Experience the history-steeped gems of the Venetian Republic from Italy to Slovenia and Croatia. Follow the cobbled squares and winding canals of the floating city of Venice, before setting sail on the sparkling Adriatic Sea in the ideal season—when the weather’s mild and the summer crowds are thinning out. You’ll enjoy exclusive Discovery Series events, including an olive-oil tasting, and feel the warmth of a Slovenian welcome during a Home-Hosted Visit. Walk in ancient footsteps at Roman Aquileia, find inspiration where James Joyce once did in Trieste, ponder more recent history at World War I and II sites, and visit Collio Wine Country for a tasting on a journey worth raising a glass to.
Please note: Due to changes in availability on our March 11, 2017 departure, the order of Days 6 through 11 will differ slightly from what is described above. All included features will remain the same.
6 nights from only $1295
With elegant reminders of its Roman past and its Byzantine glory days still on full display, Ravenna is a transporting city of timeless beauty. Medieval Padua beckons with Giotto frescoes and winding lanes which have been filled with university students for centuries. You’ll explore both storied cities, pausing along the way for time to explore Comacchio, a town of 13 island linked like a string of pearls. It’s a perfect introduction to the best of Northern Italy.View Extension Itinerary
Depart today on your flight to Venice.
Arrive in Venice, where you'll be meet you at the airport and assisted with the transfer to your hotel, which includes a motorboat ride. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for your exact arrival time. Depending on when you arrive, you may enjoy a brief orientation walk with your Program Director, before a Welcome Drink and briefing.
After breakfast, enjoy an exclusive Discovery Series event, a lesson in Italian With & Without Words that will prepare you for the friendly welcomes you’ll enjoy on your trip.
This morning, embark on an included walking tour to explore the "Floating City," a lacey patchwork of 108 islands linked by canals and bridges. Once an independent republic that influenced trade and culture around the globe, Venice is today home to 260,000 people, and one of the world’s most desirable travel destinations.
After lunch on your own, join your Program Director for a discovery walk of the Jewish Ghetto, formally established in the 16th century. Life within the ghetto was diverse, with separate synagogues for Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese worshippers. Today, this area remains the heart of Venice's Jewish life.
Or, you might choose to explore at your own pace, perhaps taking in the vivid golden mosaics of St. Mark’s Basilica or ascending its Campanile tower. With its Byzantine flourishes, the richly adorned Basilica is like an especially ornate jewelry box. It was named in honor of St. Mark, whose body was smuggled into Venice in a pork barrel to avoid being discovered by Muslim officials
Tonight, toast the journey ahead when you join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Dinner in a local restaurant.
Please note: Due to scheduling reasons, some departures may have the Welcome Dinner on Day 2 of the itinerary.
Today is your chance to explore this storied city at leisure, pursuing your interests at your own pace.
The heart of the city today, Piazza San Marco was the epicenter of the Republic of Venice during its glory days as a seafaring empire. Ringed with outdoor cafés, it’s an ideal spot from which to sip a cappuccino and to watch Venetian life as it goes by. You might follow the little alleys radiating from the square to explore local neighborhoods.
Or, join our optional Gondola Discovery tour, in which you’ll visit one of the two remaining traditional gondola-building businesses in the city. Then, experience this classic mode of transport during a gondola ride, complete with music. Finally, continue on to a workshop that specializes in handcrafted oars, where you’ll meet the master remer (as the artists are called).
Lunch and dinner are your own. Your Program Director will be happy to share recommendations for local restaurants, and steer you toward the best regional delicacies from hand-pulled pasta to sweetly decadent tiramisu.
After breakfast, enjoy discovering a pair of the outermost islands of the Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed Adriatic Sea bay.
Begin with a private boat ride to the island of Torcello. Back in the sixth century, Torcello served as the hub of Venice, and you’ll see how this rural community preserved its balance of buildings and lush fields. As you walk about the island, visit the seventh-century Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, known for its mosaics, the oldest in all of Venice.
Then it’s off to the quaint fishing village of Burano, where you'll be greeted by the site of vividly painted houses lining the canal off the lagoon. This fishing village is also renowned for its delicate lacework, a skill local artisans have honed since the 16th century. You'll meet some of these talented lacemakers during a visit to a local shop. Enjoy free time to explore on your own here before lunch at a local restaurant together.
After lunch together, you’ll embark the M/V Arethusa, the 50-passenger small ship that will be your home for the duration of your cruise. Your ship sets sail from Venice this evening, with dinner onboard this evening.
The Piran Peninsula has had many lives: First home to farmers and fishermen, it became the playground of pirates, then an elegant city for Romans, Byzantines, Franks, and Austro-Hungarians.
Today, Piran is a proud Slovenian city, known for its medieval architecture, art galleries, and its love of classical music. It's cultural patron saint is Baroque violionist and composer Giuseppe Tartini, whose influence you'll note when you behold a larger-than-life statue in the main square. Learn more about the composer of the Devil's Trill sonata—and his rivalry with Paganini—during a visit to the Tartini Memorial Room today.
After free time to explore, return to the Arethusa for an onboard lunch, followed by an afternoon of leisure. Perhaps you'll set out on a walk to take in panoramic views of Piran from an hilltop overlook.
This evening, revel in the camaraderie and warm welcome of a Slovenian family, who opens its door to you for a Home-Hosted Dinner, during which you can enjoy not only local homemade cuisine, but authentic insight into life in this region that most other American travelers miss.
Your ship docks in Pula, Croatia this morning. After breakfast, get to know Croatian culture during two exclusive Discovery Series events: First in an informal Croatian language lesson, then in a shipboard discussion on Croatia’s Past, during which a local expert will candidly discuss life in the Balkans up until the communist era in Yugoslavia.
With these perspectives fresh in your mind, embark on a walking tour of Pula. Perched on the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula, Pula benefits from a temperate climate and calm seas, which has made it a magnet for visitors since the Roman era (not least because it’s a hotbed of winemaking). Take a step back into history, and experience a popular destination in ancient times, with a visit to the Roman Amphitheatre. Known by locals simply as The Arena, the amphitheater is one of the world’s six largest Roman arenas, and is so impressive that Mussolini-era Fascists drew up a plan to dismantle it piece by piece and then reassemble it in Italy, but they eventually abandoned the plan as too labor-intensive to accomplish in the middle of World War II.
After lunch onboard ship, enjoy an afternoon at leisure to pursue your own interests in Pula.
Dinner is onboard this evening.
Your ship docks at the port of Rovinj early this morning. After breakfast, a followup exclusive Discovery Series discussion on Croatia's Present will illuminate the history of the region from the civil war of the 1990’s through Croatia joining the European Union.
Then disembark the Arethusa for a walking tour of Rovinj. This seaside location actually used to be an island, but officials filled in a channel to create a united mainland city. From the 13th to 18th centuries, it was the playground of the Venetian Republic—and while that empire didn’t last, the resort-like appeal of Rovinj has endured. In fact, it remains one of the most visited locales in the entire nation.
After your tour concludes, enjoy some free time to explore on your own. Perhaps you'll wander into the art galleries and little shops outlining Carrera Street, the pedestrian-only thoroughfare.
After lunch aboard ship, depart for the red-roofed medieval village of Bale, where you'll enjoy an olive oil tasting at a family-owned olive press, which specializes in extra virgin oils. During this exclusive Discovery Series event, you'll learn even more with a a discussion about the growth of this regional staple and its role in the local economy.
Travel back to the ship this afternoon through the Istrian countryside, stopping in the Lim Valley, where striking fjord wind through forested hills that rise as high as 300 feet on either side.
Your ship docks this morning in Monfalcone, Italy, and after disembarkation, you'll head inland to Aquileia.
Aquileia has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you'll see why during this morning's discoveries, which includes a walking tour of the ancient river port which once served emperors and soldiers alike. You'll also visit a trio of slightly more recent gems: the eleventh-century basilica, baptistery, and crypts—the last of which house not only a fourth-century saint, but unknown soldiers from World War I.
Back aboard ship, enjoy lunch before setting sail for Trieste, Italy. You'll arrive late this afternoon.
After breakfast, your day's discoveries begin with a visit to Risiera di San Sabba, a former rice-processing factory that the Nazis turned into a concentration camp and detainment center during World War II. Here, as many as 3,000 political prisoners were killed, while tens of thousands of Jews were processed for transfer to Auschwitz. Today, the site is home to a civic museum dedicated to the lessons learned from that terrible time.
Next discover Trieste—where famed author James Joyce lived for 15 years—during an included walking tour. Nearly the last slip of land in Italy’s north-easternmost corner, Trieste has long served as a crossroad for cultures, and became a hub of arts and commerce during the Habsburg era. You’ll be able to see the influence of that period in the way so much of Trieste, with a mix of Neoclassical and Baroque architecture, evokes thoughts of Vienna.
After lunch aboard ship, you may simply relax or return to Trieste for time to explore on your own. Perhaps you’ll navigate the twisting, cobblestone lanes of the Old City, largely off-limits to automobiles and full of spectacular examples of medieval architecture. View the marvelous mosaics of St. Justus church, or visit the first-century Roman Gate known locally as “Richard’s Arch” in honor of Richard the Lionhearted, rumored to have passed beneath it upon his return from the Crusades.
Dinner is onboard this evening.
This morning, steep yourself in World War I history, in a visit to the Redipuglia WWI Memorial.
The area surrounding Repiduglia served as the eastern front lines for Italy’s World War I campaign against Austria-Hungary and Germany. More than a dozen battles played out here, including the epic Battle of Caporetto—not only did as many as 11,000 soldiers lose their lives here, an additional quarter million were taken prisoner. Among the battle's survivors was a young American volunteer ambulance driver. Ernest Hemingway later used the expeirence as inspiration for A Farewell to Arms.
The massive Repiduglia War Memorial is the final resting place for nearly 110,000 soldiers, 69,000 of them unnamed. Here you'll survey this commanding panorama overlook, visit the chapel, and explore the museum here.
Late this morning, we follow the Stada del Vino (Wine Road) that runs through the undulating green hills of the Collio region. Best known for whites, the vineyards and wineries here range from tiny farmhouse-based operations to sprawling estates. You’ll visit one of them today, meeting the family which owns it and touring the cellars before a wine tasting and a light lunch.
Return to the ship later this afternoon for some leisure time before a convivial Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or, join our post-trip extension to Verona & Lake Como.
5 nights from only $1295
Milan and Lake Como
Produced by Small World Productions
This independent film features destinations you can visit on this trip extension.
Round out your Italian discoveries with a city immortalized by Shakespeare and a glittering Alpine lake that has drawn artists, composers, and philosophers for centuries. Follow medieval streets, admire elegant Palladian architecture, and toasts your discoveries in a grappa tasting. Experience Lake Como by boat and you’ll understand why Franz Liszt said it was the perfect setting for a love story.View Extension Itinerary