Luxury hotel barge operator European Waterways has announced details of two Opera cruises in Summer 2015 – departure dates aboard the 20-passenger La Bella Vita are 5 July; and 11 September, both for 7 nights.
Before the luxury cruise from Venice to Mantua begins, guests will be taken from their hotel in Padua to visit the fascinating Arena Museo Opera museum in Verona, followed by dinner in the delightful courtyard restaurant. And then the highlight, front stall seats in the magnificent setting of the Roman amphitheatre, the Arena di Verona, to watch a magical performance of one of the best-known and loved operas, either Puccini’s Tosca, or Verdi’s Nabucco.
After spending a memorable evening in Verona, the next morning guests will be transferred from their hotel and en route to embark La Bella Vita in Venice, enjoy a guided tour of Padua, one of the Veneto’s most charming cities.
During the 6-night cruise, there are visits to some wonderful baroque theatres: Gran Teatro La Fenice, where the premières of operas by composers such as Rossini and Verdi were performed, and the intimate Teatro Bibiena in Mantua, with its bell-shaped interior that opened with a concert by a 13-year-old Mozart in 1770.
And there is a lot more to see while cruising across the Venetian Lagoon past its colourful islands and on through the Po Valley - visits to the famous fish market in Chioggia, the Schifanoia Palace in Ferrara and the stunning Ducal Palace in Mantua, as well as wine tastings and dinner in a private stately home where Lord Byron wrote some of his best poetry.
While cruising, delicious Italian food will be prepared daily by the talented on-board chef, accompanied, of course, by fine Italian wines.
Each opera itinerary is for 7 nights and includes: a one-night stay in a 4-star hotel in Padua; the evening in Verona at the opera; all gourmet meals prepared by the chef on-board; fine wines, an open bar, the daily escorted excursions, admissions and local transfers.
The fully-crewed, 7-night itinerary, based on double occupancy, costs from; £3,240 per person. Contact The Luxury Cruise Company to book or for more information.
Saturday, Day 1 Venice
Guests are met at the designated meeting point in Mestre or Venice on Saturday afternoon and transferred to their four star hotel in the centre of Padua. Early evening, we drive to Verona for a visit to the fascinating Arena Muse Opera, a wonderful museum in the magnificent setting of Palazzo Forti and devoted to the history of opera. There, we also have dinner in the delightful courtyard restaurant, before making our way to the nearby Arena di Verona, a Roman amphitheatre built in 30 A.D. where we watch a performance of Puccini’s ‘Tosca’ (July 11) or Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’ (September 5) from our top-priced front stalls seats. At the end of a memorable evening, we drive back to the hotel in Padua.
Sunday, Day 2 Venice
After breakfast in the hotel, we enjoy a guided tour of historic Padua, one of the Veneto’s most charming cities, before driving to Venice to board La Bella Vita for a Prosecco Welcome. After lunch, an afternoon cruise takes us along the Giudecca Canal past some of Venice’s most famous monuments: the Chiesa del Redentore, the impressive Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and the Punta della Dogana to our mooring outside the Naval Museum. There is time for a stroll to St Mark’s Square and a brief tour of the Doge’s Palace before dinner on board.
Monday, Day 3 Venice to San Pietro in Volta
This morning, a guided tour of the magnificent opera house, the Gran Teatro La Fenice, where the premières of operas by composers such as Rossini and Verdi were performed. It was destroyed by a devastating fire in 1996, but after a complete refurbishment of its spectacular interior, the opera house re-opened in 2004. After lunch back on board, we cruise to Pellestrina which separates the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea, along the Canal of the Orphans, passing lagoon islands with their ancient monasteries, painted fishing boats and tiny churches. Enjoy a walk at sunset before dinner on board.
Tuesday, Day 4 San Pietro in Volta to Taglio di Po
After a stroll or cycle along the 18th century Istrian sea wall in Pellestrina, we cruise to Chioggia, city of Goldoni’s plays. Here we visit the picturesque town centre and colourful fish market. We also see the Cathedral and the Piazzetta Vigo before cruising on to the River Po delta. Passing through a nature reserve with flamingos and occasional heron, snipe and other wildfowl, we travel upriver to Taglio di Po for dinner ashore hosted by the owners at the beautiful 17th century Villa Ca’Zen, a private stately home by the river where Lord Byron courted the Countess Giuccioli and wrote some of his best poetry.
Wednesday, Day 5 Taglio di Po to Bosaro
This morning we cruise to Adria, an ancient Etruscan town and visit the Archaeological Museum. After lunch on board, we drive to the Bagnoli Estate where we tour the Renaissance gardens and wine cellars of the 17th century Villa Widmann Borletti, for a private tasting of their renowned estate grown vintages. This winery has been supplying Venetian society for centuries. Afternoon cruise to Bosaro. Dinner on board.
Thursday, Day 6 Bosaro to Trevenzuolo
Morning excursion with a guided tour of the Renaissance city of Ferrara. Here, we tour the Teatro Communale, built in the late 18th century and boasting a majestic 5-tiered auditorium. We also visit the ‘Camerino delle Duchesse’, a truly delightful private room in the Ducal Palace decorated in the 16th century for Eleonora and Lucrezia d’Este. We see the 14th century Estense Castle with its moat, drawbridges and marble balconies, the fabulous 15th century frescoes in the Schifanoia Palace and the cathedral façade with its sculpted images described as an illustrated Bible. Return to the hotel barge for an afternoon cruise past villages and farmsteads to Trevenzuolo and dinner on board.
Friday, Day 7 Trevenzuolo to Mantua
Our final cruise has a dramatic approach to Mantua, a Renaissance city with a captivating lakeside setting and home to Verdi’s opera Rigoletto. Mantua displays extraordinary neo-classical and baroque architecture, portrayed in the 14th century Ducal Palace housing some 15 gardens and courtyards, a museum, basilica, intricate frescoes, the Gallery of Mirrors and the exquisite Rivers Room. We explore the city further, finding “Rigoletto’s House” near the cathedral, then finally, we visit the intimate Teatro Bibiena, a delightful baroque theatre with a bell-shaped interior that opened with a concert by a 13-year-old Mozart in 1770. A wonderful finale to our Italian Italian opera adventure. Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.
Saturday, Day 8 Mantua
After breakfast, disembark La Bella Vita and transfer to the designated drop-off point.