Bring your Italian-fairytale fantasies to life without enduring the cost and chaos of the international flight or another encounter with the Man on the Scooter. You'll set out from either Gondola Adventures’ floating headquarters or the nearby Omni Mandalay Hotel. A master gondolerino will either sing or play romantic music as he pokes and paddles through quiet canal inlets on to the foamy heads of waterfalls or across the glassy, mirrored-sky expanse of the lake. You'll be plied with chocolates and non-alcoholic sparkling wine. Thanks to Irving's 1888 anti-hoedown law, if you want alcoholic wine you'll have to purchase it from the Omni Mandalay Hotel and have them cork it and bring it down to the boat.
The chefs at La Buena Vida Vineyards orchestrate symphonies of cheeses, vegetables, and spreads to create four varieties of thematic appetizer boards. Munch on complimentary crackers and tuck grapes into cheeks before nibbling on the tuscan board's genoa salami, manchego cheese, and spinach-parmesan dip. Or, opt for the veggie board, which offers an edible constellation of grilled artichoke hearts, cheese-stuffed red peppers, and a mozzarella that has been marinated in a spice blend whose recipe is heavily guarded, much like the final resting place of George Washington's axe. The strong flavors of olives compliment the subtle flavors of the mediterranean board's all-natural hummus, which steadies palates in preparation for soft, creamy Boursin cheese.