Mar 30 - Apr 14, 2019
16 days
$10,895per person, twin share (land content only). $2,360 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.

Tour Leader

Robert Gay
Mar 30 - Apr 14, 2019

Tour Leader

Robert Gay$10,895per person, twin share (land content only). $2,360 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.
  • Tour Info
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


Verdi and Puccini became major international figures of the European musical world in the 19th and early 20th centuries, yet both composers retained a distinct sense of Italian regional identity – they both are quintessentially ‘Italian’ composers whose music and lifestyles encapsulated the spirit of Italy on the eve of modernity. Our carefully crafted itinerary explores the lives and work of Verdi and Puccini from this regional perspective, beginning at their birthplaces and following the progress of their careers from local theatres, to Rome and Milan and on to the stages of Paris, London and New York.


  • Italy’s major musical capitals, Rome and Milan, and its elegant provincial cities
  • The life and times of Verdi and Puccini: the places they lived and performances of their works
  • Stellar performances in venues such as Milan’s Scala and Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera
  • Italy’s rich cultural heritage, from great collections to tranquil villas
  • National identity and the advent of modernity, in Verdi and Puccini’s works
  • Italy’s diverse landscapes: Tuscany’s rolling hills, Emilia-Romagna’s fertile plains, Lombardy’s sublime lakes



A full program for this tour will be available in November 2018, when theatres have released their schedules.

  • Six to seven performances overall, including historic venues such as Milan’s Scala and Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera
  • Operatic performances in Rome, Milan, Parma and Turin, selected from the 2019 season
  • Lucca and Busseto, hometowns of Puccini and Verdi, their country villas and the theatres where they gained early success
  • Music-themed touring in Rome, Lucca, Parma and Milan, with expert commentary
  • Day trips to some of regional Italy’s most beautiful towns: Siena, Pisa, Bologna and Bergamo
  • Several fine meals and visits to stand-out Italian museums

Itinerary Overview

Days 1–3: In Rome, attend the opera, take a Tosca walking tour and marvel at the Borghese’s masterworks.

Days 4–6: Travel via Siena to Viareggio, a Tuscan resort. Explore Puccini’s life in Lucca and Torre del Lago; discover medieval Pisa.

Days 7–9: In Parma, investigate Verdi’s early years and visit Villa Sant’Agata. Enjoy walking tours of medieval Bologna and Renaissance Parma; attend performances in each city.

Days 10–13: Travel to Milan via Donizetti’s Bergamo. Attend La Scala, and enjoy stunning Lake Como and the Brera gallery.

Days 14–16: In Turin, attend an opera and marvel at the extraordinary Egyptian Museum.

A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.

Getting There

Cathay Pacific, Emirates and Etihad have daily flights into Rome and home from Milan. Contact us for bookings and further information.

Detailed Itinerary

Included meals are shown with the letters B, L, D and C for canapés.

Saturday March 30: Arrive Rome

If you have booked your air travel through Academy Travel we will organise a transfer from Rome Fiumicino Airport to our hotel. Please note that hotel rooms may not be available until early afternoon. In the evening meet Robert Gay at the hotel bar for welcome drinks followed by a light dinner. Overnight Rome (C)

Sunday March 31: Borghese Gallery – Performance I

After a morning talk on this evening’s performance, we visit the Borghese Gallery to see several masterpieces by Bernini, including his ‘Apollo and Daphne’. We explore the painting gallery on the upper floor where works by Raphael, Titian and Caravaggio are on display. We have a welcome lunch at a fine local restaurant, then the later afternoon is free before this evening’s performance. Overnight Rome (B, L)

Performance details
Venue: Teatro dell’Opera di Roma
Program: to be announced
Performers: to be announced

Monday April 1: Tosca’s Rome – Performance II

Today we use Puccini’s Roman opera Tosca as the basis for our sightseeing. We visit the baroque church of Sant’ Andrea della Valle (Act I) to see where Cavaradossi was painting and where Angelotti hid. We then walk to the nearby Palazzo Farnese (Act II), a Renaissance palazzo designed for the Farnese Pope Paul III. Today, this magnificent building which is adorned with fleur de lys – the Farnese symbol – houses the French embassy. In the famous Campo dei Fiori we pause for lunch, after which we follow the Via Giulia to the Castel Sant’ Angelo (Act III). This massive structure was originally the mausoleum of the Emperor Hadrian before it became a papal fortress and then a prison. We see the spot where Cavaradossi was executed by firing squad, and where Tosca plunged to her death! The later afternoon is free before this evening’s performance. Overnight Rome (B)

Performance details
Venue: Teatro dell’Opera di Roma
Program: to be announced
Performers: to be announced

Tuesday April 2: To Viareggio via Siena

This morning we travel to the coastal Tuscan resort town of Viareggio, stopping along the way in Siena. Siena was an important centre of trade, banking, art and pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, but the Black Death killed a third of the population in 1348 and the city never recovered. It is now frozen beautifully in time, but a large student population lends a vitality to the elegant streets. We tour the Palazzo Pubblico, and the medieval cathedral, where every available space is decorated with sculptures, floor mosaics and fine frescoes. This evening we have dinner in the hotel. Overnight Viareggio (B, D)

Wednesday April 3 : Puccini’s Lucca

This morning we travel the short distance to the walled town of Lucca, closely associated with Giacomo Puccini. Our morning walking tour takes in the Roman origins of Lucca, so clearly seen in the Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro, as well as the many fine monuments associated with the medieval age of pilgrimage, most notably the cathedral of San Martino, constructed in local Carrara marble. Inside, we see the strange ‘Volto Santo’ (Holy Face) crucifix, and the lovely funerary statue of Ilaria del Carretto by Jacopo della Quercia. We then have lunch at a local trattoria, followed by free time to stroll along the Renaissance walls or to shop in the fine stores of the old town. We return to Viareggio in the early evening. Overnight Viareggio (B, L)

Thursday April 4: Torre del Lago and Pisa

In 1880, Puccini left Lucca to study at Milan’s music conservatory, returning to Tuscany after his studies to rent a lakeside house in Torre del Lago, 15km west of Lucca on the shore of Lago di Massaciuccoli. Nine years later he had a villa built on the same lakeshore, undertaking the Liberty-style interior decoration himself. The villa has been preserved almost exactly as it was during Puccini’s residence from 1900 until 1921. Here he wrote Madama Butterfly, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi. We visit the Museum Villa Puccini then in the afternoon travel to Pisa for a guided tour of Piazza dei Miracoli. Overnight Viareggio (B)

Friday April 5: Parma – Performance III

This morning we depart for the elegant city of Parma. After checking into our hotel, we have a guided visit to the fine Romanesque cathedral and baptistery which are amongst the most outstanding monuments in northern Italy. This evening, we attend a performance at Teatro Regio di Parma. Overnight Parma (B)

Performance details
Venue: Teatro Regio di Parma
Program: To be announced
Performers: To be announced

Saturday April 6: Bologna – Performance IV

Today we visit the city of Bologna, situated at the foot of the Apennines. Bologna has enjoyed a special reputation in Italy and abroad for its cultured and educated citizens. We visit the Romanesque cathedral of San Petronio, Le Due Torri and the covered markets before some free time to explore the city at leisure. There is a concert performance in Bologna this evening. Overnight Parma (B)

Performance details
Venue: Teatro Comunale di Bologna
Program: To be announced
Performers: To be announced

Sunday April 7: Busseto and Verdi’s Farmhouse

In the late morning we set off on our exploration of the three major sites associated with Verdi, beginning with his birthplace at Le Roncole. In nearby Busseto, we visit the house of his patron and father-in-law Antonio Barezzi, and the tiny Teatro Verdi which was built in his honour – and against his express wish – in 1868. In the afternoon we continue on to his farmhouse at Sant’ Agata where we see some of the rooms which have been preserved as a museum. We have time to stroll in the extensive grounds before returning to Parma. Overnight Parma (B)

Monday April 8: Donizetti’s Bergamo

Today we depart for Milan, en route visiting the beautiful city of Bergamo, birthplace of Donizetti. It is a delightful place, with an historic fortified Upper Town full of splendid medieval and Renaissance buildings and squares. We visit the Donizetti museum, as well as the church where he is buried, and the small but magnificent Colleoni Chapel. We arrive in Milan in the later afternoon and gather for dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Milan (B, D)

Tuesday April 9: Teatro alla Scala – Performance V

Milan has been a centre of music and culture since the Renaissance, but it was in the 19th century that its opera house became the most famous in the world, with many important premieres taking place there. This morning we take a walking tour of Milan, visiting Teatro alla Scala and museum, to admire an extensive collection of librettos, paintings of the famous names of Italian opera, posters, costumes, antique instruments, and design sketches for the theatre. Often there are special exhibitions to reflect current productions. Overnight Milan (B)

Performance details
Venue: Teatro alla Scala
Program: To be announced
Performers: To be announced

Wednesday April 10: Villa d’Este on Lake Como

Today we have a relaxing day visiting the beautiful shores of Lake Como with lunch at the Renaissance-era Villa d’Este. This has been one of Europe’s grand hotels for more than a century, and we enjoy an elegant lunch al fresco on the lakefront before returning to Milan. Overnight Milan (B, L)

Thursday April 11: Brera Gallery – Performance VI

This morning after a talk on this evening’s performance, we visit the Brera gallery, a world-class collection of northern Italian art whose highlights include Mantegna’s Lamentation of Christ and Piero della Francesca’s representation of Federico da Montefeltro’s court in his Holy Conversation. Other artists represented here include the Bellini brothers, Raphael, Titian and Tintoretto, Caravaggio and Rembrandt. The afternoon is at leisure to relax before this evening’s performance at La Scala. Overnight Milan (B)

Performance details
Venue: Teatro alla Scala
Program: To be announced
Performers: To be announced

Friday April 12: Turin

Today we depart for Turin, the capital of Piedmont. Formerly the seat of the Dukes of Savoy, the city was chosen as the first capital of the new Italian Kingdom in 1860. Turin has much to offer, including a world-class Egyptian museum and art gallery, and a fine modern opera house replacing the historic Teatro Regio which was destroyed in the Second World War. It was here that Puccini had his first big successes with the premieres of Manon Lescaut and La Bohème in 1893 and 1896 respectively. On arrival, we have a guided walking tour of the city centre, then time to relax before dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Turin (B, D)

Saturday April 13: Egyptian Museum – Performance VII

After a talk on this evening’s opera, we head to Turin’s acclaimed Egyptian Museum, specialising in Egyptian archaeology and anthropology. It houses one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities, with more than 30,000 artefacts.  Afterwards we have our farewell lunch at a fine local restaurant, then the later afternoon is at leisure before tonight’s opera at Teatro Regio.

Performance details
Venue: Teatro Regio Torino
Program: To be announced
Performers: To be announced

Sunday April 14: Departure

The tour ends after breakfast. Departing group members transfer to Milan Malpensa Airport for outgoing flights. (B)

Robert Gay

Is one of Australia’s leading music tour leaders and music educators. He has designed and led more than 80 performance based tours to Europe and the US.

Since 1987, Robert Gay has managed to combine his passion for music and his love of teaching with his enthusiasm for travel. He has visited the great opera houses and concert halls of Europe and America and heard most of the great singers and instrumentalists of the last half-century. Robert was President of the Sydney Schubert Society for eighteen years, and for several years was a guest lecturer for ADFAS.

After gaining a BA, Dip. Ed. from the University of Sydney, Robert trained as a lyric baritone in London and Munich before turning to the field of music education with a position at 2MBS-FM. He has taught music history courses at Sydney University’s Centre for Continuing Education since 1985. Robert’s musical expertise ranges wide, from baroque to modern. He particular enjoys placing works in their larger contexts – musical, biographical, social and historical.

In the early days, Robert always designed his tours to include a visit behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ – whether it was Berlin, Dresden, Prague or Budapest – thereby providing fascinating insights into a world which has now largely disappeared. His tours, which total nearly 90, have regularly featured the great musical cities of Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Russia, as well as Scandinavia and the United States of America.

“It has been an enormous privilege to have travelled the world for the last 30 years taking groups of music lovers to the great musical and cultural cities of Europe and America,” Robert says. “There is something magical about music – an art form which only truly lives as it is performed – which seems to bind people together so effortlessly and harmoniously.”

“I have always been a great believer in ‘the spirit of place’,” says Robert. “You can read and research and google all you like, but it cannot for a moment match the thrill of standing in the beautiful villa on the shores of Lake Lucerne where Wagner and his beloved Cosima first lived together; or of hearing a service in Bach’s unassuming St Thomas’s church in Leipzig; or seeing a performance in the old Paris Opéra, the auditorium ‘crowned’ by its superb Chagall ceiling celebrating both opera and ballet. Such experiences are treasurable and unforgettable!”

View Bio & Upcoming Tours


Hotels have been selected principally for their central location. All hotels are excellent four-star properties that are renovated palazzi.

Rome, Hotel Ponte Sisto (3 nights)

A four-star hotel located in a renovated historical palazzo in a quiet part of central Rome. The recently refurbished rooms are well-equipped and relatively spacious.

Viareggio, Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte (3 nights)

The superior four-star Principe di Piemonte is on the seafront at Viareggio. The historic building dates from 1925. The hotel was among the favourites on our 2009 Verdi and Puccini’s Italy tour.

Parma, Hotel Mercure Parma Stendhal (3 nights)

A four-star property right in the historic centre of Parma, close to the Teatro Regio and other important sites.

Milan, Rosa Grand Milano (4 nights)

The stylish Hotel Rosa is located in the heart of Milan. The hotel decor is modern and rooms are comfortable and well appointed, including tea and coffee making facilities.

Turin, Grand Hotel Sitea (2 nights)

Built in the early 1900s, this four-star hotel is superbly positioned in the heart of Risorgimento Turin. Rooms are decorated in a classic style that recalls the mood of the period in which the hotel was built.

Tour Inclusions

What is included in the tour price? 
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 public transport is 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

Airport Transfers

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?
Open-age 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
  • Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
  • 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

Booking conditions

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.

Cancellation Fees

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.

Travel Insurance

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.

Final Payment

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.

Fitness rating

Grade 2

A Grade 2 tour is appropriate for travellers in good health with good mobility, who can comfortably participate in up to 3 hours of physical activity per day on most days.
More Details


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Speak to a consultant

For further information or to secure a place on this tour please contact:
Jamal Fairbrother 02 9235 0023 or 1800 639 699
(outside Sydney)

Detailed Itinerary

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