After our month in the mountains of Switzerland, it was time to continue our journey. Our original plan was to spend a few days on the Switzerland/Italy border and then make our way to Croatia by train and ferry. We thought that we’d save Italy for a future trip and return when we had more time to explore the large country.
However, after evaluating the travel time and schedule to get from Switzerland over to Croatia, we made some changes to the original plan. Instead of the train, we found a short direct flight from Zurich to Venice. This took a few of our planned days in Switzerland away, but it made it possible for us to spend four nights in Venice and three in the Dolomites.
Usually our family doesn’t enjoy more than a night or two in cities. We try to see the sites in as short a time possible, then escape the crowds and get into the more rural areas. Venice is one of the few cities that we found to be an exception to our normal preference. We split our four nights in Venice between a family apartment steps from the Bridge of Rialto, and two nights at the Virtuoso hotel, San Clemente Palace Kempinski. The hotel is a 10-15 minute water taxi across from St Marks Square. Three of our days we filled with wandering the streets of the historic city, getting lost in the cobblestone alley’. Then, one afternoon we enjoyed the peace and quiet from across the waterway, where we relaxed by the Kempinski pool in the warm sun.
From Venice, we picked up a rental car and drove North, up into the Dolomites. The Italian side of the Alps had a much different feel from the Swiss side. Many of the homes and towns had similar architecture, however, the the Italian mountain towns we passed through felt a bit more rustic. We slowly made our way to Trieste with a two-night stop at La Perla hotel in Corvara and a night at the Cristallo Hotel in Cortina. Both hotels offer amazing amenities and experiences steps from their front doors. Our quick week did just enough to wet our appetites. We’ll be sure to return to Italy again so we can spend more time exploring the beautiful country.
I loved the food in Italy. Especailly the gelato on almost every corner. The water taxis and gondolas were fun to ride in.
I loved Italy so much and want to return again and again. The people were nice, and it was cool riding boats everywhere in Venice.
I really enjoyed staying on the island outside of the Venice city center. Doing so provided us with space to spread out and a pool, and in minutes we could be in the heart of the city.
I really enjoyed exploring the city of Venice as well as seeing the Italian side of the mountains. A ski trip to the Dolomites is definitely in our future…
Set on a private island only ten minutes away by complimentary boat from St. Mark’s Square, San Clemente Palace Kempinski is your exclusive retreat in Venice. Lush gardens, antique courtyards and the historical church of San Clemente — the former monastery — take guests on a journey in time. The hotel’s spacious 190 rooms and suites overlook the lagoon or the centuries-old park, while the three restaurants and three bars serve up culinary delights — perfectly in line with the traditions of Italian and Venetian cuisine.
We spent two nights in the San Clemente Palace. Riding the 15 minute complimentary taxi into town was quite convenient. The boat would drop us in the heart of the city, so we could explore. Then, after having enough of the crowds, we’d hop back on the water taxi and retreat to our quiet oasis with plenty of green space to run and spread out. The girls especially enjoyed our afternoon in the sun relaxing by the pool with frozen drinks.
We absolutely loved La Perla Hotel Corvara. It is a family owned and operated property in the small town of Corvara, deep into the Dolomites. The hotel offers an exceptional level of service we rarely encounter. The owners, the Costa family, are present everywhere – greeting guests in the morning, checking in throughout the day and even wishing them goodnight after dinner. Our stay happened to include a Sunday night, so we were fortunate to receive an invitation to the Costa family cocktail reception hosted weekly for all in house guests. At the reception, three generations of the family were in attendance, all welcoming and engaging with the guests.
Everywhere we went, we were greeted by name. Food was outstanding. Included in the rate is a half board option so in addition to daily breakfast, you can enjoy a 4-course dinner in the main restaurant or a credit towards food in any of the hotels F&B outlets, including their Michelin Star restaurant.
Decorated in a classic style that gives a sense of place, we felt like we taken back in time. Sitting in the restaurant with the low ceilings and wood paneled walls, left us all feeling warm and relaxed at the end of the day.
A true ski-in, ski-out property, the bottom floor of the hotel is a ski storage room that opens up to a gondola only a few steps from the back door. Additional lifts are available around town so in a day, one could explore several different mountain peaks. At the cocktail reception we learned that some families have been returning for their weekly ski vacation for over 35 years. La Perla Corvara is definitely on our list of places to return in the winter one day.
In the UNESCO Italian Dolomites, Cristallo Resort & Spa stands out as a premier destination for outdoors and spa lovers. From its tranquil, hilltop location, the 116-year-old palace welcomes guests to its 74 refined guestrooms and suites. Here, you’ll find warm hospitality, and four restaurants serving Italian, refined and local cuisine. Guests regularly visit the Transvital Swiss Beauty Center for anti-aging treatments, Fitwell Club, indoor swimming pool, Finnish sauna,Turkish bath and relax lounge. One of many VIP amenities is the meet and greet at the aircraft, luggage pickup and transfer to the hotel by car or helicopter.
Positioned up on a hill above the town of Cortina, the hotel is an easy walk or short shuttle transfer into the town where shops, cafe’s and restaurants line a pedestrian only street. While touring the hotel property, we learned that the winter Olympics will soon be in Cortina and the surrounding mountains. It was fun to see the city before the Olympics come to town, we’re sure we’ll enjoy visiting again after the big event.
Many cruises offer stops along the Italian coast line. Some itineraries include a few ports of call in Italy, others offer fill their itineraries with Italian ports. Several options area available including large ship, small ship & river cruise.
Taking a tour with a small group provides the opportunity to experience the sites of Italy with other like-minded travelers on popular pre-designed itineraries. Let the tour companies organize the logistics, so you can “sit back, and enjoy the ride” Visit the top attractions during the best times and let someone else take care of planning all of the details.