Enjoy Bizet’s spectacular Carmen & Rossini’s Barber of Seville at Verona’s amphitheatre
Private visits & lunches at two handsome villas & gardens
Discover historic Verona & Palladio’s La Malcontenta near Venice
Private visit to the magical Isola del Garda on Lake Garda
4* country hotel in Valpolicella wine country
Can there be anything more exciting on a warm summer’s evening than to sit in the great Roman Amphitheatre of Verona as the orchestra prepares to launch into one of Puccini’s marvellous operas? Equally stimulating are the summer delights of the country villas and gardens of the Valpolicella wine region. These sit tantalisingly close to the civic munificence of one of Northern Italy’s most delightful cities, Verona. Verona owes its origins to the Romans, for whom it was an important stop and trading junction. Much remains to be seen from this era such as the Amphitheatre. Today’s city is organised around two major medieval squares, the Piazza delle Erbe and the Piazza dei Signori, built on top of their Roman predecessors. These charming spaces, together with the surrounding streets and alleys, have palaces and monuments of outstanding beauty, testifying to the wealth of its native aristocracy.
From Medieval times there are many churches to be seen, including the city’s cathedral and particularly San Zeno with its fine paintings, including Mantegna’s San Zeno Altarpiece. For those with a secular or romantic agenda, there is also, of course, the supposed house of Juliet, the reality of today’s tourist embrace somewhat challenging!
Further delights await us in the hills to the north of Verona, in the Valpolicella. We shall visit one of the most important producers of Amarone and Valpolicella Classico at Villa Mosconi Bertani, where we shall enjoy a private lunch at the exquisite eighteenth century villa, accompanied by a choice selection of the estate’s wines. Horticultural enthusiasts will enjoy our visit to the seventeenth century Villa Arvedi garden, where we shall be the guests of Count Arvedi for lunch within the splendid Baroque grotto of the villa’s garden. After the busy life of the city, Verona’s Giusti Garden will come as a welcome green oasis. The formal garden at Villa Rizzardi will come as an unexpected treat, as we contemplate its immaculate parterres and remarkable box amphitheatre. Finally, one of Palladio’s most complete villas, the Villa Foscari, ‘La Malcontenta’ is magically located on the Brenta Canal.
The two featured operas will be Bizet’s Carmen on the fourth night and Rossini’s Barber of Seville on our final night. Both operas are well suited to the Arena’s great performance space. We shall be based at the comfortable 4* Hotel Villa Quaranta at the edge of the Valpolicella wine region just a few miles to the west of Verona. This seventeenth century vineyard is now a hotel and spa owned by the Tommasi family, themselves renowned local wine producers, whose ordered vines grow all over the Valpolicella. The hotel has a good restaurant, a large outdoor swimming pool and adjoining spa with many treatments available. Thus, we shall be perfectly placed amidst the gentle surroundings of vine-draped hillsides, villas and gardens, to take advantage of easy access to Verona
Day by day
- Day 1: Tuesday 2 July
- We fly from Heathrow to Venice, arriving in the late afternoon and transfer by coach to Ospedaletto di Pescantina, Verona, staying for five nights at the 4* Hotel Villa Quaranta. There will be a group dinner in our hotel – wine, water and coffee are included with all group lunches and dinners.
- Day 2: Wednesday 3 July
- This morning we drive the short distance into Verona. Rising to prominence under the Romans, Verona’s ancient past is reflected by the magnificence of its Amphitheatre, easily admired during each opera. Crossing the Roman Ponte Pietra, we begin with Verona’s Cathedral, a heady mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, complemented within through its richly decorated side chapels, one of which features a masterpiece by Titian. We continue to the historic centre via the Dominican church of Sant’Anastasia and the splendid Piazza delle Erbe and the Piazza dei Signori, the civic heart of Verona. Following some free time for lunch (not included), we visit one of northern Italy’s most important Romanesque churches – the Basilica of San Zeno. The church’s highlight is the famed San Zeno Altarpiece by Andrea Mantegna. We return to our hotel. In the evening we drive the very short distance into the nearby Valpolicella hills for our second group dinner.
- Day 3: Thursday 4 July
- This morning we return to Verona and the eastern side of the historic centre of Verona to visit the delightful Giardini Giusti, laid out in the sixteenth century behind the owner’s town palace. Parterres, cypress tree avenues and grottoes form an Italian garden idyll, rarely matched according to travellers such as John Evelyn. After a coffee break, we travel the short distance north of the city close to the village of Grezzana to visit Villa Arvedi. Fine baroque interiors, one of the oldest formal gardens in Italy and a private group lunch in the spectacular Baroque Grotto of the villa’s garden – all these elements will combine to provide a memorable occasion. We return to our hotel where the remainder of the afternoon and evening will be free.
- Day 4: Friday 5 July
- We spend the day exploring the villas, gardens and vineyards of the nearby Valpolicella beginning at the Pojega Garden at Villa Rizzardi, laid out in the late eighteenth century, and a masterpiece of Italian garden design. It is a combination of gallery-like perspectives, formal hedging and a stunning ‘green amphitheatre’. We continue to nearby Villa Mosconi Bertani, beautifully located in a gentle valley. Our private visit of the eighteenth-century house, gardens and vineyard will be followed by a wine-tasting lunch in the villa, the centre of one of the premier wine-producing estates in the area. We return mid-afternoon to our hotel for rest after which we return to Verona for dinner (not included) and this evening’s new production of Bizet’s Carmen, Following the performance, we return to our hotel.
- Day 5: Saturday 6 July
- Following our late night at the opera, our half-day of activities will be leisurely. We leave mid-morning and drive westwards to the eastern shores of Lake Garda, where we travel by private boat to the privately-owned Isola di Garda. A member of the Cavazza-Talbot family will host our visit as we walk around the fine terraced garden, which hugs a striking neo-Gothic villa dominating one end of the little island. We continue by boat to the pretty lakeside village of Torri del Benaco for lunch (not included) after which we return to our hotel to rest. In the early evening we drive to Verona for our final group dinner, after which the evening performance will be Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. We return to the hotel after the performance.
- Day 6: Sunday 7 July
- We leave our hotel and travel to the Brenta Canal, east of Padua to visit Palladio’s delightfully situated villa next to the Brenta Canal - Villa Foscari, better known as La Malcontenta, one of the architect’s most accomplished villa commissions, completed for the Venetian Foscari brothers in 1560. Following our visit to some of the reception rooms and garden, we have our final group lunch nearby on the Brenta Canal, after which we drive the short distance to Venice airport and our return flight to Heathrow.
The two featured operas will be Bizet’s Carmen on the fourth night and Rossini’s Barber of Seville on the fifth night. Both operas are included in the visit cost. For the two included operas, all seats will be reserved in the First Sector GOLD and these offer good sight of the stage and reasonable sound quality. However, please be aware that we are not able to choose individual seats or specify particular rows. You can upgrade to First Sector PLATINUM seats for £60 per opera per person.
- Price: £2,975
- Price without flights: £2,735
- Deposit: £690
- Single Supplement: £225 (Double Room for Sole Use)
- Tour Manager: James Hill
5 nights with breakfast at 4* Hotel Villa Quaranta
Single Supplement £295 in Deluxe Room (Double for Sole Use)
Couples / Two sharing are in Deluxe Rooms
Outward: BA468 Depart London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1330, arrive Venice 1650
Return: BA579 Depart Venice 1655, arrive London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1810
3 dinners & 3 lunches with water, wine and coffee, opera tickets in First Sector GOLD stall seats for both operas, all local transfers, entry fees & gratuities, services of our local tour manager, James Hill
Travel to/from Heathrow, 2 dinners & 2 lunches
Weather Conditions for Verona in July are:
Average Temperature between: 18oC - 29oC / 66oF - 85oF
Rainfall: 50mm / 2 inches
The two featured operas will be Bizet’s Carmen on the fourth night and Rossini’s Barber of Seville on the fifth night. Both operas are included in the visit cost. For the two included operas, all seats will be reserved in the First Sector GOLD and these offer good sight of the stage and reasonable sound quality. However, please be aware that we are not able to choose individual seats or specify particular rows. You can upgrade to First Sector PLATINUM seats for a supplement of £60 per opera, per person.
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.