Relaxed Lake Garda
The region around the Lake is surrounded by mountains and linked to beautiful historic towns by rivers and canals. It is an intriguing area – with prehistoric and Celtic sites adjacent to wonderful Roman remains. All set in a landscape including villas and towns of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. We’re sure this tour – offering a truly unique mix of archaeology, art and architecture – will hold your imagination. The imposing Roman villas, and the Renaissance villas and buildings, associated with the famous architect Andrea Palladio are just some of the wonders of this tour. To cap it all, we will be in the region of the Valpolicella wine villas – noted for their products and histories.
- Visit an imposing Roman villa on the very banks of Lake Garda, said to have been the home of the Augustan age poet, Catullus
- Immerse yourself in the stunning architecture of the Renaissance, created by – among others – the master, Andrea Palladio
- Sample the products from one of the wine producing villas in the Valpolicella area
- Special Access
- Small Group
- Just One Hotel
- All Inclusive
We arrive in Verona, glittering city of Romeo and Juliet, and transfer to our comfortable hotel in the historic heart of it all.
Fair Verona has been occupied for over 2,000 years. Once an important hub of trade for the Roman Empire, it rose to prominence during the Middle Ages as a principle city caught between the power struggles of Venice and Milan. It still boasts an array of stunning Renaissance architecture.
Following a hearty breakfast, we head to the city’s Archaeological Museum, which houses significant finds from Verona’s Roman past. Don’t miss mosaics retrieved from nearby villas, sporting gladiatorial imagery.
The glories of Rome continue to impress at Verona’s amphitheatre. Erected in the 1st century BC, the amphitheatre hosts performances to this day, and is famed for its grand operatic productions.
After sitting down for a leisurely lunch we enjoy free time to explore more of the city’s sights. Swoon beneath the balcony at Juliet’s house, marvel at the carvings in the cathedral, or indulge in a large glass of wine at Piazza Brà.
We spend all day in Mantua today, an important Roman city known to locals as “the Sleeping Beauty” thanks to its scenic artificial lakes and beautifully preserved historic centre. Suffused with Renaissance splendour, the city is home to such wonders as the Palazzo Te, designed by Giulio Romano in the 16th century, and the Palazzo Ducale, a Medieval palace complex with some 500 rooms.
Virgil was born just outside Mantua in around 70 BC, and strolling its atmospheric streets feels much like entering the story of another age. A real historical gem.
This morning we travel to Desenzano on the shores of Lake Garda, one of the best surviving villas of the late Roman age. Discovered in the 1920s, the villa is famed for its magnificent mosaic floors – their colour and shapes as fresh as if they had been laid only months before.
Following this we take to the water and motor across to Sirmione by ferry. Here a small train carries us up the hill to Villa Catullus, a scenic set of residential ruins dating from approximately 150 AD. Although the family of the Roman poet for which this villa is named did indeed own property in this area, Catullus himself died around 200 years before this building was constructed.
We return to Sirmione for lunch, imagining what life would have been like for the wealthy Romans who flocked here for their holidays from the 1st century BC, before the town became a fortified port. This afternoon is free for us to relax beside the turquoise waters of Lake Garda, or take the opportunity to visit some of the many nearby attractions.
Our destination today is Vicenza, on the banks of the Bacchiglione River. An almost-archetypical ideal of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, this UNESCO World Heritage city brims with word-class galleries and palaces, and stands out for its collection of buildings designed by the great 16th-century architect Andrea Palladio.
The highlight of our day has to be our visit to Palladio’s amazing villa at La Rotonda, just outside Vicenza itself. Following his visit here, the celebrated German author, Goethe, declared that: “Maybe never has architectural art reached such a level of magnificence”. After touring La Rotonda’s elaborate interiors and classical landscape gardens you may well be inclined to agree.
A real treat for our last full day in the region: we visit the Villa della Torre, an astounding residence designed in the 16th century by architect Giulio Romano. Expect to be wowed by features such as the Romanesque fish ponds, the “Cave of Mysteries”, and the – quite literally – jaw-dropping fireplaces: giant gargoyles with open mouths in which fires were lit.
Our delightful day continues with wine-tasting and lunch on site – a chance to sample some of the local Amarone for which the villa’s current owners, the Allegrini family, are justifiably famed.
In the afternoon, we enjoy free time to unwind and savour our final afternoon, before coming back together for a sumptuous farewell dinner with the group.
Alas, the moment to say our good byes is upon us. We transfer to the airport and catch our return flights home.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
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