Opera Bellissima

From the north to the south, traverse Italy for peerless operatic performances in the country that can claim to have invented the art form.

Begin at Parma’s annual Verdi Festival for sumptuous operatic performances of works by the father of dramatic opera. Continue to Milan’s Teatro alla Scala for Verdi’s lyric opera Ernani, and Mozart’s youthful, comic La finta giardinera. Travel south to Naples, where the Teatro di San Carlo presents a surrealistic, quasi-balletic take on Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges, and then onwards to Palermo in Sicily for Rigoletto under the direction of Emmy Award-winning actor John Turturro.

In addition to glorious nights at the opera, savour the passionate abundance of Italian life: art, architecture, fashion, shopping, food and fine wine. La vita bella – e l’opera bellissima!

Depart Australia or New Zealand on suggested Etihad flights to Milan via Abu Dhabi. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements.

Arrive in Milan on suggested Etihad flight EY81 at 07:40. Transfer to Parma, the 2,000-year-old city founded by the ancient Etruscans whose great gifts to the world include prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and the father of grand opera, Giuseppe Verdi.

Enjoy a welcome dinner with Mairi and fellow opera-lovers in a local restaurant in Parma before a performance in the Verdi Festival in the afternoon/evening.

(Verdi Festival full programme to be announced January 2018.)


Spend five full days at the Verdi Festival, Parma’s annual tribute to its favourite son, held during the month of his birth in October.

Enrich your experience of Parma with visits to the city’s Romanesque-style Duomo and the Mediæval Baptistery, as well as a guided tour of the Baroque Teatro Farnese.

Enjoy a day following in the footsteps of Verdi in the nearby towns of Busseto and Sant’Agata. In Busseto, visit the home of Antonio Barezzi where Verdi successfully serenaded his first wife, Barezzi’s daughter Margherita, and the small 300-seat Teatro Giuseppe Verdi built as a tribute to the composer (and with 10,000 lire of his money). Explore the Villa Verdi in Sant’Agata, where the composer lived for most of his life.

Also journey into the gastronomic heartland of Emilia-Romagna, sampling regional specialties Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto and traditional balsamic vinegar.

(B, L or D)

The Verdi Festival
The Verdi Festival brings together opera, concerts, colloquia and even artworks which inspired the great composer, in a month-long celebration of ‘all things Verdi’. While the 2018 programme will not be announced until early next year, recent iterations of the Festival have included performances of the composer’s classic operas such as Falstaff, La traviata and Don Carlo as well as rarer works such as Stiffelio, Jérusalem and Giovanna d’Arco. Alongside operatic works, the Festival also presents a programme of Verdi’s chamber and religious music.

Bid farewell to Parma and return to Milan, capital of Lombardy and one of Italy’s great cultural and economic centres.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Milan before an afternoon at leisure. In the evening, attend a performance of Verdi’s Ernani at the Teatro alla Scala. Ádám Fischer conducts Verdi’s opera, based on a play by Victor Hugo, about disguises and intrigues in the election of the Holy Roman Emperor, with Francesco Meli in the title role.


Enjoy a full-day tour to Lake Como. Begin with a visit to the Villa Carlotta, a late 17th century villa and art collection set in a magnificent botanic garden overlooking the lake.

Have lunch in the spectacular setting of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, then explore Lake Como with a boat cruise followed by free time to wander through the charming town of Como itself, a summer retreat for wealthy aristocrats since Roman times.


After a morning talk by Mairi, enjoy a guided tour of the Ansaldo Workshops, where the stage sets for all the performances at La Scala are crafted and painted, and where some 800 to 1,000 new costumes are sewn for each season. The afternoon is free to explore Milan at your leisure.

In the evening, return to La Scala for La finta giardinera. This youthful, energetic opera by an 18-year-old Mozart follows a pair of estranged lovers who find their way back into each other’s arms via the comic delusion that they are a pair of Greek gods. The conductor is Diego Fasolis, with Kresimer Spicer as Don Anchise and Hanna-Elisabeth Müller as Sandrina.


In the morning, check out of the hotel and transfer to Milan Linate Airport for a flight to Naples (included in tour price).

Transfer from Naples Airport to the hotel, before dinner in a local restaurant.


Begin the day with an orientation tour of Naples. One of the oldest cities in the world (and still the third largest in Italy), the area around Naples has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. Across the centuries, the city has been a paragon of Hellenistic culture in antiquity, the ‘intellectual capital’ of the Mediæval Kingdom of Sicily and one of the centres of the Italian Renaissance.

Visit the impressive 13th century Castel Nuovo built by the city’s Angevin rulers, the Palazzo Reale which housed the Bourbon kings in the 18th century, and the Galleria Umberto I, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed shopping gallery built in the late 19th century. Explore the Capodimonte Museum, containing 13th to the 18th century artwork by Masaccio, Botticelli, Rafaello, Bellini, Tiziano, Caravaggio, Vasari, Giordano, El Greco and Jacob Philipp Hackert.

This evening, enjoy the option of a musical performance of traditional Neapolitan song in the Festa di Piedigrotta (to be confirmed; not included in tour price, additional cost applies)


After a morning talk by Mairi, explore some of the treasures of ancient Italy in the Naples National Archaeological Museum. One of the world’s most impressive archaeological institutions, the museum contains the extraordinary Farnese Art Collection of works from Græco-Roman antiquity, as well as many poignant casts made of the victims of Pompeii and decorations removed from the Pompeii excavations. A particular highlight is the series of astoundingly lifelike mosaics of Mediterranean sea-life, waterfowl and the denizens of the Nile River, rendered in carefully-observed detail. The afternoon is at leisure.

In the late afternoon, attend a performance of Prokofiev’s satirical opera The Love for Three Oranges under the baton of Gabriele Ferro at the Teatro di San Carlo, the oldest continuously-operating opera house in the world (having opened in 1737).


Start the day with a guided tour of the Teatro di San Carlo and see how an opera is brought to life in this sumptuously decorated 271-year-old theatre. Lunch is at leisure.

In the afternoon, transfer to Naples Airport for an evening flight to Palermo in Sicily (included in tour price). On arrival in Palermo, transfer to the hotel before dinner in the evening.


In the morning, visit the Palazzo dei Normanni, seat of the Norman Kings of Sicily in the 11th and 12th centuries and the oldest royal residence in Europe. The focus of the palace is the Palatine Chapel, whose stunning mosaics stand out even amongst the great works of Byzantine art for the subtlety of their colours and the delicacy of their depiction of the draped robes of the saints.

After lunch, visit the Palermo Regional Archaeological Museum, one of the grandest archaeological museums in Italy, filled with artefacts from prehistoric times to the Roman era, including major Sicilian finds from the Phoenician, Punic, Greek, Roman, and Saracenic periods – a testimony to Sicily’s complex, multicultural history.


After a morning talk by Mairi, travel to the nearby town of Monreale and visit its magnificent cathedral, one of the masterpieces of Norman architecture. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, Monreale Cathedral was begun in 1174 by King William II of Sicily, and combines architecture of both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Rite traditions; the façade of the cathedral is decorated with carvings and coloured inlay, and its interior is almost entirely covered with brilliant mosaics.

Enjoy a special farewell lunch with Mairi and fellow travellers in Monreale to celebrate the conclusion of the tour.

Return to Palermo and in the evening attend a performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Teatro Massimo, the largest opera theatre in Italy. The production is directed by Emmy Award-winning actor John Turturro and stars Giorgio Berrugi as the Duke of Mantua, George Petean as Rigoletto and Maria Grazia Schiavo as Gilda.


Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.


Per person, twin-share (approximately)

AUD 13,000

Single Supplement* (approximately)

AUD 2,500

Deposit per person (at time of booking)

AUD 1,000

*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.

Final payment due

03 August 2018

Tour code


Fitness level

Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.

Suggested airline

Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.


Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit Italy.

Tour price includes

  • Premium (category 1) tickets to all included performances
  • Pre-performance talks by your tour leader, Mairi Nicolson
  • Accommodation in centrally located hotels with breakfast daily (B)
  • Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wine with meals
  • One-way Economy Class flights from Milan to Naples and from Naples to Palermo
  • Airport/hotel transfer on tour arrival if travelling on suggested flights
  • Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
  • Gratuities for local guides and drivers
  • Hotel porterage (one piece per person)

Tour price does not include

  • International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
  • Airport/hotel transfer on arrival if not travelling on suggested flights
  • Hotel/airport transfer on departure
  • Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, room service etc.
  • Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contract Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)


Your hotels
Parma – Grand Hotel De La Ville*****
Milan – Starhotel Rosa Grand****+
Naples – Grand Hotel Oriente ****+
Palermo – Eurostars Centrale Palace Hotel ****+

NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted