Cruise & Rail: Milan, Venice & the Swiss Alps

Cruise & Rail: Milan, Venice & the Swiss Alps

14 DAYS FROM MILAN TO ZURICH

Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.

Day 1: Milan

Arrive at Milan Malpensa Airport. If your cruise/tour package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the Rosa Grand hotel.
Note: For Arrival, Departure and Transfer details, please visit Uniworld.com/transfers. For Port Location details, please visit Uniworld.com/ports.

Day 2: Milan

Milan is a mecca for Italian fashionistas, famous for its innovative design and stylish flair. Venture inside the city’s hulking Gothic cathedral, as well as its cathedral to capitalism, Europe’s oldest shopping arcade. The highlight today is Da Vinci’s revolutionary “The Last Supper” mural.

Milan highlights city tour

Your hotel is in the heart of the city, so it’s easy to see the highlights of the neighborhood on a short, guided walk. Il Duomo, the magnificent cathedral, was born in the 14th century yet finished 500 years later. The last part to be finished, one of its five great doors, wasn’t installed until 1965 and offers one of the most spectacular Gothic façades in the world. Step inside with a local expert for a tour of the ravishing interior, then walk across the square and under the splendid triumphal arch that welcomes visitors and shoppers into the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Learn a bit about the history of this area as you stroll through the beautiful 19th-century glass-covered arcade; it’s the oldest shopping mall in Europe and is still wildly popular, housing the flagships of leading fashion designers and trendy restaurants.

You’ll emerge in Piazza della Scala, home to the internationally celebrated opera house whose name comes from the square, Teatro alla Scala. Directly opposite Piazza della Scala is Milan’s city hall. A stunning Renaissance palace, it is just one of the palaces and fortresses that were the heart of medieval civic power, where the Viscontis and then the Sforzas reigned, each ruler adding to the city’s splendor and tumultuous history.

With so many highlights, it’s hard to pinpoint just one, but Santa Maria delle Grazie, a beautiful Gothic and Renaissance church, offers you a sight you will never forget. The Last Supper is not in the church itself; it adorns the walls of a modest adjoining building that was the Dominican refectory. Your tour ends after you’ve had an opportunity to admire Da Vinci’s revolutionary work or spend some free time exploring the area on your own.

Note: The order of sightseeing varies according to the availability of time slots at Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Day 3: Milan (Verona/Valpolicella), Transfer to Venice (Embark)

En route to Venice, you’ll stop in the literary hometown of Shakespeare’s famously star-crossed teen lovers to see the sights. Later, enjoy lunch at a historic wine estate owned by descendants of Dante and learn about one of the most unique Italian wines, Amarone di Valpolicella.

Verona, “City of Romeo and Juliet”

Discover the real roots of Shakespeare’s tragic tale with a visit to the fair city of Verona. The Scaligeri family ruled the city for two centuries, routinely murdering one another to gain power; an echo of these savage family feuds found their way into the Bard’s tragedy. Your walking tour passes the house where Romeo purportedly lived, as well as the pretty 14th-century stone house where legend says Juliet listened to her Romeo’s vows. It’s certainly a romantic destination for lovers now as visitors leave love notes on the walls. Stop by the imposing Scaligeri tombs, and ramble along Via Mazzini and through Piazza delle Erbe—the bustling city square laid out where the ancient Roman forum once stood. After the tour, you’ll have a little free time to explore on your own. You might step into one of the beautiful and historic churches nearby or take an elevator up to the top of Torre dei Lamberti for a great view of the old city and its surroundings.

Valpolicella wine estate lunch

Your journey continues from Verona through the lovely vine-clad hills of the Valpolicella wine country. These vineyards grow Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes—and even Garganega, the grape used for Soave wines. While the everyday Valpolicella red wine is popular and easy-drinking, the region also produces Amarone, a lush and unmistakable red that is the result of a unique wine-making process: Grapes are air-dried on bamboo racks for several months before being crushed for fermentation, giving the wine a luscious depth of flavor. Modest farmhouses and great estates alike produce delightful wines, but the Serego Alighieri estate, which belongs to descendants of Dante Alighieri, is one of the oldest and loveliest. The stately villa stands amid gracious gardens and fertile vineyards, welcoming you in for a tour of the grounds and cellars. You’ll see the drying racks and learn about the process before savoring a delectable three-course lunch carefully paired with Serego Alighieri wines.

This evening you’ll arrive in Venice and embark. Unpack, relax and enjoy your first evening on the Venetian Lagoon. A compulsory safety drill and briefing, along with the welcome briefing, will be organized shortly before dinner, but this will be a quick and easy part of your journey.

Day 4: Venice

With your early morning arrival at Doge’s Palace, you’ll be able to marvel at the estate in total peace. Wander through a Venetian neighborhood and experience daily life in an authentic Venetian residential quarter. Later in the evening, cap the day off with a private once-in-a-lifetime experience at an after-hours lighting ceremony inside St. Mark’s Basilica without the crowds.

A morning walk in Venice with Doge’s Palace visit

Please note that the amount of walking during this excursion is extensive.

Venice has no need to designate a pedestrians-only historic district because no cars are permitted within the island city - all transportation is by foot or water.

You first arrive at the Doge’s Palace and most famous plaza in Italy - St. Mark’s Square. Venetians elected their first doge, or duke, in AD 697 and began building the palace around AD 800.

The palace complex, as it exists now, mostly dates to the 14th and 15th centuries, and it brims with jaw-dropping artistic gems, including Tintoretto’s wall-sized Paradise and works by Veronese, Tiepolo and Titian. Throughout its history, Venice has been a supremely political city. Those convicted of crimes were led across the Bridge of Sighs to prison. Follow their footsteps to the prison and gaze into the cells. Casanova escaped from one of these cells. Other less-fortunate prisoners whiled away their time by inscribing graffiti on the walls, which you can still read.

You will continue this exploration by strolling through the historic Castello district. It’s the largest of Venice’s six districts. Back in the 13th century the Castello district was home to the Arsenal, where Venice’s ships were built. (Venetians boasted that they could build a complete ship in a single day.) This is also where the famous Biennale art exhibition now takes place. As you pass 800-year-old homes, you’ll hear the murmur of the soft local dialect through the open windows. Clothes flap from lines strung over tiny canals and kids kick soccer balls along cobbled alleys. It’s a real, living, breathing neighborhood, not just a historic site.

In addition to its well-known museums, Venice is also home to some highly specialized ones: Displays at the Correr are devoted to the history of Venice; the Museo della Musica contains 17th and 18th-century musical instruments and exhibits about composer Antonio Vivaldi. Known as the Red Priest for his hair color, Vivaldi taught music to the daughters of Venetian noblemen. The Museo Ebraico examines the history of the Jewish community that was confined to an island known as Ghetto Nuovo. The latter was one of Europe’s wealthiest and most cultured Jewish communities, made up in part with refugees from the Spanish Inquisition.

Private after-hours visit to Saint Mark's Basilica

Welcome to Saint Mark’s Basilica. The doors of this icon are specially opened for you tonight. You will see the glorious church in the evening light and without the crowds. You’ll find it almost impossible not to gaze heavenward as you enter St. Mark’s. High overhead, magnificent domes are sheathed in mosaics telling the story of the New Testament, but don’t miss the intricate pattern of marble and mosaic tile under your feet. Ahead of you is the famous altarpiece made by 10th-century Byzantine artisans who gilded it and decorated it with precious gems, some of which were subsequently stolen by Napoleon. The building, which exemplifies the city’s historic connection to Byzantium and the Eastern Mediterranean, was finished in the 11th century and incorporates the remnants of earlier churches. Golden glass-tiled mosaics line the interior walls and cupolas, giving the church its nickname, Church of Gold. It houses treasures collected by Venetians over the centuries. The relics of St. Mark, patron saint of the city, were stolen from Alexandria, and the Tetrarch, a group of four crowned figures, was looted from Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. Every successful Venetian voyager returned with something to decorate the basilica—a frieze, a statue—and the result is one of the most stunning works of art and architecture in this amazing city.

Note: It is not always possible to arrange an after-hours visit to St. Mark’s Basilica if religious functions or festivities are taking place in the evening. We will try to organize an earlier tour, but if cancelled, an alternative option, like a visit to San Rocco, will be organized.

Day 5: Venice, Chioggia

Choose between a full-day in medieval Padua, home to Italy's second oldest university, or a Venice walking tour and a choice of several exciting ways to see Chioggia: sailing through the Po delta, riding on a traditional bragozzo or biking through this authentic fishing town.
A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening. IMPORTANT: We are obliged to comply with Italian Maritime Authorities who require that only crew may be on the ship during the Adriatic Sea passage. Therefore, our guests must disembark the ship and partake in the featured excursions.

Day 6: Polesella (Bologna or Ferrara)

Explore Italy’s culinary capital Bologna on a full-day tour packed with an exclusive pasta-making workshop and lunch or explore Ferrara on a half-day tour.

Private pasta-making and Italian lunch in Bologna

There are those who believe that the best tortellini in the world is made in Bologna. Taste and decide for yourself today. Of course, there’s Bolognese sauce, but that’s just one possible topping for the exceptional pasta available here. Locals also claim to have invented the first chocolate bars, and even if others dispute that claim, there’s no denying that the chocolate shops offer some very special treats. Bologna’s green market brims with local produce, and its specialty food stores and food halls are unmatched; locally made mortadella, luscious balsamic vinegar from nearby Modena, ham from Parma and, of course, great rounds of Parmesan cheese all contribute to the lavish displays. Stroll with your guide under the famous arcades to see some of the lovely, historic buildings in the city center. The huge basilica dates to the 14th century, and the two leaning towers that loom above Piazza di Porta Ravegnana were built in the 12th century, as were the structures that housed Europe’s first university. Participate in a workshop on making pasta and enjoy an exquisite Bolognese lunch at a celebrated restaurant. Sated with food and culture, it will then be time to head back to the ship.

Ferrara: Renaissance, elegance and Italian lifestyle town walk

Square towers rise sternly above the moat that still surrounds Castle Estense, the huge fortress the Este family built in the center of Ferrara in the 14th century. It was a demonstration of both power and caution, since the Estes had just put down an uprising, but it is just one of the family palaces to grace the city they developed. They turned Ferrara into a center for the arts and artists—particularly for musicians and composers—that rivaled Medici Florence. Here the Renaissance concept of the ideal city took shape—it was the first planned city in Italy that did not follow a Roman model—and as you take a brief walking tour through the historic center, you will see the Estes’ vision throughout it, from the street layout that parallels the river to the many family palaces. But not all of Ferrara is Renaissance: The medieval walls still surround the old city (providing a popular walking and biking route for locals and visitors alike), the Gothic cathedral dates to the 12th century, and tiny cobbled lanes might make you think you were visiting the Middle Ages—were it not for the bicycles that Ferrara’s citizens ride everywhere. Your local expert will introduce you to the highlights of Ferrara, and you’ll have some time to explore on your own before returning to the ship for lunch.

Day 7: Porto Viro, Chioggia, Burano

Today, you’ll admire the greatest sites of charming and coastal Chioggia, including a stop at the local and lively market. Your ship will move to dock overnight in Burano, where you’ll enjoy a lovely evening stroll through this multicolored island.

Chioggia market visit

Chioggia is the quintessential Venetian Lagoon fishing village. Founded in the fifth century, it was known as the pantry of Venice because of its many small truck farms, which supplied Venetian households with produce until just a few decades ago. It is still a thriving fishing port; its wholesale fish market is one of the largest in Italy. On Thursdays, Chioggia also hosts Corso del Popolo—a dynamic outdoor market along its main thoroughfare where stands sell everything from clothes, shoes, purses, gadgets and “every-day” domestic items. Locals usually do their shopping here as prices are more affordable than retail shopping.

IMPORTANT: We are obliged to comply with Italian Maritime Authorities who require that only crew may be on the ship during the Adriatic Sea passage. Therefore, our guests must disembark the ship and partake in the featured excursions. We thank you for your cooperation.

Day 8: Burano (Torcello, Mazzorbo, and Burano), Venice

Spend the day exploring the northern lagoon of Venice and three of its captivating islands. Explore a basilica with an art historian in Torcello before heading to the peaceful, agricultural island of Mazzorbo. End the tour with a stroll through Burano’s rainbow of colorful homes and visit a lace-making atelier.

Full-day Magic Island Day–hidden treasures of the lagoon

The Venetian lagoon is dotted with islands, each with its own history, heritage and charm.

Welcome to Torcello. It was settled before Venice was founded, and at one time it was the greatest, most populous city in the lagoon; now, however, only a handful of people live there. Its centerpiece is the basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, the oldest church in the lagoon and a monument to Torcello’s lost might. The doors open early for you so you can see the stunning 11th-century mosaic of the Last Judgment without the crowds—and with expert commentary from your art historian guide.

Off to Mazzorbo. Here you’ll find a different craft practiced: winemaking. Visit an ambitious wine estate devoted to making wine with Dorona grapes, which tolerate the salt air—and the occasional saltwater bath during very high tides—and produce a luscious golden wine. These grapes grew here long ago in a walled vineyard that has been brought back into verdant production. Enjoy a tasting in lovely surroundings.

Next, let’s enjoy a rainbow of Italian history. Hot pink, chartreuse, orange, lemon yellow—Burano’s brightly painted fishermen’s cottages are an artist’s dream. The sizzling colors may look random, but they are strictly regulated: An owner needs state permission to change the color of the house. Burano is even better known for its lace-making tradition than for its colors; the exquisite craft has been practiced here for 400 years, handed down from mother to daughter since the first workshop was set up at the end of the 16th century. Visit a historic lace-making atelier to see some of this delicate work and, if you like, purchase items to take home.

Day 9: Venice

As your water taxi glides past narrow side canals and the Canal Grande, you’ll arrive in style at the Rialto Bridge and Fondaco dei Tedeschi. The iconic stone arch bridge sits at the narrowest point of the Canal Grande and holds numerous shops and restaurants.

“Do as the Locals Do” Venice walking tour

Back when Venice was at the height of its power, only the Rialto Bridge spanned the Grand Canal—and the city’s famous Rialto markets for fish and produce have sprawled at its feet as long as the bridge has arched over the water. Here you’ll find violet artichokes from the nearby island of Sant’Erasmo, honey from the salt marshes, white asparagus from Giare—and Venetians shopping for their dinners in the historic heart of the city. Join them as you explore the colorful, noisy and fun arcades with your guide (the ship’s chef often accompanies this expedition), who knows Venice’s culinary arts intimately. Freshly caught local fish is sold to knowledgeable customers under the Gothic arches of the covered fish market, which was probably originally built in the 11th century. At the end of the tour (and after some free time where you should have plenty of time to enjoy a gondola ride), join your guide at a bacaro (a casual wine bar) for the Venetian version of happy hour, called ombra e cicchetti—a drink (often a glass of prosecco) with a bite of something delicious—perhaps crostini with salt cod spread or another Venetian fish specialty.

A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 10: Venice (Disembark), Transfer to Train (Embark), Trieste

Disembark the ship. You will be transferred to the Venice Santa Lucia Station, where you will board the Golden Eagle Danube Express. You’ll have time to settle into your new cabins as the train slowly threads its way out of Venice towards Trieste, a medieval port city that was once amongst the oldest and largest cities in the Habsburg Empire. After a tour of the city, re-join the train for dinner as you head over the border into Slovenia and stop at Postojna, where you can enjoy a private evening tour of the caves.

Day 11: Ljubljana, Lake Bled and Lienz

After breakfast, arrive in the Slovenian Capital Ljubljana, where your morning tour of this lovely city includes a boat cruise on the Ljubljanica River. During lunch we travel up to Lake Bled, picturesquely situated in the Julian Alps. Following a traditional pletna boat ride to Bled Island, your train will take you to the medieval Austrian town of Lienz, where you can visit the 13th-century, hilltop castle of Schloss Bruck. During dinner, the train will take you back to Italy to spend the night in San Candido.

Day 12: Brenner Pass, Innsbruck and St. Anton

In the early morning, your train leaves San Candido on a scenic line through Fortezza and over the Brenner pass to Innsbruck, Austria. Tour this charming town before lunch on the train, during which you will travel through the Arlberg to St. Anton for an afternoon in a year-round Alpine resort.

Day 13: Vaduz and Zurich (Disembark)

Your train leaves St. Anton at breakfast time to travel through the vorarlberg to Buchs, where you will visit Liechtenstein and its capital, Vaduz. Join the train for a scenic lunchtime ride along Walensee and the Lake of Zurich on the way to your final stop. Disembark at Zurich Bf (Main Station), where you will be taken to your hotel to enjoy a leisurely evening.

Day 14: Zurich

Check out of your hotel and head to Zurich Airport for your flight home.

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Cruise & Rail: Milan, Venice & the Swiss Alps

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