FROM CINQUE TERRE TO VENISE
Day 1 Genoa & Portofino
Today arrive Genoa and transfer to Portofino. Of all the seaside summer resorts and quaint pastel villages of the Italian Riviera that glisten like jewels, the most dazzling is Portofino. You will spend the next three nights at the legendary Hotel Splendido. This evening join fellow travelers at a festive party where you learn more about the exciting events awaiting you.
Day 2 Cinque Terre & Portofino
Today explore Cinque Terre. Five coastal villages, together with their dramatic coastal scenery, are the eastern Riviera’s most enchanting attractions. Monterosso Al Mare is the westernmost village of Cinque Terre. Its beautiful beaches, steep rugged cliffs and crystal-clear waters, make this one of the most charming resorts on the Ligurian Riviera del Levante. The next village, Vernazza has breathtaking views winding along Mediterranean groves and partly deserted fields. Corniglia is located on the ridge of a rocky promontory at the foot of a terraced vineyard. More concentrated on agriculture than on fishing, this farming community is very similar architecturally to inland agricultural villages. Manarola is a very ancient village. Sheltered in a deep gorge between two promontory rocks, is the little port. Riomaggiore is the easternmost village of Cinque Terre, and is located in the narrow valley of the “Rio Maior”, along whose course the village originated. There is a very beautiful footpath called the “Via dell’Amore” (The Lovers’ Lane) which starts in Riomaggiore. Portovenere is a captivating town on the northern headland of the Bay of La Spezia. Its strategic location accounts for its fortified nature, which culminates in the Genoese Castle overhanging the very tip of the promontory.
Day 3 Genoa & Portofino
Genoa is situated at the top of the arc formed by the Gulf that is washed by the blue and emerald-green waters of the Ligurian Sea. Our exploration begins at the heart of Roman and medieval Genoa covered by Piazza Cavour, and the massive Ducal Palace with 32 ionic and doric columns, coats of arms and statues on the facade, and the church of Sant’Ambrogio, built by Giuseppe Valeriani (1589-1606), which houses paintings by Reni and Rubens. No trip to Genoa is complete without visiting the ivy-covered house where Christopher Columbus is said to have spent his youth and the medieval houses of the famous Doria shipping family. A good example of 13th century Genoese architecture is No. 15 with its black and white striped portico, the home of Lamba Doria. No. 16 was built in the 14th century by Domenicaccio Doria, though the carved lions were added about four centuries later. No. 17 with its intricate window designs is the 15th century house of the famous Andrea Doria, who is buried in the little 12th century church of San Matteo where the Dorias worshipped. Return to Portofino and have the afternoon at leisure.
Days 4 & 5 Milan
Thursday morning drive to Milan. On Friday discover the city’s palazzos and impressive Il Duomo. Built in the shape of a Latin cross, this is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. See Leonardo da Vinci’s renowned mural, The Last Supper at the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Day 6 Milan & Venice
Today we travel east to Verona, lying on the Adige River and the setting for Shakespeare’s classic love story, Romeo and Juliet. Visit Juliet’s legendary home and see the balcony where she stood. Continue to Venice and in the afternoon we board our five-star MV Casanova for a leisurely seven-night cruise on the historic Po River. This luxurious floating boutique hotel is appointed with elegant furnishings and original art. Your air-conditioned stateroom on the upper deck has twin beds, private bathroom with shower, and full length French doors that open for spectacular river viewing! The ship features six meals daily in the Panorama Restaurant and also boasts a lounge, library and sun deck. This evening a special Captain’s welcome cocktail and dinner is planned as the ship departs Venice.
Day 7 Cruising on the Po River
The full day is spent sailing along the Po River, enjoying the amenities of our floating hotel. Spend time on the sun deck, relax with a book or photograph the natural beauty surrounding you.
Day 8 Parma & Cremona
Today we sail to Parma where we will enjoy the sights of this prosperous city. Parma has a magnificent collection of paintings and sculptures, preserved medieval buildings and one of Italy’s top opera houses. It is also the home of parmesan cheese and the world famous Parma ham and of course, you can sample each of these delights. This afternoon we sail to Cremona, the home of the legendary Stradivarius violin. This city is famous for its manufacture of violins and cellos since the 16th century, when Andrea Amati opened up shop here, and later Antonio Stradivari started making instruments. We will visit the cathedral built in 1107 and see the Town Hall with its ancient collection of violins.
Day 9 Mantua and Lake Garda
After breakfast on board, we will take a wonderful trip to Mantua. Mantua is a city filled with monuments and it is bordered by lakes on three sides. We will also see the Palazzo Ducale, the setting for Verdi’s opera Rigoletto. Built by Gonzaga Dukes, the Palazzo is a group of structures from the 14th and 17th centuries. Our afternoon trip to Lake Garda will be a spectacular experience since its beauty is often described by writers inspired by its grandeur. Lake Garda is 31 miles long and 10 miles wide, hence the biggest lake in this region. Descriptions of this lake range from “stormy inland sea” to “crystalline Nordic fjord”.
Day 10 Bologna and Polesella
This morning we visit Bologna with its busy cultural life, immaculate streets, trendy boutiques, and revered restaurants. Yet it is still a city that retains a medieval look. We will see the Basilica di San Petronio, Piaza Maggiore, and the University of Bologna. We can also experience some of the delicious cuisine which has Bologna as the food capital of Italy. Our afternoon visit is to Ferrara where we will see the moated Castello Estense, the Duomo, and the 15th century Palazzo Diamanti. The famous D’Este family lived here from the 14th to the 16th century and we will see the remnants of their golden age.
Day 11 Padua
Today we sail to Padua and visit this old university town rich in art, architecture and museums. Padua is the home of St. Anthony and home to the second oldest university dating back to 1222, which attracted students like Dante, Galileo and Petrarch. Some of the paintings housed in the museums of this city were done by Giotto, Donatello and Mantegna. Padua has long been one of the major cultural centers in northern Italy. Visit the 13th century Basilica del Santa which houses the relics of St. Anthony and the Capella degli Serovegni. We return to our river ship for dinner.
Day 12 Venice
Today we sail to Venice and have a chance to explore this wonderful city of canals. Known for its architecture, history, and culture, we will see St. Mark’s Square, the Palazzo Ducale, the home of the Doges who ruled when Venice was a European power, and take a gondola ride on the Grand Canal. Later this afternoon we return to the river ship for our Captain’s farewell cocktail and dinner party, and to enjoy the ambiance of this lovely vessel and the friends we have made on our journey.