Thursday or Friday, December 25 or 26, 2003:Depart USA
Friday, Dec. 26: Arrival Info: All of you are coming into Venice Marco Polo (VCE) at different times/days. The easiest way to get to the hotel is to take Bus #5 from the airport to Piazzale Roma. From there, take the #1 Vaporetto in the direction towards the Grand Canal. Get off at the Ca d’Oro stop. Go the only way you can and when you get out of the narrow alley, turn right on the Strada Nova. When you reach a large piazza, turn left. You will see the Hotel Giorgione, (00139)0415225810) about 50 meters ahead. Friday: Meet at 7:30 in the lobby to walk to dinner at the Osteria Giorgione. (They are not sure the restaurant will be open. If not, I will have arranged an alternative.)
Saturday, Dec. 27: Tour officially begins today though some of you (self included) will have already spent the night in Venice. You will be provided with a 72-hour vaporetto pass to enable you to travel all over the city. NOTE: Those of you who are arriving today, buy your 72-hour pass to get to the hotel. I will reimburse you when I see you. Meet at 7:30 in the lobby to walk to dinner at nearby Trattoria Da Bepi.
Sunday, Dec. 28: There are many things to see and do in Venice. Since some of you will have been to Venice many times, I will not organize any group activities per se. I will lead the “newbies” to Piazza San Marco for a brief orientation and then point the way to various attractions. Meet at 7:20 in the lobby to walk to dinner on the Fondamente Nuove at Pizzeria Trattoria Da Alvise.
Monday, Dec. 29: To encourage you to visit the outer islands (included on your vaporetto pass), I have scheduled lunch today at Osteria Ponte del Diavalo (041730401) on Torcello at 1:00. Plan to arrive on Torcello no later than 12:00 so you can poke around the interesting little island and visit the church with 8th-century mosaics. Since the tour meal was lunch, we might want to choose to attend one of the many concerts available in Venice tonight.
Tuesday, Dec. 30:Morning essentially free for last minute shopping. You might want to plan to have lunch (independent) at or near the station. Depart by train from Venice Santa Lucia at 12:49. Arrive Bassano del Grappa at 14:11. Five-minute walk to Hotel Belvedere (001390424524988). At 14:45 I will lead us on an introductory walking tour of Bassano. Dinner at 7:30 in the excellent hotel restaurant.
Wednesday, Dec. 31: 9:00 a.m. departure for excursion with our local guide, Deborah Marra. On our way to Asolo we will make a brief stop for photos at Villa Barbaro. (They are busy for the day and we can’t visit.) After Asolo, we will continue on to Possagno to visit Canova’s birthplace before heading back to Bassano del Grappa. Afternoon free for shopping (ceramics), strolling around Bassano, napping in preparation for the evening, whatever. NYE Gala Dinner at hotel beginning at 8:15. (Do NOT try to get a head start by having a room party. There will be more wine than we can possibly imbibe at dinner.) Notes on Gala: I had a choice of either the traditional party or a very special dinner with the pros at the restaurant. I chose to go with the special dinner. You have the opportunity to go back and forth between the two–the party and the dinner. This will be a dressy affair so throw in a coat & tie for men, party dress for women.
Thursday, January 1, 2004:Morning free for recovery. 2:00 p.m. visit to Canova exhibition in Bassano. Dinner at 7:30 at nearby Ristorante-Pizzeria Bella Capri.
Friday, Jan. 2: 8:30 a.m. departure by van to Verona and the Hotel Accademia (00139045596222). We will stop in Padova en route to visit the Scrovegni Chapel. Our reservation time is 10:30 so we will need to be at the ticket office at 9:30. After lunch (independent) we will then continue on to Vicenza and meet Deborah again for a city tour and a visit of the Teatro Olimpico. Dinner at Trattoria da Gusto.
Saturday, Jan. 3: 8:30 departure for full day excursion to Bolzano to see The Iceman, the Copper Age hunter who ventured out of his territory and met an untimely end. His body remained entombed in ice until recently. Since he was so well preserved, scientists have been able to provide us with many insights into what life was like over 5000 years ago. This museum also displays artifacts all the way from the Stone Age through the early Middle Age. Besides the entrance to the museum, I will also pay for the very informative audio guide. We will depart Bolzano at 2:30 and on our return, we will swing off to Negrar in the Valpolicella region where we will visit Salgari, one of my favorite cantinas.. Cantinas are direct to consumer outlets with greatly reduced prices. Dinner at Osteria Sgarzarie.
Sunday, Jan. 4: Today we will explore Verona. I will provide everyone with either a one-day or three-day Verona Card to get you into any number of churches and museums. I will provide directions and guidance but will essentially leave you alone for your own explorations. (There is one church that I want to make sure you see.) Meet in hotel lobby at 4:45 to take taxis to the Villa. Dinner will be a cooking class at the villa of I Signori Zoppi. I will have Donatella prepare a traditional Veneto Christmas feast so you can perhaps replicate parts of it next year at home. Note: This is NOT a “stand around and watch” demonstration. Donatella speaks very little English and merely hands out the ingredients and the tools to prepare them and then demonstrates what needs to be done. When she has one group happily occupied, she assigns another task to whomever is still standing around until everyone is involved and everything is prepared. Meanwhile her husband Francesco makes sure that your wine or water glass is not forgotten. The dinner will be absolutely superb and you will love the villa.
Monday, Jan. 5: Continued explorations of Verona: You may want to budget some time for shopping. The sales traditionally don’t start until after Epiphany, January 6, but I have noticed a number of the shops jump the gun a little bit and start after January 1. Dinner at Taverna Via Stella.
Tuesday, Jan. 6: Tour ends after breakfast at the hotel. I will help you arrange your airport transfer to fly back to the states.
Karen and Lawrence Matsuda, VCE 12/26, 9:40 a.m., Lufthansa # 5109
Joe & Diane Dondero, VCE, 12/26, 11:35 a.m., Alitalia #7435
Scott Anderson VCE, 12/27, 10:20 a.m. Delta #154
Charles & Esther Mae Lundy VCE, 12/27, 10:20 a.m. Delta #154