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Italian Christmas Markets

28th November - 2nd December 2012

For a printable pdf version of the
itinerary please click here.

Based in a dramatic alpine setting, this wonderful new tour combines a visit to improbable Venice, to the pre-alpine oasis that is Lake Garda, to Verona and to three delightful Tyrolean towns dressed in their festive finery!


The Itinerary

Wednesday 28th November
Your outbound flight is scheduled to arrive early in Venice, so we leave our baggage on our transport and immediately begin our adventure! Arriving on the edge of the Venetian lagoon, we travel by private water transfer along the Giudecca Canal, with commentary along our route. At the appointed moment, we pass the Maritime Customs House - like the prow of a great ship - looking as if through the eyes of Canaletto himself we watch the entire monumental district of St. Mark come into view. Like a roll-call of some of the World’s most famous architecture, we watch as our boat takes us to our landing point on Riva degli Schiavoni. There we meet our resident local guide and commence our discovery on foot of this most romantic of cities. With vivid descriptions, we visit the ‘Bridge of Sighs’, the entire monumental area of St. Mark’s Square with an entrance into the Basilica.

We make time to also include ‘La Fenice’, the celebrated Venetian Opera House, and tucked away in a hidden corner – ‘Scala del Bovolo’, a remarkable Renaissance staircase shaped like a seashell!

The remainder of the day is at leisure, but your Tour Manager will certainly give you some ideas: perhaps take the lift up the Campanile for panoramic views across the lagoon and rooftops of Venice; walk the length of ‘Mercerie’ toward the ‘film set’ location of the Rialto Bridge, astride the Grand Canal; visit the Doge’s Palace and the prison from where Casanova escaped or merely sit and gaze, allowing the nostalgic grandeur of the ‘Old Lady of the Lagoon’ to transport you back to an age of intrigue, empire and staggering wealth.

After a day immersed in the beguiling atmosphere of peerless Venice we rejoin our boat, returning us to ‘Terra Firma’ and commence our journey to the Italian South Tyrol arriving in time for our dinner and a relaxing evening in our cosy, convivial hotel.

O/N Castello di Fiemme (D)

Thursday 29th November
After a hearty breakfast and a leisurely start we descend from the Val di Fiemme into the valley of the mighty Adige river and then turn in a westerly direction. Next we traverse the famous ‘Strada dei Vini’ – with manicured vineyards in all directions – and pass alongside the charming little jewel that is Lake Caldaro. Our first visit of the day is to the well-heeled spa resort of Merano. Along the banks of the River Passirio we find the artisanal Christmas market spread out walled on all sides by the imposing Tyrolean alps. There are many other points of interest, not least the celebrated ‘Via dei Portici’ lined with upmarket shops, the cathedral and the riverside promenades.

After a lunch at leisure, we continue to Bolzano, bilingual capital of the South Tyrol. Since early mediaeval times the town has been an important centre of commerce and is surprisingly rich in history and architecture. In the central square - Piazza Walther – the ‘living room’ of Bolzano, we are able to visit an extensive artisanal Christmas market. Further explorations could take you to the Archeological Museum where we find the World’s most famous ‘wet mummy’, the 5,300 year old body of Ötzi, the ‘Ice Man’; the fruit, flower and vegetable market or cross the river and look back across the city to see the tantalising distant view of needles of the ‘Catinaccio’ section of the Dolomites. It is then a short return journey back to the hotel in time for dinner.

O/N Castello di Fiemme (B,D)

Friday 30th November
This morning is free to relax, to stroll or to enjoy a swim in the hotel’s indoor pool! You may wish to visit nearby Cavalese which is an approximate half an hour stroll or a short bus ride away. Here you will discover a pleasant little town with mediaeval streets and fragments of ancient frescoes on some of its buildings.

This afternoon there will be an excursion into the Tyrolean countryside. We will visit a traditional mountain dairy farm and cheese factory to discover and sample some of the local products.

O/N Castello di Fiemme (B,D)

Saturday 1st December
Departing at a comfortable time after breakfast, our journey takes us south towards the vast inland fjord that is Lake Garda.

Crossing over the ‘Passo San Giovanni’, at a certain moment we turn and stare in awe as the vast expanse of water that is Lake Garda stretches into the furthest distance. Descending into the valley of the river Sarca, we shortly arrive in Arco, a pleasant little spa resort within a stone’s throw of the northern shore of the lake. Here, during advent there is a festive atmosphere and we make time to have a short stop to enjoy it.

Continuing we pass through Riva del Garda and begin to flank the lake, joining one of Europe’s most revered scenic routes – the ‘Gardesana’. Surrounded by mountains in the first instance, on the former Tyrolean northern shore, we soon cross the ancient border and almost immediately, a more Mediterranean atmosphere greets us - we have arrived in lands once attached to the Serene Republic of Venice. With full commentary, we continue along the lakeshore route with distant views of yet another former polity on the opposite shore, that of the Kingdom of Lombardy. After a gentle progress in order to savour every new vista, we leave the Gardesana at Garda and cross a low bowl of hills where we snatch our last view of the lake shimmering in the distance as we pass through a narrow gap and down into a land of vineyards associated with the City State of the Scala Lords of Verona.

Soon we arrive in Affi where we are treated to an included lunch and wine tasting in a rustic cantina – we will undoubtedly try a locally-produced grappa or liqueur also!

After our lunch with our friendly hosts we conduct a short panoramic route of the city to see such things as the Roman Theatre and the old Roman Bridge before arriving at our set-down near the centre of Verona. From here we walk together towards the Roman Amphitheatre, to Juliet’s balcony and finally to the nearby ‘Piazza Signoria’, complete with the fascinating tombs of the Scala Lords of Verona with such evocative names as ‘Cangrande’ – ‘Big Dog’. The rest of the afternoon is free to make visits to suit your interests, after an orientation by your Tour Manager and before our departure for the hotel and dinner.

O/N Castello di Fiemme (B,L,D)

Sunday 2nd December
After a last breakfast and wistful looks at the rare beauty of the surroundings of our base for the last few days, we depart for our homeward journey – but it’s not over yet!

During the journey we make time to visit the charming city of Vicenza, birthplace of Andrea Palladio. The time that we are able to devote to the city will depend upon the timing of your flight.


End of Tour Services

Tour Cost

Price per person



Single Supplement


Cost Includes

  • Return flights to Venice
  • 4 nights Half Board accommodation at our carefully-chosen hotel
  • Modern, comfortable coaching
  • Full day visit to Venice, including water transfers and a Classic Walking Tour
  • Full day visit to the Habsburg spa town of Merano and the Capital of the Italian South Tyrol, Bolzano – during their traditional Christmas markets
  • Full day visit to Lake Garda and to Verona with wine tasting and lunch near Verona
  • Visit to Vicenza, birthplace of Palladio during your return journey to Venice airport
  • Services of a professional Tour Manager

How to Book

To make a booking, please call us on 01242 515 712 or click on our Booking Details.