Opera Bellissima

Travel to the birthplace of opera to be captivated by fine performances of the Italian masters and delight in the musical, artistic and culinary treasures of Northern Italy.

Arrive in Milan and travel to Parma for the annual Verdi Festival for operatic performances of works by the father of dramatic opera, including productions of Ernani and Macbeth.

Spend two days in Lake Garda exploring the picturesque landscape and enjoy a private tour of the Villa Borghese Cavazza on Isola del Garda.

End in beautiful Venice for a production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, and Verdi’s flamboyant melodrama, Il Trovatore, and experience an exclusive private visit to the music collection housed at the Palazzo Loredan Vendramin Calergi, which includes the largest Richard Wagner collection outside Bayreuth.

Further performance details including cast to be announced in early 2020.

Depart Australia or New Zealand on suggested Qatar Airways flights to Milan via Doha. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.

Arrive in Milan in the early afternoon on suggested flights and transfer to the hotel (transfer included in the tour price).

In the evening, attend a welcome briefing by your tour leader Mairi Nicolson, followed by a welcome dinner at the hotel’s restaurant.


In the morning depart Milan and travel to the historic city of Piacenza to enjoy a lunch at leisure. Piacenza, named ‘pleasant place’ by the Romans, was founded as a military colony in 281BCE and is today a picturesque provincial town known for its gothic town hall and Romanesque churches.

Continue to Parma and check-in to the hotel upon arrival in the mid-afternoon.

In the evening, attend a production of Macbeth in the St. Francesco del Prato Church. Verdi was fascinated by Shakespearean drama, and his 1847 opera Macbeth marked his first foray into adapting his works into operatic spectacle.


This morning enjoy a pre-performance talk by Mairi before a walking tour of Parma. Visit the Romanesque Duomo, famous for its frescos painted by Antonio da Correggio in the early 16th century, and the medieval Baptistery, which marks a transition between Gothic and Romanesque styles of architecture in Italy and enjoy a guided tour of the Church of St John the Evangelist.

After lunch, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to further explore Parma at your own pace.

This evening, attend a concert given by world renowned conductor Valerij Gergiev at Teatro Regio di Parma.


In the morning enjoy a pre-performance talk by Mairi before a visit to Teatro Farnese, one of the oldest Renaissance theatres still in existence, contained within the Palazzo della Pilotta. Built in the late 16th century during the reign of Duke Ottavio Farnese, the Palazzo consists of three courts: the Cortile di San Pietro Martire, Cortile del Guazzatoio and the Cortile della Racchetta. Enjoy a private guided tour of both the Palazzo and the theatre and see the surviving remains of the Verdi Monument.

This evening enjoy a performance of I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata at Teatro Regio di Parma. Based on an epic poem by Tommaso Grossi and first performed in Milan in 1843, Verdi dedicated the score to Maria Luigia, the Habsburg Duchess of Parma who died a few weeks after the opera’s premiere.


This morning embark on a journey following in the footsteps of Verdi, beginning in the village of Le Roncole, where Verdi was born in 1813 and lived for much of his life. Continue to Busseto for lunch, then visit Casa Barezzi, the home of Verdi’s father-in-law who represented Verdi and sponsored his early music career.

Return to Parma in the mid-afternoon. In the evening, attend a performance of Verdi’s Ernani at Teatro Regio di Parma. This tragic tale was first performed in 1844 and is based on a play by Victor Hugo about romance and political intrigue in the court of the Holy Roman Emperor.


Check out of the hotel in the morning and travel to Cremona. Situated in Lombardy on the banks of the Po River, the city is especially well known for its musical history, including renowned violin craftsman Antonio Stradivari. Enjoy a private tour of the Museo del Violin, best known for its collection of historic stringed instruments. After the tour enjoy a private performance on a historical violin in the Giovanni Arvedi Auditorium, a venue acoustically engineered for violin performances.

In the afternoon travel to Lake Garda and check in to the hotel. Dinner this evening will be in a restaurant close to the hotel.


In the morning travel by private boat to the Isola del Garda for a private tour of the Venetian-style Neo-gothic Villa Borghese Cavazza and its grounds with a member of the Cavazza family. Located on the Brescian side of Lake Garda, the villa was designed by the architect Luigi Rovelli at the beginning of the 20th century and boasts a beautiful classical Italian-style garden.

Enjoy a special lunch in the villa’s dining room before returning to the mainland for a guided tour of Parco Giardino Sigurtà. Originally cultivated in 1407, the Parco Giardino Sigurtà has in recent times been featured as one of Europe’s most beautiful parks. Explore the park on a guided tour of the grounds including the spectacular hedge maze, water garden and Castelletto.


Enjoy a day at leisure to take in the atmosphere of Lake Garda. The largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda is home to the historic settlement of Sirmione. Originally established as a resort-town by rich Veronese patrons, the geothermal pools in the area still draw travellers from around the world.

Dinner this evening will be at a restaurant close to the hotel.


Depart Lake Garda in the morning and travel to Venice. Arrive in the mid-afternoon and check in to the hotel.

In the evening enjoy a performance of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville at Teatro La Fenice, directed by Bepi Morassi and conducted by Federico Maria Sardelli. Based on Pierre Beaumarchais’s French comedy Le Barbier de Séville, the plot follows a wealthy Spanish count who falls in love at first sight with a girl called Rosine and disguises himself as a poor student to woo her and ensure she really loves him.


Begin the morning with a pre-performance talk by Mairi before exploring the Palazzo Loredan Vendramin Calergi with an exclusive visit. The Palazzo contains items related to classical music and opera, including musical scores, signed letters, paintings, rare documents and the largest Richard Wagner collection outside Bayreuth.

Enjoy lunch in the Palazzo, which is home to the Venice Casino, the world’s most ancient house of games.

This evening attend performances of Salieri’s Prima la musica e poi le parole, followed by Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor at the Teatro Malibran.


In the morning travel to Murano island by private boat and enjoy a short walking tour of the island, famous for its history of exquisite glassmaking. Visit the workshop of a master craftsman and view a demonstration of the production process which has been used to make fine glass products for over 1,500 years. Then enjoy a special farewell lunch with Mairi and fellow travellers. After lunch return to mainland Venice for some time at leisure.

This evening return to Teatro La Fenice for a performance of Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Featuring some of Verdi’s most famous arias and choruses, Il Trovatore premiered in 1853 and follows the Gypsy woman Azucena through a melodramatic tale of true love and revenge set in a Spanish court. Tonight’s performance is directed by Lorenzo Mariani under the baton of Daniele Callegari.


Check out of the hotel in the morning and transfer to Venice Marco Polo Airport (transfer included in tour price), for flights returning to Australia and New Zealand.

Tour arrangements conclude on arrival at Venice Marco Polo Airport. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements including additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour.


Per person, twin-share

AUD 17,950

Single supplement*

AUD 4,250

Deposit per person (at time of booking)

AUD 2,000

2nd Deposit (30 March 2020)

AUD 2,500

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

Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.

Final payment due

30 July 2020

Tour code


Fitness level

Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.

Suggested airline

Qatar Airways
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 for Italy.

Tour price includes

  • Category 1 tickets (or best available) for all included performances
  • Accommodation in centrally located 4- and 5-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
  • Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wines with meals
  • Pre-performance talks with your tour leader, Mairi Nicolson
  • Comprehensive sightseeing including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Transportation throughout on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers and waitstaff
  • Airport/hotel transfers on tour arrival and departure
  • Hotel porterage (one piece per person)

Tour price does not include

  • International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
  • Airport porterage
  • Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, minibar, room service etc.
  • Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)


Your hotels
Milan – Starhotel Rosa Grand*****
Parma – Starhotel du Parc****
Lake Garda – Grand Hotel Terme*****
Venice – Hotel Danieli*****

N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.