Our tour begins with a morning flight from London to Venice, where we meet Peter and Tom who will escort us in private water taxis to the Hotel Saturnia, a 14th century Palazzo, positioned in the heart of the city. We stay here for six nights. Following a light lunch and a little time to freshen up, we take a stroll around the immediate environs of the hotel, viewing La Fenice, St Mark’s Square, the astronomical clock of the Torre dell' Orologio, the Doges Palace, and enjoy the views across St Mark’s Basin to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. In the evening we dine together in the Caravella Restaurant, in the hotel.
After our morning lecture on the life and music of Benedetto Marcello, our first full day is spent visiting the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory of Music established in 1876 in the Palazzo Pisani, adjacent to the Accademia Bridge. Following a guided tour of the music library and the musical instrument collection, we are treated to a recital in one of the conservatory’s concert halls. We remain in the ‘Sestiere of San Marco’ for lunch, after which we visit the Gothic church of Santa Stefano, a magnificent building containing works by Canova, Tintoretto, and the Lombardos, as well as a funerary monument to the composer Giovanni Gabrieli. Afterwards, we make our way to the church of San Vidal and round the afternoon off, with further live keyboard music.
The lion’s share of the morning will be spent in the Museo Fortuny, a Gothic palazzo, which was once the home of Mariano Fortuny, the textile designer who created Fortuny Fabrics. However, en route to the museum, we ascend (by lift) the 323 feet tall bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica to view the magnificent sights of the city. After lunch - again in the Sestiere of San Marco - we visit the early 15th century Scala Contarini del Bovolo, a building which houses the tallest spiral staircase in Venice. It was commissioned around 1400 by Pietro Contarini as a decorative element to the adjacent family's Palazzo. We then head to the Western end of the Grand Canal, and to the Ca' Vendramin Calergi, which houses the Richard Wagner Museum, the largest private collection dedicated to the German composer after that of Bayreuth. It was after the premiere of his final opera, Parsifal, that Wagner went to Venice for a well earned rest, but died unexpectedly at the Ca' Vendramin Calergi on 13th February 1883. Finally, we have tea at Ca' Vendramin Calergi.
Today we take a private boat to the Lido, the barrier island in the Venetian Lagoon, where we explore a number of its magnificent highlights. First, we visit the Benedictine abbey of the church of San Nicolò of Myra, which traditionally houses the relics of the famous saint. In the past, it was here that the thanksgiving mass of the Sposalizio del Mare (Marriage of the Sea) was celebrated every Ascension Day by the Doge and his entourage. After a visit to the nearby atmospheric 14th century Jewish cemetery, we make our way to the domed church of Tempio Votivo and stroll down the Gran Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta to see the Ex Hotel des Bain, where Thomas Mann was inspired to write his novel Death in Venice, and where Sergei Diaghilev – founder of the Ballet Russe – died in 1929. Lunch will be taken on the Lido, after which we visit Venice’s cathedral, the Basilica di San Pietro di Castello. Here we enjoy an organ recital, before making our way to the church of San Zaccaria to view the famous Bellini altarpiece. The evening is at leisure, or an optional concert or opera visit.
The whole of this morning will be spent in the state rooms of the privately owned Palazzo Marin, where we enjoy a study morning on the music of Venice, and the music that Venice has inspired over the centuries. The session is illustrated with live musical performances played on the excellent resident grand piano. There is a coffee break at halftime, followed by a buffet lunch. In the afternoon, we visit the Museum of Modern Art, housed in the Ca’ Persaro on the Grand Canal. The wonderful art collection contains works by Ippolito Caffi, Guglielmo Ciardi, Giacomo Favretto, Chagall, Kandinsky, Klee and Moore. A highlight is Gustav Klimt’s Judith II. The late afternoon is at leisure, followed by an afterhours private visit to St Mark’s to see the interior mosaics floodlit by arc lights.
We spend today in Treviso, an ancient city about 40 miles to the North of Venice steeped in history and laden with fine museums, churches and other architectural delights. Together with Viviana our local guide - who lives in Treviso - and Peter and Tom, we explore the city by foot taking in the Teatro Maria del Monaco, the church of Santa Maria Maggiore whose origins are said to go back to the 1st century AD, Museo Santa Caterina Art Gallery, and the Treviso Duomo. We return to our hotel in the late afternoon in good time for last minute packing, and a farewell drinks reception. Dinner will be at a nearby restaurant.
After a summing up lecture at the hotel, we have the morning at leisure to explore the city under our own steam. However, we enjoy a final lunch together, before taking the water taxis from our hotel to the airport for our flight back to London.
Tour limited to 24 passengers
Lectures by Peter Medhurst each morning
Thomas Abbott - professional tour manager & art historian
All excursions, entrance fees, guided tours & gratuities for hotel & restaurant staff included
Centrally located 4* hotel
Welcome & farewell dinners included
Included light lunches everyday
Direct scheduled flights from London Heathrow to Venice
Return water taxi transfers in Venice between the airport & hotel
Included Vaporetta ticket for the whole tour
Benedetto Marcello Conservatory of Music – recital & guided tour of the music library & musical instrument collection
Church of Santa Stefano
Church of San Vidal - recital
Bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica
Scala Contarini del Bovolo
Ca' Vendramin Calergi & Richard Wagner Museum
Boat trip to the Lido
Church of San Nicolò of Myra
Basilica di San Pietro di Castello - organ recital
Church of San Zaccaria & its Bellini altarpiece
State rooms of the Palazzo Marin - a study morning on the music of Venice
Museum of Modern Art, Ca’ Persaro
Private evening viewing of the mosaics at St Mark’s Basilica
Treviso - Teatro Maria del Monaco, the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, Museo Santa Caterina Art Gallery & Treviso Duomo
We stay for six nights at the 4* Hotel Saturnia (www.hotelsaturnia.it) which has a wonderful old world grandeur about it. The hotel, dating from the 14th century, is one of the great palazzos of Venice and is located in the heart of the city and is just a short stroll from St Mark’s Square and La Fenice. The hotel has a restaurant and bar and all rooms are en suite. Dinner is included at the hotel’s La Caravella restaurant on the first evening and at a restaurant close to our hotel on the last evening. The remaining four nights are on bed and breakfast basis.
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