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The Heart of Northern Italy: Verona, Mantua, Brescia and Bergamo

Verona, at the crossroads between north and south on the border between the Veneto and Lombardy, is still best-known in the Anglophone world for its Shakespearean connotations. But despite the crowds that assemble before Juliet's balcony, Verona's true highlights are its magnificent ancient monuments and outstanding mediaeval and Renaissance art and architecture. The city enjoyed considerable status and patronage within the Roman Empire, as demonstrated by its colossal Arena, built in the 1st century AD. Subsequently, Verona was a major centre of the Italian Lombards, and the basilica of San Zeno is considered one of the crowning achievements of the Lombard Romanesque. Under the rule of the della Scala clan for roughly a century, the town became the cosmopolitan hub of a huge territory in the age of Chivalry. The expansion of Venice may have brought Verona's independence to an end, but the 'pax veneziana' provided stability which allowed the town to flourish further. Many of Verona's fine Renaissance treasure bear the stamp of its Most Serene overlord blended with a distinct local tradition, such as Sanmicheli's graceful palazzi and altarpieces by Paolo Veronese. From Verona we will undertake excursions to the vineyard-covered hills of the Valpolicella and across to Bergamo. In Lombardy we will visit Mantua, a Renaissance jewel and another Shakespearean stage set, with buildings by Leonbattista Alberti and Giulio Romano and Andrea Mantegna's exquisitely frescoed Camera degli Sposi, while in Brescia we will explore the city's treasures, from its Roman and Lombardic remains to another glorious altarpiece by Titian.

6 days from £2,645pp Departure Dates

Your Tour Includes

  • Economy flights from London to Venice, returning from Milan
  • Five nights' bed and breakfast at the San Luca Verona
  • Transfers and excursions in Italy by private coach
  • Two dinners and one lunch
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • Guided visits to sites listed in the programme
  • Services of your expert lecturer and Tour Manager
  • All entrance fees, taxes and gratuities for coach drivers and waiters
Clare Ford-Wille

Clare Ford-Wille

Clare Ford-Wille is an independent art historian. She has led study tours to Europe and lectured on European art, architecture and sculpture for more than thirty years, primarily for the University of London, the National Gallery, the V&A and NADFAS. She has also contributed to several academic guides.


Morning flight from London to Venice. Transfer to Verona by coach for initial visit to the church of San Zeno to admire the richly carved west portal, stunning Romanesque bronze doors and Mantegna's ground-breaking triptych, before continuing to our four-star hotel in the centre of the old town.

Includes Dinner

Included Highlights


Explore Verona on foot, beginning with its Roman roots, manifest in buildings such as the 1st-century Ponte di Pietra and the famous amphitheatre, and continuing to its mediaeval and Renaissance highlights, such as the heroic della Scala funerary monuments in the family's private cemetery, Pisanello's fresco of St George and the Princess in S. Anastasia and a sumptuous altarpiece by Paolo Veronese in S. Giorgio in Braida.

Includes Breakfast

Included Highlights

Roman Amphitheatre

All-day excursion to Brescia whose Roman and Lombard relics are among the best preserved in northern Italy, from the temple of emperor Vespasian and the 3rd-century theatre to the intriguing ensemble of buildings at S. Giulia, home of the Museo della Città and now a UNESCO World Heritage Monument commemorating Lombard civilisation. The museum incorporates mosaic floors of Roman houses and the 8th-century basilica of S. Salvatore with Lombard stuccowork, Carolingian and Renaissance frescoes and Romanesque reliefs.

Includes Breakfast

Includes Lunch

A second day on foot in Verona will include the Castelvecchio, built for the later rulers of the della Scala family as a princely residence, and now a museum with works by Pisanello, Mantegna and Veronese. Highlights of the multi-layered complex of the cathedral are a wonderful Romanesque baptismal font in the baptistery, richly frescoed church walls and an altarpiece by Titian depicting the Assumption of the Virgin.

Includes Breakfast

Included Highlights

Castelvecchio, Verona

All-day coach excursion to ducal Mantua whose handsome monuments are the result of the princely patronage of the Gonzaga family. Encounter the Gonzagas and their treasures in the massive Palazzo Ducale, with Mantegna's spectacularly frescoed Camera degli Sposi, and in their fashionable suburban retreat, Guilio Romano's Palazzo Te. The Christian 'temples' of S. Andrea and S. Sebastiano, designed by Renaissance humanist, author and architect Leon Battista Alberti, are seminal works of Early Renaissance church architecture.

Includes Breakfast

Includes Dinner

We check out of our hotel and head for Bergamo, an historic city split into two main areas; the upper city and the lower city. San Bartholomew, built in the 18th century in the Baroque style is known for its ornate interior, with beautiful frescoes on the ceiling and walls. We take the cable car up to the mediaeval Città Alta. Surrounded by the 16th-century Venetian Walls, it is dominated by the Rocca di Bergamo fortress and features handsome piazzas house the arcaded Palazzo della Ragione, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore with its gilded interior, and the intricate marble facade of the Cappella Colleoni. Continue to Milan airport for our return flight to London. Return flight to London from Milan.

Includes Breakfast

Included Highlights


Please note that it is necessary to have a good level of fitness as there will be at times extensive walking and inevitably some long periods of standing.


You will stay for 5 nights at the San Luca Verona.

Hotel San Luca

A historic gem in the heart of Verona, experience timeless elegance in the beautifully restored rooms and suites of the San Luca, immersing yourself in the city's rich heritage. The hotel features an on-site restaurant serving delicious Italian cuisine, as well as a cosy bar and wellness centre. Explore iconic attractions nearby and enjoy the perfect blend of history and comfort during your stay.

Hotel Facilities

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  • TV
  • Hairdryer
  • Safe Box
  • Air Conditioning
  • Fridge
  • Telephone
  • Free Wifi
  • Lift
  • Lift
  • WiFi Available