Immerse yourself in Italy’s extraordinary musical heritage at Summer Music Festivals in Verona, Lucca and Lake Como, where you experience Italy’s wonderful operatic and instrumental repertoire. Italian music is inseparable from the landscapes and history that have inspired it, and this tour takes you behind the scenes of the great Italian composers, through visits to the diverse landscapes and provincial centres where they walked and worked, and a series of pre-performance talks. The tour is rounded off by fine dining in Emilia- Romagna, Italy’s premier culinary region, and a tour along the prosecco trail in the Veneto.
Lake Como Bellagio Music Festival
We attend two performances
The Arena di Verona
Verdi’s Nabucco at the historic Verona Arena
Private Recital – Vicenza
An evening of Italian Renaissance and Baroque Chamber Music
Private recital – Cremona
Violin recital in the Violin Museum
Lucca and Puccini Festival
An evening of Puccini’s operatic arias in the Church of San Giovanni, Lucca
Puccini’s Turandot, set by the open-air theatre which faces picturesque Lake Massaciuccoli
Days 1–3: In Bellagio, explore Lake Como’s spectacular villas; enjoy lunch at Villa d’Este. Attend the Lake Como Bellagio Music Festival.
Days 4–6: In Vicenza, survey Palladio’s elegant villas. Attend an opera at Verona’s Roman arena. Savour wine and gastronomy on the Valdobbiadene’s “Prosecco Road”.
Days 7–9: From Cremona, discover Stradivari’s birthplace, Monteverdi’s Mantua and Verdi’s Parma.
Days 10–13: In elegant Lucca, deepen your appreciation of Puccini’s work with walking tours, a visit to the Museo Villa Puccini and operatic performances at both Torre del Lago’s Puccini Festival and the Lucca Festival.
The tour begins at Milan Malpensa airport and ends at Pisa airport. Qatar Airways offer connections into Milan and out of Pisa from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Tuesday 21 July: Bellagio
From Milan’s Malpensa airport (at 1.30pm) we travel to Bellagio, spectacularly situated on Lake Como. At 6.00pm your tour leader, Royna McNamara, hosts drinks and canapés in the hotel followed by a light dinner. Overnight Bellagio. (D)
Wednesday 22 July: Villas of Lake Como
This morning we explore Lake Como as it was meant to be viewed, with a private boat tour. Our first stop is beautiful Villa Carlotta, which occupies a superb position on the lake and contains a wonderful museum with masterpieces by Antonio Canova, Adamo Tadolini and Francesco Hayez. We continue along the lake, passing exquisite properties owned by some of the most prominent Italian families, until we reach the 16th century Villa D’Este. Here we enjoy a relaxed alfresco lunch overlooking the gardens and the lake. This evening we enjoy a private recital of Italian Baroque music. Overnight Bellagio (B, L)
Performance details Venue: Sala Azalea, Hotel Belvedere
Program: Facezie Armicae – Italian Renaissance & Baroque Chamber Music
Performers: To be announced
Thursday 23 July: The artists’ lake
The lake with its light and reflections has fascinated and inspired artists, writers and musicians for centuries. Franz Liszt, came to Lake Como in September 1837 and, in a letter written in the first month said, ‘I know of no other place that is so manifestly blessed.’ Like Ravello, Pesaro, and Cremona, Lake Como has a unique musical heritage. In 2011, on the second centennial of the birth of Franz Liszt, and in the 150th year of the Unification of Italy, the first edition of the Bellagio Festival was born. Today, more than forty venues in the provinces of Como and Lecco have opened their doors to the Bellagio and Lake Como Festival and, the festival has rapidly gained recognition internationally. This morning we visit the gardens of Villa Melzi and in the evening we attend the second performance of the festival. Overnight Bellagio (B)
Performance details Festival: Lake Como and Bellagio Festival
Program: To be announced
Performers: To be announced
Friday 24 July: To Vicenza
We depart Lake Como and travel by coach to our countryside hotel, the Relais Michelangelo, about 5km from the centre of historic Vicenza. Enroute, we stop for a lunch break by the shores of beautiful Lake Garda. In the afternoon, there will be time to relax, swim, and explore the wonderful grounds of the hotel. After dinner in the hotel, we enjoy a private music recital. (B, D)
Performance details Venue: Star Hotel Villa Michelangelo
Program: Private Recital
Performers: To be announced
Saturday 25 July: Opera under the stars in Verona
Vicenza is synonymous with Palladio. Scattered in the Veneto, the Palladian Villas are the legacy of this Renaissance master’s architectural genius. This morning, we take a guided walking tour of Vicenza. We begin with Palladio’s Teatro Olimpico and continue by looking at the palaces and buildings he designed in Vicenza. In the early evening we have a pre-performance talk by Royna in the hotel. We then travel by coach to Verona to enjoy an aperitif before we experience opera under the stars in the magnificent arena. Arena di Verona was built in 1st century AD, but the modern renaissance of the arena commenced in 1913 with the first performance of Aida. Tonight, experience Verdi’s powerful Nabucco under the stars in the one of the world’s magnificent open-air opera theatres. Overnight Vicenza (B, C)
Performance details Festival: Arena di Verona Opera Festival
Program: Verdi, Nabucco Performers: To be announced
Sunday 26 July: The Prosecco Route
Today’s excursion takes us to the heart of the prosecco-producing regions of the Veneto. Our first stop is Bassano del Grappa, where we enjoy a spectacular view of the Brenta river from Palladio’s ponte degli alpini, the iconic bridge which spans the river. As we head to Valdobbiadene for lunch in a local winery, we pass through a series of valleys along the Piave River. Our final stop is the village of Follina which is anchored by the stunning Santa Maria Cistercian Abbey and, nearby is the 400-year-old Gregoletto Winery. Overnight Vicenza (B, L)
Monday 27 July: Monteverdi in Mantua
Monteverdi became the court musician to Vicenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua from 1604-1612 and it was in Mantua that his first opera Orfeo was performed in 1607. This was quickly followed by Ariannna in 1608. Monteverdi’s genius for polyphonic choral writing was then channelled into operas for the stage and, his expansive instrumental writing revolutionized orchestral techniques. Our stop in Mantua focuses on the places Monteverdi’s works were performed, including the church of Santa Barbara and the Palazzo del Te, adorned with frescoes by Giulio Romano. We continue to Cremona, our base for the next three nights. Dinner and overnight in Cremona (B, D)
Tuesday 28 July: The home of the Stradivarius
An important musical centre since the Renaissance, Cremona was recognised as the centre of musical instrument making in the 16th century with the violins of the Amati family. Stradivarius was taught by Andrea Amati and is regarded as perfecting the craft of violin making. This morning we embark on a musical guided walking tour of Cremona. We explore the Luthier’s district to see the art of violin making in a private workshop, visit the Violin Museum and attend a private recital. This afternoon is at leisure; however, you may continue your musical journey by visiting the Accademia Cremonese. Overnight in Cremona (B)
Performance details Venue: Museo del Violino, Cremona
Program: Private violin recital
Performers: To be announced
Wednesday 29 July: Antica Corte and Verdi’s homeland
In the medieval village of Polesine Parmense and overlooking the River Po, is Antica Corte, the embodiment of contemporary Emilia-Romagna cuisine. Located in a fortified castle since the early 14th century, Antica Corte features a Michelin starred restaurant. During out stay we tour the Culatello and Masalen Museum in this 14th century complex. Enroute to Antica Corte we explore Verdi’s homeland. We begin with his birthplace at Le Roncole, visit the tiny Teatro Verdi in Busseto and his villa in Sant’ Agata. Overnight in Cremona (B, L)
Thursday 30 July: Parma, music, art and theatre
Rich in history, art and culture, Parma has been shaped throughout the centuries by great artists such as Antelami, Correggio and Parmigianino. Conductor Arturo Toscanini was born in Parma and, Verdi’s contribution to the musical life of the city is recognised each year with the Verdi Festival. Our morning visit includes the fine Romanesque cathedral and baptistery and the magnificent Teatro Farnese, built by Giovanni Battista Aleotti in 1618. We then cross the Apennines to Tuscany, our final leg of the tour. On arrival in Lucca, there may be an opportunity to attend an optional concert as part of the Puccini and Lucca Festival. Overnight Lucca (B)
Friday 31 July: Puccini’s Lucca
Puccini lived in Lucca for the first twenty-two years of his life and today we follow his footsteps on our guided tour of Lucca. He also had an immediate and deep connection with the charming hamlet of Torre del Lago. As you sit in the open-air theatre which faces picturesque Lake Massaciuccoli, savour the view which Puccini found so inspirational. The Puccini Festival grew out of Puccini’s desire to hear his music performed in the outdoors and, six years after his death in 1930, the inaugural Puccini Festival was born. We prepare for this evening’s opera with a pre-performance talk. In the late afternoon, we travel by coach to Torre del Lago to visit the Puccini Museum, followed by a light dinner. This evening we experience Puccini’s final and greatest opera, Turandot by the shores of Lago di Massaciuccoli. Overnight Lucca (B, D)
Performance details Festival: Puccini Festival, Torre del Lago
Program: Puccini, Turandot Performers: To be announced
Saturday 1 August: Villa Torrigiani
This morning is at leisure. You may wish to stroll along Lucca’s magnificent city walls, or climb the 130 stairs to the top of the 14th century Guinigi Tower for a more expansive view of the city. After lunch, we explore Tuscany’s beautiful countryside and visit Villa Torrigiani. Situated in the hamlet of Camigliano, the historical villa dates back to the second half of the 16th century and is considered one of the finest examples of barouqe architecture in Tuscany. We return to Lucca for our final concert and farewell dinner. (B, D)
Performance details Festival: Lucca and Puccini Festival
Program: ‘A night at the opera’ – Church of San Giovanni
Performers: To be announced
Sunday 2 August: Departure
After breakfast the tour concludes with a coach transfer to Pisa airport, at 10.00am. (B)
A musician, educator and conductor, with degrees from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the University of Sydney.
Royna has organised numerous music tours to France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. She has a strong personal interest in art and photography and has studied the link between travel and its impact on creativity. Royna holds a B Mus Ed from the Conservatorium of Music, where she was awarded the prize for Outstanding Final Year Student. She also holds a Masters of Education from the University of Sydney, where she was awarded a scholarship to study Music Performance Practices.
Royna also completed a conducting course with Jerry Nowak, where she expanded her repertoire by conducting school and semi-professional ensembles. She has conducted numerous concerti with some of Sydney’s leading musicians, including Clemens Leske, Joshua Tsai and Simon Tedeschi. Royna has also conducted choral and instrumental ensembles in prestigious venues such as Notre Dame in Paris, the basilica of St Mark’s in Venice, Canterbury Cathedral, Lambeth Palace and the Sydney Opera House.
For twenty years, Royna was Director of Music at Abbotsleigh and continues to use her expertise in Music Education for the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and the NSW Association of Independent Schools, where she is currently the Convenor for Music Professional Learning. She has also worked as a session lecturer in Music at UNSW and the University of Sydney.
We asked Royna, what motivates you as a tour leader?
“Travel opens the mind, fosters creativity and develops cultural understanding. I find it extremely rewarding to ignite a curiosity and love of travel in others.”
“I am always open for new experiences. I believe the arts can communicate when words sometimes fail. I hope that my fellow travellers return home with fresh perspectives, greater knowledge, and a lifelong desire to keep travelling.”
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate, taxis or public transport are also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price?
Our tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller. We aim to be fair and reasonable in all our dealings with our clients. We aim to provide full and accurate information about our tours and promptly provide information of any changes or alterations that take place before departure.