Visitors to the Doge's Palace, one of Venice's top attractions, can also book a tour of the Itinerari Segreti. The Secret Itineraries Tour includes parts of the palace that are off limits during the regular visit, including secret passageways, prisons, an interrogation room, and the infamous Bridge of Sighs. Note that the tour is available only by reservation (see below).
Following are the highlights of the Secret Itineraries Tour:
The Ducal Notary, the Deputato allo Segreta, the Office of the Great Chancellor, and the Chamber of the Secret Chancellery - All of these administrative rooms held the most important documents of the Venetian Republic. The first two offices, which were interconnected, were occupied by the Doge's notary and an archive for the Council of Ten, the Secret Service of the Republic of Venice. The Great Chancellor was the only figurehead to be elected by the Maggior Consiglio and his job was to oversee the State Archives. Other important and secretive documents were held in the cabinets that lined the walls of the Secret Chancellery.
The Torture Chamber and the Piombi - The haunting Torture Chamber is set up with some of the devices used on Venetian prisoners. The Piombi are the lead-lined prison cells where prisoners who had been caught by the Council of Ten were held. These included mostly political prisoners and also Giacomo Casanova, who famously escaped the Piombi in 1756 and wrote about it in his memoirs.
The Attic - The attic is one of the older parts of the Doge's Palace and is where a tower once stood. The room contains a Doge's coat of arms and a cache of 16th century weapons.
The Inquisitors' Chamber - A flight of stairs leads from the Attic to the Sala dei Inquisitori alla Propagazione dei Segreti dello Stato, where three magistrates from the highest ranks of Venetian government met to discuss and protect state secrets. The ceiling in this shady room contains beautiful paintings by Tintoretto.
The Bridge of Sighs - The Secret Itineraries Tour typically ends at the Bridge of Sighs. Visitors can walk through the narrow, cramped corridors of the footbridge and see Venice as prisoners of yore once saw it: through narrow grills on the windows.
How to Book the Doge's Palace Secret Itineraries Tour
The Secret Itineraries Tour is a guided tour and is available only with a reservation. English language guided tours are currently available daily at 9:55, 10:45, and 11:35. Tickets as of 2012 are 16 euros (plus booking commission) or 10 euro for those age 65 or older. You can check current times and prices or book the Itinerari Segreti online through Viva Ticket or if you prefer to pay in US dollars, you can book the tour through Select Italy.