident walking across them.
Thomas Abbott
Thomas Abbott is an independent art and architectural historian. He graduated in Psychology and Art History at Carleton College, Minnesota, and studied his Masters at the Louvre School of Art History in Paris. He is a specialist in architectural history from the Baroque to the 20th century. He has a been a resident of Berlin since 1987 and has successfully led cultural tours for many years across Europe.
Charles Barber
Having graduated with a Bachelors of Law from the University of Edinburgh, Charles Barber embarked on what became a twenty-year career in business at the Reed Travel Group, LexisNexis Butterworths Tolley and The Economist. Charles received his MA in Renaissance Studies from the University of London. He gained his Masters in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, where he specialised in Early Netherlandish art and its impact on the art of Renaissance Florence. 
Hotel Locanda Vivaldi
The Locanda Vivaldi Hotel was previously the home of the composer, Antonio Vivaldi. Today, it is a luxurious 4-star boutique hotel (27 rooms) that looks out across the Venetian lagoon and is only a few steps from the St Mark's Square.  The hotel and rooms are richly decorated in stuccos, gildings, marbles and antique furniture in the Venetian style. There are precious fabrics, curtains, drapes, oriental carpets illuminated by the light of the Murano glass chandeliers.

The Panoramic Terrace has a view stretching from Venice's Lido to the column of Saint Mark's Square. It is available only to guests of the hotel.
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Duration: 6 days
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