Discover why the heart of Venice is known as La Serenissima during this half-day tour of the Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Square and Basilica, and a glass showroom. A UNESCO World Heritage property, the city of Venice and its lagoon is in the Veneto Region of Northeast Italy. Founded in the 5th century AD and spread over 118 small islands, Venice became a major maritime power in the 10th century
Depart the pier for a brief transfer via private motorboat to the exquisite Piazza San Marco.
Upon arrival, your awaiting guides escort you for a visit to the grand Doge Palace, or 'Palazzo Ducale', originally a square, fortress-like building with high walls, corner towers, and fortified gates. The building, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, is an accumulation of layer-upon-layer of building work and ornamentation that includes the original foundations, the 14th-15th-century structure, sizeable Renaissance additions and opulent Mannerist details.
During your visit, see a number of paintings by some of the greatest 16th-century masters, illustrating the historical events of the Serenissima Republic. Once the Doge's residence and the seat of the Venetian government and tribunal, the palace contained courtrooms and dungeons.
Ponte Dei Sospiri
Adjoining the palace is the famous Ponte dei Sospiri, or 'Bridge of Sighs'. This legendary structure connects the palace to the former ducal prison. Today, it is a favourite rendezvous of lovers who believe that if they kiss under the bridge, their love will last forever.
Continuing on, see the stately public buildings and elegant cafés of the piazza 'par excellence', which is wonderfully-animated by people, music and pigeons. The clock tower is topped by two bronze Moors who hammer out the time, and opposite is the 300-foot-tall (90 metre) Campanile overlooking the city.
St. Mark's Cathedral
Next, visit St. Mark's Cathedral, or 'Basilica di San Marco'. Due to certain restrictions inside St. Mark's Cathedral, your guide provides detailed narration before you enter. Named after St. Mark, the patron saint of the city, this impressive cathedral has foundations dating back to the 9th century. Venice's gateway between the Orient and the West is reflected in its Oriental design elements, which can also be found on two basilicas in Constantinople. On Sundays, or in the case of unexpected religious functions, only an exterior viewing is possible.
Leaving St. Mark's Cathedral, proceed to a local glass showroom. Upon arrival, observe a brief demonstration of artisans at work and learn the ancient methods and fascinating secrets used in creating beautiful pieces of art. Following the demonstration, you may visit the glass showrooms and have an opportunity to purchase authentic Venetian glassware.
At the conclusion of the tour, you may opt to stay in town for further exploration and return to the ship independently, or return to the motorboat for the transfer back to pier.
Please note: This tour requires an extensive amount of walking with bridges to climb and many stairs to negotiate at the Doge's Palace. This tour is not recommended for guests with limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. Flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Due to certain restrictions inside St. Mark's Cathedral, your guide will provide detailed narration before you enter. Because only one group may enter at a time, there may be a considerable wait outside. Tour groups are not permitted inside St. Mark's Basilica during services on Sundays and church holidays. However, time permitting and if the church permits, entry may be allowed on an individual basis to view the interior quietly and reverently. Your guide will not be allowed to enter with you. Tour cannot enter the cathedral in the case of particularly high tide that blocks the main entrance of the cathedral. No refund is foreseen in case of cathedral closure and outside visit.
Conservative dress is required to enter the basilica; ladies must cover their knees and shoulders, and gentlemen must wear pants. For security reasons large bags and backpacks must be delivered in a checkroom before entering the venues. Guests are highly recommended not to bring such items with them during this excursion, in order to avoid any inconvenience and loss of time. Photography is not permitted in St. Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace. The order of sights visited may vary.