10. Venice: St. Mark's Basilica, Doge Palace, and Gondola Ride
Your day starts early, near the Rialto Bridge, where you'll learn how the city grew from the mud of the lagoon. Explore the bustling Rialto Fish Market. Stroll through the backstreets of Venice, passing quiet piazzas and picturesque bridges, spotting landmarks like the childhood home of Marco Polo. Step inside the instantly recognisable San Giovanni Gristosomo, to see paintings by Venetian masters Bellini and Sebastiano del Piombo.
If you really want to see how the locals live, you have to hop on a boat. This tour includes a 30-minute gondola ride that takes you through both busy thoroughfares and quieter, residential canals so you see Venice the way it was meant to be seen - from the water.
After a break for lunch, meet again in St. Mark's Square and visit St. Mark's Basilica with pre-reserved, skip-the-line tickets. This enormous church is one of the most unique and awe-inspiring in Italy. As you explore it, your guide will explain how a Byzantine-style building came to be Venice's greatest landmark, while pointing out some of the more unique stories featured in the golden mosaics that cover the ceilings.
Cross St. Mark's Square to the Doge's Palace, once the political nerve center for an empire that stretched across the Mediterranean and into Asia. It was in this building that the Doge, or Duke of Venice lived and where he lorded over an empire of immense wealth, but almost no actual land. This wealth is on display all through the palace in ornate decorations, and beautiful paintings by Venetian masters like Veronese and Bellini. You'll also get to see parts of the palace that weren't as nice, like the prisons, and the inside of the Bridge of Sighs.