Italian Lake District and Verona Festival - WAIT LIST, July 18 to August 01, 2023
Discover Italy’s magnificent Lake District, attending chamber music concerts in the intimacy of beautiful villas, gardens, churches, and historic buildings, and experiencing performances at the legendary Verona Arena Opera Festival, celebrating its 100th season in 2023!

During our 9-day stay on Lake Maggiore and Lake Iseo – in two first-class hotels – we explore the Borromean Islands with their Baroque villas and sensational gardens, take in spectacular views while cruising on Lake Como, discover charming medieval towns such as Lovere and Pisogne, stroll in Orta San Giulio on Lake Orta (one of the most beautiful villages in Italy), and visit the winery credited with inventing Franciacorta sparkling wine. A unique Dean Dalton Tours experience awaits at Villa Medici Giulini, where we will embark upon a musical journey in the magnifcent rooms of the 17th-century villa. There will also be ample opportunity to discover Brescia and Bergamo, chosen as the 2023 Italian Capitals of Culture.

2023 marks the centenary season of the Arena Opera Festival in Verona, and the most successful works performed in the amphitheater since the the festival’s inauguration in 1913 are to be featured. We will attend a brand-new production of Aïda, with two optional performances on the other nights: Nabucco and Tosca.

During the daytime, we discover Verona, the enchanting city of Romeo and Juliet, with Roman remains and vestiges of the Middle Ages, ancient palaces, squares, bridges, and marvelous churches. We also spend a day in and around Vicenza exploring the villas, palaces, and civic buildings of Andrea Palladio, who is considered by many the most influential individual in the history of Western villa architecture. You will also have the option of visiting Mantua, a city designed for the powerful Gonzaga family by some of the greatest artists at the time: architect Giulio Romano and painters Andrea Mantegna and Lorenzo Costa.

 
Please read over the brief description below and let us know if you would like to participate.
Space is limited to 22 and will be allocated in the order that we receive your deposit.

PRICES AND CONTENTS

Prices, per person

  $ 4,825 sharing a double
$ 5,976 single occupancy


Prices are stated in
U.S. Dollars

calculated on an exchange rate of $1.05 to the Euro.




Package prices include

Accommodation in these
carefully chosen four-star hotels


La Palma Hotel, Stresa

Hotel Rivalago, Sulzano


Hotel Indigo, Verona


Breakfast each day

Lunch or dinner on eight days

Wine tasting

Airport transfers

Ground transport by
private coach

  Aïda at the Roman Arena in Verona plus two performances in the Lake District

  Tours with expert guides as described to the right


  Plus, at additional cost:


Tosca and/or Nabucco
at the Verona Festival

Additional Lake District performances as available

Upgraded hotel accommodations



Flights possibilities:

Only Star Alliance carriers
(United, Lufthansa,
Air Canada, et al.)
offer schedules into Milan and returning from Verona that require only a single change of planes and get you back to Houston without a layover
somewhere in Europe.

If there is sufficient interest,
we will explore the potential
for a Group Air Package
 

Advantages of
Group Air:


♦Prices locked in
♦Advance payment
not required
♦In case of delay or cancellation,
the group is usually
rebooked together

If you wish to participate
in group air arrangements,
we need to know
as soon as possible.



TOUR DETAILS



Tuesday, July 18: Depart for Milan

Wednesday, July 19: Arrive Malpensa airport where we will get you on your way to our hotel on Lake Maggiore. Welcome dinner.

July 19 – 24: Lake Maggiore Area (5 nights)

One day, we explore the Borromean Islands – three small islands and two islets owned by the Borromeo family, which acquired them beginning in the early 16th century – departing our hotel aboard a private motorboat. Our first stop is Isola Madre, which Flaubert called “the most sensual place that I have ever seen in the world.” We’ll explore its immense English-style garden of rare trees and exotic flowers. Swamp cypress, citrus fruit trees, crape myrtle, hibiscus, leptospermum, and acacias abound alongside camphor, pepper trees, and styrax; its pathways are lined with magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons, and azaleas. The palace, though uninhabited, is splendidly furnished with 16th- to 19th-century Italian masterpieces and paintings. In 1632, Carlo III Borromeo decided to have a palace built for his wife Isabella d’Adda and selected an empty little island opposite Stresa – Isola Bella. The palace – in Baroque style with hints of mannerism – occupies nearly the entire island and was designed by the most famous architects of the times. Its extraordinary Baroque “hanging” gardens are situated on 10 terraces in the shape of a cut-off pyramid, embellished with statues, fountains, rare shrubs, and exotic plants and flowers. We enjoy a delicious lunch of local specialties on Isola dei Pescatori, “Fishermen’s Island,” boasting a spectacular maze of narrow streets with colorful houses.
 
Another day, we discover the resort town of Orta San Giulio, located on a peninsula that extends into Lake Orta. After a walking tour, we take a boat to Isola San Giulio, a lovely island in the lake where we visit the Romanesque San Giulio Basilica, whose pulpit is an outstanding masterpiece of medieval sculpture in northern Italy. Lunch is included at a family-run hotel with splendid views over the lake.
 
We've left a full day free and another is dedicated to an optional visit to magnificent Lake Como in the foothills of the Alps. Our sightseeing starts in the historic center of Como, a beautiful medieval city surrounded by Roman walls and a magnificent 600-year-old Cathedral, possibly one of the most significant Gothic churches in Northern Italy. We then continue by boat to Bellagio, enjoying views of the opulent villas and villages nestled along the shoreline. Perhaps the most beautiful town in Italy, Bellagio flaunts a promenade lined with lime trees and oleanders, a city center of cobblestone streets and picturesque alleyways, and charming buildings painted in shades of cream, peach, and butterscotch. We also visit the spectacular gardens of Villa Melzi, whose beautiful statues of Béatrice and Dante are said to have inspired Liszt to write a piece that he later expanded into the Dante Sonata. 

July 24:  En route to Lake Iseo

We visit Villa Medici Giulini, with its splendid Italian and English-style gardens and an extraordinary collection of historical keyboard instruments.  We will have a private recital in the six halls of the instrument collection, including the villa's magical Teatrino. Following the demonstration on a number of fortepianos and pianos, we will enjoy a buffet lunch in the charming dining hall of the villa, beautifully decorated with paintings.

Our next stop is Berlucchi, the winery where Franciacorta sparkling wine was created. It was in the gilded rooms of the 16th-century Palazzo Lana that the idea for Franciacorta wine was dreamed up by Guido Berlucchi and winemaker Franco Ziliani. We will tour of the historic cellars followed by a guided tasting of Berlucchi Franciacortas paired with artisanal baked goods. Franciacorta wine is made in the same method as champagne and cava, with a second fermentation in the bottle, so the bubbles are smaller and last longer than in prosecco or Lambrusco. It is also made from similar grapes to champagne (chardonnay, pinot blanc), so it’s not surprising that the region is sometimes called "Italy’s Champagne."

July 24 – 28: Lake Iseo Area (4 nights)

We will explore Lovere's historic town center including the Basilica of Santa Maria in Valvendra and the Accademia Tadini gallery, which displays the art collection of Count Luigi Tadini, rich in important works of the Lombard and Venetian schools of the 15th and 16th centuries. Highlighting the museum’s collection are sculptures by the Venetian Antonio Canova, with whom Tadini had a close relationship. Pisogne is a medieval town situated at the northeastern tip of Lake Iseo. We will visit the Church of Santa Maria della Neve, defined by art critic Giovanni Testori as the “Sistine Chapel of the poor:” Brescian painter Romanino painted the vault, arch, walls, even the façade.
 
 A full day is set aside for an optional trip to nearby Bergamo, which has been named (together with Brescia) Italian Capital of Culture 2023. Surrounded by an impressive 4-kilometer Venetian wall system, the upper city (Città Alta) or Old Town is an extraordinary group of masterpieces of arts and architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its Piazza Vecchia is considered the most beautiful square in Italy. The breathtakingly huge Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is the resting place of Donizetti – a Bergamo native – and boasts wooden marquetry designed by Lorenzo Lotto. The Renaissance funerary chapel of Bartolomeo Colleoni (a captain in the Venetian Republic) with ceiling frescoes by Tiepolo, is one of the finest in Lombardy. Designed by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, it has been likened to a jewel box because of its ornately decorated marble facade.
 
July 28: En route to Verona

We discover the other half of 2023's Italian Capital of Culture: Brescia. The historic center boasts some of the best-preserved Roman public buildings in northern Italy. The Santa Giulia monastic complex (now museum) contains, among its impressive 11,000 works of art,  Desiderius Cross, one of the most grandiose pieces of jewelry in the world; the "Brescia Casket," a precious ivory box decorated with incredibly detailed carvings; and the incredible frescoes of Coro delle Monache (Choir of the Nuns).
 
July 28 – August 1: Verona (4 nights)
 
One morning will be dedicated to a guided tour of Verona itself, starting at the Basilica of San Zeno with its sculpted portico and famous altarpiece by Andrea Mantegna. We'll then take a stroll through the beautiful streets and squares at the heart of the city, admiring Renaissance palaces of noble families, the spectacular medieval tombs of the ruling Della Scala family, and visiting the church of Sant’Anastasia to see its Pisanello frescoes.
 
A full day is set aside for the villas, palaces, and civic buildings in and around Vicenza designed by Andrea Palladio, considered by many the most influential individual in the history of Western villa architecture. At the age of 16, Palladio, son of a Paduan stonemason, moved to Vicenza, where he would reside for most of his life. We begin our visit to the city with Palladio’s famous Teatro Olimpico, the earliest surviving enclosed theatre in the world. Its trompe-l’œil stage scenery, designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, gives the appearance of long streets receding to a distant horizon. It was installed in 1585 for the very first production in the theatre and is the oldest surviving stage set.
 
In the countryside nearby, we visit Palladio’s Villa Capra, ‘La Rotonda’ (you will recognize it if you have seen Joseph Losey’s 1979 film version of Don Giovanni), built not as a functioning estate but as a retreat from the city in which theatrical entertainments took place. Also on our agenda is the Villa Valmarana, still inhabited by the Valamarana family. It is known for its spectacular frescoes by Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo, universally considered the expressive peak of 18th-century painting. 

Another day, you will have the option of visiting Mantua. Discover the Palazzo Ducale of the Gonzaga family, petty tyrants who rose to Ducal status during the 15th century and made their palace the focus of a vital Renaissance culture. The major treasure of the vast, rambling palace is the Camera degli Sposi (Marriage Room), in which Mantegna painted his extraordinary scenes of the life of Marquis Ludovico and his wife, Barbara of Brandenburg. These paintings give a rare vision of court life during the Renaissance.

After lunch, we visit Palazzo Te, a masterpiece by Giulio Romano, constructed in 1524-1534 for Federico Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua as a pleasure palace or ‘villa suburbana’ just outside Mantua’s city walls.


Tuesday, August 1: Departures from Verona airport  (While it is possible to depart from Verona on Monday, that would mean a very short night following the Sunday performance of Aïda; you would also have to forego the Verona walking tour. If that is your preference, we will discount the tour price by the cost of Monday night's lodging in Verona.) 

Lake Como villa
Lake Como villa
Instrument Collection, Villa Medici Giulini
Instrument Collection, Villa Medici Giulini
Aida at the Verona Arena
Aida at the Verona Arena
Teatro Olimpico
Teatro Olimpico
Borromeo Palace
Borromeo Palace
Isola Bella
Isola Bella
Orta streetscape
Orta streetscape
Orta San Giulio and its island
Orta San Giulio and its island
Bellagio
Bellagio
Teatrino, Villa Medici Giulini
Teatrino, Villa Medici Giulini
Berlucchi Winery
Berlucchi Winery
View from our hotel
View from our hotel
Romanino frescoes, Pisogne
Romanino frescoes, Pisogne
Bergamo
Bergamo
Brescia Roman ruins
Brescia Roman ruins
Roman arch bridge, Verona
Roman arch bridge, Verona
View of Verona
View of Verona
Villa Capra
Villa Capra "La Rotonda"
The oldest square in Mantua
The oldest square in Mantua
Giulio Romano fresco, Palazzo Te
Giulio Romano fresco, Palazzo Te