Enjoy spectacular productions of Verdi’s Aida & La Traviata, together with Bizet’s Carmen at the Verona amphitheatre
Private visits & lunches at two handsome villas & gardens
Discover historic Verona
Private visit to Isola del Garda on Lake Garda
4* country hotel in Valpolicella wine country
Can there be anything more exciting on a warm July evening than to sit in the great Roman Amphitheatre of Verona as the orchestra prepares to launch into one of Verdi’s or Bizet’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 on routes to the north and west. Much remains to be seen from this era such as the Amphitheatre (the venue for the Opera Festival) and the layout of the city’s urban plan. Today’s city is organised round 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. However, you may find 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 Contessa Allegri-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. Finally, the formal garden at Villa Rizzardi will come as an unexpected treat, as we contemplate its immaculate parterres and remarkable box amphitheatre.
The three featured operas will be Verdi’s Aida on the third night, Bizet’s Carmen on the fourth night and Verdi’s Nabucco on the fifth night. All three operas are particularly suited to the Arena’s great performance space. Tickets to any two of these operas are included and you can also attend a third opera, if desired.
We shall be based at the comfortable 4* Hotel Villa Quaranta in the Valpolicella wine region, which enjoys a rural setting just a few miles to the north-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 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: Sunday 7 July
- We fly from Gatwick 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 the hotel restaurant – wine, water and coffee are included with all group lunches and dinners.
- Day 2: Monday 8 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 and the splendid Piazza delle Erbe and the Piazza dei Signori, the civic heart of Verona. After some free time for lunch (not included) we walk via the Dominican church of Sant’Anastasia to our bus and return to our hotel where the evening will be free.
- Day 3: Tuesday 9 July
- A day spent exploring the wine, villas and gardens of the Valpolicella, we begin 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 to our hotel to rest and then drive into Verona for dinner (not included) and this evening’s performance of Verdi’s Aida after which we return to the hotel.
- Day 4: Wednesday 10 July
- After a relaxing start we leave the hotel late morning and travel the short distance to 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. After some free time for rest at our hotel, we return to Verona for dinner (not included) and Bizet’s Carmen. We return to the hotel after the performance.
- Day 5: Thursday 11 July
- Leaving the hotel mid-morning, Verona is again our focus as 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 continue to 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 some free time for lunch (not included) we return to our hotel mid-afternoon. In the early evening we return to Verona for our final group dinner, after which the evening performance will be Nabucco. We return to the hotel after the performance.
- Day 6: Friday 12 July
- On our final day we leave our hotel mid-morning and drive westwards to the eastern shores of Lake Garda, where we travel by boat to the privately-owned Isola di Garda. A member of the Cavazza-Talbot family will host our visit around the fine terraced garden which hugs a striking neo-Gothic villa dominating one end of the little island. We end with a final group lunch at the pretty lakeside village of Torri del Benaco after which we drive to Venice airport for the evening flight to Gatwick.
The three featured operas will be Verdi’s Aida on the third night, Bizet’s Carmen on the fourth night and Verdi’s La traviata on the fifth night. Any two operas are included in the visit cost so you will need to let us have your choice of opera when you book. It is possible to book for the non-included opera, at an extra cost and the cost includes transfers to and from the Arena. If you would like to opt out of one or both of the included operas, the relevant reduction will be made to your final invoice. For the two included operas, all seats will be reserved in the First Sector Stalls 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 Stalls GOLD seats for a supplement payable per opera, per person.
- Price: £TBC per person
- Tour Manager: James Hill
5 nights with breakfast at 4* Hotel Villa Quaranta
Outward: BA2584 Depart London Gatwick (South Terminal) 1315, arrive Venice 1625
Return: BA2587 Depart Venice 1955, arrive London Gatwick (South Terminal) 2105
2 dinners & 3 lunches with water, wine and coffee, opera tickets for 2 performances in stall seats at operas of your choice, all local transfers, entry fees & gratuities, services of our local tour manager, James Hill
Travel to/from Gatwick, 3 dinners & 2 lunches
Weather Conditions for Verona in July are:
Average Temperature between: 18oC - 29oC / 66oF - 85oF
Rainfall: 50mm / 2 inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.