The Mediterranean is a visual and sensual indulgence. The promise of long, summer days on the beach, the exploration of ancient ruins, and appreciation of revered art are pursuits strongly tied to the legendary cities of this part of the world. Banking opposite sides of the Adriatic Sea, Italy and Croatia are two power houses of this region that offer unparalleled experiences in a stirring of history and immersion of cultural delicacies.
Tauck tours facilitates such encounters in a personalised and exclusive setting with just the right amount of intimacy that only a family-run business that’s in its 92nd year of operation can produce. Curious? You should be! Get a taste for some of the exclusive experiences that Tauck guided tours and cruises can conjure in Italy and Croatia right here, and prepare to enjoy your very own slice of Mediterranean rapture.
Puglia is a seaside haven rich in resplendent art and architecture. It’s where the famed ‘trulli’ houses and extraordinary ancient cave-city of Italy can be found, and where you can be private guests in an artisan’s workshop to witness their specialty skills in a dying trade. In the village of San Cesario, cross paths with local cheesemakers where they demonstrate an ancient method of making Puglia’s celebrated mozzarella and other local cheeses. Then feast your eyes on the amazing sandstone sculptures of renowned artist Renzo Buttazzo, where the delicate and smooth landscape of the small town of Cavallino in Lecce (where he was born and raised) is reflected in the circular lines and winding waves that adorn his workshop.
Hands on cooking
During your week in Puglia with Tauck World Discovery tour, one of the accommodation choices is at the Masseria Torre Coccaro, which is essentially a masseria (fortified country house) unique to the region of Puglia, but with a spa and a golf course and a beach club that’s been voted in the top ten in the Mediterranean. Here, you can pick fresh produce from the ortus conclusus (the large vegetable garden surrounded by fortified walls) which you then use to whip up typical Apulia dishes in the hotel’s cooking school. Learn how to make pizza and panzerotti which is then thrown into the firewood oven that dates back to 1500. Why just eat the food when you can create it?
The Vatican After Hours
There’s something unmistakably eerie about museums when there is no one else in it. Works on displays take on a different quality when you’re viewing it with your senses peaked, and this can only happen in the absence of large crowds which the Tauck exclusive tour of the Vatican museums in Rome allows you to experience. It’s definitely a bucket-list-type of activity that starts in Bernini’s seventh-century St. Peter’s square which continues on to the largest Christian Basilica in the world – St Peter’s Basilica. Then, when the crowds have dispersed and the day is just about done, you enter the Vatican museums and explore the Sistine Chapel and behold the famed ceiling frescoes of Michaelangelo, the Tapestries, and the Candelabra and Map Galleries at a relaxed, leisurely pace.
Private tour of Doge’s Palace
Venice wasn’t always just the world’s epicentre for love and romance. It was once a centre of power ruled by the Venetian Republic headed by the Doge of Venice. The rulers of medieval Venice reigned the wealthy and powerful city from a grand palace, designed by Filippo Calendario, built in what became known as Venetian Gothic – a gothic structure with byzantine influences. During a private guided tour on Tauck’s ‘Bellissima Nortthern Italy’ programme, you have the opportunity to explore Doge’s Palace, one of the most important buildings in Venice. You’ll learn how the ‘bridge of sighs’ came to have its name, and reside in a former Doge’s home, The Gritti Palace, overlooking the majestic Grand Canal.
Lunch with a Contessa in her Private Palazzo
This is one to write home about: you had lunch with a Venetian contessa in her private palazzo. Whatever do you think you’ll talk about? Perhaps you’ll tell her about how you lent a hand to an artist in Murano as he shaped the famed Murano glass into some dazzling object, or maybe of the art masterpieces you discovered in the backstreets of the bohemian neighbourhood of San Polo? After your serenaded gondola ride, music wafting through the canal, you can feel that you truly experienced the fabled city of Venice in a way that will stay with you forever.
Tuscany & Umbria
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Wine tasting, olive tasting, artisan goods, and relaxing lakes – where else can all of these elements come together in an exciting symphony than in the sunny hill towns of central Italy? And it seems this part of the world has UNESCO World Heritage Sites in abundance – four of them to be exact! This includes the very embodiment of a medieval city, the Historic Centre of Siena. You will be guided through its Gothic palaces, chapels and piazzas that were all part of a masterful urban plan that fits harmoniously with the surrounding landscape.
In the same manner, the Historic centre of the town of Assisi (Umbria) with its Basilica of San Francesco and other Franciscan sites, is also a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many have flocked here on spiritual and religious pilgrimage and you experience your own sacred journey on a guided walking tour that takes you through the famous Basilica as well as the Basilica of Saint Clare, before arriving in the vineyards of Lungarotti for a well-earned rest, lunch and wine!
Lunch in a fairy tale castle
Croatia is the place where all of your Mediterranean dreams of balmy days spent on the banks of sapphire waters surrounded by ancient walled towns become reality. And what Mediterranean fairy tale doesn’t include a castle? Not just any castle, but the 13th century, architectural extraordinaire that is the Trakoscan Castle – one of the most beautiful and most visited castles in Croatia. Here, you will be transported back to Medieval times (exclusive to Tauck) when your lunch is served by knights and ladies-in-waiting inside the Knights’ Hall. The castle is also home to valuable examples of baroque furniture, different types of weapons used in the 15th to 19th century, as well as beautiful romantic gardens, and a large lake.