Be still, my hungry heart for the River Countess is here to take you on a gastronomic journey and historical expedition through the world’s finest culinary capitals. From the famed Bolognese cooking of Bologna to an exclusive after-hours visit to legendary St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, from the vibrant vino of Valpolicella to the history of star-crossed lovers in Verona, the Gems of Northern Italy tour by Uniworld is a feast for all senses. All aboard, we’re now off for 10-days of exclusive, intimate, and exciting adventures through Northern Italy aboard the River Countess. SAVE $150 To $400 Per Person With Deposit At Reservation With Uniworld – BOOK NOW!
Who should join a Uniworld cruise? People who love…
- Everything Organized
- No planning – no worries!
- Intimate experiences
- Easy transportation
- Five-Star Food
- Unpacking once
- All-Inclusive Service
- Open Bar!
We arrived in Milan on an overnight flight from the States. From the moment we stepped off the plane, we were whisked away to our next destination with comfort and ease. Staying in the city center of Milan, we were walking distance to the dazzling Duomo and Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper painting, all of which we were privy to private tours of. We had arrived in a city known for fashion and ease of flights, but privy to some of the greatest works of art. Enjoy An All Inclusive River Cruise With Uniworld – BOOK NOW!
The Last Supper was a spectacular sight to see. Most people don’t know that The Last Supper is a fresco and not a painting on canvas. A fresco is when an artist paints plaster and the color is permanently set in the plaster once it dries. Due to this process, most frescos prior to The Last Supper weren’t as complex. Leonardo used a new process which gave him more time to paint and slowed the drying time of the plaster. This revolutionary technique allowed Leonardo to create a masterpiece but unfortunately, this masterpiece is fragile and has deteriorated over time.
Romance in the Air
From Milan, we boarded a coach headed to Verona, the city immortalized by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Upon arrival, we were greeted to a private one-on-one tour with Franklin, our Verona expert and new friend. We toured Juliet’s house (beautiful, but devastatingly crowded) and the supposed balcony where she pined for her sweet, “Romeo, Romeo, Where art thou Romeo?” Juliet’s house is half private owned and half public owned. This means it’s free to enter the courtyard but you must pay €3 to visit the enchanted balcony. During the day crowds will swarm the courtyard to get a glimpse of the amorous balcony. Be careful while gazing up and watch your valuables for pick-pockets. Depending on who you believe, some say this was Juliet’s balcony, others say it’s a ruse put up by the state only to drive tourism. Like most great stories, it’s better to believe than to scrutinize the truth.
Our tour continued with a peak at Romeo’s house. This neglected historical monument only had a few people walking past it during the busy time of the day. It is still beautiful, but with much less people than Juliet’s balcony – I think we can see who the favorite is. The city oozed charm and it’s no wonder Shakespeare chose Verona as the home to history’s greatest lovers. Shakespeare wrote,
“There is no world for me outside the walls of Verona, except purgatory, torture, and hell itself.”
During our tours of Verona, we were shocked to find out that Shakespeare wasn’t the original creator of Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare’s primary source for Romeo and Juliet was a poem by Arthur Brooke called The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet, written in 1562. While he didn’t create the characters he did change the ending to a tragedy. This small change captivated audiences and generated a timeless romance for many generations.
Vino, Por Favora
As if the day couldn’t get any better, we set off from Verona and onto the Valpolicella wine region in Verena. Italy is one of the best countries for wine and Valpolicella is one the best wine regions in Italy with some bottles of the fabled Amarone costing nearly $1000. Amarone is a dry, rich wine made with partially dried grapes that are dried for close to 120 days. We had heard some great stories about Valpolicella wine prior to our trip so we were very excited to taste some.
As we pulled into the private estate, 50-foot cypress trees hugged the idealistic entrance and greeted us into their home. We enjoyed a delectable lunch of blissful risotto paired with the estates incredible Amarone wine. After the first sip, all the hype was worth it. Amarone wine was fantastic! It is a bold dry red wine that would pair perfectly with red meat or bolognese sauce.
There is a place for moderation, but Italy is not it.
We headed east for the city renowned for its bounty of canals (400+), artwork, gastronomy, and romance. Our boat for the week, The River Countess, showed us so many splendors around the magnificent Venetian Islands. While a week of river and canal cruising was unforgettable, it was the places on land that delivered the greatest memories of all.
While many walk the crowded streets of The Doge Palace and St. Mark’s Square, a special few are privy to an after-hours exclusive visit to the illustrious St. Mark’s Basilica. As fifty of us quietly filed into the massive church, we were greeted by religious and historical stories from world’s past, all conveyed in beautiful gold ground mosaics. As we sat in our seats in front of the altar, we were asked to sit in silence and take in the immensity and magnificence of St. Mark’s Basilica. We had one of the most magnificent structures in the entire world all to ourselves and totally silent. Lights slowly turned on, emulating early candlelight, illuminating the gold ceiling and twinkling like stars under a beautiful Venetian night.
We were told the history of St. Mark’s Basilica through the stories conveyed through painting emblazoned across the ceilings. We were lead through a private tour of the rarely seen catacombs and were even given the chance to walk on top of the altar. It was there that a gift so extraordinary and so rare was presented to our memories; the Pala d’Oro, a Byzantine altar screen resting on the altar was turned around and presented us with its ornate jewels. This was unlike anything else in the world. This was Uniworld.
The Venetian Islands
Since Venice and its neighbors are all islands, a boat is required to transport between the islands and the River Countess did just that. We were brought to the colorful island of Burano, straight out of an artist’s Technicolor fantasy or an Instagrammer’s dream. We were able to roam the streets of this multi-colored island, where bright pink and blue houses are as common as Aperol Spritz’s on a hot summer day in Italy.
As the week drew to a close, we celebrated the Venetian way – with masks on our faces, pasta in our stomachs, and wine in hand. The entire crew (a fantastic crew) dressed to impress on the River Countess for our very own masquerade ball. To dry the tears from leaving this spectacular vessel, we were presented with a five-course gourmet dinner with our 50 new friends.
Champagne Wishes, Granted
The week could not have gone off so effortlessly without the wonderful crew that brought us around Italy so exquisitely. From the moment we stepped on board, the crew made us feel appreciated, welcomed, and special. Drink favorites and dietary requirements were memorized in a mere moment and no request was too grand. A couple even renewed their vows on the bow of the ship with the Captain as the minister and the Hotel Manager graciously serving as the Maid of Honor. There is no place more romantic than the River Countess cruising the gems of Northern Italy. It was no wonder they chose this special place to renew their sacred vows of love and commitment.
With its unique gastronomy, incredible history, and unrivaled romance, Italy is the perfect place for a heavenly vacation. Out of all of the recipes we learned during our time in Italy, The Uniworld recipe is my favorite. Start with the foundation of impeccable service, add in remarkable individuals from all over the world, and mix in the most authentic and exclusive destinations from around the world. It’s a recipe that never fails to deliver extraordinary memories.
Thank you to Uniworld Cruises for hosting us as their guests. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely our own. #sponsored
I have never been on a cruise and most likely never will go on one. I am not a water lover and with my luck the ship would sink when I was on it. My brother in law and his wife are going on their 5th cruise soon but its just not for me.
It seems you have made many romantic memories in the most romantic of the places on the planet and I loved all your pictures, you both looking so completely in love oblivious of the surroundings and letting the beautiful backdrops heighten the passion to another level.