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Discovering Lake Garda, Verona, Palladio's Villas and Venice

Program Number: 21311RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/29/2014 - 10/12/2014; 9/14/2015 - 9/27/2015;
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
   Key Hotel Vicenza
  Vicenza, Italy 3 nights
   Hotel Messner
  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

 Key Hotel Vicenza
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: 24 hour concierge reception; Air conditioned lobby; restaurant and solarium, close to center.
  Contact info: V. G. G. Trissino, 89
Vicenza,  36100 Italy
phone: +39 0444 505 476
  Room amenities: Climate control; free wifi, satellite TV; hair dryers; safe for valuables.
  Facility amenities: Climate controlled structure, solarium and restaurant, American bar, modern furniture, free wifi throughout; breakfast buffet. Each floor has a common refrigerator available to guests.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel Messner
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: This small, family run hotel is ideally situated in the quiet residential "Salute" neighborhood of Venice, across the Grand Canal and one vaporetto stop from St. Mark's Square. The Guggenheim Museum is right around the corner. Please note the rooms assigned in your program are exclusively in the main house and 3 star annex, not in the one-star Messner B&B, part of the same complex.
  Contact info: Madonna della Salute, 216
Venice, NA 30123 Italy
phone: +39 041 5227443
  Room amenities: Every room has private bathroom, air conditioning, satellite TV, hair dryer, free Wi-Fi connection, safe for valuables.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights after: varies by season To book additional nights at the Hotel Messner contact the hotel’s online reservation system at Indicate that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room assignment
  Check out time: 10:00 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 Messner 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: Upon exiting the Verona Airport one may take a taxi to the Verona train station and then a local train to Desenzano, less than EUR 5 per person. You must handle your own luggage on and off the train. Once there, hire a taxi to the hotel. There are shuttles from the Verona airport that also go to the train station. The hotel Riviera can, with prior arrangement obtain a car and driver to meet you at the airport. Cost is around EUR 70. Send the request to the hotel with your name and flight information and the hotel will reply with a confirmation and price details.
  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. If you are not departing with the group, there are various options: hotel dock to airport dock by water taxi - cost is about EUR 100. Max 8 persons per taxi boat. Boat service "Alilaguna" connects Venice to the airport, about EUR 17 per person. Once on site, learn from the group leader or hotel where the nearest dock is and the amount of time it takes to traverse the lagoon to the airport with Alilaguna. Bus from Venice to the airport requires taking the vaporetto to Piazzale Rome (opposite end of the Grand Canal from the hotel), which is the bridge connection to the mainland. Shuttle buses depart from Piazzale Roma to the airport about every half hour, bus fare EUR 7 per person.The vaporetto ride from the hotel to Piazzale Roma is about 45 minutes and the bus ride to the airport is about 35 min. It may be difficult to get on and off the crowded public vaporetto with your suitcases.
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: Arrival, Orientation / Neighborhood Walk / Welcome Reception
(Monday, September 29)

Note: Minimal activity

 Morning: Upon arriving at hotel, if rooms are not ready group leader will offer suggestions for lunch. After, return to room and settle in.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Meet in the appointed room for a brief Orientation followed by a neighborhood walk 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 2: Explore Roman Desenzano / Free Time for Lake Boat Excursions
(Tuesday, September 30)

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

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Explore the archaeological area and a 4th century Roman Villa with decorative mosaic floor.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: Lecture welcomes you to the Veneto and provides background information about the region's rich history. Free time late afternoon 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 3: Lake Day Sirmione and the Roman bath complex
(Wednesday, October 1)

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 fed by hot springs flowing below the surface.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Opportunity to enter the Scaligeri castle that served the family's fleet; take another ferry ride to other lake cities such as Bardolino or Lazise. Free time till the next day.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Europa Desenzano del Garda
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Verona / Independent Exploration
(Thursday, October 2)

Note: Leisurely paced walk through the ancient city of Verona

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Coach to Verona to explore the sites with an expert. Included is the Arena of Verona, Italy's third largest Roman amphitheater in excellent state of conservation. During the summer months live opera performances are staged there.
 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. Enjoy a tasting of local wines and cheeses and a light dinner at an enoteca in Desenzano.
 Dinner: Light dinner at the wine bar.
Accommodations: Hotel Europa Desenzano del Garda
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Gonzaga Family and Court Artists / Palazzo del Te and Ducal Palace in Mantua
(Friday, October 3)

Note: The terrain is level but some walking in the heart of the city closed to vehicles.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Lecture on the Gonzaga Dukes and the art of Giulio Romano and 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 center.
 Lunch: Lunch at a characteristic restaurant in the heart of Mantua.
 Afternoon: The expert and group leader will offer suggestions for Flex time options,such as the Ducal Palace; in the Castle enter the Bridal Chamber by Mantegna. The dome is painted in fresco--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 to Desenzano.
 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 6: Transfer to Vicenza / Soave Winery / Architecture of Palladio
(Saturday, October 4)

Note: Minimal extertion

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to Vicenza by coach.
 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. This area of the Veneto produces Grappa, the Italian equivalent of Schnapps. Some find the liquor strong, but you can try a small glass at shops in town.
Accommodations: Key Hotel Vicenza
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7: Palladian Palazzi \ Duomo
(Sunday, October 5)

Note: Light walking, Vicenza center is a pedestrian zone over a slight rise in elevation.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: A walk of discovery in Vicenza explores 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: Key Hotel Vicenza
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Discover Vicenza / Teatro Olimpico
(Monday, October 6)

Note: Minimal walk in town. 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: Use your map to explore other Palladian villas and palaces in town. Find the road named after Della Porta, the man who wrote the first version of the story of Romeo and Juliet.
 Dinner: Dinner at a restaurant in Piazza Castello.
Accommodations: Key Hotel Vicenza
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Transfer to Venice by Boat down the Brenta Canal / Palladio's Villa Rotonda
(Tuesday, October 7)

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

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel. Deposit your checked luggage at the hotel; it will be transferred to the hotel in Venice, making the canal ferry ride more enjoyable. Instructions about the luggage transfer will be explained more fully on site.
 Morning: Board coach to the "Rotonda" perhaps Palladio's most famous design for an expert-led visit of 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. Passing through a few locks, one will notice the drop in elevation to reach the Adriatic Sea.
 Dinner: The ferry is scheduled to dock near the Bridge of Sighs around 6:30 P, from there you will board a Vaporetto city-bus boat to the hotel where dinner will be waiting for you. Check into your room for the evening.
Accommodations: Hotel Messner
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Welcome to Venice / Neighborhood Walk. / Glass blowing on Murano.
(Wednesday, October 8)

Note: Use your vaporetto pass to get to stops along the Grand Canal. Visiting Venice sites involves lots of walking and crossing bridges that span minor canals.

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast is served buffet style at the hotel.
 Morning: Illustrated lecture Daily Life in Historic Venice. Neighborhood walk in the quiet Dorsoduro district. Vaporetto to Murano.
 Lunch: Lunch at a trattoria in Murano.
 Afternoon: Observe an artisan produce items of Venetian glass. Followed by free time 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: Suggestions will be given on site for local restaurants.
Accommodations: Hotel Messner
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 11: Saint Mark's Square, Cathedral / Doge's Palace / Walk over the Bridge of Sighs / free time / Musical Performance
(Thursday, October 9)

Note: Periods of standing in the Doge's Palace as the local expert expounds on the history of the Venetian Republic through its art. A few flights of stairs at the historic site.

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast is served buffet style at the hotel.
 Morning: Expert-led visit to the Doge's Palace, where you will learn about Venetian history through the art depicted in the paintings. Walk over the Bridge of Sighs, so named because those who were judged guilty passed over it to the prisons and sighed at seeing the sun and sky for the last time. The expert continues the visit to the Basilica of St. Mark's, Venice's patron saint. Admire the more than 86,000 sq. ft. of mosaics.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own, suggestions given on site.
 Afternoon: Free time to explore other areas of the city. The ticket to the Doge's Palace is valid in other museums, such as the Correr, and others around Piazza San Marco. Explore the market area of the Rialto Bridge.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: Venice is a city of music, consider that Monteverdi, Mozart, Vivaldi lived in Venice, Wagner even died there. There are many ensembles and musical performances every night. We will arrange to get tickets for an instrumental (classical music) or vocal recital (opera arias).
Accommodations: Hotel Messner
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12: Architectural Treasures of Venice / Gondola Ride / Palladio in Venice / Farewell Dinner
(Friday, October 10)

Note: Leisurely walk around the city. Accept assistance from gondolier as he helps you into the gondola.

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast is served buffet style at the hotel.
 Morning: Learn about the Architectural Treasures of Venice. After a short break, a gondola ride through the back channels.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: At the appointed time, meet to the expert to explore other Palladian buildings in Venice. Free time to get lost in the labyrinth that is Venice.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Messner
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 13: Departure day / Taxi boat ride to the Airport
(Saturday, October 11)

Note: Taxi boat drops you off at the airport dock, you will need to handle your luggage from there to the terminal. It is an 8 minute walk on a path with an overhead canopy. At times one can find a luggage cart at the dock, utilize a coin to free the cart, it is returned once you click it to other carts.

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast is served buffet style 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 40 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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