(Po River Cruise)
Romantics, connoisseurs of food and wine, and lovers of art and architecture may rejoice on this delightful river cruise, celebrating the glories of Italy with the Po River and Venice Lagoon as your highway. Renaissance palazzi float above the lagoon, miragelike. Gondoliers pole past, singing. You could be in only one place in the world: Venice. But Venice is not the only storied city in the region. Ravenna hosts ravishing Byzantine mosaics. Bologna, Verona, and Padua, bequeathed beautiful historic city centers by centuries of trade, are still dynamic places to visit. Unpack, pour a glass of prosecco, and prepare to explore Northern Italy from the comfort of a luxurious river cruise ship.
Cruise Departure Dates:
2013: every Sunday from Apr 7 - Nov 10
2014: every Sunday from Apr 6 - Nov 9
Take a private water taxi for an airport transfer.
The Palace Bonvecchiati (4*) is located in the heart of Venice, has the most privileged position of any 4-star hotel in Venice: the hotel is in Calle Goldoni, just a 3-minute walk from Saint Mark's Square and 5 minutes from the Rialto Bridge. Palace Bonvecchiati is unique to Venice: a modern luxury hotel in the heart of historic Venice. The lounge is of exceptional class and elegance, where authentic contemporary works of art are found as a counterpoint to the very original red sofas that stand out against the terrazzo floor and the precious marble of the walls.
Set out on an exploratory adventure into the world of Venetian glass creation. Begin by departing your hotel with your English speaking guide and board a private taxi boat. This aquatic taxi will glide across the Venetian Lagoon towards the two enchanting islands of Murano and Burano. For hundreds of years the glass factory on Murano has been producing some of the world’s greatest, and highly demanded, glass creations. During this exclusive tour of the factory, you'll get an opportunity to marvel at the traditional glass-blowing techniques used at this very factory for centuries. After the demo, you'll have an opportunity to purchase these freshly blown glass objects if you'd like (at your own expense). From Murano you'll again board your water taxi and travel to the magnificent island of Burano featuring various colourful painted houses and villas. Burano is renowned throughout Europe for its marvelous lace production which you'll have an opportunity to experience during your visit to the Lace Factory. You'll have an opportunity before returning back to the Venetian mainland to stroll along the narrow streets and barter with the merchants for that special souvenir of your visit to these truly inspirational Venetian islands.
Take a private water taxi for a port transfer.
Welcome aboard!Take some time to get settled in to your stateroom, and to explore the length of your ship. Your cruise experience begins this evening with your first dinner on board; perhaps an ideal time to meet some of your fellow cruisemates.
Port charges are included in your itinerary pricing.
The River Countess is a stunning, newly remodeled (2012) boutique river cruise ship, for an intimate group of up to 134 guests. Lavishly appointed riverview staterooms and suites have handcrafted Savoir® of England beds draped in high-thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sheets and European duvets, along with a menu of pillow options. Staterooms and suites on the Rhine Deck have French balconies. Public areas and facilities include the Main Lounge with full-service bar and dance floor, Captain’s Lounge with library, elegant restaurant, patio lounge, sky lounge, sun deck with life-size chess and shuffleboard, fitness center, sauna, Serenity River Spa, boutique, and elevator.
Today you'll set out on a group walking tour of historic Venice, as well as a Grand Canal cruise, and an exclusive evening opening of St. Mark's Basilica. Venice, founded in the sixth century, rose up on 118 islands in a lagoon of the Adriatic Sea. It became a great political power that controlled all European trade with the East throughout the Middle Ages, and its citizens lavished their wealth on their home town. You’ll stand in Piazza San Marco, perhaps the most famous plaza in Italy, where every view has been re-created by painters through the ages, and be awed by 11th-century San Mark’s Basilica, adorned inside and out with treasures Venetian traders brought back from their voyages. The Palazzo Ducale, the Doge’s Palace, reflects the wealth and the security of Venice’s rulers—it contained both the doge’s private quarters and the council chambers where the elite 1,000 met to make major political decisions. See the city as voyagers have always seen it, from the water, as you cruise along the Grand Canal, lined with palaces that reflect the history of the city—Byzantine, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque—and spanned by famous bridges.
A full-day group excursion today takes you to Padua. The 13th and 14th centuries were glory days for Padua. At the Scrovegni Chapel you’ll see the astonishing and moving frescoes painted by Giotto around 1300, but Giotto was not the only artist to shine here; Mantegna and Donatello also gave Padua extraordinary artistic treasures. Your walking tour will take you from the Basilica del Santo to Caffè Pedrocchi, which writers, poets, and artists have frequented.
Your full-day shore excursion today will have you traveling by coach to Ravenna, a vital seaport and Italian capital of the Byzantine Empire, is celebrated for the fifth- and sixth-century mosaics that adorn its churches. You will see the UNESCO-designated Basilica di Sant’Apollinare and the mausoleum of Galla Placidia; the buildings are sheathed in spectacular mosaics. Spend the afternoon rambling through the lovely historic downtown on your own, and enjoy artisanal foods tasting.
Spend the whole day in Bologna, called la grassa, meaning bountiful. Does it have the best food in Northern Italy? You be the judge. There’s more to the city than Bolognese sauce, that’s for sure—there’s Parma ham, Parmegiano (parmesan), and perhaps the best tortellini in the world, all on lavish display at Bologna’s amazing food markets. Join in on a pasta workshop and discover how to make your own fabulous pasta.
Your full-day excursion today begins with a coach drive to Verona. Shakespeare endowed Verona with fame through the ages when he wrote of two local star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, but Verona’s wealth comes from its role as a center of trade; today it hosts Italy’s biggest wine fair. You’ll see architectural treasures ranging from an ancient Roman amphitheater still in use to Medieval palaces and the Piazza d’Erbe, with its 14th-century fountain. And, of course, you may stand below the Juliet balcony just as Romeo did.
Explore Venice at your leisure. You can take a vaporetto to Murano for the world-renowned glass studios. Of course, you must take a gondola ride! Go to the Gallerie dell’Accademia for the greatest collection of Italian masters in one place; you’ll find Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo, Veronese, Canaletto, and Guardi, to name only a few. Lounge beside the Grand Canal with an aperitivo. Take time to see some of the quiet back lanes where tourists rarely go and get a sense of daily life in the enchanted city.
This morning you'll disembark from your ship, bidding farewell to your fellow cruisemates.
Board the coach transfer to the airport for your outbound flight.
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