Imagine embarking upon a 10-night journey starting in Venice on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, then journeying to Verona, home of Romeo & Juliet. Then set off across the Venetian Plains to the Italian Dolomite mountains, some of the most beautiful in Europe. Breathe in the fresh mountain air and enjoy a hike or two, before crossing the famous Brenner Pass into Austria. In Austria we’ll visit Innsbruck, host to the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics before moving on to Salzburg. We’ll discover the beautiful city of Mozart and The Sound of Music before finishing this exceptional Grand Tour in Munich, the capital of Bavaria, Germany, famous for it’s great architecture and style. Along the way we’ll enjoy many different types and styles of food, but a highlight will be lunching at a #SearchingforItaly which our guide has loved for decades, recently discovered and televised on Stanley Tucci’s CNN show.
The trip doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, Thursday September 28, but if you’re traveling across an ocean to get to Italy, you may want to consider arriving a day early so you have time to relax and get acclimated to the local time zone. If you do decide to arrive early, just let us know and we’ll get you booked into our hotel for Wednesday night.
Fly into the Venice Airport where you’ll be met by our driver and whisked to the Relais & Chateau Hotel Villa Franceschi in Mira. Janet and Lucy, your guides, will be waiting at the hotel to welcome you to this beautiful hotel. Here you can relax, unpack and settle in. We’ll meet for an evening welcome drink followed by dinner at the hotel restaurant, featuring traditional Italian and Venetian food.
Meals included: Dinner
Well rested, we’ll start the day with a fabulous breakfast on our hotel terrace. Then we’ll head into Venice by boat for the day. As we cruise along the Grand Canal, we’ll see boats of every kind and magnificent palaces will line our route.
As we pass under the Rialto Bridge, you’ll see the fish market of Venice which has operated here for more than 700 years. The boat tour will end at a typically Venetian restaurant for a selection of local ‘cicchetti’ (delicious local snacks).
In the afternoon, you’re welcome to head back to the hotel to relax, or stay with Janet and Lucy and continue exploring the hidden gems of Venice. There’s quite literally ‘Treasure in Every Church’ in Venice. In the evening, we’ll meet in the hotel lobby to go out for dinner.
After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we’ll set off to discover the Venetian countryside and the Brenta Canal. Venetian aristocrats built their country houses along the Brenta. We’ll visit the spectacular Villa Pisani, admired by Napoleon and built on the plan of Versailles. Try to escape from the difficult maze if you can! Next, we’ll drive to Fusina and take a private boat across the lagoon to the islands of Torcello and Burano.
Torcello is famous for its mosaics and was one of the first islands to be inhabited in the lagoon. Lunch today is at the fantastic Da Romano Trattoria where risotto is the specialty. This restaurant was recently featured in Stanley Tucci’s ‘Searching for Italy’ (on CNN). Dinner this evening is a casual supper at the hotel.
Today we’ll pack our bags and head for the hills. We’ll stop in Verona, romantic home town of Romeo and Juliet – Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers. We’ll visit Juliet’s famous balcony and the charming medieval squares of Verona and will be sure not to miss the Roman amphitheater that hosts an opera season every summer. It’s almost two thousand years old!
After lunch in Piazza del’Erbe, Verona’s prettiest square, we’ll follow the shores of Lake Garda and continue our journey northwards into the mountains. On the way, we’ll stop off for a delicious Italian ice cream (gelato) and a coffee.
In the late afternoon we’ll arrive in the Italian Alps, known as the Dolomites, where the fabulous Romantik Hotel Turm is our luxury accommodation for the next few days.
Time to unpack, relax and make the most of the hotel’s world-class spa.
The next few days are all about relaxing, immersing yourself in the fresh mountain air and re-charging your batteries. Relax at the hotel or go into the local town of Bolzano to experience Italian fashion and boutiques. Or you can spend the day outdoors with an alpine walk to a traditional mountain hut (“Alm”) for lunch.
In the afternoon, we’ll go to the nearby Trauttmansdorff Castle which has spectacular botanical gardens. If you prefer, you can stay at the hotel and luxuriate in the amazing spa facilities. Our dinner this evening will be in the hotel.
The Dolomites in autumn are particularly special – the days are still long and sunny and yet there is a mountain crispness in the air. If you haven’t tried out the spa yet, then today is your chance.
If relaxing and a sauna aren’t really your thing, there’s a rock-climbing wall at the hotel for the active ones amongst you! There will be an optional hike today – an energizing walk in the hills with an “Einkehrmöglichkeit” that you can’t miss. To translate, that’s somewhere to stop off for coffee, cake or even a light lunch.
The alpine pastures are dotted with rustic log cabins with the peaks of the Dolomites soaring in the background.
In the evening, we’ll drive down the hillside to Grottnerhof. This 13th century wine estate was recorded under the ownership of Oswald von Wolkenstein. The winery has an extensive history as well as a selection of fabulous wines. We’ll enjoy a wine tasting and dinner in this historic setting.
Farewell to our spa and hello to Austria. Today we’ll be leaving Italy and heading over the Alps via the extraordinary Brenner pass into Austria. The Brenner is a key alpine pass that’s been a challenge for travelers for generations. Even in May heavy snow is not uncommon.
Stopping half-way for lunch in Innsbruck, we’ll enjoy a couple of hours in this charming city nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains. Innsbruck was the imperial capital of Austria in the 16th century. In recent years it has been an important winter ski destination – there’s a world-famous Olympic ski jump here.
Afterwards, we’ll continue our journey to Salzburg, the land of the Sound of Music. But first we’ll stop in the village of Watters to visit the amazing world of Swarovski crystal for a tour that includes the sparkling chamber of wonder.
Tonight, we’ll be staying at the Gersberg Alm Romantik Hotel, only 15 minutes from the city of Salzburg.
After a good night’s sleep and a delicious breakfast, it’s time to discover Salzburg. This is the city of Mozart and the Sound of Music. Our local guide will introduce us to this charming city of beauty.
We’ll visit the birthplace of Mozart and later today we’ll have our very own Sound of Music tour with a singing tour guide. Salzburg is full of traditional coffee houses and great shops – an ideal place to pick up souvenirs and get an early jump on holiday gifts!
If you fancy a hike or a panoramic view of the city, you can head up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress which has its very own funicular railway.
Leaving Salzburg for Munich, today’s drive will take us approximately 2 hours. We’ll cross the border into Germany, traveling past the famous Chiemsee to our right and the Austrian-German Alps to our left.
We’ll stop at Prien am Chiemsee for a coffee and a walk alongside the shores of what is known as the “Bavarian Sea”.
Then we’ll continue to Munich, the capital city of Bavaria. Munich is so full of history, culture and shopping opportunities that you’ll have plenty of choices here. After a short walk around the city centre, we’ll make our way to our centrally-located hotel – The Excelsior Hotel. Here, you can unpack and relax before we meet to go out for dinner in the fabulous city that is Munich.
Today, there will be free time in the morning to explore the Marienplatz, the main square in Munich. There’ll be a walking tour of the city centre with a local guide, ideal for anyone wanting to learn more about Munich’s rich heritage and history. On our tour, we’ll visit the 15th century Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Lady), which will followed by coffee and cake in a traditional Munich Kaffeehaus.
This afternoon, we’ll visit the beautiful Nymphenburg Palace, home to the Wittelsbach family for centuries.
Tonight, our last evening together, we’ll end the trip in style with a farewell dinner at a traditional wirsthaus, Maximilian, that offers a range of German beers and local South Tyrolean fare. We will be breaking the fun meter!
Today our trip reaches its end. There’ll be several vehicles leaving for Munich Airport at different times depending on your flight time. Your transport will leave the hotel approximately 3 hours prior to your departure time.
We’d like to wish you ‘Buon Viaggio’ and ‘eine gute Reise’ from Italy, Austria and Germany! Until the next time – we already can’t wait to welcome you back to Europe again soon.
This exceptional journey will be led by geographer and art historian Janet Simmonds, a friend of Girls’ Guide with a master’s degree from the University of Oxford. Janet lives in Venice and works throughout Italy. When she’s not tripping, she writes about travel including numerous articles on Sicily. She’ll be assisted by her daughter Lucy, a linguist and German expert. Together they speak Italian, French, German and English!
Everything stated in itinerary above including all meals (except where otherwise noted) plus beer or wine with dinner
Beautiful, unique hotel stays
Multi-lingual tour guides; experts in History, Art, Geography and Culture
All visits, excursions, experiences as listed in the itinerary
All transport after arrival in Venice
Roundtrip airfare to Europe – Venice / Munich
Additional wine, beer, or spirits beyond what is offered at meals
All personal souvenir purchases
Travel and Medical Insurance (required)