Live “La Dolce Vita” with Uniworld in Italy
By Celece Seegmiller for The Spectrum Newspaper, September 10, 2013
I just received a new shipment of brochures from Uniworld Boutique River Cruises a few weeks ago and found an itinerary that I am adding to my bucket list: Splendors of Northern Italy, Venice, Florence, and Rome. This itinerary combines the best of both worlds: the canals of Venice and a tour on land to Florence and Rome.
This itinerary begins in “The Floating City” known as Venice. What could be better than checking into your luxury floating hotel, Uniworld’s beautiful River Countess? Five nights are conveniently docked in Venice which allows access to all of the wonderful attractions this magnificent city has to offer. On the first day, local tour guides will lead guests through hidden alleys where tourists rarely go to visit the Piazza San Marco, Doge’s Palace, and the Rialto Bridge. The evening is capped off at the most memorable experience; an exclusive visit to St. Mark’s Basilica after hours.
On day three, the ship sails for Chioggia for a visit to the walled city of Padua, one of Italy’s oldest towns. Here guests can walk in the footsteps of notable scholars like Galileo and Copernicus at one of the oldest universities in the world. A visit to the Basilica of Saint Anthony is included before the ship departs for Polesella.
In Polesella, guests have to choose between a full day excursion to Bologna with an exclusive pasta making workshop or a half day excursion to Ferrara the artistic hub of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and many more. Art or Pasta? Decisions, decisions! Of course, it’s not a bad day when you have to choose between the two in Italy. Guests then have a chance to relax and unwind on Day 5 with a visit to Taglio di Po (Porto Levante), located on the Northern Adriatic Sea. The Po Delta Nature Reserve features 2 million trees of 150 different species and a delicious seafood lunch is included.
Guests will savor the romance and magic of Verona on a full day excursion. Shakespeare made Verona famous and it has been an important city in Northern Italy for 2,000 years. Verona’s most famous landmark is the pink marble Roman arena where many of today’s famous artists still perform. On the final day in Venice, markets, glassblowers, lace makers, and artists await on a choice of exclusive tours: ”Do as the Locals Do” walking tour or a visiting a local arts center. Late that afternoon, guests say Ciao to Venice as they sail through the scenic Venice Lagoon with a Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner.
On Day 8, guests say goodbye to the beautiful River Countess and board a luxury motorcoach for the land portion of the itinerary. The first stop features lunch in the beautiful Tuscan countryside en route to Florence where the famous Grand Hotel Baglioni awaits for two nights. Excursions in Florence include a guided visit to the Accademia Gallery and Michelangelo’s David. The walking tour offers a close-up view of Florence Cathedral, the Piazza della Repubblica, Pitti Palace and the famous Ponte Vecchio. While Florence offers incredible works of art, it is also home to works of fashion: Gucci and Ferragamo. Fashionistas will have the opportunity to shop at some of the famous chic boutiques that line the streets.
Guests bid farewell to Florence on day ten and stop in the breathtaking Tuscan countryside en route to Rome. Wine tasting and lunch await in Chianti at the Castello di Verrazzano before checking into the Parco dei Principi for three nights in Rome. In Rome, guests visit St. Peter’s Basilica, the Arch of Titus, the Villa Borghese, and the Coliseum on the Imperial Rome tour. The “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour includes the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, and the Trevi Fountain. Of course, a visit to Rome is not complete without a tour of the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel.
Italy is known as the birthplace of the Renaissance and has given the world the gift of art, music, poetry, architecture, not to mention delicious food and wine. Uniworld gives their guests the gift of 12 nights in this scenic country worry-free. Having all accommodations, transportation, 29 meals, unlimited beverages, 15 guided excursions, and 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites included in one price is an exceptional value and a wonderful way to discover Italy. Che cosa stai aspettando? Vivere la dolce vita! – What are you waiting for? Live the sweet life!