Verdi’s Italy: Venice, Florence & The Verdi Festival in Parma

October 6 - 18, 2020

With I Lombardi, Macbeth (French version) and Rigoletto in Parma; I due Foscari in Florence; Poi le parole/Der Schauspieldirektor, La cambiale di matrimonio and Il barbiere di Siviglia in Venice.


Our annual pilgrimage to the Verdi Festival in Parma is a trip to the soul of Italy, and also to the soul of Italian opera. In 2020, we enjoy a wide array of operatic styles in Parma, Florence and Venice, with seven performances in all.

In Parma, we hear three superb Verdi works that span a short eight year period that showcases his burgeoning creative genius: I Lombardi (1843), Macbeth (1847, though we will hear the 1865 French version) and Rigoletto (1851). 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 the ultimate Verdi experience—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. Our hotel is the central Stendhal, a short walk to all of the city’s major sites.

In Florence, we hear Verdi’s I due Foscari under the baton of new Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Artistic Director Fabio Luisi. We also partake in some of the finest art, cuisine and wine to be had anywhere. We will enjoy visits of the Uffizi and also the Accademia to view Michelangelo’s David, and our hotel is the elegant and perfectly-located 5-Star Helvetia & Bristol.

We end in Venice, unparalleled in its romantic charms. Here we take in a rare Salieri/Mozart double bill at Teatro Malibran (Salieri’s Poi le parole  and Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor) plus two Rossini operas at glorious Teatro La Fenice:  La cambiale di matrimonio and Il barbiere di Siviglia. On our way to Venice, we stop in Padua to view the Giotto frescoes inside the Scrovegni Chapel, one of the most important masterpieces of Western art. In Venice we will tour the finest art in the city and enjoy scenic dining. Our hotel is the excellent and ideally-located Monaco & Grand Canal, steps from Piazza San Marco and La Fenice.

We will take only 18 on this tour, which sells out quickly each year. To register, click here.


Tuesday, October 6
Independent departures from North America. Flights are not included in tour cost. Please contact your preferred airline directly or a local travel agent to book flights (Aria Tours does not make flight bookings).

Wednesday, October 7
Independent arrivals in Bologna (BLQ) and limousine transfers to Parma where we check in at the Hotel Stendhal, in the heart of the city. Tonight we gather for a Welcome Dinner at Angiol d’Or.

Thursday, October 8
Today we include a tour of Parma, including the spectacular Teatro Farnese, the magnificent Duomo with its Correggio cupola fresco, and the Baptistery by Benedetto Antelami, one of the most important Medieval monuments in Europe. Lunch is included at Corale Verdi, the HQ for the Verdi Chorale Society. This evening we attend a performance of I Lombardi at beautiful Teatro Regio.

Friday, October 9
Following a morning at leisure, we meet for Lunch at Sorelle Picchi before a mid-afternoon reception with the Club of the 27 (Parma’s Verdi fan club extraordinaire). Tonight we hear Macbeth at the Chiesa di San Francesco del Prato.

Saturday, October 10
Today is all about Giuseppe Verdi, with visits to Le Roncole village and his birth house, the Villa Verdi in Sant’Agata (where we meet members of the Carrara Verdi family) and the Casa Barezzi in Busseto (the Verdi Museum). An unforgettable lunch is included at Antica Corte Pallavicina. Tonight we hear Rigoletto at the tiny 300-seat Teatro Verdi in Busseto.

Sunday, October 11
Today we depart for Florence, where we check in at the elegant Helvetia & Bristol in the heart of the city. We store our bags and visit the Medici Chapels, the San Lorenzo Market and the Accademia to view Michelangelo’s awe-inspiring David. Mid-afternoon we transfer to the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino for a performance of Verdi’s I due Foscari. Dinner is included afterward at the hotel.

Monday, October 12
This morning we meet our guide for a city survey tour, including Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Duomo and the Church of Santa Croce. Tonight we dine at Il Vezzo.

Tuesday, October 13
This morning we visit the Uffizi, one of the world’s great art collections, for a highlights tour. Tonight we dine at the superbly-named Ora d’Aria (Michelin 1 Star).

Wednesday, October 14
Check out and transfer to Venice (3.5 hrs), stopping in Padua for lunch at Ristorante Belle Parti. We then tour the Scrovegni Chapel (Giotto frescoes). Early evening arrival at the Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal in Venice. The night is free for strolling along the lagoon and enjoying the unforgettable views.

Thursday, October 15
Meet in the lobby and depart for a tour Venice by boat (Torcello and Burano), with lunch at Locanda Cipriani. Tonight we water taxi to Teatro Malibran for a double bill of operas by–according to Miloš Forman, anyway–“bitter rivals”: Salieri’s Poi le parole and Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor.

Friday, October 16
Gather in the lobby and depart for a walking tour in Piazza San Marco, including the Basilica. Lunch is included afterwards at Restaurant Terrazza Danieli. Tonight we walk to the spectacular Teatro la Fenice for Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.

Saturday, October 17
Enjoy the final day in Venice at leisure. Early evening we gather and depart for an early Farewell Dinner at Antico Martini before Rossini’s La cambiale di matrimonio at Teatro La Fenice.

Sunday, October 18
Departures to the airport or rail station are included.