Italy: Birds & Art in Venice & the Po Delta: Oct 24—Nov 01, 2016
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Grand Canal, Venice— Photo: canadastock/shutterstock
Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, still basking in the wealth and glory of its medieval past. What few people know, though, is that the famous lagoon is a critical wintering area for a wide range of waterbirds, letting the alert traveler enjoy cultural and natural treasures all at once against the enchanting background of the City of Canals and Bridges.
Saint Mark’s city is surrounded by the 200 square miles of the Venetian Lagoon, the largest wetland in the Mediterranean Basin and the winter home of thousands of migrant birds. As we wander the calli along the Grand Canal, admiring the centuries-old façades of palaces and merchant houses, we will get a first sense of the abundance of waterfowl on the lagoon; a visit by boat to the island of Burano, famous for its long tradition of lace production, should give us close views of some of the more than 100 bird species wintering here.
Pomposa Abbey, Italy— Photo: Fabio Bernardi/shutterstock
Two hours south of Venice, the Po Delta is an extraordinary natural ecosystem comprising habitats from fossil dunes to sandbars and pine forests. In between birding by boat and by car, we will visit the small but magnificent abbey church of Pomposa—and the huge and even more magnificent complex of monuments at Ravenna with their dazzling mosaics.
This is a relaxed tour, staying at two comfortable and handsome rural inns and indulging in the fine food and wine of northern Italy. Our quiet walks will take us back in history, to the Middle Ages and beyond, and through some of the same habitats that would have been familiar to the earliest Roman settlers of the area.
Accommodations and cuisine very good; birding and sightseeing generally alternating, occasionally simultaneously at a single site; relatively low species totals; perfect for birders and their non-birding spouses, partners, and traveling companions; cool, possibly damp weather.