Tuesday 12th September Arrive London
Welcome to London! Upon arrival you will be collected from the airport and transferred privately to your hotel where you will be welcomed by your Tour Director, Julie Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke. Your accommodations at the lavish Corinthia Hotel will put you in the beating heart of London, on the edge of the River Thames and a mere stone's throw from iconic heritage sites such as the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square.
This evening, our first meal as a group will start off this memorable journey in exquisite style: a private dinner at the Wellington Arch, the original entrance to Buckingham Palace and the end of the State Funeral procession of Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Here, after being serenaded by the Band of one of His Majesty's Regiments of Foot Guards, we'll sit down to dinner with Sir Nicholas Coleridge CBE, former president of Condé Nast International, chairman of the Victoria & Albert Museum, co-chair of Her Late Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant, and noted author and raconteur. Also joining will be Alderman Sir William Russell, former Lord Mayor of London and the only Lord Mayor to serve two consecutive terms.
Overnight: Corinthia London
Wednesday 13th September Sicily
This morning we depart London for the journey west to Farnborough Airport, where we will board our private jet. Sleek and sophisticated in matt black with a gleaming trim, our Embraer ERJ135 makes a striking impression against the Hampshire landscape, and in no time we will find ourselves high above the clouds, settling into a glass of champagne and a delicious lunch prepared by Mosimann’s of London.
Disembarking after lunch, the wonders of Sicily await. You will be whisked into the heart of Palermo and, after some time to settle into the magnificent Villa Igiea, you will have the option to enjoy a truly remarkable introduction to Palermo’s historic streets – on the back of a shiny Vespa (or by private air-conditioned limousine for those who may desire comfort over authenticity!). Not only is this the most authentic way to experience Palermo like a true local, this delightful mode of transport also allows you to navigate the city’s narrower streets and alleyways with ease. The accompaniment of an expert local guide provides the opportunity to uncover some of the many hidden gems of this intoxicating city.
After a full day of travel and adventure, we will not have to venture too far for dinner this evening. Villa Igiea’s Florio restaurant is one of the most refined in the city, with menus of classic and contemporary Sicilian cuisine overseen by Michelin starred chef Fulvio Pierangelini. The backdrop – an original Louis XVI dining hall that charmed countless illustrious guests during the Belle Époque – adds a further sense of place to your first meal in the city.
Overnight: Villa Igiea
Thursday 14th September Sicily
This morning you will be able to choose from a carefully selected programme of independent activities, designed to offer a more immersive insight into Palermo’s distinctive cuisine, historic and cultural traditions. These include:
• Palermo cookery class. Visit the Capo market with a renowned local chef to select the freshest produce for lunch, returning to his private home where together you will prepare a meal of enticing Sicilian specialities.
• A comprehensive historic and cultural tour of Palermo by vintage Fiat 500, taking in the city’s Baroque palaces, the Teatro Massimo, the UNESCO-protected Duomo and other highlights of the Storico Centrale.
• An introduction to Sicilian puppetry, one of the island’s most historic cultural art forms. Meet a puppet maker from the renowned Argento family of puppeteers to learn more about this remarkable tradition and the rivalries on the island. The experience concludes with an authentic Opera dei Pupi performance.
• A street food tour with private guide, exploring the bustling food markets of the Capo and Vucciria districts, and sampling the very best regional specialities along the way.
• An exploration of Palermo’s intriguing subterranean labyrinth of tunnels and quarries at Le Muchate Arabe. Dating back to the Arab-Norman period, this fascinating underground network extends some six miles under the city of Palermo, with the stone hewn from the quarries used to create the cathedral and the Palazzo Normani.
• A shopping tour of Palermo, accompanied by a private guide. Whether you are aiming to find high quality painted ceramics and other traditional crafts, or browse some of the city’s finest boutiques, your guide will know the very best spots to shop like a local.
The afternoon is at leisure for you to further explore Palermo at your own pace, or to relax and take full advantage of your base at Villa Igiea. The swimming pool and sun terrace offer hypnotic views of the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea, while the Irene Forte Spa employs fine Sicilian botanical ingredients in its nurturing treatments. Should you wish to sightsee further, a local guide will be on hand.
Your second evening in Sicily begins in style with a private cocktail reception at the Church of Santissimo Salvatore. The dome of this 11th century church is a focal point of the Palermo cityscape, and we shall be able to enjoy it along with drinks and musical accompaniment. Continuing on to the majestic Palazzo Francavilla, enjoy an intimate private dinner hosted by the present owners of the palace, Antonino and Liliana Pecoraro. The origins of this palace date back to the late 1700s, and its grand salons are adorned with magnificent 19th century frescoes.
Overnight: Villa Igiea
Friday 15th September Sicily
Today you will venture out to the rolling vineyards of Sicily’s interior, to experience life on one of the island’s most prestigious wineries. The noble lineage of the Spadafora family dates back to the early 13th century, and - though viniculture has been a more recent occupation for the family - the wines produced at the Spadafora estate include vintages which are more than worthy of this distinguished heritage. The current owner of the estate and his daughter – Francesco and Enrica Spadafora - will be your hosts on a fascinating tour, where you will learn more about the superlative conditions for wine production in this region as well as the family’s commitment to an organic and sustainable approach. There will be time to enjoy an immersive culinary experience with a Sicilian chef and you may even have the opportunity to participate in harvest activities before sampling a selection of the highly acclaimed wines produced at Azienda Spadafora. A delicious lunch incorporating some of the finest produce of the region will ensure you do not go hungry during your Sicilian wine immersion.
Later on you will be driven back to Villa Igiea with the balance of the afternoon at leisure to enjoy the swimming pool, spa and peaceful gardens. This evening, you will be free to dine independently at one of Palermo’s finest restaurants. We have compiled a list of all the best and most authentic local restaurants in the city, and will make a reservation at the venue and time of your choosing. As you would expect, all independent dining is included in the trip cost.
Overnight: Villa Igiea
Saturday 16th September To Santorini
After a final breakfast at Villa Igiea, bid farewell to Sicily and transfer to Palermo airport where our private jet will be waiting to whisk us east over the Mediterranean to the islands of the Cyclades . Another beautifully designed Mosimann’s lunch sustains us for the journey before we land on the enchanting Greek island of Santorini. A short drive takes us to the edge of the island’s iconic caldera and the beautiful Grace Hotel, which offers commanding views from its privileged cliffside location.
The afternoon is free for you to relax and begin absorbing your exceptional surroundings. Your private plunge pool and the hotel’s breathtaking cliff-edge infinity pool are obvious venues to begin taking in the wonders of the caldera, although a team of guides and private vehicles are on stand-by for those who wish to take an introductory tour of the island.
This evening, the pioneering creations of Michelin-starred chef Lefteris Lazarou await for your dinner at Grace’s Varoulko Santorini restaurant. As the first chef specialising in Greek cuisine to be awarded a Michelin star, Lazarou’s pedigree speaks for itself, however the inimitable evening light and seemingly endless skies seem to add further resonance to his exquisitely assembled dishes.
Overnight: Grace Santorini
Sunday 17th September Santorini
Waking to the beautiful morning light of Santorini, choose from a list of selected activities to embark upon today:
• Santorini Caldera Hike, followed by lunch at the award-winning Sigalas winery. A scenic walk provides the opportunity to view Santorini’s spectacular caldera walls, formed around 70,000 years ago following an enormous volcanic eruption. A cheese and wine picnic is provided to fuel your endeavours, and a delicious winery lunch will be your reward.
• A Journey into Santorini’s History. Together with your guide, explore the Museum of Fira, the archaeological site of Akrotiri (sometimes referred to as the Greek Pompeii) and Pyrgos, Santorini’s best-preserved medieval village. Remain in Pyrgos for lunch at a local taverna.
• A Greek cookery class and wine tasting. Discover the depth of the gastronomic culture in the Cyclades, recreating an authentic recipe that has been passed down through generations, and then settling in for a magnificent three-course lunch and wine tastings.
• Oia Discovery. Together with a local guide, trace the village’s history from Venetian rule, its transformation into a flourishing harbour town, and its recovery from a devastating earthquake. A pottery workshop and taverna lunch complete your experience of Oia.
• A Mythical Music presentation, discovering a collection of finely crafted instruments and taking in a traditional Greek panpipe performance. A delicious lunch will follow at a nearby taverna.
• A shopping tour with dedicated local guide. Uncover the best shopping venues in the area and the highest quality local crafts and gifts you may wish to take home with you.
After your morning activity you will be driven back to Grace Hotel for an afternoon of relaxation. In addition to refreshing swims in the infinity pool, you may wish to replenish your energies a little further with a soothing massage on your private terrace. A guide will be on hand for those who wish to sightsee further.
Feeling fully revived, re-join the group tonight for a thoroughly enjoyable evening of dining and dancing at a renowned local taverna. Experience Greek hospitality at its very finest, and the distant twinkling of lights out to sea from the restaurant’s panoramic terrace.
Overnight: Grace Santorini
Monday 18th September Santorini
Part of the wonder of the Greek islands is experiencing them from the water, and that is exactly what we will be able to do today. After breakfast at the hotel, we will be transferred to the marina to board an exclusively chartered luxurious motor yacht. Opportunities for swimming and snorkelling in calm, cerulean waters abound, but we will also be to visit two islands which encapsulate some of the contrasts of the Cyclades. The island of Ios attracts countless visitors, drawn by its picture-postcard outlooks of white-washed houses, blue-domed chapels and windmills perched on the hillsides above Chora. Sikinos, meanwhile, attracts only a fraction of the number of curious travellers, and represents the Greek islands at their most peaceful. A smattering of tiny churches and monasteries dot the gently sloping hills, and mild Aegean waters lap a handful of pristine, sheltered beaches.
After your memorable day of yacht life and island adventures, the evening is free for you to dine independently at one of our preferred Santorini restaurants. After dinner you may wish to check out Fira’s renowned bar scene for cocktails and dancing, but – after a sun-drenched day out on the Aegean waters – retiring to your suite at the Grace might prove just as tempting.
Overnight: Grace Santorini
Tuesday 19th September To Dubrovnik
The next stage of our adventure beckons today, and after breakfast at Grace Hotel we will re-join our private jet for the flight north to Croatia. Lunch designed by Mosimann’s will be taken on board as we take the short flight across the Adriatic, before touching down in Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic.
Upon arrival we will be transferred to our luxurious accommodation at Villa Dubrovnik. Without doubt the finest hotel in the region, Villa Dubrovnik is an exclusive and contemporary hideaway perched on a peaceful promontory, just a short drive from the city centre. You may choose to remain here for the rest of the afternoon, taking in the views and enjoying the pool and Villa Spa. Alternatively, a shuttle service to the Old Town is provided for those who wish to begin exploring. A local guide is on hand for those who wish to start exploring the city. Dubrovnik’s UNESCO-protected historic centre is fully pedestrianised, making it a place that lends itself beautifully to leisurely strolling, discovering some of the many secrets hidden in the narrow alleyways.
This evening you will experience Dubrovnik dining at its most picturesque. Tables are reserved for us in a prime terrace spot at Nautika, one of the city’s best positioned restaurants, located right on the water’s edge and boasting uninterrupted views of the Lovrijenac and Bokar fortresses. The restaurant’s menu is equally impressive, with seasonal highlights including succulent lobster from Vis and fresh oysters from Ston.
Overnight: Villa Dubrovnik
Wednesday 20th September Dubrovnik
Today you will once again be able to choose one of our carefully curated experiences, designed to showcase the very best of Dubrovnik and the surrounding area. These include:
• A private guided walking tour of Dubrovnik Old Town and the UNESCO-protected city walls. Take in the historic centre’s Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque masterpieces and then follow the mile-long circuit around Dubrovnik’s mighty fortified walls. The tour concludes with an additional activity of your choice; a cable car journey up to Srd Hill, an art and champagne stop at the Sebastian Gallery, or a coral jewellery workshop.
• An art and cultural tour to Cavtat and Konavle. These pretty towns both have a strong heritage of craftsmanship, and a silk making presentation and traditional dance performance will be some of the cultural insights included today. You will also have the option to participate in an embroidery workshop where you can produce your own piece of lace.
• A private Dalmatian cookery class in the beautiful surroundings of the Trsteno Arboretum, recognisable to Game of Thrones aficionados as the gardens of King’s Landing.
• An oyster picnic hosted by local fisherman, Denis. Together you will harvest the freshest oysters, directly from the sea, and then join Denis for lunch on his private island.
• Wine tasting and a peka lunch on the Pelješac peninsula, hosted by a local wine maker. In an exquisite backdrop of mountains, valleys and coves, some of Croatia’s finest wines are produced. You will sample a selection of these, and then tuck in to a traditional Dalmatian peka lunch – a mouth-watering extravaganza of slow-cooked meat or fish, roasted for hours on a bed of hot coals.
• Guided kayaking along the Dubrovnik coastline. View the city from a different perspective as you venture below the city walls, paddle through Adriatic waters and make a stop at Lokrum Island to explore and recharge with a private picnic lunch.
• Big game fishing [supplement applies]. Set out with a knowledgeable local skipper in search of some of the biggest catch in the Adriatic.
• Cycling in the hinterlands of Dubrovnik [supplement applies]. Escape the bustle of Dubrovnik and venture out with an expert guide on an exhilarating cycling adventure, taking in the surrounding valleys, orchards and vineyards.
•Freediving with Lidija Lijic, one of the world’s top free-divers [supplement applies]. The Mljet Archipelago is an outstanding venue from which to explore Croatia’s marine world, and you will be guided by Lidija to some of the most intriguing sights including an underwater cave.
• Join a local guide to explore the craft shops and chic boutiques of Dubrovnik. An expert will assist you in seeking out the best places to buy authentic Croatian crafts, such as handwoven lace and linens, gold and silver jewellery from Konavle, traditional cravats and local artwork.
This afternoon is free for you to further enjoy Dubrovnik at your own pace, or to remain at the hotel and enjoy the swimming pool, spa, and relaxing drinks in the Library Lounge and terrace. For dinner this evening we have compiled a selection of the very best restaurants in Dubrovnik, and you will be able to dine independently at a time of your choosing.
Overnight: Villa Dubrovnik
Thursday 21st September Dubrovnik
No visit to Croatia would be complete without an experience of the Adriatic islands. Today we will travel by boat to Šipan, a charming island in the pretty Elafiti archipelago. Our base on the island is the sheltered bay of Vrbova where we can enjoy complete relaxation in the beachfront cabanas, refreshing swims in the sparkling blue-green waters and a delicious meal at the Bowa restaurant. Here, the freshest catch of the day is accompanied by a wealth of fine produce from the immediate surroundings.
Having had our fill of relaxation on Šipan island, we will take the short boat ride back to Dubrovnik later this afternoon. For dinner this evening you can choose another restaurant in the city, try the hotel’s highly acclaimed Pjerin restaurant, or enjoy a relaxing evening in your room taking advantage of Villa Dubrovnik’s room service and superlative views.
Overnight: Villa Dubrovnik
Friday 22nd September To Venice
We bid farewell to Croatia today and transfer to Dubrovnik airport for our final private jet flight – a short hop to Venice. Arriving in the magnificent ‘floating city’ we will be transferred to the Cipriani, one of Venice’s most iconic hotels. By now with an appetite for lunch, we can begin appreciating the Cipriani’s unrivalled waterfront location over a meal at the hotel’s superb Il Porticciolo restaurant.
Already beginning to adjust to the Italian way of life, with an unhurried lunch and plentiful wine, the only other requirement this afternoon is to select an exquisite Venetian carnival mask for our farewell drinks tomorrow evening. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to unwind by the hotel’s legendary outdoor swimming pool or take advantage of the complimentary water taxi service to St Mark’s Square.
A special pre-dinner reception has been arranged for us this evening. We will travel to the foundry of the revered Seguso glassworks in Murano, where we will be met by one of the current owners. The family have been producing ornate glasswork in Murano for over 500 years, and their iconic pieces are displayed in countless museums across the world. Accompanied by your host from the Seguso family you will tour the glassworks, witnessing first-hand the skilled craftsmanship behind the production of these exquisite pieces, and then round off the experience with an aperitif in this truly remarkable venue. At the end of your Seguso visit, transport will be provided to a restaurant of your choice from our selection of the finest restaurants in Venice.
Overnight: Cipriani, A Belmond Hotel
Saturday 23rd September Venice
After breakfast at the Cipriani, you will set out today for an activity of your choosing in Venice. Experiences in the collection include:
• Exploring Casanova’s Venice. Together with your private guide, discover Casanova’s birthplace and locations in the city that were the most significant in his life, including the prison from which he escaped in 1756.
• A tour of the Secret Gardens of Venice. Behind many Venetian walls lie gardens ranging from community allotments to formal rose gardens and grand palatial estates. A local expert will guide you through some of the most fascinating hidden gardens and courtyards (including those attached to the palaces of Nani Bernardo and Malipiero Barnabò), recounting their historical and cultural significance along the way.
• An introduction to Venetian crafts. Visit one of the city’s last remaining gondola boatyards to learn more about this most famous of Venetian traditions. Continue on to the workshop of Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua, a renowned textile producer specialising in velvet, brocade and damask produced on 17th-century looms, and supplied to some of the grandest palaces and theatres in Venice.
• Venetian mask making workshop. Learn about the history of masks in Venice over the past centuries and then select from over sixty different styles and decoration techniques to create your own entirely personalised mask.
• Gondolier lesson with Venice’s best-known female rowing champion. Gloria Rogliani will share her tips on how to row a gondola like a local, and then accompany you on a walk through the heart of the city’s historic Cannaregio district.
• The People of Venice. Meet a selection of Venetian residents with particularly interesting stories to tell, including Countess Elisabetta Lucheschi Czarnocki at the Palazzo Nani Bernardo, and Stefano Nicolao, costumier for the Venice Carnival, opera houses and theatres around the world.
• A tour of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection with a private guide. Located in the benefactor’s former home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal, the gallery is one of the most influential collections of European and American Twentieth century art in Italy.
• Join a private guide to explore La Serenissima’s most notable sights. Uncover the city’s unique history, from the world famous St Mark's Square and Rialto Bridge, to the peaceful, but utterly fascinating, waterways and streets of the Arsenale where Venice’s maritime and military heritage is brought to life.
The afternoon is at leisure for you to absorb all that you have experienced this morning. You may wish to venture across to St Mark’s Square, or remain at the Cipriani to enjoy an indulgent treatment at the Casanova spa and wellness centre.
This evening, collect your mask and arrive in style for our farewell event at the city’s iconic Gritti Palace. The origins of this revered palace and hotel back to 1475, and you will be welcomed with a cocktail reception in the atmospheric Explorer’s Library, before adjourning to the overwater Riva Lounge for a memorable farewell dinner. At the end of the meal, water transportation is available to shuttle you back to the hotel, or maybe on to Harry’s Bar for a Bellini or two.
Overnight: Cipriani, A Belmond Hotel
Sunday 24th September Depart Venice
Enjoy a final breakfast at Hotel Cipriani. A private departure transfer to the airport has been booked, in plenty of time for your onward flight.
Please note that it may be necessary to amend some of the tour inclusions or itinerary order to enhance your experience. You will always be kept advised of any changes.