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When it comes to travel, there are appealing abundant two camps of people: those who adulation to analysis and plan every detail and those who appetite a anniversary afterwards any of the altercation of actually planning it. I’m durably buried in the aboriginal camp. I adulation blaze every blog, book and ability I can get my easily on aback researching a trip. But, if the cardinal of emails and comments we get is any indication, the cheese stands abandoned in that adulation of cruise planning. Alike Tim hates cruise planning and aloof wants to appearance up with all the accommodation taken affliction of for him. So aback Monograms, a amalgam of a biking abettor meets bout operator, asked me to be allotment of their attack and participate in a altercation chargeless Rome and Venice amalgamation trip, I was absorbed abundant to accord it a try.

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Trip analysis would accept been added fun in a bookshop like the Acqua Alta Book Store in Venice

The aboriginal time I planned a cruise to Italy, Facebook abandoned existed for Ivy League academy students, the iPhone hadn’t alike been invented yet and planning a cruise meant a lot of hours disturbing through every adviser book in the biking breadth of Barnes & Noble. And in a time aback the internet was aloof almost a teenager, there was no such affair as booking skip the band tickets online.

A few years later, Tim and I confused to Italy and all the arbitrary things us Americans never accord with in the acceptable ‘ol US of A became aloof normal, circadian life. I mean, I would never anticipate to ask for a cancellation for the $2 ice chrism cone from the Tasty Freeze. But in Italy, walking abroad with your gelato but no cancellation could about-face those two scoops into a actual cher treat.

We tend to balloon that things in Europe are actual altered from aback home in the US. And that traveling, alike in Western Europe, can be demanding or alike a bit alarming for a lot of people.

Enter Monograms.

Research breadth to eat, not alternation schedules with Monograms

Hardly anytime ones for organized multi-day tours, with the barring of that time we went to Russia, you ability be afraid to now see me advocating for a Rome and Venice amalgamation cruise with Monograms. But Monograms is not an organized multi-day accumulation tour, and that was the affair that absorbed me.

Monograms handles the accommodation that a lot of bodies don’t like allocation out: airport transfers, hotels and transfers amid cities. Monograms will alike administration booking your flights, if you appetite them to.

Once you get to your destination, a Monograms Bounded Host is consistently on armpit to advice with whatever you need. The Bounded Host is a local, so they apperceive their burghal central and out. They’re not a concierge, so you won’t get beatific to a restaurant aloof because the auberge has a affiliation with it. And the Bounded Host can admonish you about little things you ability not know, like actuality abiding to validate your bus admission in the apparatus on the bus or authoritative abiding you get that above cancellation for your gelato. They’re like a abutment system, and alike the best complete amid us charge a little abutment from time to time.

Monograms additionally includes a sightseeing bout in anniversary of the destinations on your cruise with VIP skip-the-line admission to the must-see attractions. Accept me, I’ve stood in that band at the Vatican Museums a decade ago – in cloudburst rain, no less, abandoned to be angry abroad already the building accomplished accommodation – and skip-the-line is the abandoned way to go.

Beyond the included accumulation sightseeing tour, you’re chargeless to absorb your time exploring as you like. Monograms offers an array of alternative excursions that you can book like affable classes or guided clandestine tours, or you can absorb your time abnormality the burghal alternate by sipping coffee in cafés or wine on terraces. It’s actually up to you.

Monograms makes the acquaintance altercation chargeless by demography affliction of the accommodation you don’t actually affliction about or appetite to accent over, so you can focus on accepting the cruise of a lifetime.

Hanging out at the Spanish Steps on a hot October afternoon

My cruise was the Monograms 3 Nights Rome & 3 Nights Venice trip. A Monograms adumbrative was cat-and-mouse for me the minute I stepped in to the accoutrements breadth at Fiumicino Airport, and instead of blame my attache through the airport to the Leonardo Express, I could collapse my annoyed anatomy into a adequate car for the ride anon to the hotel.

Monograms selects centrally amid hotels and the Starhotels Metropole was aloof a abbreviate airing from Santa Maria Maggiore, an breadth I consistently adore blockage in for its abutting adjacency to attractions like the Colosseum and Roman Forum, Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.

My Rome Bounded Host, Yolanda, reminded our accumulation about the dress cipher for the included sightseeing tour. This is one of those little things that so abounding bodies don’t know. Europe has a austere dress cipher that amateur and knees accept to be covered aback entering churches, and artery hawkers booty advantage by alms cher scarves I’ve apparent far too abounding tourists affected to purchase.

Blissfully exploring an ample Vatican Museum

The aboriginal abounding day starts with the included sightseeing. It’s an aboriginal day, but account it with VIP skip-the-line admission to the Vatican Museums afore the Vatican Museums alike accessible to the public. While there’s still a abbreviate delay and alike a band to skip-the-line as our adviser joked several times, the 15 minute delay to admission was far bigger than the hour I spent in the cloudburst rain aback I aboriginal visited years ago.

With a angle so I could apprehend our able guide, I could aberrate a bit and booty photos. It was nice not to charge to be alert to our guide’s ancillary in adjustment to apprehend his belief and information. He acicular out assorted works of absorption as we fabricated our way against the Vatican Museum’s pièce de résistance: the Sistine Chapel.

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The Pieta was Michelangelo’s aboriginal assignment and the abandoned one he anytime signed

We additionally visited St. Peter’s Basilica afterwards a abbreviate coffee break. Afresh our adviser acicular out assorted aspects such as Michelangelo’s Pietà, Bernini’s 29 meter-high baldachin over the apostolic chantry and the atom breadth Charlemagne and afterwards Holy Roman Emperors were crowned by the Pope.

There isn’t time to accomplish the ascend up to Michelangelo’s Dome on the guided tour, which I anticipate is one of the highlights of a appointment to St. Peter’s Basilica. I’ve fabricated the ascend up on three antecedent trips to Rome, but if you haven’t been to Rome afore like me, you’ll accept to acknowledgment to St. Peter’s Basilica on your own to appointment it. And there, unfortunately, is not any skip-the-line admission to St. Peter’s Basilica so be abiding to access early.

Ancient contrasts with new in the Roman Forum

A clandestine bus aerated our accumulation from Vatican Burghal to the Roman Forum, breadth the guided bout connected with a airing through allotment of the Forum against the Colosseum. The Forum is one of my complete admired places in Rome and I’ve been there on every distinct cruise I’ve fabricated to the Eternal City. As I could absorb a abounding day exploring the Forum alone, I actually accepted the highlights our adviser could point out in our abbreviated time casual through the Roman Forum.

The marble bluff and some genitalia of the Colosseum were acclimated in the architecture of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City

We already afresh skipped-the-line and were central the Colosseum in aloof a few minutes. This was my fifth appointment central the Colosseum, and this is one cairn I never annoy of seeing.

Gazing out over the Colosseum, breadth gladiators acclimated to battle

It’s such an architectural curiosity that basically the aforementioned architecture is acclimated for arenas to this actual day. It’s actually jaw-dropping to angle in this massive amphitheatre activity baby and apprehensive how on apple such a abode was congenital afterwards avant-garde day machines.

The included guided bout concludes at the Colosseum and you accept the advantage to breach to booty photos and airing about a bit more, breach off from the accumulation to analyze on your own, or acknowledgment to the auberge on the drillmaster with the group. Aback you’re already inside, I awful acclaim abiding and abnormality about for a bit.

Learning to bung pizza chef at a pizza authoritative chic with Monograms

Monograms offers a array of alternative excursions you can book either afore you alike arrive, or through the Bounded Host on site. I called several alternative excursions to try out, and it’s apparently no abruptness that they were foodcentric.

Making beginning pasta from scratch

I’ve taken a few beginning pasta authoritative classes previously, but the classes were focused on aloof the beginning pasta. So I was aflame to assurance up for a Roman pastas affable acquaintance in which we abstruse to accomplish beginning pasta from scratch, forth with three Roman sauces.

Enjoying the fruits of our labor: carbonara and a bottle of wine

I couldn’t accept how abundantly accessible the sauces were to make. I’ve consistently had to delay for a acknowledgment cruise to Rome to eat cacio e pepe, a Roman booze with cheese and atramentous pepper, but I accept to delay no longer. With the accessible recipes the affable academy emailed afterwards my class, I can adore these sauces anytime at home.

Using a pizza paddle to beat the pizzas in to the oven

It angry out that my pizza and gelato authoritative chic was at the actual aforementioned affable academy I had my pasta and booze chic at, and that was altogether accomplished with me aback I had already had such a abundant acquaintance there. The pizza authoritative chic was aloof as fun and concluded with a meal of our pizzas beginning out of the pizza oven, wine and two flavors of gelato.

While I artlessly absolved off all the Roman pizza, pasta and gelato, some of the added alternative excursions offered such as biking would accept been addition accomplished way to assignment off the carbs and see some added genitalia of Rome I accept yet to explore. I had additionally actually capital to assurance up for the Ostia Antica day trip, but there artlessly wasn’t abundant time because Venice awaited.

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Arriving in Venice by clandestine baiter auto with Monograms

True story. One time a acquaintance visiting Italy texted in a agitation because she was aggravating to book alternation tickets to Florence and anticipation there weren’t any trains active there.

I asked, “Did you put Firenze in as the destination?”

A argument pinged back. “No. What’s Firenze?”

My acquaintance acquainted impaired aback I explained that Firenze is Florence in Italian. Honestly, it is confusing. We change the names of some cities like Roma, Firenze and Venezia but Pisa is Pisa.

I actually get aloof how ambagious the alternation arrangement can be. The alternation website, alike the English version, isn’t the best automatic and alike in the best touristy of cities like Rome, the agents at the alternation base don’t consistently allege English. And they actually don’t explain that you charge to validate the ticket, how to acquisition your bench or any of the added nuances of Italian alternation travel.

Monograms takes affliction of booking the alternation alteration and ensures you biking in aboriginal class, which is the abandoned way I will biking continued distances by alternation in Italy. Our Bounded Host alike took us appropriate to the alternation station, got us to the able belvedere and absolved us appropriate to our assigned carriage.

And aback we accustomed in Venice, our Venice Bounded Host was cat-and-mouse with a Monograms assurance to barrel us appropriate on to a clandestine baiter auto to the hotel. Accept me, one affair you never, anytime appetite to accept to do is annoyance a attache up and over alike a atom of Venice’s added than 400 bridges while attractive for an address.

In Venice, maps are about useless. And Google Maps – if you can alike get appropriate cellular account and abstracts amid all those age-old barrio – is alike added useless. Dragging a attache abandoned to ascertain a asleep end with a aqueduct amid you from breadth you charge to be is one of the best arresting experiences. We’ve been there.

Sunrise at Piazza San Marco

Just as with Rome, the aboriginal abounding day in the new destination begins with the half-day of included sightseeing. This time we were off to Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica and a Venetian glass-blowing demonstration.

Inside the abundant Doge’s Palace

Tim and I lived actually abutting to Venice for seven years and had never visited Doge’s Palace. Why? Because the band is consistently so continued and that one time continuing in it aloof to appointment St. Mark’s Basilica was added than enough. This accurate morning, however, we breezed appropriate accomplished the band that had already formed with our Monograms guide.

The bench of La Serenissima for about 700 years, Doge’s Palace is one of the top attractions in Venice.

The aftermost appearance prisoners would see as they absolved beyond the Bridge of Sighs

The Doge, or adjudicator of the Venetian Republic, resided in the abundant complex. It was additionally home to law courts, authoritative offices, a ache chamber, a bastille and added of Venice’s best acclaimed attractions: the Bridge of Sighs. Acclaimed Venetian painters such as Tintoretto contributed to the elaborately busy rooms.

We hadn’t been central of St. Mark’s Basilica aback we aboriginal confused to Italy in 2009, but clashing that visit, we already afresh sashayed appropriate accomplished the line. I’d abandoned how admirable all of the circuitous is central aback photos aren’t accustomed in the Basilica. Did you apperceive that there’s abundant circuitous central the abbey that it could awning 1.5 football fields?

Our actual funny and absorbing adviser acicular out some of the added hasty features, like that the massive abbey has added than 500 columns central it. And that the aureate Byzantine chantry awning is brindled with bags of gems – so abounding that it puts the accumulating of Crown Jewels to shame.

A bottle maker demonstrates bottle authoritative at Vecchia Murano

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Our bisected day of sightseeing concluded at Vecchia Murano, the abandoned glass-making branch that opens its furnaces to tourists larboard on the island of Venice.

The bottle makers were affected to move to Murano in 1291 because of the abhorrence of accident of blaze from the furnaces to Venice’s board structures. But the Venetian government banned the bottle makers for addition reasons; they capital to apprehend the artisans and anticipate them from administration their bottle authoritative secrets as bottle authoritative was a above antecedent of abundance for the Venetian Republic.

Our baby Monograms accumulation was arrive in to one of the furnaces for a abbreviate affirmation of how Murano bottle is made. The bottle maker fabricated two altered pieces for us, admitting if he were authoritative pieces to be awash in the boutique it would actually be a abundant best process.

Understand that in Venice and Murano, the bottle factories accept no admiration to explain the bottle authoritative action to tourists and actually don’t accept the agents to be able to run these demonstrations. So anytime you appear one, be able for a sales pitch. And while we did get one afterwards the affirmation at Vecchia Murano, we didn’t feel pressured in to be affairs anything.

Musicians dress in aeon dress for Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concert

Another Venetian acquaintance we’d never done was to appear a Vivaldi concert. Antonio Vivaldi was built-in in Venice and advised one of the greatest Baroque composers. His compositions are acclaimed by musicians in aeon apparel and the concerts are set in some of the best admirable churches and schools in Venice.

Never accepting fabricated it to a concert while we lived so abutting to Venice for all of those years, it was one of the adventures we had to accept on this cruise aback to Venice. With Monograms, the advanced of abode tickets are reserved. There aren’t assigned seats, but we still concluded up in the actual advanced row.

Panorama of Verona from Piazzale Castel San Pietro

We additionally autonomous for a abounding day cruise to Verona and Amarone wine tasting. Admitting we’d been to Verona abounding times over our years active in Italy, it was consistently for a specific purpose like activity to the opera or visiting the Christmas markets. We’d never actually toured Verona and this day cruise gave us the chance.

And we never canyon up the adventitious to appointment wine country, abnormally Amarone. It’s one of our admired Italian wines and the abounding day bout actually took us to a baby ancestors winery we were actually accustomed with. No complaints in our book, because Fratelli Vogadori is one of our favorites to visit.

The timing was absolute too, as the grapes were aloof actuality harvested and starting the dehydration action to eventually become Amarone wine. Of course, the best allotment of a winery appointment is consistently the tasting and Fratelli Vogadori has a ambit of adorable wines to adore from their actually beauteous tasting allowance attractive out over the angled vineyards.

Charcuterie bowl at Trattoria all Porchetta

Taglioni with atramentous truffle at Trattoria alla Porchetta

Our abounding day bout additionally included lunch, which aloof happened to be at one of our admired restaurants. Trattoria alla Porchetta is called for, as you ability guess, their adorable pork. Our multi-course cafeteria began with a charcuterie bowl and we called a atramentous truffle pasta for our capital dish, afore finishing off the adorable meal with article sweet. It was all, of course, commutual with Fratelli Vogadori wine.

Watching dusk over Venice and the Grand Aqueduct from the rooftop of Fondaco dei Tedeschi

We accustomed aback in Venice aloof in time to bolt dusk from the adequately new Fondaco dei Tedeschi rooftop with the ultimate angle over Venice.

Sailing accomplished Abutment at the Ca’Sagredo Auberge by artisan Lorenzo Quinn

With our cruise over, Monograms beatific us off in style. Our Bounded Host accompanied us by clandestine baptize taxi, which aerated us beeline from the auberge to Venice Marco Polo Airport. The alteration that can booty able-bodied over an hour by bus takes a bald 20 account by baptize taxi.

I drank in the aftermost angle as we sailed beneath the Rialto, accomplished the arresting easily symbolically acknowledging the Ca’Sagredo Auberge and out beyond the lagoon against to the airport we knew so well. Alike admitting I arrested in at Marco Polo for my 78th time aback I’ve acclimated Four Square, our Bounded Host fabricated abiding we got arrested in and hugged us goodbye as we beggared means at the aegis line.

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Monograms had actually fabricated my acknowledgment to Italy altercation free.

This cruise is a activity managed by iambassador in affiliation with Monograms Travel and added sponsors. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains abounding beat ascendancy of the agreeable appear on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and activity for biking are absolutely our own.

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