Road Scholar : Home
Discovering Lake Garda, Verona, Palladio's Villas and Venice

Program Number: 21311RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/15/2014 - 9/28/2014;
Duration: 13 nights
Location: Italy
Price starting at: $3,467.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 26; 12 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

The Veneto — once known as the “Republic of Venice” — is home to some of the richest historical, cultural and artistic heritages in Northern Italy, as recognized by UNESCO. From the commune of Desenzano along the shores of Lake Garda to Vicenza, and onward to the legendary city of Venice, discover all that the Veneto has to offer during this rich learning adventure. Explore Roman ruins and study the architecture of Andrea Palladio with local historians, then enjoy ample free time to explore museums, waterfronts and more on your own.


• Join a local historian for an exploration of the architecture of Andrea Palladio, including the Teatro Olimpico and La Rotonda in Vicenza.
• On the island of Sirmione, discover the hot springs that through time have served as both a Roman thermal bath and source for modern spas.
• Arrive in Venice the old-fashioned way — by boat — then experience the wonders of the Doge’s palace, the Bridge of Sighs and St. Mark’s Basilica with an expert.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles a day.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Verona, coach to Desenzano, 5 nights; coach to Vicenza, 3 nights; ferry and coach to Venice, 4 nights; departure.

Overnight flight from U.S.
1 night
Arrival Desenzano
5 nights

On the picturesque shores of Lake Garda, discover the commune of Desenzano, once an important center for Roman trade. Explore the mosaics and remains of a Roman villa, then enjoy a free afternoon for a boat excursion or walk along the lakefront garden. A day excursion to Verona offers an expert-led exploration of the Arena of Verona — Italy’s third-largest Roman amphitheater — followed by independent discoveries of the Piazza delle Erbe, Scaligeri monuments and more. Ferry to Sirmione for a fascinating look at the island’s hot springs and Roman thermal bath complex, and pay a visit to Scaligeri castle. In Mantua, take in a lecture on the Gonzaga family who once ruled the city, and explore Ducal Castle on your own.

Coach to Vicenza
3 nights

Stop at a vineyard in the Soave region to sample wines and enjoy a light lunch. In Vicenza, the architectural treasures of Andrea Palladio are all around you, and offer a historic look at 17th century Italy. Join an expert for a look at Palladio’s Teatro Olimpico, inspired by Greek theaters, and enjoy ample time to explore Vincenza independently.

Ferry and coach to Venice
4 nights

Marvel at the beauty of Palladio’s Villa “La Rotonda” before boarding a ferry for a half-day journey along the Brenta Canal. Before arriving in Venice, stop to explore another Palladian villa with an expert. Then, join an expert for in-depth explorations of Venice neighborhoods, as well as the Bridge of Sighs, St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s palace. After a glass blowing demonstration on the island of Murano enjoy time to independently explore museums such as the Peggy Guggenheim or the Correr, or take a boat excursion to the islands of Murano and Burano, famous for their glass and lace artisans.


“Dolce far niente,” the “sweetness of doing nothing.” This ode to leisure is a distinctly Italian phrase, and yet the expression does not do justice to the hard-work ethos of the nation’s inhabitants. The monuments, art and civilization bequeathed to the people of modern Italy are a testament to the industry of their forebearers, and the legacy lives on in today’s Italians, who work hard to better enjoy the sweetness of repose.

Desenzano: Family-run hotel near Lake Garda. Vicenza: Four-star hotel. Venice: Four-star hotel.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Europa Desenzano del Garda
  Desenzano del Garda, Italy 5 nights
   Hotel Campo Marzio
  Vicenza, Italy 3 nights
   Hotel Giorgione
  Venice, Italy 4 nights
 Hotel Europa Desenzano del Garda
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Hotel Europa in Desenzano del Garda is just across the street from Lake Garda. Lakefront views, near the public beach and port, it is ideally situated close to the historical center.
  Contact info: Lungolago C. Battisti, 71
Desenzano del Garda,  25015 Italy
phone: +39 030 914 2333
  Room amenities: Air conditioning; modern furniture; free wifi; satellite and flat screen TV; direct dial telephone, mini bar; safe, hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: 24 hour desk service, free wifi and internet point, elevator, comfortable lobby and American bar--take your beverage out to the veranda and enjoy the spectacular views of the mountains and lake. Restaurant and conference center.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: varies by season You can book additional nights directly through the hotel’s online reservation system Indicate to the hotel that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room assignment. Another option is to use online hotel consolidator services such as or Expedia.
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Hotel Campo Marzio
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Business class hotel adjacent city park, 400 yards from the train station and 30 yards from the pedestrian zone of downtown old Vicenza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with its Palladian Villas of the Veneto.
  Contact info: Viale Roma, 21
Vicenza,  36100 Italy
phone: +39 0444-545-700
  Room amenities: A/C controls; free wifi, safe for valuables, mini bar, satellite TV, soundproof windows. The hotel is a non smoking facility
  Facility amenities: 24 hour reception, welcoming lounge with restaurant and bar; non-smoking rooms; sound-proof windows. Business center and conference hall. Air conditioning, free wifi in common areas as well as in each room. Laundry and dry cleaning services available at a determined cost.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel Giorgione
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: This family run hotel has been operated as such since the 18th century. Just minutes off the Grand Canal and in walking distance from the Rialto Bridge, it is the perfect starting point for a traveler’s exploration of Venice. A short walk (and no bridges to cross) from the Ca' d'Oro, the nearest vaporetto stop. Short walk to the Rialto with a few bridges to cross over minor canals.
  Contact info: Calle Larga dei Proverbi 4507
Venice,  30131 Italy
phone: +39 041-522-5810
  Room amenities: The recently renovated rooms are furnished in typical Venetian decor and have private bath, hair dryer, mini-bar, safe, air-conditioning, direct phone line, radio, color TV with satellite and Internet connection.
  Facility amenities: To connect to the internet the hotel offers free wifi. If you don't have a computer you can use the internet point in the lobby. Complimentary newspapers in the lobby, laundry service available. Complimentary tea service offered in the late afternoon. Relax in the courtyard.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: varies by season You can book additional nights directly through the hotel’s online reservation system Indicate to the hotel that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room assignment. Another option is to use online hotel consolidator services such as or Expedia.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel check in 2:00 pm. Meet in the lobby at 4:00 pm. for Orientation. You will be staying at Hotel Europa Desenzano del Garda that night.
  End of Program:
Hotel check out by 11:00 am. Morning transfers to airport. You will be staying at Hotel Giorgione the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Trains from Milan and Venice stop at Desenzano.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Desenzano del Garda
  Nearest city or town:  Verona
  Nearest highway: Autostrada A 4
  Nearest airport:  Verona (VRN) "Catullus" Airport
  Transportation to site: To reach Desenzano by train: take one of the frequent shuttle buses from the Verona Airport to the Verona train station. At the train station purchase a ticket for Desenzano. Stamp the ticket before boarding the train. The fare is about EUR 5 (EUR 9 for Eurostar express train). The ride is about 20 min. You must handle your own luggage on and off the train. Exit the Desenzano train station and take a taxi to the hotel. Fare will be about EUR 12. For door to door service from the airport to Desenzano a taxi is a more expensive option. Look for the TAXI stand as you exit the Verona airport. The fare will be about EUR 100 for the 40 min ride on the highway. It is always good practice to ask the driver what the fare will be before beginning the ride.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Venice
  Nearest city or town:  Venice
  Nearest airport:  Venice Marco Polo
  Transportation from site: Group transfers are arranged by water taxi from the hotel to the Venice airport on group departure day. If one is not departing with the group, there are various options: hotel dock to airport dock by water taxi is the most direct, fare about EUR 100. Boat service "Alilaguna" depart frequently from the Fondamenta Nuova dock, a 5 minute walk from the hotel. Fare is about EUR 17 per person. The water taxi or Alilaguna boat arrives at the airport dock. Continue on foot to the airport terminal, an 8 min. walk along a canopy covered sidewalk. You can get a cart (with euro coin deposit) at the dock and deposit it at the terminal. By ground one would need to take the water boat (vaporetto) to Piazzale Rome, the bridge connection to the mainland. From there buses depart for the Venice airport about every half hour, price around EUR 7 per person. The bus drops off passengers right at the entrance to the airport terminal.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Depart from points in North America to Italy
(Monday, September 15)
 In Transit Overnight: Flight to European destination

Day 2: Arrival \ Neighborhood Walk \ Welcome Reception
(Tuesday, September 16)

Note: Minimal activity

 Morning: Arrivals Verona airport. Coach transfer to Desenzano.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Meet in the appointed room for an Orientation session. The group leader will distribute the final and detailed schedule. A neighborhood walk follows to locate bank ATMs, pharmacies, stores, port, etc. Back at the hotel gather for a Welcome Reception.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Europa Desenzano del Garda
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Explore Roman Desenzano \ Free Time for Lake Boat Excursions
(Wednesday, September 17)

Note: Uneven pavement in the archaeological site of the Roman Villa.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Lecture on the Roman and Medieval History of the area. Explore the archaeological area and a 4th century Roman Villa with decorative mosaic floor.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Free time to take a boat ride to a village on Lake Garda or a stroll along the lakefront garden in Desenzano.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel Europa Desenzano del Garda
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Sirmione and the Roman bath complex
(Thursday, September 18)

Note: Ferry ride across the lake, typically not rough, 2 mile walk around island, small elevation.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Walk to port and board a ferry to Sirmione. Expert-led exploration of the island and the ancient Roman thermal bath complex.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time suggestions: visit the Scaligeri castle in Sirmione; take a public boat to other lake towns such as Bardolino or Lazise; rent a small motorboat.
 Dinner: Dinner at a restaurant in Desenzano.
Accommodations: Hotel Europa Desenzano del Garda
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Verona \ Independent Exploration
(Friday, September 19)

Note: Extensive walking in the heart of Verona, most of which is closed to traffic.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Train to Verona to explore the sites with a local expert. Explore the Arena of Verona, Italy's third largest Roman amphitheater in excellent state of conservation.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant in the heart of Verona.
 Afternoon: The local expert and/or group leader will give suggestions for Flex time exploration, chose among: Piazza delle Erbe; the supposed house where Juliet's family lived; the archaeological museum and Roman theater; the Scaligeri monuments; Piazza dei Signori and the Castelvecchio museum, the Duomo or simply enjoy a stroll along the Adige River. Meet at the designated time and place for the return train to Verona with the group leader. You are free to stay longer and take a later train.
 Dinner: Light supper (small plates) with wine tasting at an enoteca in Desenzano
Accommodations: Hotel Europa Desenzano del Garda
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: The Gonzaga Court \ Ducal Palace and Castle of Mantua \ Wine and Cheese Tasting
(Saturday, September 20)

Note: The terrain is level and the downtown area is closed to vehicles, some distance on foot.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Lecture on the Gonzaga Dukes and the art of Giulio Romano and Andrea Mantegna. Coach to Mantua. Following the expert-led visit of Palazzo del Te on the outskirts of the city, we will be dropped off near the traffic-free center of Mantua.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant in the heart of Mantua.
 Afternoon: The expert and group leader will offer suggestions for Flex time options, including the Ducal Palace and in the Castle enter the Bridal Chamber by Mantegna. The dome is decorated with a fresco - the cherubs seem to be peering down from the open sky; the walls depict scenes of the family. Meet at appointed time and place for coach back to Desenzano for a tasting of locally produced wines and cheeses.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
 Evening: Free time to stroll along the river walk.
Accommodations: Hotel Europa Desenzano del Garda
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7: Transfer to Vicenza \ Soave Wines \ Architecture of Palladio
(Sunday, September 21)

Note: Minimal extertion

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Board coach to transfer to Vicenza.
 Lunch: En route, stop at a vineyard in the Soave appellation to sample the wine and enjoy a light lunch.
 Afternoon: Proceed to check-in at the hotel. Time to settle in, then meet for a lecture on the Architecture of Palladio. Walk of discovery around the center of town to find ATMs, pharmacies and stores. Identify Palladian themes discussed in the lecture.
 Dinner: Dinner suggestions given on site, some might select the local specialty Baccala' alla Vicentina, cod fish baked in the style of Vicenza.
 Evening: Stroll in the city park adjacent to the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Campo Marzio
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Palladian Palazzi \ Duomo
(Monday, September 22)

Note: Light walking, Vicenza center is a pedestrian zone over a slight rise in elevation. Extended standing during site visits.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: A walk of discovery in Vicenza with a local expert. Explore some of the public buildings and palazzi designed by Palladio.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Free time.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel Campo Marzio
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9: Teatro Olimpico
(Tuesday, September 23)

Note: Walk to sites in the traffic free heart of Vicenza. Find shelter from the sun or rain under the porticoes.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Expert-led visit to Palladio's Teatro Olimpico, an indoor theater that takes its inspiration from the Greek theaters typically built on the side of a hill. It is decorated with sculptures and the vanishing perspective gives the illusion of depth.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Make your own architectural treasure discoveries with maps of Palladian villas and palaces in town. Find the road named after Della Porta, he wrote the first version of the story of Romeo and Juliet.
 Dinner: Dinner at a restaurant in the heart of Vicenza.
Accommodations: Hotel Campo Marzio
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10: Transfer to Venice \ Villa Rotonda \ Brenta Canal Boat Ride Passes Palladian Villas
(Wednesday, September 24)

Note: Leisure ride down a ferry boat with minimal walking on estates with Palladian Villas

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel. Drop your checked luggage at the appointed place in the lobby; it will be transferred to the hotel in Venice, making the canal ferry ride more enjoyable.
 Morning: Board coach to the Rotonda, perhaps Palladio's most famous design for an expert led visit to the interior. Reboard coach to Oriago along the Brenta Canal.
 Lunch: Lunch en route to Oriago, the dock for the ferry.
 Afternoon: After lunch you will board the Burchiello Ferry for a half-day cruise along the Brenta Canal on into Venice. The boat stops at the patrician Palladian Villa Foscari a.k.a. La Malcontenta for an expert-led visit. You will notice also other villas where wealthy noble Venetians built their sumptuous retreats. The boat passes through a few locks, before reaching the Adriatic Sea and the lagoons of Venice.
 Dinner: The ferry is scheduled to dock near the Bridge of Sighs late afternoon, from there you will board a vaporetto (public boat) to the stop closest to the hotel. Dinner at a restaurant in the neighborhood specializing in Venetian cuisine.
Accommodations: Hotel Giorgione
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Women of the Renaissance \ Murano
(Thursday, September 25)

Note: Traffic free Venice involves walking over low bridges that span minor canals.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Morning lecture on Venetian Women of the Renaissance. Vaporetto to Murano.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant on the island of Murano.
 Afternoon: Observe an artisan produce items of Venetian glass. Followed by free time if your want to continue to Burano, where Venetian lace is crafted or return to the main islands to visit one of the museums, e.g. Peggy Guggenheim or Accademia.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel Giorgione
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 12: Saint Mark's Square and Cathedral \ Architectural Treasures of Venice \ Musical Performance
(Friday, September 26)

Note: Traffic free Venice involves walking over low bridges.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Illustrated lecture introduces the art and history of Venice.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own, suggestions given on site.
 Afternoon: Vaporetto to St. Mark's Square for an expert-led visit of the Basilica of St. Mark's, Venice's patron saint. Admire the more than 86,000 sq. ft. of mosaics.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: Venice is a city of music, consider that Monteverdi, Mozart, Vivaldi, and Wagner lived in Venice. A recital of opera arias or a chamber group performance will be offered. The program and venue will be announced onsite.
Accommodations: Hotel Giorgione
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 13: Doge's Palace \ Bridge of Sighs \ Gondola Ride \ Farewell Dinner
(Saturday, September 27)

Note: The walk through the many rooms of the Doge's Palace requires climbing a few flights of stairs, one of which is a monumental staircase with elaborate ceiling and wall decorations. Periods of standing as the local expert expounds on the history of the Venetian Republic through its art. The gondolier will offer assistance on and off the elegant craft.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Return to St. Mark's square for a guided visit of the Doge's Palace. This is the residence and offices of the Venetian ruler. See the great halls, richly decorated with paintings, frescos and sculptures. From the palace, you will have the best seats in the house to look over the Canal. Cross over the famous Bridge of Sighs and visit the dungeons called, I Piombi. Enjoy a gondola ride through the back canals of Venice.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time. At your own pace visit the Correr Museum. Entrance is free with your ticket stub from the Doge's Palace.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: Final walk for a gelato and return to the hotel to pack your bags.
Accommodations: Hotel Giorgione
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14: Departure day \ Taxi boat ride to the Airport
(Sunday, September 28)

Note: Taxi boat departs from a dock close to the hotel and drops off at the airport dock. 8 minute walk along a covered sidewalk to the airport terminal. If you need assistance with your luggage you can pick up a luggage cart from the rack at the dock. The euro or 50 euro cent coin needed to free the cart is released once you return the cart at the rack inside the airport terminal.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel. For early departures, a sack breakfast will be provided.
 Morning: Transfer to the airport by taxi boat, luggage and you. Early morning flights require ample time prior to check-in, consider that it takes about 30 minutes from the hotel to the airport.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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