The Secret Itineraries tour of the Doge's Palace ★★★

The inquisition room, Secret Itineraries of the Doge's Palace, Venice, Italy (Photo courtesy of ItalyGuides)
The inquisition room

A tour that gets you—quite literally—behind the scenes, into the rooms and chambers hidden behind those lavishly decorated walls where the actual governing of the Venetian Republic happened

The real governing of the Venetian Republic was not done here in plain sight.

True power was wielded in a network of low-ceilinged, wooden-plank corridors and tiny offices wrapped around this public palace like a clandestine cocoon, the entrances hidden behind secret doors set into all those fancy oil paintings and carved woodwork of the public rooms.

Here private secretaries kept records and compiled accusations made against people both lowly and high-placed.

The only way to see this inner sanctum—and for the best primer on Venetian politics and historical intrigues—is to take the excellent 75-minute "Itinerari Segreti," or Secret Itineraries tour.

Yes, it is intensely expensive (€20 ($22) at last check), but (a) it includes a visit to the rest of the Palazzo, which already costs €20 ($22), so for all intents and purposes this tour is free, and (b) this just might be the best sight tour in all of Italy—not necessarily because of the guide (some are better than others), but because of the secret world you get to see.

This tour will show you the large chamber where the dreaded Council of Ten met to decide the fate of the Republic—and the people who crossed them; the two-story inquisition room, complete with hangman's rope ready to administer swift justice once the accused was found guilty; and the "leads," the low prison cells up in the roof rafters (named for the lead tiles of the roof above) where your guide will recount the tale of Casanova's famous escape.

Best part of the tourYour group keeps popping out of secret doorways into the public rooms only to vanish behind yet another hidden panel, surprising all the tourists milling about who didn't book this tour (and making them insanely jealous).

After the tour, you are free to explore the rest of the palace's public rooms on your own.

 
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Photo gallery
  • The inquisition room, Secret Itineraries of the Doge's Palace, Italy (Photo courtesy of ItalyGuides)
  • The Council of Ten room, Secret Itineraries of the Doge's Palace, Italy (Photo courtesy of Justin Plus Lauren)
  • A hallway and a secret office, Secret Itineraries of the Doge's Palace, Italy (Photo by Darren Milligan)
  • A secret office, Secret Itineraries of the Doge's Palace, Italy (Photo courtesy of Venetia Ti Amo)
  • The Leads, the secret prisons of the Doge
  • A secret entrance to the inner hallways, Secret Itineraries of the Doge's Palace, Italy (Photo courtesy of Venetia Ti Amo)
  • The inquisition room from above, Secret Itineraries of the Doge's Palace, Italy (Photo courtesy of the Palazzo Ducale)
  • The inquisition room, Secret Itineraries of the Doge's Palace, Italy (Photo courtesy of Dark Rome)
  • The Leads, the secret prisons of the Doge
  • Above the ceiling of the Chamber of the Great Council, Secret Itineraries of the Doge's Palace, Italy (Photo courtesy of Venetia Ti Amo)

Secret Itineraries Of The Doge's Palace tours

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How long does the Secret Itineraries tour of the Doge's Palace take?

The tour lasts 75 minutes.

Expect to spend about hour or so in the Palazzo Ducale's public rooms are the tour is done.

When are the Secret Itineraries tours of the Doge's Palace in English?
  • Tours in English: 9:55am, 10:45am, 11:35am
  • Tours in Italian: 9:30am, 11:10am
  • Tours in French: 10:20amm, noon
Why do you say it's "free" if it costs €20?

Yes, the tour costs €20—but that also includes admission to the public rooms of the Palazzo Ducale itself after the tour.

Since that admission alone normally costs €20 by itself, if you were planning to visit the Doge's Palace anyway you would have spent the €20 to begin with, so this additional tour ends up being free.

Book the "Secret Itineraries" tour ahead!

Book the "Secret Itineraries" tour ahead

You'll want to book this tour ahead of time—not necessarily way in advance, but at least a day or two before, as there are only a few tours in English each day (at 9:55am, 10:45am, and 11:35am) and they can fill up quickly, especially in summer

Stop by the ticket booth, call +39-041-4273-0892 from abroad or 848-082-000 in Italy, or book a tour right now via our partners:

 

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