Length of Trip: Three days and two nights
Accommodations: Hotel in Venice, just steps away from the Grand Canal
Transportation: Train to Venice
Meals: Breakfast served daily at our hotel, Venetian-style dinner in our favorite enchanting Osteria
Sites Visited: Venice: Piazza and Basilica of San Marco, Rialto Bridge, Island and Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, Gondola ride on the Grand Canal, Glass-blowing demonstration. For more details, see below.
As evening falls over Venice, the magic of the 118 islands finally awakes. After a spectacular dinner, we will lead you to the Piazza San Marco, the heart of the city. Relishing in the quiet solace of the sea waves, witness the splendor of the city by night. Then hit the famed piazza which represents Italian romance at its finest. Dueling orchestras play to both jovial crowds and sweethearts, all below the glowing shadow of the Basilica of San Marco. Stop to ascend the ramps of the Rialto Bridge, Venice’s oldest structure spanning the Grand Canal since its completion in 1591. Don’t miss this glittering spectacle.
We return to the Venice’s main piazza during the day to enter the Basilica of San Marco. Once called “the Church of Gold,” San Marco represents the rich byzantine architectural tradition present throughout the city. Eleventh-century colored mosaics cover the interior from floor to ceiling creating a church space that is as much an optical illusion as it is an artwork. Listen to how two Venetian merchants stole the bones of Saint Mark from his resting place in Alexandria, Egypt and brought them back to Venice in order to make the city a major spiritual center. Then hear about the architecture of the cathedral and its close relationship with the Doge of Venice, the ruler of the city. Finally, learn about the geographically diverse population present in medieval and Renaissance Venice since its foundation and the manner in which the city actively made space for Greeks, North Africans, and Ottoman Turks.
Venture to the islands of Burano and Murano. Burano became famous around europe for its hand-made lace from as early as the 16th century. It is now even more famous for its brightly colored homes that line its quiet and peaceful canals. Come see this picturesque island paradise first hand (and take a million photos). On the way back, make a stop over at the now famous home of glassmaking in Venice, the island of Murano. Moved off the main island to protect from the danger of fires, Murano was the focus of Venetian glassmaking as early as the late 13th century. It is still home to the most important glassmaking companies in the world and is chuck-full of some incredible examples of this centuries-old art.
The quintessential Venetian experience of riding in a gondola is always a Select Study Abroad favorite. These traditional rowing boats were the primary means of transportation around Venice for centuries. Scholars estimate that nearly 10,000 gondolas were in use by the 17th century, making it the only way to travel. Watch the sun set from one of the 400 or so gondolas that are active today.
Byzantine glassmakers brought the secrets of their techniques to Venice throughout the 12th century. By 1204, after the sack of Constantinople, Venice had become the capital of the trade. Glassmakers inherited an unusually high status in Venetian society, which allowed them protection from persecution by the Venetian state. Yet, their status came at a high price. Their knowledge was not allowed to leave the island of Murano for fear that others would learn their secrets. See what all of the fuss is about at the Vecchia Murano Glass Factory, where you will see a master glassblower at work.