Venice: A VIP Experience
Updated: Apr 27
Venice is a masterpiece and on most people’s must-absolutely-do-before-I-die list. It conjures up gondola rides along peaceful canals, an espresso in St Mark’s Square, a cioccolato gelato with Bridge of Sighs background, and a tour of a Murano glass-blowing factory. All great experiences and quintessential must-dos however, like most places, when you know the experts (Italia Connection) you get access to a far superior league of life-enriching opportunities that take lifelong memories to a completely different level.
We were recently tasked to create a unique experience for a handful of lucky couples who would be invited to spend some time with the program host. Without knowing whether invitees had previously been to Venice we had to include the "must-dos" and blend in the "extraordinary". Here’s what we produced under the guidance and leadership of Alberto’s team.
Italia Connection secured access to the Doge's Palace before the public opening so we could enjoy a nearly private tour and get off to a punctual start. We followed that with a 30-minute gondola ride that ended close to the Bridge of Sighs where a photographer took couple’s portraits. Pretty good so far, but it was about to get a whole lot better.
From there we boarded two motorboats were whisked off to a secluded location far away from the crowds of visitors. Guests were greeted onboard a Bragozzo; a two-masted, flat-bottomed fishing boat built-in 1946, and beautifully restored by its’ passionate owner and Chef Mauro. Mauro personally greeted guests as they were handed chilled Prosecco with a sprig of thyme and fresh raspberry garnish. He introduced his team of three and provided a short history of his boat, before proceeding with an overview of the lunch menu. We specifically asked that he include a discreet description of modified dishes to reassure those with gluten allergies and lactose intolerance had been considered to cast away any concerns.
Mauro proudly describes his food as “slow food”, not to describe the service but to explain his cooking technique that invites the food to take on the aromas of the ingredients, without harming the taste of the product. Naturally being on the Adriatic coast he uses a lot of fish, and always gets all items from the market that very same morning. Emphasis on all and always.
“You need to take time and respect the rhythms of the Lagoon, which is timeless”
Shortly after setting sail, culinary delights consisting of salt cod bites with extra virgin olive oil, cream of chickpeas with thyme on celery, and crusted anchovies with aromatic herbs stimulated the palette and the experience blending the culinary, scenic, and cultural climaxed.
They sailed into the salt marshes of the less chartered northern lagoons passing and admiring the picturesque simplicity of the smaller islands, and they enjoyed a four-course sensory experience to the sound of roosting birds and the occasional Buongiorno from fisherman passing by.
"Serene", "absolutely stunning", "totally unforgettable" and "definitely not what we'd ever expect from Venice" were amongst the comments guests shared with us.
All guests caught up with us during the Greek Isle cruise itself and thanked us for the portrait they received in their stateroom on embarkation day, that was beautifully presented in a Murano glass frame and a thank you card from the host.
For meals, we recommend no more than 12 guests, and if you start boarding by 11:15am, you can offer the full experience and be back to the starting point by 3:30pm. Like everything with Italia Connection, we work to find you the best experiences that exist and tailor them to suit your schedule. Cooking classes are also available and can include a visit to the market with Chef Mauro
Italia Connection's owner and president Alberto Neri has been providing Destination Services for specialized group experiences in Italy for more than 20 years, and has a team of discreet Rome-based project managers that discerning planners can trust with their programs. Alberto can be reached at +33-393-166-0706 or you can call me in the US at 732-330-1899.
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