luxury travel italy

Spend a decadent evening dining at Gio’s Restaurant at The St. Regis Venice. (Photo: Marriott International)


Indulgent Italy: Elevate Your Experience in Venice, Florence and Rome

Rome, Florence, Venice. For three centuries, these cities dominated the Italian Grand Tour for their incredible cultural heritage, gorgeous landscapes and unique personalities, as well as their unparalleled opulence.

There is nothing quite like the unbridled lavishness of Papal Rome, the extravagant eccentricities of the Doges’ Venice and the refined splendor of the Renaissance Florence. There’s never been a better time to travel between these three timeless cities, and immerse yourself in their whimsical personalities with exclusive and unforgettable experiences.


Known as La Serenissima for its serene sophistication, the floating fairy-tale city keeps her secrets hidden away behind decorated facades.

Venetians know that true affluence is always tucked behind the scenes, and the best way to understand that is to step behind the velvet rope of the Doge’s palace for an afternoon of “Living like a Doge.” Imago Artis, pioneer of artisan tourism, curates after-hours visits to the Palazzo Ducale for a full immersion experience in the day in the life of the Doges, the elected leaders of the Venetian Republic.

At the height of the Republic, the Doges’ (and their partners’) fashion choices were a potent — and colorful — indicator of power. The newly opened The St. Regis Venice brings you inside the lives and armoires of the Venetian fashionistas through its bespoke tour, “A Brief History of Venetian Fashion.”

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Discover the exquisite costumes at Palazzo Mocenigo. (Photo: Getty Images)

Visiting Palazzo Mocenigo, Venice’s historic costume museum, the tour takes visitors to its ancient attic for special access to the palazzo’s off-limit costumes and accessories.

The most iconic Venetian experience is a boat ride around the lagoon, and while any motoscafo or gondola might do, Venetian guide Luisella Romeo at See Venice prefers to take her clients on a cruise in the northern lagoon on the last of the traditional trabaccolo, a traditional wooden boat used in Venice in the mid-15th century and an emblem of the Republic’s maritime heritage.

Her tour includes an afternoon on Il Nuovo Trionfo, a nearly century-old traboccolo, with a stop for lunch at the Michelin-starred Venissa on the island of Mazzorbo.

Arguably, the most luxurious Venice experiences include ample space and a stunning view, so if you can, book a table at Gio’s Restaurant, The St. Regis Venice’s canal-side outdoor restaurant, and enjoy the city’s glow at sunset. Be sure to take a peek at the dessert menu — Gio’s tiramisu could just be La Serenissima’s best-kept secret.

Let’s Go: Book a ticket on Italo (Tip: reserve the Club class Salotto, a private cabin for four) or Trenitalia’s Frecce high-speed train from Venezia—S. Lucia station and enjoy a two-hour ride to Firenze S.M. Novella station.


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Be awed by Florences stunning cathedrals. (Photo: Getty Images)

Everybody loves Florence, a reality that’s quickly realized when facing the lines and crowds swarming most of its main attractions. Thus, the most exclusive experience you can have in this city is, arguably, time alone.

Imago Artis, exclusive purveyors of after-hours experiences, brings you on a bespoke, private tour that skips the lines and allows you to get up close and personal with Michelangelo’s “David,” while Context Travel takes alone time to new heights in its new exclusive Duomo visit, a three-hour walk through the Baptistery and Duomo Museum, followed by an exclusive skip-the-line entry to the Duomo and a private (as in no one else gets to do this) visit to the Duomo Terrace.

Fine tailoring and fine-crafted accessories are a part of Florence’s DNA, which is why you’ll want Couturista to curate a full-immersion fashion experience where a local fashion expert guides you through the city on customized, private visits to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Florence’s artisan ateliers and most iconic shops, like heritage brand Santa Maria Novella.

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Dine and snack in style. (Photo: Marriott International)

Pastries and cheese and olive oil, oh my! Curious Appetite and its team of sommeliers and food experts put you on the hunt for Florence’s cult classics in a very specialized tasting tour of the city. The Curious Appetite team seems to know everyone who’s anyone in the Florence food scene, as well as detailed histories of every delectable item you taste along the way.

For some private downtime after dark, The St. Regis Florence will cater to you in La Cantinetta, its wine cellar, for a private evening.

Let’s Go: With departures at least three times an hour, every hour, from Firenze S.M. Novella station, Italo and Trenitalia high-speed trains slip you into Roma Termini station in 95 minutes flat.


From ancient to modern eras, Rome has long embraced never-ending, no-bounds entertainment. It is Grande Bellezza e La Dolce Vita every day, and one of the best ways to understand The Eternal City is to experience it like a Roman — which means hitting the streets in style.

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Zip around town in The St. Regis Rome’s ornate Fiat. (Photo: Marriott International)

The St. Regis Rome revs guests up with its customized, zero emissions electric 1962 Fiat 600 Mulitpla with gold-leaf detailing and a faux fresco ceiling. From the hotel to the Spanish Steps or Trevi Fountain, you’ll have access to the ultimate stylish transport around Rome.

Next step is getting the keys to the city, and in this case, that’s Vatican City. Guides at Context Travel are on a first-name basis with the Clavigero, the key master of the Vatican Museums.

Wake up for a 6 a.m. eye- and door-opening visit to the Vatican Museums where you will literally have the chance to open the doors of history and turn on the lights to the world’s richest art museum. If that’s too early, Context also opens the doors for intimate and entirely private evening visits to Villa Borghese.

Art lovers will find that there’s no better way to experience the city’s epic collection than by spending the day with art historian Liz Lev. Vatican consultant, TED speaker and long-time Rome resident, the dynamic guide has a voracious appetite for art, which is why her All-You-Can-See Smorgasbord of Art is the city’s most delectable adventure.

Whatever your art flavor — Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and even a splash of Modern — Lev will customize an incredible day taking you back in time. If the Clavigero opens the keys to the city, Lev opens your mind to its enviable art history.