The Splendors of Venice and the Veneto


October 9 – 16 and 22 – 29, 2017


With an optional extension: Renaissance Court Art and Architecture
October 18-21

Rich history, magnificent architecture, and stunning fine and decorative arts abound in Venice and the Veneto. The exceptional variety of palazzi, museums, and churches in Italy’s northeastern corner demand our attention and admiration, not to mention the natural splendor and extraordinary cuisine encountered at every turn. The tour opens in the former city states of the Veneto where connoisseurs of English and American 18th-century architecture will revel in the immersion into Andrea Palladio’s classicist style. We conclude in Venice, the romantic and exquisite canal-bound city frozen in time. This program was organized by the celebrated Susie Orso of Specialtours and will be her final excursion with the Trust before a richly deserved retirement.


ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

October 9 and 22

Transferring from the Venice airport, we gather in Piombino Dese to survey Palladio’s Villa Cornaro, the unique, two-story design of which was borrowed for Charleston’s Drayton Hall and other colonial American dwellings. We continue to the famous Hotel Villa Cipriani in Asolo, home to the Renaissance court of Caterina Cornaro, deposed Queen of Cyprus. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to explore this enchanting town in the foothills of the Dolomites. In the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant with stunning views, we enjoy welcome cocktails and dinner.

D included
Overnight: ASOLO

October 10 and 23

We set out for the iconic Villa Barbaro at Maser. Here Palladio reinvented Roman classical elements into a signature country manor style: the central residential block with pedimented front and symmetrical wings, a profile recognized in endless variations. The Villa also has notable Veronese trompe l’oeil frescoes, a nymphaeum, and an intimate domed chapel. We continue to Levada di Piombino Dese for lunch as guests of Count Jacopo Marcello at his beautifully decorated 18th-century Ca’ Marcello. The afternoon is spent in Possagno at the Museo Canova, a treasure trove of neoclassical sculpture and casts, including George Washington in a toga. The museum was designed by the well-known Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa.

B, L included
Overnight: ASOLO

October 11 and 24

We transition from Asolo to Vicenza, Palladio’s hometown and the location of many of his most important buildings. A walking tour includes his Teatro Olimpico, completed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, the arcaded Basilica, and various palazzi exteriors, before proceeding to his nearby Villa La Rotonda, owned by the Valmarana family and possibly the most famous domestic building in western architecture. At the adjacent Villa Valmarana ai Nani, Carolina Valmarana hosts us for lunch and a tour of the extraordinary Tiepolo frescoes found there. Upon arrival in Verona, we explore the 16th-century Giardino Giusti, one of Italy’s finest Renaissance gardens, then check in at the splendid Hotel Due Torri, located in a 14th-century palace near Sant’Anastasia, a fine Romanesque church with frescos by Pisanello.

B, L included
Overnight: VERONA

October 12 and 25

Verona has been situated at a major trade crossroads since the Roman era: between Venice in the east and Genoa in the west, and Rome in the south and Bavaria, via the Brenner Pass, to the north. This community’s affluent and erudite nature is highlighted by the Piazza delle Erbe market, the breath-taking Teatro Romano, the Gothic Scagalieri tombs, and the 12th-century San Zeno Maggiore, with its marvelous bronze doors. At midday, we travel to Contessa Rizzardi’s elegant gardens at Villa Rizzardi near Pojega for lunch with wine and olive oil tastings, returning to Verona with free time to explore this historic city and see the Castelvecchio, a 14th-century castle converted by Scarpa into an art gallery. The day concludes with dinner at the Ristorante Maffei, located in a 17th-century palace built on the ruins of Verona’s primary Roman temple.

B, L, D included
Overnight: VERONA

October 13 and 26

Departing Verona, we head east to Padua and the renowned, and recently restored, Giotto frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel, stopping afterwards for refreshments at the celebrated 19th-century Caffè Pedrocchi with its eclectic Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Moorish rooms. Passing the Piazza dei Signori, we encounter Padua’s prestigious University, founded in 1220, then the Duomo and Palazzo Ragione. An afternoon excursion to the Basilica di Sant’Anthonio permits a viewing of Donatello’s famous Renaissance equestrian statue before we push onward to Venice and the celebrated Hotel Europa e Regina in the Palazzo Tiepolo on the Grand Canal, where dinner will be served in the highly regarded restaurant overlooking the canal.

B, D included
Overnight: VENICE

October 14 and 27

Our immersion into Venice begins with a saunter through Piazza San Marco, followed by San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, with its enchanting Carpaccio painting cycle, and the early Renaissance jewelbox of Santa Maria dei Miracoli. We reach the Island of Torcello by private boat for lunch at the celebrated Locanda Cipriani. After touring the early Byzantine churches there, we continue to Murano, the glass center important throughout Venetian history, to enjoy the Museo Vetrario and the Basilica die Santi Maria e Donato. The day concludes with a special private evening tour of San Marco and its resplendent mosaics and treasures.

B, L included
Overnight: VENICE

October 15 and 28

The final day focuses on noteworthy-yet-less-trafficked sites in Venice. The palazzo Ca’ Rezzonico on the Grand Canal houses a superb collection of decorative arts and furniture, after which we continue to the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari for an overview of Venetian painting from Bellini to Titian and a study of Canova’s pyramidal mausoleum. We stop at the recently restored 18th-century Teatro la Fenice opera house and visit the fascinating Museo Fortuny, home of the famous late-19th and early-20th-century designer of textiles, theater sets, and couture. Following an afternoon at leisure, we gather for cocktails and dinner at a private palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal to celebrate the conclusion of our grand tour.

B, D included
Overnight: VENICE

October 16 and 29  

Departures from the Venice airport.

B included

Optional Extension: Renaissance Court Art and Architecture

The extension introduces three important northern Italian families and their interrelated histories, economies, and patronage: Gonzaga in Mantua, Este in Ferrara, and Farnese in Parma.

October 18

Our base of operations is the chic Hotel Casa Poli in Mantua from where we depart for an afternoon walking tour to the Basilica di Sant’Andrea, a pivotal work by the early Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti commissioned by Ludovico Gonzaga II. The interior houses painter Andrea Mantegna’s funerary chapel. We move on to the 11th-century Romanesque Rotonda di San Lorenzo and then to the important and famous Palazzo Ducale, which dominates the townscape. Surveying the royal apartments, including the Isabella d’Este cabinet, we focus on the renowned Camera degli Sposi with frescoes by Mantegna. A lecture on Mantua and the Gonzaga court precedes dinner at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Aquila Nigra.

D included
Overnight: MANTUA

October 19

We travel southeast to the walled town of Ferrara, seat of the powerful Este family from the 13th through 16th centuries. The Estes were despotic rulers yet also enlightened humanists, attracting scholars like Petrarch, Tasso, and Ariosto as well as the painters Mantegna, Titian, and Bellini. We explore the Renaissance Palazzo dei Diamanti, featuring an unusual façade of diamond-cut marble blocks, now housing a fine arts gallery. Walking into the town center, we pass the extensive Castello Estense and tour the 12th-century Duomo. We return to Mantua for an afternoon at leisure before enjoying a demonstration at Elisabetta Arcuri’s cooking school, Peccati di Gola, followed by dinner.

B, D included
Overnight: MANTUA

October 20

Our day focuses on Parma, a prosperous town ruled by a succession of ducal families: Visconti, Este, Sforza, and, finally, the Farnese from the 1500s to 1801. The Duomo and Camera di San Paolo comprise one of the most complete Romanesque complexes in Italy. The Corregio frescoes are noteworthy. An introduction to the Palazzo Pilotta and the tremendous Baroque Teatro Farnese underscore the family’s grandeur. We transition to Colorno to enjoy the sought-after products of an acclaimed parmesan cheese maker then a stroll through the Renaissance town of Sabbioneta, planned by Vespasiano Gonzaga as an ideal
fortified city. Our final evening is spent in Valeggio sul Mincio for a private dinner at the Villa Sigurta.

B, D included
Overnight: MANTUA

October 21

The extension concludes with a morning visit to the 16th-century Palazzo Tè near Mantua, the innovative Mannerist villa by the architect and artist Giulio Romano. Transfers to the Venetian airport with connections to Asolo for participants registered on Tour 2.

B included

Terms and Conditions

Land Arrangement Cost:
$6,175 per person, based on double occupancy for 7 nights, for the main tour. The optional extension is $2,250 per person, based on double occupancy for 3 nights.

Transatlantic airfare is not included. Please do not make your airline reservations until you have received written confirmation of your registration from the Trust.

A deposit of $1,500 per person is required by December 1, 2016. An additional deposit of $1,000 per person is required for the optional extension. Reservations and deposits are taken on an as received basis. You will receive a written confirmation from The Decorative Arts Trust. Do not make any irrevocable airline reservations until you receive your verification. Please make checks payable to “The Decorative Arts Trust” and mail to 20 South Olive Street, Suite 204, Media, PA 19063.

Single Supplement:
The single supplement is $1,025 for the main tour and $250 for the extension, to be paid along with the deposit.

Final Payment:
Will be due by June 15, 2017. Invoices for final payment will be mailed in early May.

Membership at the Sponsor level is required for participation in Study Trips Abroad.  Your membership contribution is fully tax deductible. If an increase in your membership level is necessary, the Trust will invoice you for the appropriate level upgrade with your final payment.

A donation to the Decorative Arts Trust of $500 per person is required for Study Trips Abroad. This gift is fully tax deductible and helps support the Trust’s mission and programs.

The schedule outlined in this itinerary is contracted for at this time but subject to change as necessary. A suggested reading list will be sent to you.

Each trip and the optional extension are limited to a maximum of 25 members and require a minimum of 15. The trip and/or extension will be canceled if under-subscribed, and deposits will be refunded. We will organize and maintain a waiting list on the basis of the time registrations are received. This is a strenuous trip. We regret that we cannot be responsible for those needing assistance on this trip. By registering, you are certifying that you do not have any mental, physical, or other condition of disability that would create a hazard for yourself or other passengers. The Trust reserves the right to decline anyone as a participant in this Study Trip Abroad should the person’s health, actions, or general deportment impede the operation of the Study Trip Abroad; the rights, welfare, or enjoyment of others; or the standing of the Decorative Arts Trust. A valid United States passport is required for this itinerary.

Included in Trip Cost:
Hotel accommodations in 4-5 star hotels, 7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners, 2 cocktail receptions, private coach transportation, local guides, admission in museums, historic houses, and gardens, gratuities for professional guides and coach drivers, and porterage. The extension includes 3 breakfasts and 3 dinners.

Not Included in the Trip Cost:
Airfare, airport transfers other than specified above, alcoholic beverages other than when provided, personal expenses, and trip insurance are not included.

Cancellation and Refund:
If you must cancel your reservation, you are urged to do so as soon as possible in writing to The Decorative Arts Trust. All cancellations are subject to a $250 administrative fee. Deposits are non-refundable after December 1, 2016. Cancellations arriving by August 1, 2017, will receive a 50% refund. Cancellations arriving by September 9, 2017, will receive a 25% refund. There will be no refunds for cancellations received after September 9, 2017. THE TRUST STRONGLY ENCOURAGES ALL PARTICIPANTS TO PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE TO PROTECT AGAINST CANCELLATIONS DUE TO ILLNESS AND INJURY.

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