Opera Tours

Verdi's Italy

The Verdi Festival in Parma plus Milan & Bologna

La donna del Lago (Flórez, DiDonato, Barcellona) at La Scala
Falstaff, Un ballo in maschera & La battaglia di Legnano 
in Parma

OCTOBER 20 – 30, 2011

In Milan, the most fashionable (and wealthiest) city in Italy, we attend a  performance of Rossini’s La donna del Lago with Juan Diego Flórez, Joyce DiDonato and Daniela Barcellona at opera's mecca, Teatro alla Scala. We also enjoy a guided tour of the La Scala museum, which could suffice as a museum of opera itself. In addition, we explore the magnificent Duomo, visit Verdi's final resting place at the Casa di Riposo and behold Leonardo's The Last Supper at the Church of Santa Maria della Grazie.

From the hustle and bustle of Milan we travel south into provincial Emilia-Romagna, the culinary heart of Italy. In this , the tour's second act, we feature not just the stellar regional cuisine but also the annual Verdi Festival in Parma, arguably the home of Italy’s most discerning opera audiences.  There are definitely many stranieri at the performances in Parma’s glorious Teatro Regio and Busseto’s miraculously tiny Teatro Verdi, but there are also locals, and although the peanut gallery at La Scala has the reputation, the Parmagiani are a tougher crowd.  Yes, they can crush the spirit of a singer not yet ready for the big stage, but they can also warmly reward the deserving.  Witnessing a performance at Teatro Regio is like a trip to the soul of opera—an orchestra and conductor with Verdi in their blood, singers born to sing the maestro’s lines, and an unforgettable electricity in the auditorium.  This is a highlight in our year, every year.

Bologna is fabulous city, often-overlooked in favour of nearby Florence. It has thousand-year-old churches, a university that dates to 1088, gorgeous piazzas, stunning architecture (including not just one but two leaning towers), and have we mentioned the food? We will attend a performance at lovely Teatro Comunale, a venue perhaps underrated and thus undiscovered by those who travel to Italy for opera. There is a reason that many of the finest international stars of opera appear in Bologna, even before Venice and Torino, and we will find out why.


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Thursday, October 20 Departures

Departure from North America to Bologna.

Friday, October 21 Bologna

Upon arrival in Bologna, you are met and transferred to the elegant Grand Hotel Majestic, in the heart of the city. Gather early evening to enjoy a Welcome Dinner at Rodrigo, our favourite in the city.

Saturday, October 22 Bologna

In the morning we meet for a guided tour of Bologna. We will see the 1000-year-old church complex of Santo Stefano, the many sights on Piazza Maggiore and Piazza Galvani, the wonderful Municipal Library and the anatomical theatre of the University of Bologna, founded in 1088. Lunch is included. Tonight we attend a performance (TBA) at Teatro Comunale.

Sunday, October 23 Parma

After breakfast and check out, we transfer by private coach to Parma, stopping at the small cemetery in Montale Rangone to pay our respects to Luciano Pavarotti. We continue to Parma, where we check in at the Hotel Stendhal, in the heart of the historic city and adjacent to the Pilotta Palace. This evening we gather and make the short walk to Teatro Regio for a performance at the annual Verdi Festival. Tonight we will hear Michele Mariotti conduct Un ballo in maschera.

Monday, October 24 Parma

Late morning we meet for a guided tour, including the wonderful Romanesque Cathedral, Benedetto Antelami's Baptistry (one of the greatest Romanesque buildings in all of Italy), Toscanini's birthplace and the spectacular Teatro Farnese. Lunch is included at the Corale Verdi, one of our favourite trattorias in Parma (which also doubles as the headquarters for the Verdi Choral Society). This evening we attend a performance of the rarely-staged La battaglia di Legnano at Teatro Magnani in nearby Fidenza.

Tuesday, October 25 Parma

Enjoy the entire day at leisure in Parma. This evening we attend our final performance at the Verdi Festival, the comic Falstaff at Teatro Regio.

Wednesday, October 26 Parma

Today we tour Busseto and the homeland of Giuseppe Verdi. We will see Verdi’s home in Sant’Agata and the charming 400-seat theatre that shares his name. Afterward, we dine at Carlo Bergonzi’s I Due Foscari, directly across from the Teatro, before returning to Parma for an evening at leisure.

Thursday, October 27 Milan

After breakfast, check out and depart by coach for Milan, stopping first at the fortress of Fontanellato, an overlooked jewel not far from Parma. The most important of the castle’s many interesting rooms is the “Diana and Atteone Room” frescoed by Parmigianino between 1523 and 1524 for Galeazzo Sanvitale and his wife, Paola Gonzaga. After this fascinating visit, it is on to Milan where we check in at the Grand Hotel et de Milan, Verdi’s former city residence. Dinner is included at the hotel.

Friday, October 28 Milan

Late morning we embark on a coach tour of Milan, visiting the early medieval church of Sant'Ambrogio with its very rich treasury, the Church of S. Satiro, a jewel of the early Renaissance, the vast and imposing Castello Sforzesco, and the Casa di Riposo, the final resting place of Giuseppe Verdi. We then visit the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie to view da Vinci's The Last Supper. After our tour, we enjoy an unforgettable lunch at Boccondivino, one of our favourite restaurants in Milan. Enjoy another evening at leisure. If a concert comes available, we will attend (details TBA).

Saturday, October 29 Milan

Late morning we visit the La Scala Museum for a guided tour, followed by the spectacular marble Gothic Duomo, after which we enjoy a Farewell Lunch at Alessandro Mooney's L'Ulmet, a hidden gem, and one of the finest we've encountered in Italy. This evening we attend a performance of Rossini’s La donna del Lago at Teatro alla Scala. The stunning cast includes Juan Diego Flórez, Joyce DiDonato and Daniela Barcellona.

Sunday, October 30 Departures

Transfers to the airport are included.

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If you wish to register for a tour, you may do so by telephone, online registration or by simply printing a registration form and sending it to us, either by fax or by regular mail.

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Flight Arrangements

We are happy to partner with several excellent flight booking providers for any flight arrangements you may require. We always book the best itineraries, based on your preferences, with the lowest available fares and the most direct flights. We regret that we are not able to make points bookings or points upgrades on your behalf.

Travel Insurance Partner

We offer comprehensive travel insurance, including medical and cancellation policies, with Travel Insurance Services in Columbus. We partner with them because their product is excellent and their customer service is second to none. It may not be the cheapest product available, but we prefer not to take chances with inferior products and services.

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Tour Includes

  • Top Category seats for 5 performances, as listed
  • 9 nights deluxe accommodations (Milan: Grand Hotel et de Milan; Parma: Hotel Stendhal; Bologna: Grand Hotel Majestic)
  • Full breakfast daily, 5 lunches and 2 dinners
  • Private, guided tours in each city, including The Last Supper, Verdi sites, Fontanellato
  • Private airport/hotel transfers
  • On site Tour Direction
  • Comprehensive Tour Guidebook/Itinerary

Cost: $7245 USD
Single supplement: $1350 USD
Deposit: $2500 USD
Balance due: July 20, 2011

Tour Flights

We can assist with arrangements, for $75 per person. Flights should be booked to Bologna for arrival on October21 , with return flights from Milan departing on October 30.


We provide airport-hotel transfers on published arrival and departure days only. For arrivals/ departures on days other than published tour dates, we can arrange transfers at cost.

Mobility Requirements

There will be some level walking, with stairs and cobblestones, on city tours.


We strongly recommend that all tour members purchase cancellation insurance upon registration. We can assist you with this, though you are welcome to purchase a policy at your own discretion. If you would like information on the policies offered by our supplier, please contact us for details, or click HERE for an insurance brochure and application.