Above: Gondolas tucked in for the night with view across St. Mark's Basin to San Giorgio, photo taken our first night in Venice.
Day 0 | Today we Fly!
Be Italian! Pro-Tips from Rainer
Tour Day 1 | Welcome to Venice
- Using Rick Steves Venice Guide, we take our own walking tour across the Rialto Bridge, through the markets and make our first purchases in Italy: gorgeous "ciliegie" (cherries) and Gelato for lunch.
- Visit Frari Church where we view art "in situ" by masters such as Titian, Donatello & others.
- Are grateful for the many fountains, and GROM gelato which keep us cool in the heat.
- It's finally here! We meet Rainer Metzger and our Tour Group in the hotel breakfast room.
- Take a late-afternoon neighborhood stroll & enjoy getting to know our travel companions over a traditional Venetian dinner at Vino Vino Restaurant & Wine Bar overlooking the square in front of La Fenice Opera House. Meg & Micah are thrilled to have other teenagers in the tour. The "kids" quickly co-opt their own table, sit together and chatter all evening!
- End the day with an iconic serenaded Gondola Ride on the Grand Canal.
TRAINER TRAVEL TIPS | pacing
Although its tempting to muscle through and keep going, it didn't take us long to discover that a late afternoon siesta was just the thing. A little sleep, a little snack, a little time-out from the crowds and the heat replenished our energy for evening activities . . . like eating dinner!
Are you in "THE ZONE"? No matter how exhilarating traveling can be, we all have our "moments" when navigating the unfamiliar pushes us to the end of our limits. One way our family talked about how we were faring was to use a simple "Green, Yellow, Red Zone". "Green Zone"? I'm good and can go for hours. Entering "Yellow" means I'm hanging in there but will need a break soon. "Orange": Watch out! Danger! I'm about ready to lose it! I need to stop. "Red-Lining" is what we all want to avoid, because it almost always leads to regret and embarrassment!
Tour Day 2 | Historic Venice
- Walking Tour with Elisabetta (whose family has lived in Venice since, oh, at least 1667!) culminating at St. Mark's Basilica where we were graced with a choir singing during mass - chill producing!
- Lagoon cruise to the quaint Island of Burano, where we enjoy lunch, lace-making and the colorful community.
- Afternoon on our own and Micah votes to climb the St. Mark's Square Campanile for the bells and the breathtaking views.
- Dinner is a treat with some delicious Venetian specialties like Risotto with Monkfish Ink - it looks a little scary, but tastes delish!
Tour Day 3 | The Art of Wandering in Venice
- No moss under us! Our group takes an early morning stroll across the Academia Bridge for a first-in-line to tour of the Academia with local guide, Hillarie.
- Free time for the rest of the day, and the Trainers let the Tintoretto extravaganza continue at Scuola Grande di San Rocco.
- Enjoy a picnic lunch: thick slices of pizza in the obliging shade of church steps.
- Duck behind St. Mark's Square, where Rainer hooks us up with a Venetian glass blowing demonstration and tour at Galleria San Marco.
- Trot on over to the Doge's Palace where Micah and Neil marvel at weaponry, and we collectively Sigh as we cross the bridge to the prison.
- Eat one of the best meals of our entire summer at Terazza del Casin dei Nobili, chock full of fresh produce and seafood. We make it last; savoring conversation, a bottle of wine, watching the cruise ships depart and the sun sink low over the water. Venice has charmed us all over again!
Mille Grazie! Ricardo Steves | Or, What we love best about Rick Steves Tours!
- Bus Travel Time was actually pretty fun! In addition to having downtime to nap or look out the window, bus time was put to good use by thoroughly preparing us for the next stop. Rainer was excellent! Giving us language, history, culture, and geology, he laid a perfect foundation upon which to build our understanding of each city.
- No hanging out in long, long lines. This is worth the price of admission all by itself. Oh the joy of sailing past loooonnnggg lines of tourists waiting to enter the Vatican, the Accademia, the Ufizzi, the Colosseum (you get the idea). It's just like driving in the carpool lane when traffic is at a standstill. You feel smart. You feel victorious! And you save your time and energy to actually BE with the art, rather than waiting to see it.
" Sadly, tonight is our last night in Venice. But we ended with . . . not a bang, but one of those really nice fizzel-y fireworks. Dad found this wonderful restaurant that had seating over the water and we got to watch the sun go down over the Canal and all of the cruise ships pull out while eating dinner. I got ravioli stuffed with smoked ricotta and sage in browned butter with parmesan. And I just . . . Oh! it was so freaking good!!! For sure it was one of the best things I have ever eaten."