With the quartet’s encouragement, we’ve organized this special one-time-only tour to make it possible for our guests to be a part of this historic and cultural event. Cremona’s sensuous architecture inspired Stradivari and both his predecessors and followers to evolve the ancient boxy fiddle into the modern curvaceous version of the violin. The life and craft of the violin maker is advanced and celebrated here during the festival with seminars, recitals, and workshops. And stringed instrumentalists are drawn here from all over the world to see the original violins and hear them played. Between concerts and visits to active violin workshops we squeeze in day trips to Giuseppe Verdi’s nearby country villa and the magical hilltop hamlet of Castell’Arquato.
Milan, not far away, thrills with unforgettable experiences – not least of all, a stop to see one of the world’s masterpieces, Leonardo’s “Last Supper”. And how our tour would be complete without prime shopping experiences, such as the resplendent Galleria and its surrounding designer boutiques? The view of snowcapped Alps from Milan’s unique Duomo is astounding; and there are historic treasures to be discovered such as Verdi’s piano, and exquisite costumes from renowned operas in the museum of the nearby La Scala opera house.
We’ll continue to immerse ourselves in the Northern Italian Renaissance state of mind in Verona, setting for Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and site of both a Roman theater and amphitheater. The city’s pedestrian squares and streets overflow with prime shopping or opportunities to just sit and soak in the romantic atmosphere. Nearby is gorgeous Lake Garda, where we’ll explore the end-of-the-peninsula lakeside village of Sirmione with its moated castle, then motor up the lake’s eastern mountains for a view of it from the clouds. Another short drive and we’re surrounded by the glories of Mantua, home of the opulent, Renaissance-frescoed palace of the Gonzaga family dynasty - and ground zero for outstanding, authentic northern Italian cuisine. This tour, following our popular pattern, will immerse you in the best of the region’s music, art, tastes, and places of cultural interest.
Day 1, Friday, September 26: Afternoon check-in at the Delle Arti Design Hotel in Cremona, just steps away from the magnificent Duomo. (If you would like our recommendations for travel to Cremona, let us know). An introductory afternoon stroll in delightful Cremona. Dinner at an elegant and beautifully restored palazzo adorned with frescoes. A destination for foodies, the Hosteria 700 is our introduction to a week of marvelous northern Italian cuisine!
Day 2, Saturday, September 27: Breakfast in the Delle Arti’s art-filled Breakfast Room Opening Ceremonies of the Stradivari Foundation Annual Festival Then off to the fall-tinged countryside, where we’ll explore the tiny hilltop village of Castell’Arquato, an authentic medieval borgo dating to the 700’s. We’ll enjoy a delicious lunch in the Taverna del Falconiere, surrounded by fortress walls high above the plains of Lombardy. Back to Cremona, and a bit of free time for shopping, wandering, or resting. Dinner on your own Opening concert of the Festival, featuring the Fine Arts Quartet in Cremona’s 18th century Teatro Ponchielli. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 3, Sunday, September 28: Pack your suitcases before breakfast. Check out, and we’ll be on our way to the captivating city of Verona After checking in to the elegant Hotel Trieste, we’ll savour a memorable meal (included) under the frescoed vaulted ceilings of Ristorante 12 Apostoli in the center of old Roman Verona. After our bountiful lunch, we’ll begin our discovery of this romantic town with its layers of history – from imposing Roman, to intimate Medieval, to romantic Renaissance and beyond. Dinner on your own and a free evening. Includes: (B).
Day 4, Monday, September 29: The moated and turreted Castello Scaligero guards the only land-side entrance to the medieval town of Sirmione on Lake Garda, our destination today. We’ll stroll the cobbled streets and revel in the beauty of the tranquil mountain-ringed lake, stopping for lunch on the piazza before heading to the hills for a birds-eye view of sparkling lake. Then back to Verona, where we’ll relish another marvelous dinner (included) in the historic center of town. Includes: (B).
Day 5, Tuesday, September 30: The meandering Mincio river widens to circle the fine city of Mantova in three tranquil lakes. We’ll arrive in the morning and walk through the stunning medieval core, stopping for lunch (included) on the evocative Piazza Erbe, the ancient market square, before entering the jewel of the town, the astounding Palazzo Ducale, a huge complex with over 500 rooms (the highlight is the Camera degli Sposi, containing masterful yet tender frescoes of the ruling family by the 15th century artist Mantegna) that was once the largest palace in Europe. Returning to Verona, you’ll have time to once again wander through the town before dinner at the restaurant of your choice. Includes: (B).
Day 6, Wednesday, October 1: Pack your suitcases before breakfast. Today we’re off to the bustling powerhouse of the north, the city of Milan, filled with cultural and shopping treasures. Our day will include a visit to da Vinci’s Last Supper, the matchless Duomo, the Galleria (a 19th century shopping extravaganza), and La Scala Opera House, and we’ll find time to stop for lunch in the midst of a day of discovery. Then back to Cremona - the Hotel delle Arti. This evening we’ll enjoy dinner with some very special guests – the artists of the Fine Arts Quartet. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 7, Thursday, October 2: Breakfast before a guided walking tour of Cremona, including a visit to the Museum of Ancient Instruments – the Stradivari heritage that put this city on the map centuries ago. We’ll enjoy a bountiful lunch in the elegant ambiance of an historic palazzo, then drive to Villa Verdi, the famous composer’s country home. Free time and dinner on your own in Cremona, before our final concert – and an opportunity to hear for ourselves the exquisite instruments of the historic collection as played by the Fine Arts Quartet. Includes: (B).
Day 8, Friday, October 3: Relax over breakfast then ciao to new-found friends before leaving Cremona on your journey homeward. Includes: (B).
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Europe Italy Artistry Dance, Music and Opera Cultural Journey