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Chef Maria's Venice™

Venice’s V.I.P. ~ 7 Day

Cooking Tours
Prices & Dates

“Winding waterways, soft colored palazzos, gondolas gliding the canals,
~a make-believe feeling stopped in time…”

Join us in Venice, “the most beautiful city in the world,” for an extraordinary cooking experience with Chef Maria. Walk under pink glass lamp lights, stroll along the majestic Piazza San Marco, cross dainty bridges that straddle over narrow inlets of water; Venice’s beauty is endless.

Venice, a magical place, where prisms of color reflect in meandering waterways, gondolas skim along the narrow canals, and festive Carnival masks peer down at your every turn. The effect is intoxicating. This food lover’s cooking program blends old world cooking, gastronomic treasures, art, literature, poetry and music. Sara, your guide and host, welcomes you to Venice and takes you by the hand to show you Venice through the eyes of a true Venetian. Get ready to cook and explore the food markets, while soaking in the rich culture of the most beautiful city in the world composed of 117 small islands.

Cooking Classes

Cooking with Chef Maria includes hands-on cooking classes spanning Venice’s foods of Renaissance past to its current cuisine. You will learn the traditions, technique and style of Venice’s foods under the direction of our professional and trained chef. Using fresh fruit, vegetables, produce and fish from the Rialto Market, you will be cooking like a true Venetian making appetizers, pasta & risotto, main dishes and desserts. Delicate pastas and sauces; Venetian rice, or risotto gently flavored with arugula, artichokes or tiny pink shrimp; Venetian cakes, or torte; polenta biscotti; and creamy fruit tarts are a small sample of the foods that you will prepare in class. Tie on your apron and get ready for a splendid authentic experience with Chef Maria in her Venetian kitchen!

Venice’s Menus

Cooking Class menus vary by season, a sample includes:

Seafood Menu

Seasonal vegetables sautéed and served with sea salt, herbs & olive oil
Risotto with shrimp and artichokes
Fresh Sea Bass encrusted in a bed of sea salt and slow baked
Venetian-style Tiramisu’

Meat-Based Menu

Venetian flan finished with a creamy cheese sauce
Risotto with mushrooms served with homemade sausage
Tenderloin encrusted with herbs
Creamy warm custard drizzled with Marsala wine and served with Baicoli biscotti

Fresh Pasta Menu

Venetian pasta served in a light tomato sauce with Parmesan cheese
Potato Gnocchi with a duck sauce ragu
Fresh hand-made ravioli stuffed with fresh spinach, Ricotta,
Mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and sautéed in sage butter
Mixed seasonal salad with fresh fruit, walnuts & extra virgin olive oil
Fresh fruit Bavaroise

Menus vary to use the best seasonal ingredients available at the market, and can be tailored to accommodate special requests and/or diet needs.

Accommodations

Live like a Venetian and step back in time at the privately-owned villa hotel in the heart of Venice. The 17th century villa, nestled on a quiet waterway just off the Grand Canal, is a very short walk from the Accademia Bridge & vaporetto stop. Check in to your lovely & spacious bedroom; furnished with Venetian antiques, and modern comforts such as ac/heat, mini bar, International TV, private bath, heated towel rack, in-room wireless internet at a surcharge, and a famed Canal view (upon request). A diligent & professional staff is at your service and ready to answer any questions, give suggestions and help you reserve additional excursions. An expansive daily breakfast is served in the elegantly appointed breakfast room that overlooks the garden and waterway. Walk out your door and into the heart of Venice.

The villa hotel sits in one of the most beautiful areas of Venice, and steps away from the Accademia Museum and Campo St. Margherita. Step outside and pass by small bookshops, tiny trattorias, wine bars, and artisan shops filled with Murano glass. The open-air market on Campo St. Margherita is lined with cafés spilling to its center. The Accademia Bridge, 1 of 3 bridges that cross the Grand Canal, is a 2-minute walk from the hotel.

Rialto Market

Venice’s famous Rialto Market! The infamous outdoor market is a busy scene starting at the crack of dawn as suppliers sail up from their barges, unload and set up their stands for what becomes a boisterous scene of buyers, sellers and spectators passing by, examining, negotiating between crates and stands piled sky high with goods. Fish is famous here, along with vegetables, herbs, spices, fruits and more. And this landmark marketplace has been setting up and doing this daily since 1097. Established merchants shout out their specials of the day.

The Campo

This long courtyard piazza, a vibrant and welcoming place is the social heart of the Dorsoduro district, named Campo Saint Margherita. It takes its name from the Church of Saint Margherita dating back which to the 9th century. The Campo is enclosed with ancient buildings, dating back to the 14th century and today is home to cafés, bookshops, wine bars, and shops. The main part of the Campo wakes each morning with flower, fish, vegetable and fruit vendors. Cafés sprawl out from early dawn to the wee hours, older women walk hand in hand, mothers push baby carriages, and older men play cards all day long. There is a famous gelateria, an old-world café, an organic grocer who all of Venice shops at, a stand up fish & wine café, a place to buy your post cards, and several benches to rest your weary traveler’s feet. So sit back, order a café and enjoy.

The Accademia

The perfect ending to any day is our visit to the Accademia, home to very rich collection of Venetian paintings from Veneto as well, from the Bizantine and Gothic fourteenth century to the artists of the Renaissance, Bellini, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoretto and Tiziano until Gianbattista Tiepolo and the Vedutisti of the eighteenth century, Canaletto, Guardi, Bellotto, Longhi. Step back in time and see the Accademia’s collection including a score of prized Renaissance masterpieces.

Murano & Burano

Murano, the closest Island to the main land, is the most famous of the Venetian Islands and noted for its artisan hand-blown glass. Venetians have been making crystal and glass since the 10th Century, when the Venetian merchants brought back the secrets of production from the East. The Island, which is home to several famous glass producers carries on the art and continues to make Murano glass chandeliers, wine corks, vases, ornaments, glasses and more.

The Island of Burano, the most picturesque of Venetian Islands, is almost stopped in time. Famous for its lace-making, this quiet fishing village is lined with pastel houses, famous fish restaurants, and charming cafes. A must see!

Itinerary ~ 7 days, 6 nights

Day 1: Arrival & Welcome Dinner

  • Check in and relax. In the evening, enjoy a welcome cocktail, at the hotel, before your Welcome Dinner.
  • Enjoy a Chef’s Tasting Menu of Venetian cuisine at our favorite local restaurant. Wine & beverages not included.

Day 2: Cooking Class 1

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Cooking Class 1, tie on your apron and get ready for a morning of hands-on cooking with Chef Maria. The hands-on cooking class includes an antipasto, pasta, main dish and dessert. Lunch follows with the foods prepared in class. Wine, water and dessert included.
  • Afternoon free. Suggestion: Take a Gondola Ride along the Grand Canal, and stop for a late afternoon drink at the Quardi Café. This grand café is positioned to catch the last glimpse of sun in Piazza San Marco. Sit back, enjoy your Prosecco and watch the sun.
  • Dinner is on your own.

Day 3: Rialto Market Tour & Cooking Class 2

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Explore the best of culinary Venice with your Chef as your guide. The Rialto Market is a colorful explosion of fruit, vegetables and fish. This old-world food marketplace is an animated center stage for those buying and selling their seasonal vegetables, fruit, produce and fresh fish of the day.
  • After the market visit, head into the kitchen for your hands-on Cooking Class 2. After class everyone eats the foods prepared in class for lunch. Wine, water and dessert included.
  • Afternoon free, suggestion: visit Saint Mark’s Square, Saint Mark’s Cathedral and Palazzo Ducale on your own. Or, you may choose to add-on a 2-hour guided tour for an in-depth look into the famous square.
  • Dinner on your own, suggestions provided.

Day 4: Cooking Class 3

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Return to the kitchen for your hands-on Cooking Class 3 to create a full menu from appetizer to dessert. Lunch follows on the foods prepared in class. Wine, water and dessert included.
  • Continue on your own and stop by La Fenice, Venice’s famous opera house, and end with a Bellini at Harry’s Bar.
  • Dinner on your own. Suggestion: Visit award-winning Casin, order the Venetian black pasta and baby shrimp.

Day 5: Visit Dorsoduro On Your Own & Afternoon Bacaro Tour

  • Breakfast is served.
  • The day is free and we suggest this self-guided itinerary of the Campo Santa Margherita:
  • Start the day early with our foodie walk in this self-guided walk to the best addresses in the Dorsoduro quarter. From bookshops to cafés, a stop for lunch and a decadent dessert, this self-guided walk shares our best-kept secret addresses of Food Lover’s Venice. Or, reserve a guided tour and we take you step-by-step to our artisan food purveyors and favorite stops on the Campo and the Dorsoduro district.
  • Afternoon, stop for lunch on your own, we provide our hot picks.
  • Accademia Museum: After lunch a few steps will lead you to the Accademia. The Accademia Galleries is located in the prestigious center of the Scuola Grande of Santa Maria della Carità. The church of Santa Maria and the monastery of the Canonici Lateranensi, built by Andrea Palladio, are integral parts of the Accademia. This world-class museum houses the most precious masterpieces in Venice including a very important collection of Venetian paintings spanning the Bizantine and Gothic 14th century to the Renaissance, Bellini, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoretto, and Tiziano until Gianbattista Tiepolo and the Vedutisti of the 18th century, Canaletto, Guardi, Bellotto, Longhi. (Guided tour available upon request, guide’s fee not included.)
  • In the afternoon, meet your guide for your Bacaro Tour. This walking tour includes a 2-hour stroll through Venice with stops in historical bacari, the typical Venetian bar, for cicchetti (typical appetizers) and ombra (a glass of wine). This tour explores the tradition of the aperitivo in Venice for a relaxing stroll, a glass of wine and tastings.
  • Dinner is on your own.

Day 6: Free Day: Sail To Murano & Burano

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Sail to Murano, for a visit to the world’s most prized glass artisans. Artisan glass blowers blow glass into shapes of all sizes and colors. Meet your host on the island for a tour of an artisan Venetian glass workshop.   Learn the art of glass blowing and see the masters turn glass into masterpieces of art.  This tour includes a tour of the workshop and a demonstration of glass making.   After your tour, take time to stroll the main waterway, sip a caffè & Sambuca, and shop for artisan creations of Murano glass in mirrors, chandeliers, and wine stoppers.  The tour ends here and you can opt to stay on Murano for lunch, continue on to Burano or Torcello, and or return to Venice.
  • Continue on to Burano on your own, known for the artisan lace, merletto & the local speciality bussolai buranelli, egg yolk- yellow cookies perfect for dipping in Vin Santo, tea or even Prosecco!
  • Or, you may choose to take the public water taxi or private boat on to Torcello, Venice’s oldest island far out in the lagoon. Torcello is home to palazzos, twelve parish churches and sixteen cloisters. Not to be missed is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta dating back to 639 exhibiting elaborate 11th and 12th century Byzantine architecture. Ernest Hemingway lived on Torcello is 1948, while writing Across the River and Into the Trees.
  • Alternatively, choose a 4-Hour Lagoon Tour to Murano & Burano with private boat & Ludo our guide.(Tour not included, please call for more information).
  • Take time out to lunch on your own in one of the quaint restaurants.
  • Return to the Dorsoduro for some last minute shopping. Suggestion: head to Campo Santa Margherita for your last supper on the Campo on your own.

Day 7: Departure

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Ciao – Arrivederci!

*Note: This schedule may vary due to inclement weather, saint days or festivals. All activities, in the event of rescheduling, are always included during the program.

Program Includes:

  • 7 days, 6 nights accommodations at 3* Hotel, based on double occupancy in Standard Room. Upgrade to Superior Room with Canal View at a surcharge.
  • Daily Breakfast.
  • Chef’s Tasting Dinner on first night of arrival. Wine and beverages not included.
  • 3 cooking classes, followed by lunch or dinner on the foods prepared in class; wine, water and dessert included.
  • Rialto Market Tour.
  • Murano artisan glassblowing tour, one way ticket to the island of Murano, return on your own.
  • Bacaro Tour with aperitivo & tastings.
  • Suggestions and itineraries for Self-Guided tours.
  • Recipe booklet.
  • Arrival & Departure transfers from Santa Lucia Train Station with hostess on arrival.
Program Prices

Low Season: $2,150 per person, based on double occupancy. (December, January & February, except weekend of Carnevale)
Single Supplement: please call us for single pricing and we will do our best to fit you in with a group to ensure you receive the best possible single rate.

Mid Season: $2,450 per person, based on double occupancy. (March, July, August & November)
Single Supplement: please call us for single pricing and we will do our best to fit you in with a group to ensure you receive the best possible single rate.

High Season: $3,450 per person, based on double occupancy. (April, May, June, September, October and weekend of Carnevale)
Single Supplement: please call us for single pricing and we will do our best to fit you in with a group to ensure you receive the best possible single rate.

*An Italian visitor tax may apply in some cities and must be paid directly on site at check out.

Transfers from Venice Marco Polo Airport are available at a supplement of $115 each way including hostess to meet you at the airport and accompany you from Airport to dock and private boat transfer. Portage service not included, and is available at a fee per bag.

Check Availability

2019 Dates: This program is available throughout the year. Check in and start your program any day of the week. Rates are subject to change based on currency exchange. Call for updated rates. Airfare not included. Group transfers for any cooking tour or tours that include transfers, are for the group and are not private. Transfers before, after or to another destination outside of your cooking tour are not included in the program price. If you would like to add on a private transfer or transfers, let us know and we will send you pricing.

Optional Add-On Classes & Tours:

We suggest these add-on tours for an in-depth look into themes, neighborhoods and interests in Venice. Must be organized prior and are an extra cost. Please call for details on availability and pricing based on group size.

Venice’s Writers, Poets & Literati Tour

This 3-hour walking tour takes you in the footsteps of poetry. Stroll through Venice with passages from the works of writers who created the poetry of the city: Lord Byron, Marcel Proust, Henry James, Richard Wagner, Thomas Mann, Ernest Hemingway – to name a few. Your walk takes you to the places where the words themselves come to life. More than a walk through the city, Writers, Poets & Literati Tour, brings you into Venice’s past and its literati world, as your guide reads famous passages about monuments and the authors who lived in Venice. Entrance fees not included.

Campo Saint Margherita Guided Walking Tour

Artisan Market-Outdoor Cafés-Bookshops

This walking tour of the Campo Santa Margherita includes all our favorite stops & shops. Start with our award-winning Venetian artist who has captured many schools of art, picturesque watercolors of Venetian palazzos, gondolas and waterways, to his vibrant oils on canvas of life on the Grand Canal, to his hand-crafted masks in gold and crystals. His studio comprises his work and that of other Venetian artists.

Then it’s off to the Campo Santa Margherita, where bookshops, cafés, and pastry shops line the narrow footpath that leads to the Campo. The Dorsoduro quarter is also home to the San Sebastiano and San Trovaso churches. The Campo is a large piazza lined with several cafés whose chairs spill onto the square on a warm sunny day. There is also a tiny morning market, whose owner calls out the best buy of the day. Stop for a time out, sip a steamy cappuccino and write a post card.

Continue on to Maurizo’s. He owns one of the best-stocked organic markets for authentic Venetian food, wine and provisions. Our well-heeled food lover, Maurizio is a connoisseur of quality Venetian rice, polenta, pasta, cheese, wood-oven bread, local wine, and he knows how to cook Venetian food to perfection. His wine corner stocks Venice’s only locally produced wine made on the island Torcello. Bring your shopping list and recipe book, and let Maurizo fill your shopping basket. His knowledge and passion for Venetian food, wine and traditional cooking is insurmountable.

We suggest a lunch on your own at our local trattoria for the best pranzo, or lunch in the Campo. Tickle your taste buds with the Fragolino, the “Forbidden Wine.” The pink sparkling wine pairs well with lunch! Pink fresh shrimp tossed with rucola and black Venetian pasta, a fresh glass of local wine to follow, a semifreddo dessert, the “Grand Canal,” topped with a sun-colored glaze. This is just a sample of the gourmet fare served in the gastronomical food mecca.

Visit Venice’s most treasured mask-maker Stefano. The award-winning Baroque mask maker applauded by the Venetian Academy has the “DOC” stamp. All of his creations are produced in limited edition.

For a sweet ending, dive in and experience a Venetian chocolate tradition! The famous artisan chocolate maker transforms the cocoa bean and modern recipes with a twist. Chocolate works of art are inspired by the magically, mysterious atmosphere of Venice. White, dark, caramel, café, and lemon, -flavors are endless!

Lagoon Tour: Murano & Burano

Meet your guide for a Lagoon Tour with private boat. This 4-hour tour takes you to the into the lagoon of Venice to the Islands of Murano, known for the famous glass-blowing, and Burano, known for the artisan lace, merletto & the local speciality bussolai buranelli, egg yolk- yellow cookies perfect for dipping in Vin Santo, tea or even Prosecco!

Venetian Masks

This incredible experience takes you into the workshop of a renowned Venetian mask-maker for a discussion and historical look at Venetian mask. Learn how the artisan mask is born, the steps needed to create a mask, and the stories and myths behind the masks of Carnevale and Venetian commedie dell’arte.

After your presentation, choose to decorate your own mask. Learn about traditional decoration and characters such as the classic Bauta, a simple full face mask, la Farfalla, the butterfly style mask, la Dama, the woman, Pinocchio, Zanni, servants and Jolly, the joker. Paint and decorate your mask of choice with ribbons, feathers, crystals, beads and more.

Program Prices

$365 total for the tour, up to 10 people. Includes all taxes and Italian VAT.

Decorate your own mask for including instruction and supplies to create your own mask & bring it home with you. Prices vary based on group size. Please call for more information.

Hidden Venice: Dorsoduro District

This itinerary takes you into secret corners of the Dorsoduro district, Venice’s elegant “Rive Gauche”. From the vast Campo Santa Margherita, where students and artists meet at the many open air cafés, walk to San Nicolò dei Mendicoli, once a neighborhood of seafarers and fishermen, still retaining its liveliness.We continue then to the Renaissance church of San Sebastiano – one of the saints invoked to save the sick during the Black Plague – masterly decorated with frescoes and canvases by Paolo Veronese, who lies buried here. Past San Trovaso, one of the last gondola yards, our tour ends at the Zattere, the sunny promenade along the Giudecca Canal, particularly frequented by the Venetians in the warm summer evenings.

Hidden Venice: Melting Pot

Harbor and market, production center of luxury goods and stop in the Grand Tour: for reasons of commerce, education or pleasure, Venice always attracted many foreigners, and managed to live in peace and prosperity with them. This exotic blend of cultures and people created unique artistic results. In a secluded courtyard, a few steps away from St Mark’s, stands the Orthodox church of St. George of the Greeks: Italian in its architectural forms, it enshrines a rich iconic decoration by Cretan artists. A little further is the Brotherhood of the Dalmatian people, whose brave soldiers were loyal to the Republic until the very end. The intense Renaissance atmosphere of Carpaccio’s paintings will transport you back in time. We then reach the Rialto Bridge, where the German community had its social and business center since the Middle Ages. The imposing facade of the German Fontego, former inn as well as trading center, still dominates the area.

Cannareggio & Jewish Venice

Cannaregio, one of the six sestieri, neighborhoods of Venice is even today an area inhabited by Venetians. Past the busy open air market, explore the Jewish Ghetto, and walk down along the luminous canals to the Gothic church of la Madonna dell’Orto that hosts powerful canvases by Tintoretto (along with his tomb). Past this tranquil area, at the extreme northern point of town, enjoy a marvelous, melancholy view over the lagoon, where the cemetery island of San Michele, comes into view.

After your tour, you may choose to continue on and visit three of Venice’s synagogues with a tour departing from the Jewish Museum. Synagogue tour not included; directions provided to continue on your own.

Venetian Museum: Accademia, Ca’ Rezzonico, Guggenheim

Enjoy an in-depth 3-hour guided tour through your choice of Venetian museum. Choose from the famous Galleria dell’Accademia, where the most important collection of Venetian paintings are held, dating from the 14th to 17th century, Ca’ Rezzonico, a museum dedicated to exploring 18th century Venice in this extravagant private residence from that period. Or, choose the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, an American art museum with Venetian charm, the most important museum in Italy for European and American arts of the first half of the 20th century, with works by artists such as Picasso, Braque, De Chirico, Kandinsky and more.