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Encounters in Italy: Biennale & the Palio

  • Overview
  • Accommodation
  • Itinerary
  • Fares

A journey overview

  • Rome
  • Siena
  • Venice

10 Days Exploration
  • Departing:
  • 27 Jun 2024 Selling Fast

Join us for an experience of Italian art and culture, with three nights each in Rome, Tuscany and Venice. Enjoy an immersion into the world of contemporary art at Venice’s prestigious Biennale. Claim your coveted position at the famed Palio di Siena horse race. And savour the gourmet pleasures for which Italy is renowned and revered – La Dolce Vita for no more than 24 guests.

Celebrate the Biennale
Celebrate the Biennale

Celebrate the Biennale

Attend the 60th International Art Exhibition 2024 in Venice – the Biennale. Spend time at the various national pavilions, admiring exhibits by some of the world’s finest contemporary artists. Speak with creators and curators, while contemplating masterful works and intriguing ideas.

Palio di Siena
Palio di Siena

Front Row at the Palio di Siena

Be swept up in all the passion of the Palio. Enjoy perspectives usually only secured by locals, as we view the race, and its preceding pageantry, from either balcony or window seats within private homes on the edge of the square.

Art Restoration

A Treasure Trove of Art

At the Art Restoration and Conservation Studio, see painstaking repair techniques carried out. While masterpieces and museums are ours to pore over and peruse. From Michelangelo to the Vatican Museums, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.  

Italian Cooking Class
Tenuta Torciano Winery

A Choice Selection of Gourmet Events in Tuscany

Soar over Florence aboard a helicopter, before landing at Tenuta Torciano winery for a tasting in a private room and lunch. Taste Tuscany’s finest wines and dine aboard a luxury yacht during a cruise around Elba Island. You can also take part in an authentic Italian cooking class.


Archaeology, Art & Architecture – Private Tours

We immerse ourselves in a series of exclusive, privately guided tours. Explore underground Christian catacombs. Inspect layers of history at the Basilica of San Clemente. See frescoes of the four evangelists at the Niccoline Chapel. Browse Raphael’s Rooms, the Sistine Chapel and St Peters Basilica.


Tour Manager - Denise Van Sever

Tour Doctor - Dr Michele Zwi

As Your Tour Manager, Denise Van Sever Welcomes You On This Journey

Your Accompanying Tour Doctor For This Journey Is Dr Michele Zwi

A private transfer from Rome-Fiumicino Airport brings you to our hotel, the Palazzo Ripetta, our spectacular home for the next three nights. We get to know each other over cocktails this evening on the hotel’s rooftop, followed by dinner at Piazzetta Ripetta, within our hotel.

On our first full day in Rome, we choose between two in-depth, cultural Your World experiences:

— Visit the Art Restoration and Conservation Studio and observe some of the painstaking processes involved in restoring these treasured pieces. At the nearby Basilica of Sant’Agostino, you will have the opportunity to further admire the work of Rome’s art restorers, with a viewing of Caravaggio’s masterpiece, Pilgrim’s Madonna. 
— Survey the maze of underground tunnels that provided sanctuary for Christians during the Roman persecution. Today, the site is one of high archaeological significance, offering insight into the ancient world. Led by your guide, you will discover historically important frescoes depicting the Virgin Mary, as well as the Three Wise Men. Continue to the Basilica of San Clemente, where art, history and faith converge. 

Take your afternoon at leisure. This evening, we reconvene for a gala dinner at nearby Terrazza Caffarelli. Admire views across the city’s rooftops from the terrace of this magnificent site. Exclusive to our group, this charming setting sets the tone for the events to come.

Today, we contemplate the many works of art housed within the Vatican Museums. Our knowledgeable guide regales us with stories of these great artists as we view the museum’s various galleries. We are then granted exclusive access to the Niccoline Chapel. Found within the Apostolic Palace, the chapel is elaborately decorated with extensive frescoes, portraying the lives of St Stephen and St Laurence, as well as the authors of the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Admire the works of Raphael, before entering the celebrated Sistine Chapel. Here, we look upon Michelangelo’s masterpieces, The Creation of Adam, and The Last Judgment. We finish with a visit to St Peters Basilica, where we view Pietà, and St Peter’s Baldachin, sculpted works by Michelangelo and Bernini respectively. 

Following lunch, enjoy the afternoon on your own schedule. This evening, select from Rome’s wealth of traditional dining options.

This morning, we follow the road to Siena, a delightful Tuscan city. From here, we make our approach to the magnificent resort, Castel Monastero, in the heart of the Chianti wine region. Enjoy a relaxing day, as you settle into our charming Tuscan retreat. Perhaps indulge in a rejuvenating spa treatment, relax in one of the outdoor pools, or simply wander the grounds of this idyllic property.

Dine within our resort’s Contrada restaurant this evening, savouring delicious Tuscan cuisine.

Explore Tuscany your way today, with a choice of three full-day Your World experiences:

— Journey into the Tuscan countryside to hunt for truffles with a professional guide and his trained dogs. Afterwards, sit down for a two-course lunch and dessert, featuring a range of Tuscan fare. A lavish selection of Iocal wine is also at hand to complement your meal. Follow lunch with an exploration of San Gimignano’s historic centre. The town was once famous for the extensive skyline it boasted during the Middle Ages. 
— Relax in style aboard the San Lorenzo 80 luxury yacht during a cruise of the waters around Elba Island. Enjoy the stunning scenery as you traverse one of Italy’s most biodiverse marine areas. Aboard your sleek vessel, dine upon the catch of the day, accompanied by Tuscany’s finest wines. Learn from renowned winemaker Pierluigi Giachi and round out your day with a breathtaking island sunset. 
— Board a helicopter and soar over Tuscany. Take in aerial perspectives of Florence’s Duomo and Ponte Vecchio, as well as the rustic landscapes of Fiesole, dotted with hillside villas and sprawling olive groves. Touch down at the Tenuta Torciano winery in San Gimignano. Here, the Giachi family will give you a tour of their cellar, while also offering you a tasting in a private room. You will also enjoy a four-course lunch paired with matching wines. 

Tonight, we take our places within the atmospheric medieval wine cellars of Castel Monastero. Here, the La Cantina restaurant hosts us for a memorable dinner, enhanced by its extraordinary wine list.

This morning, take part in an authentic Italian cooking class at Castel Monastero. Learn the secrets of creating delectable Italian dishes, including traditional Tuscan cuisine. Guided by our chef, select your ingredients, prepare each dish, then taste the fruits of your labour during a three-course dining experience. Alternatively, take the morning on your own schedule. 

Today we’re fortunate to have access to private homes overlooking the famed Piazza del Campo. A selection of balcony and window seats affords us views across the racetrack, for the running of the Palio di Siena. As the throng of spectators assembles within the square, the atmosphere becomes palpable. Soon, a new chapter of the event will be written, building upon the Palio’s centuries-old tradition – the race pitting steed against steed, contrada against contrada. 

As the pageantry of the pre-race parade further rouses its ardent onlookers, we avail ourselves of the local delicacies and open bar which has been arranged just for us. With rivals and their mounts at the starting line, a collective hush comes over the crowd. The rope drops and tension promptly gives way to pandemonium. After a mere three laps and just ninety seconds, a victor prevails, sending the crowd into a frenzy. 

The race run and won, we join revellers from one of the local contradas, to dine and relive the day’s events.

Our ultimate destination today is Venice. We stop for lunch along the way, before reaching our residence for the next three nights, the waterfront Sina Centurion Palace. We take some time at leisure to admire Venice’s prized canals and their surroundings. Perhaps, take the opportunity to embark a gondola and glide along the canals’ calm waters, past a few of the city’s historic sites. 

Board a Venetian Galleon this evening for an enchanting candlelit dinner. While seated comfortably upon the ship’s deck, enjoy an extravagant dinner while sailing along Venice’s waterways, admiring the city’s Gothic-style architecture and groups of small islands.

The day is yours to spend as you wish, with a range of Your World experiences available:

— Enjoy a full-day Biennale experience, immersing yourself in the art world’s latest offerings. 
— Uncover more of the city’s history this morning with a visit to the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo. The site is the burial place of Saints John and Paul. The church was continuously remodelled over the centuries, before taking on its current appearance in 1951. Its opulent interior is adorned with various paintings, sculptures, and monuments. 
— Opt for a late-afternoon Your World experience and head to the Santa Maria della Salute, whose distinctive domed structure is one of the city’s most striking features. Built to commemorate the end of a 17th-century plague outbreak, the church’s interior features paintings by Titian and Tintoretto. 
— This evening, wander the halls of Venice’s former seat of political power. Enjoy an exclusive, out-of-hours, visit to the Doge’s Palace; its rooms and corridors illustrating the opulence of the Venetian Republic. See the Bridge of Sighs, which connected the palace to its prison across the water. 

You may, of course, prefer to explore Venice independently, absorbing the charms of the city on your own schedule. 

Tonight, we enjoy dinner at one of Venice’s charming local restaurants.

Round out your final full day in Venice with a Your World experience:

— Should you not have done so yesterday, take the opportunity to discover the latest artistic trends during a full day at the Biennale. 
— Erected in the 11th century, Saint Mark’s Basilica stands as one of Venice’s most important sites. Admire the lavish edifice, which showcases Byzantine and Gothic architecture. Inside, you will find a cascade of gold, mosaics and precious stones.  
— Pay a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The museum possesses one of Italy’s finest collections of early 20th-century European and American art.

This evening, a private visit and dinner awaits us at Murano Glass Museum. Our host accompanies us as we wander through the glass studio, inspecting its furnace and show room. Following a welcome aperitif and glass blowing demonstration, we are shown to our seats for an exclusive three-course dinner with paired wines.

We bid each other farewell, as our journey of Italy’s art, gastronomy and history comes to an end.


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