Famous for its Mediterranean coastline, iconic art and architecture, contributions to the world of opera and mouth watering cuisine, it is no surprise that Italy attracts millions of tourists each year. Italy’s incredibly rich history means that, aside from lounging on a beach with a gelato in hand, one can have a truly educational trip, with visits to Colosseum’s, ancient Duomos and art galleries packed with world renowned Renaissance paintings.
Music is also a huge part of Italy’s cultural heritage and identity. Italy is the birthplace of the remarkable composer Giuseppe Verdi, famous for composing the grand opera Aida and La Traviata and Giacomo Puccini, composer of the iconic opera’s Turandot, Madama Butterfly and Tosca. Italy is the perfect choice for a music tour with your ensemble or choir, however, with so many beautiful and unique cities and venues, it can seem a little overwhelming to know where to start. To make things a bit easier, we’ve pulled together some incredible locations and all of the amazing things you can do while you’re there so that your experience is tailored to the needs of your group.
Music tours to Venice
The first destination on our whistle-stop tour of Italy is Venice, a city in which roads are replaced by canals and the architecture transports you to the past. Venice is not only beautiful and opulent (an attraction in itself) but it contains a wealth of art exhibitions and, wherever you might decide to eat or drink, no doubt there will be an amazing view involved. Although there are over 160 churches in Venice, Saint Mark’s Basilica is the most famous, dating as far back as 1060. The Doge’s Palace, built in Venetian Gothic style, also attracts thousands of tourists a year. It was originally the residence of the Doge of Venice and is now part of the Venetian Museum’s Network. The combination of Venice’s traditional and sacred identity and its recognition as a place which fosters and promotes literary, musical and artistic creativity, makes it a perfect location for groups who are inspired by both classical musicians and those who are more contemporary affiliated.
The opportunities for musical groups or ensembles to perform in historic Venetian churches are endless. St Mark’s Cathedral, one of Italy’s best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture, is a perfect location for choirs and classical instrumentalists who are excited by the prospect of performing in front of a large congregation in a prestigious and world renowned Venetian Basilica. Tour groups will also have the opportunity to perform at Santa Maria dei Miracoli, also known as the ‘marble church’, which is located in the Canaraeggio area. Music groups can enjoy an intimate atmosphere with excellent acoustics and a guaranteed sizeable audience. Santa Maria dei Miracoli is also ideal for more contemporary musicians as secular music is welcomed in this church. Music tour groups can hop on a short boat ride to Lido di Jesolo, a huge resort in the province of Venice which is particularly popular with school groups. Lido di Jesolo is famous for its long stretch of beach, where tour groups can enjoy some well deserved downtime. The Piazza Aurora, an amphitheatre in the Lido di Jesolo beach resort, hosts concerts throughout the summer, and groups of all calibre and style are welcome to play there in front of the buzzing crowds that it attracts.
Two hours East of Venice is the scenic area of Lake Garda, famous for its majestic landscapes, transparent waters and charming surrounding towns. In close proximity to Lake Garda is Verona, a town known famously for being the inspiration for Shakespeare’s iconic play Romeo and Juliet. In the city of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, tour groups can visit Juliet’s balcony, take in the staggering views of the city from the 12th century Torre dei Lamberti in Piazza delle Erbe and spend their evening at the Arena di Verona watching one of the many outstanding operas performed here. Another stunning attraction for groups is the resort town of Sirmione, located on the Southern bank of Lake Garda. In Sirmione, tour groups can take in some of the rich history of the region by visiting landmarks such as the Grotte di Catullo, a Roman private edifice and the 13th century Scaligero Castle surrounded by Lake Garda.
A music tour to Lake Garda won’t leave you short of incredible performance venues. In Sirmione, groups can bask in the breathtaking surroundings as outdoor concerts take place regularly in a lakeside square throughout the Summer. The ambience which is produced through a combination of the captivating scenery and the music performed by the musicians, for which there are no rules or restrictions, means that concerts here can always guarantee an abundant audience.
There are also many towns around Lake Garda in which groups can perform outside in the Summer months. For choirs, classical ensembles and orchestras, Verona Cathedral can provide a powerfully emotive performance space. Groups have the option of performing a recital or taking part in Mass, in the company of a large audience and surrounded by renaissance Frescoes.
Lake Garda and Venice are incredibly attractive locations for any musical choir or ensemble, with water being a strong focal point in their landscapes, and our final destination is no different. Located on the North-Western coastline of Italy lies Italy’s Liguria Region, commonly known as the ‘Italian Riviera’. This crescent-shaped stretch of coastline reaches from the French border to Tuscany, and is well-known for its fishing villages, spectacular mountains and rolling hills. The capital of the Liguria Region, Genoa, has a lot to offer groups wanting to engage in the rich history of this region. In the Old City, bound by ancient medieval city gates, groups can explore the winding narrow streets which are still largely residential. Groups can visit the opulent 17th century Royal Palace Museum, which contains remarkable Frescoes and once hosted guests such as Napoleon Bonaparte. For music tour groups seeking a little adventure, 70km southwest of Genoa, in the commune of Ceriale, is the Caravelle Water Park. Here, tours can enjoy a leisurely and relaxing trip down the lazy river or can brave the many water slides.
Due to its dramatic stretch of coast and charming coastal towns, performing in the Italian Riviera is a unique and unforgettable experience for ensembles or choirs from all backgrounds and genres. Wherever you are in this region, you are never short of a sea view, and many of the concert venues in Liguria provide ensembles and audiences with breathtaking views of its Mediterranean coastline. One such performance venue is the Ospedaletti Auditorium Comunale. This modern amphitheatre provides a spectacular sea view and hosts regular and well attended outdoor concerts throughout the summer months. Alternatively, in the captivating town of Finale Ligure, known for its white sand beaches and panoramic views, town squares are a perfect stage for music groups who enjoy playing amongst the hustle and bustle of a seaside resort in the summertime. Approximately 80km along the coast from Finale Ligure is the Roman coastal town of Sanremo. Within the Baroque walls of the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, located in the centre of Sanremo, music ensembles or choirs are welcome to perform secular music. If music tour groups are visiting Sanremo in February, they can attend the Sanremo Music Festival, which is Italy’s most famous and most popular music contest.
There are so many fabulous destinations in Italy with performance venues that will cater to every music tours needs. Whether your style is modern jazz or pop or whether your group performs classical or secular music, you will have the chance to perform in some incredible destinations with views to match. Italy is also steeped in history, art and culture, meaning that there will never be a dull moment on your tour. Days will be filled with music, sight-seeing and, most importantly, pizza!
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