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Shakespeare's Italy

Italy

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"…for the great desire I had To see fair Padua, nursery of arts, I am arrived for fruitful Lombardy, The pleasant garden of great Italy…" The Taming of the Shrew, Act 1: Scene 1

Shakespeare’s fascination and extensive knowledge of Italy is present throughout many of his works, with Venice, Verona, Padua and Rome among the settings for his plays. Embark on this journey accompanied by a Shakespearean actress, as you visit key sites associated with the plays, and ponder the question – did Shakespeare ever set foot in Italy himself?

Including...

  • Included travel insurance
  • Return flights and transfers
  • 19 meals: 9 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners at your hotel and 3 dinners in local restaurants
  • Wine (1/4 litre) with all included dinners
  • Specialist lecturers
  • Saga Tour Manager
  • Local guides
  • All excursions
  • Globe Theatre performance and backstage tour
  • Porterage at your hotel
Your specialist lecturer

Sarah Finch

Sarah is a Shakespearean actress, theatre director and teacher who has had a long association with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. As well as playing a large number of Shakespeare’s characters, from Juliet to Portia, Sarah has worked on Shakespeare projects in Morocco, Italy and Cuba and works at the National Drama School in Havana every two years, teaching and directing a Shakespeare play.

She is a founder member of ‘The Lions Part’ theatre company and one of the devisors and originators of a play about Land Girls in WW2 ‘Lilies on the Land’. Sarah is bi-lingual in Italian and has consequently played various Italians for film and TV. She also works as a director in Italy.

Lectures:
  • Shakespeare: Who was he, and did he ever visit Italy? Introduction to the man, his works and our journey
  • Shakespeare’s links with Verona, Venice and Mantua
  • Shakespeare and the Eternal City
  • Glorious Rome and its Globe Theatre: The universality of Shakespeare: Coda to our story.

View Full Itinerary

Day 1 UK to Bassano del Grappa

Bassano del Grappa

On arrival in Verona transfer 70 miles to Hotel Bonotto Belvedere (4Q) in picturesque Bassano del Grappa. 

This afternoon take a guided walk in Bassano del Grappa’s old town, ending in Caffe Nardino where you can try the local grappa. Tonight, there will be a welcome dinner at the hotel, preceded by a drinks reception and an introductory talk by your specialist lecturer. D


Day 2 Vincenza guided walking tour

Villa Barbarigo

Your first full day takes you to Vicenza, where Luigi da Porto wrote the original storyline of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Start the morning with a drive to the Gardens of Villa Barbarigo in Valsanzibio, which features a boxwood maze and trees that are up to 900 years old. 

Enjoy an included restaurant lunch before your guided walking tour of Vicenza this afternoon. This tour takes you past many important sights including the Teatro Olimpico, Palazzo da Porto and other examples of Palladian architecture. 

Dinner is included at the Foresteria della villa Valmarana ai Nani this evening, along with a private visit of the palazzina and an aperitif. B, L, D


Day 3 Padua guided walking tour

Palazzo della Ragione

The following day, a three-hour guided walk in Padua will take you to the ghetto-setting for ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. Your tour continues to Bo University, Palazzo della Ragione – a medieval law court in the market square – and the Duomo Baptistery. 

Later there will be a buffet lunch and guided tour at Villa Marcello in Piombino Dese, before a private visit to Villa Foscari (La Malcontenta) this afternoon. This architectural masterpiece was Portia’s house, also known as the Estate of Belmont in ‘The Merchant of Venice’. B, L


Day 4 Venice guided walking tour

Church of Madonna dell’Orto

Start this morning with a 1¼ hour train journey to the setting of the ‘Merchant of Venice’ and ‘Othello’ – timeless Venice. A two-hour walking tour takes you to the Church of Madonna dell’Orto and the Ghetto where Shylock lived. This is followed by an included meal at a Kosher restaurant. 

After lunch, visit the historic Naval Museum near Arsenale by private boat to see the ships of the time, before returning to Bassano by train. B, L


Day 5 Verona guided walking tour

Juliet's Balcony in Verona

A memorable morning in Verona awaits you as you uncover Shakespearean scenes from plays that were set here, including ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ and ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’. A guided walk will include a visit to Juliet’s House and Tomb in the Museum of Frescoes. 

After your own lunch arrangement in Verona, join a wine tasting in Cantina del Castello in the wine region and countryside of Soave. To quote ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ – “eat and drink as friends” whilst sampling the famous Italian Soave – a dry white wine, grown in the Veneto region. Dinner is included at the hotel this evening. B, D


Day 6 Mantua guided walking tour

Palazzo Ducale

The next day you’ll drive 90 miles to Mantua, famed for its rich opera and theatrical connections. This Renaissance city is full of architectural gems including the impressive Palazzo Ducale, which dates back to the 13th century and was the home of the Dukes of Gonzaga – extant in Shakespeare’s time. The Bridal Chamber is decorated with exquisite frescoes by Mantegna of the Duke, his family and court, and illustrate perfectly the type of characters that appear in Shakespeare’s plays. 

After arriving in Mantua, you’ll meet a local guide for a half day walking tour where you’ll visit the Palazzo Ducale & Bridal Chamber entrance, Piazza delle Erbe and Duomo Cathedral. After lunch, the afternoon is at leisure before dinner at a local restaurant. B, D


Day 7 Transfer by train to Rome

Roman Forum at night

The following day, a three-hour high-speed train ride in first class takes you to Rome, the setting for Shakespeare’s ‘Roman’ plays, such as ‘Julius Caesar’, ‘Anthony & Cleopatra’, ‘Titus Andronicus’ and ‘Coriolanus’. 

Upon arrival at Best Western Plus Hotel Universo (4Q), enjoy an orientation tour with your Saga Tour Manager. 

This evening, there will be a lecture and dinner at the hotel before walking to The Roman Forum of Julius Caesar for a 9pm show. The walking route to the Forum takes you along the via Cavour to Trajan’s Column where you can admire recently opened underground galleries from a specially constructed walkway. B, D


Day 8 Guided walking tour of 'Ancient Rome'

Palatine in Rome

On day eight, meet a local guide at your hotel for a walking tour of ‘Ancient Rome’. The tour will pause at the Basilica of St Peter in Chains and continue past the Colosseum to reach the Palatine – once the residence of Rome’s emperors. You can also discover every corner of the Roman Forum, before an included lunch at a local restaurant. 

In the afternoon, visit the Capitoline Museums where you will see Titian’s oil painting of ‘Tarquin & Lucretia’. Following your own dinner arrangement, you will attend an open-air performance at the Globe Theatre for one of Shakespeare’s plays in Italian and a backstage tour. B, L


Day 9 Ostia Antica archaeological park

Capitolium, the largest Roman temple of Ostia Antica archaeological park

For your final full day, travel 17 miles to ancient Rome’s port city, Ostia Antica – the setting for Cymbeline. A two-hour guided tour will take you through the archaeological park including the Roman theatre. 

Return to Rome for your own lunch arrangement and a free afternoon in the city. In the evening, there will be a special farewell dinner at a 19th century, local Roman restaurant, ‘Da Meo Patacca’ – located in the picturesque quarter of Trastevere – where you can enjoy an evening of traditional food, music and folklore. B, D


Day 10 Rome to UK

Fly back to the UK from Rome in the afternoon. B


This 4-star hotel is located near the arched gateway to Bassano del Grappa’s medieval walled town. Stay six nights, with dinner included in the hotel on two nights. Facilities include a restaurant serving typical regional dishes and an American Bar. Each of the 83 bedrooms is equipped with tea and coffee making facilities, a television, phone and free Wi-Fi.

This 4-star hotel is centrally located near Via Cavour, the Opera House, the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, and is approximately 700 feet from the main railway station. Stay three nights, with dinner included on arrival evening. Facilities include a bar lounge, spa and restaurant. Each of the 197 bedrooms is equipped with a television, minibar and private balcony.

In Rome, there is an approximately eight minute walk from the train to your hotel. Your Luggage will arrive separately by road from Bassano.

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Shakespeare's Italy

Italy