Grand Canal in Venice, Italy

Venice & the Gems of Northern Italy

8 DAYS FROM VENICE TO VENICE

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: Venice (Embark)

Arrive at Venice Marco Polo International Airport, where you will be transferred to the ship. Unpack, relax and enjoy your first evening on the Venetian Lagoon.
Note: For Arrival, Departure and Transfer details, please visit Uniworld.com/transfers. For Port Location details, please visit Uniworld.com/ports.

Day 2: 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 a typical 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.

Parading through Doge’s Palace

A visit to Doge’s Palace is sure to delight and surprise even the youngest of the crew. With mystery at every turn, artistic majesty cloaking the walls, and a dusty dungeon straight from a fairy tale—Doge’s Palace is, in a word, spectacular. Don’t forget to meet Venice’s guardian lions on your way to the Bridge of Sighs and Saint Mark’s Square.

Day 3: Venice, Chioggia

Choose between Venice or medieval Padua, home to Italy’s second oldest university, for your walking tour today. Or pick one of several exciting ways to see Chioggia: sailing through the lagoon, harvesting mussels on a bragozzo ride or biking through this authentic fishing town.

Bike the beach

Explore the lively fishing town of Chioggia by bicycle! From views of the lagoon to the sea—stop at the Adriatic beaches for some fun in the sun before cooling down with a gelato.

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 the ship is only manned by crew during the Adriatic Sea passage. Therefore, our guests must disembark the ship and partake in the featured excursions.

Day 4: 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.

Bolognese pasta workshop

You’re never too young to become a food connoisseur. First, you'll be taken on a food-focused tour through Bologna and its historic central markets which boast a variety of culinary delicacies like artisanal chocolates, cheese, ham and handmade pasta. Next, a workshop where an expert will guide you through the process of making your own pasta. It's messy but wholesome fun. Afterward, the chef’s delicious creations will be incorporated into an authentic Bolognese meal for you and your family. And you get to take home the best souvenir you could ask for—a new (and tasty!) skill.

Day 5: Porto Viro, Chioggia, Burano

Today, you’ll admire the greatest sites of charming and coastal Chioggia. Enjoy a stop at the local and lively market.

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.

Keys to Chioggia

It’s market day! See a different side of Chioggia with a tour through the city’s active and rich markets. Check out the catch of the day in the fish market, sample local delicacies and enjoy a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Here, you can climb to the top of the ancient clock tower to take in the view.

IMPORTANT: We are obliged to comply with Italian Maritime Authorities who require that the ship is only manned by crew 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 6: 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. While on Mazzorbo, be treated to a very special wine tasting from a saltwater-tolerant heirloom grape, Dorona, which has been planted here to yield a luscious golden wine. Stroll through Burano’s rainbow of colorful homes and visit a lace-making atelier.

Magic islands

Explore the northern lagoon with a scavenger hunt through Torcello, Burano and Mazzorbo. Make sure you bring your camera to these picture-perfect islands to snap shots of their gorgeous landscapes, colorful houses, and historic bell-towers. And don’t miss sampling the Bussola Buranello cookies that put Burano on the culinary map.

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 7: 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. Today, you’ll also be able to enjoy a tour of the Accademia Gallery with an art-historian guide or embark on a “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour.

“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.

“Venetian Painters at the Accademia” tour with art historian guide

Join an art historian on a private guided visit to the Academy. Probably the greatest collection of Venetian Renaissance paintings in the world, it includes works by Tiepolo, Veronese, Tintoretto, Bellini and Canaletto. There are more than 20 galleries, each one containing extraordinary masterpieces, with exhibits generally laid out in chronological order. There are far too many to see in a single visit; fortunately, your guide brings a specialist’s knowledge to the history of Venetian painting and will show you what was unique about Venetian art as it developed from the 14th through the 16th centuries.

Note: Photography is not permitted inside the Academy, and large bags, especially backpacks, must be left in lockers.

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

Day 8: Venice (Disembark)

Disembark the ship. If your cruise/tour package includes a group departure transfer or if you purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Venice Marco Polo International Airport for your flight home.

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