Life is a combination of magic and pasta - Federico Fellini

Key Information & Pricing

  • 4th to 31st May, 2021
  • Return Emirates flights
  • 22 nights in Italy
  • Overnight Dubai stopovers
  • Performance tickets
    and all scheduled entries
  • Daily buffet breakfast
  • 9 dinners, 2 'long' lunches, with wine
  • Professional Tour Director
    and expert local guides
  • Created and Hosted by Jennifer & Stewart
  • Contact us for full details
Why travel with us?

Music-Lovers Tours by OPERATIF! 
Why Travel With Jennifer & Stewart?

  • A boutique, 'hands-on' operation, we create every tour from the ground up, booking all hotels, activities, tickets, restaurants directly with the suppliers. This guarantees high standards, meticulous organisation and excellent value for money.
  • We give personal attention to all aspects of planning and hosting our tours, and you will always deal directly with us. 
  • OPERATIF is an established business, operating since 1994, which also offers Music Lovers Tours.
  • As professional singers we have a high level of industry knowledge and are confident in choosing performances and in dealing direct with theatres and opera houses. 
  • Our tours are guaranteed to depart. Being so popular they are never dependent on numbers. Many people now reserve their place even before tours are on sale. 
  • Our travel clients love music, so you have something in common with your fellow travellers from the outset.
  • We have an enviably high number of repeat clients which is testimony to our product and level of service.
  • With no need of glossy brochures, expensive advertising or other ‘overheads’ our clients receive better value.

  • We devote countless hours, days and months to researching and creating every tour 'from the ground up.' We do not use travel agents, or incoming travel companies. We do not use '3rd party' ticket agencies to acquire opera or concert tickets, as we have direction relationships with the theatres.
  • Even once a tour is on sale, we continue to work on the itinerary, honing it and inserting more activities or visits we’ve discovered.
  • We give advice on weather, what to pack, money to take and how and the best ways of communicating with home. We are there to assist you at all times.
  • We choose high standard (4-star), character/ historic hotels in prime, central locations.
  • We strive to create lasting, wonderful memories, including special experiences that we know will stay with you long after the tour finishes.
  • Our tours are at a leisurely pace, (on average, three night stays in each hotel) so you’ve time to really ‘feel’ and absorb everything.
  • We hate early morning departures, rushing and feeling you are jumping on and off coaches. We avoid all of these things.
  • We allow free time for you to relax or to explore in smaller shop, sit in a village square, visit small galleries, gardens or see extra concerts. 
  • You’ll have Jennifer and Stewart as your hosts, plus, on European and Asian tours, our tour director and local specialist guides to look after you.
  • Our meals are superior quality. Unlike many package tours, we generally offer 3 courses with 3 choices in each. We choose each course in consultation with the restaurants. All meals are served with local wine, mineral water, or softer drinks if you prefer.
If you’ve previously visited some of the places in our itinerary, bear in mind what past clients have said on numerous occasions...... “We didn’t do it like this last time!”
Stewart and Jennifer LOVE returning to places they’ve enjoyed before. A little familiarity allows further ‘depth.’ Just like visiting old ‘friends’ you haven’t seen for a while, memories are rekindled as new ones are created....lovely!

We aim for every client on every tour to experience a ‘trip of a lifetime. We hope to see you soon.

Jennifer & Stewart

'La Dolce Vita in ITALY!' - May 2021   (2019 tour sold out)

Join Jennifer and Stewart on a real immersion into the Italian way of life.

This glorious springtime sojourn, spent living 'La Dolce Vita' ( the sweet life ) in Bella Italia, could not be further from the many 'bucket-list' tours of Italy......There is no Colosseum, no Vatican, no Leaning Tower of Pisa......Of course, these are all wonderful to see but the special tour we've created this time is one which focuses on smaller things and smaller places. It's designed for you to slide yourself gently into the Italian way of life in beautiful places many tourists miss.

If you already have a love of all things Italian and crave the opportunity to discover a deeper understanding of what makes Italy one of the world's most-visited countries, this tour is for you. If you want to relax among Italy's warm, colourful and endearing people as they live life to the full, one eye on their rich and deep heritage and the other on wringing the best from the here and now, then come along with us and live 'la dolce vita!'  

You will stay in many stunning locations that most tourists never get to....the sorts of places where Italians themselves holiday or live their day-to-day lives focused on food, family, pleasurable pastimes...the important things in the Italian way of life. This tour is for those who love Italy and seek a deeper, broader experience of our favourite country! It's also of course a great one for 'first timers' who would prefer a more relaxed and insightful introduction to one filled with long museum queues, crowded piazzas and large tour groups following guides with garish umbrellas aloft!

So....where are we going...???

Effectively, we will prescribe a wide circle beginning in Bologna where we land and finishing in Venice from where we fly home. Our flights enable us to bi-pass the huge cities of Rome or Milan and their equally huge airports. Our first stop will be the tiny republic of San Marino, totally land-locked by Italy, it claims to be the oldest in the world. It teeters high on rocky Mount Titano, surrounded by its three towers and boasting the sorts of incredible vistas usually reserved for birds! You can see the Adriatic Coast in fact. San Marino is proudly independent, has its own coins and stamps and you can even have your passport stamped for a 5 Euro charge! Yes it's touristy..but look beyind that. The Piazza della Republica (what else would it be called!!) is the place to sip a drink and enjoy lunch with a view. You will also see the colourful changing of the guard here, on this central piazza.

From San Marino, we travel through Abruzzo to our next base, elegant Perugia, deep in Umbria. (Yes, this is where those chocolates come from and we'll visit the factory and eat them!) In Perugia, we'll enjoy the large open squares, classic architecture and walk the marvellous pathway atop the Roman aqueduct enjoying the view as we go! From Perugia we move to Pienza, deep in the South of Tuscany, in the Val d'Orcia region. (The whole of Val d'Orcia has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.) It's here we find the classic views of Tuscany, the magnificent sweeping countryside with characteristic long stands of tall pencil pines, winding their way evocatively along roadways and fence lines to charming stone houses. In Pienza we stay in a 14th C Franciscan Cloister, now a beautiful hotel. It's right in town on the main square, as is the 'duomo with a view!' You can wander the little pedestrian streets among the old stone buildings and browse in the little shops. This is very much a small, historic town where people live their everyday lives doing what they do so well, shopping, eating, chatting and socialising. (work is fitted around these important things!) Whilst based here, we will make trips to some other special little towns nearby ....each different and with their own charms. The hilltop town of Montepulciano is a favourite as is the Roman spa town of Bagno Vignoni. In this area, the early Etruscans lived and their legacy of knowledge and skills enabled the Romans, in turn, to rise to greatness. Whilst here you must try Pici, a special thicker style of spaghetti, hand rolled on big cushions by very diligent 'mammas! We'll visit a boutique winery with a very famous owner and more.

Next we head to Chianti, just south of Florence, to spend three nights in the delightful town of Radda in Chianti. We're in fact staying just on the edge in a winery hotel with views to die for. From Radda we will visit some smaller towns but we'll also take time to just enjoy relaxing around our hotel and soaking in the well as exploring the little town itself. ( see the breakfast terrace above ) We plan to enjoy a lovely dinner at a nearby winery which was once a hamlet of just three families. We'll also pop into Florence one evening and take in a performance presented by the Maggio Musicale, Florence's annual May festival of Opera and Classical music.

After Chianti we will have a change of scenery...literally, as we are heading to the spectacular playground of the Ligurian coast...the Italian Riviera! Enroute, we'll visit Puccini's enchanting summer house on the lake at Torre del Lago. Touring Puccini's lakeside home you can feel the great man's presence as you observe how he lived and imagine him sitting at the piano where he wrote so much wonderful music... It's a memorable experience and it's clear that the atmospheric lake was a source of peace and inspiration to Puccini. (who also enjoyed shooting birds of course!)

Our spectacular little town of choice, Sestri Levante, is right at the start the Riviera. ( our main tour photo at the top ). We stay in a beautiful hotel, high above the sea, where we have views right along the coastline as well as over the Bay of Silence, the calm waters on the sheltered side of the peninsular. It will be easy to pop down into town as our hotel has a very convenient lift to take you up and down! As well as exploring this lovely town, favoured by Italians for their own holidays, it will be easy to take a boat to nearby Portofino and Santa Margarita as well as to walk the breathtaking clifftop pathway of the Cinque Terre (five lands), and visit some of these five truly unique villages. This really IS living la dolce vita!

When we must tear ourselves away from the Coast, we head inland to the centre of Italy, to little Reggio Emilia in the Emilia Romagna region, (justly known, with good reason, as 'the stomach of Italy'.) Here we'll indulge in the local cuisine based around its famous tortellini, various cured meats and wonderful cheeses...especially Parmeggiano. (from nearby Parma). We'll enjoy a long lunch at a country estate which produces fine Balsamic vinegar, another of the region's treasures. We'll also visit the home of the late Luciano Pavarotti..a wonderful experience. His home is as colourful as was the great tenor! The rest of the time you will love exploring little Reggio with its very old churches, two lovely open squares and market place. Even our hotel which proudly stands on the main square, dates back to medieval times. Here you will see everyday people just going about their lives, many cycling here and there. The land is so flat, you see bicycles all over this area..and people of all ages riding them!

Our next to last stop will be in yet another completely different region, the Veneto. Here we will really have a taste of Medieval times as we sleep within the walled city of Montagnana whose 600 year old walls and 24 towers are still marvellously intact. The moat is even clearly visible outside. although drained and grassed over these days. There are little shops and houses built into the wall's interior and it will be delightful to explore this fairytale little place and to imagine living safely within its walls years ago.

The final stop on our fabulous indulgence is the indescribably evocative and hypnotic water-city of Venice.. 'La Serenissima'...the serene one...which makes sense when you walk around with not a car in sight. Bliss! Yes, we know tourists go to Venice....and in their thousands....but so often for just a day and then only to rush about and see the major icons. You will see much more of this incredible city built on water and even if you've been here before, we know we will be able to show you many different and unexpected secrets. Of course, if you've never visited Venice and you'd like to tour the Doge's Palace etc, we'll help you to do this. Our hotel has a long and famous history and sits right on the Grand Canal, a few steps from St Mark's square. Just look ( above) at our breakfast terrace/bar, overlooking the canals!!

There is much to see and enjoy in Venice outside of St Marks, the Rialto, the Lido...wonderful though they be. Walking around our favourite patch, the residential area of Dorsoduro, with its 'arty' emphasis and many small shops, bars and eateries is always a delight as is taking in the view over all of Venice from the tower on the little island of San Giorgio Maggiore, (clearly visible from St Mark's square). These are 'must dos' whilst in Venice.
There is always much music in Venice too, whether the opera company or the many excellent ensembles and we'll attend an opera at the ornately decorated La Fenice as well as enjoy a memorable concert of Vivaldi (Venice's favourite son), presented by a world renowned ensemble who have dedicated their lives to preserving the works of Vivaldi. When it is time for our Dolce Vita indulgence to end, we will fly out to Dubai from Venice's own Marco Polo airport. Our main luggage will be checked right through to home from here, so we just need to step off the plane in Dubai, sleep in the terminal hotel, then walk to our departure gate in the morning... 'all very easy and relaxed. We won't want to rush and drag suitcases after the three weeks we've just enjoyed!

After immersing ourselves in so much that is wonderful about Italy, we will be enriched, enlivened and eager to tell stories of our travels together. We will all have treasured memories of walking the city built on water, of sleeping in a 14th C cloister, of convivial meals enjoying fabulous regional specialties and wine, of looking down on the spectacular Italian Riviera or over the Tuscan countryside, of wandering about tiny stone towns brimming with history, character and charm, of sipping a drink in many a beautiful piazza, of watching the sunset over the beautiful coast of the Riviera from our eagle's nest and of even visiting another tiny country....San Marino, a little jewel of its own, nestled firmly within Italy!

On this tour we will hear opera and music when opportunities arise, indulge in local specialties and wines, visit many fascinating regions and towns and stay in marvellous, hand-picked hotels, right in the 'old town' area. There are no 'one-night' stays and there will be no early morning starts (we must enjoy a leisurely breakfast in our beautiful hotels...) and no long coach days or rushing about. We want you to enjoy a deeper experience of the magnificent country that is Italy and to savour it slowly. We want you to literally live 'La Dolce Vita' as we travel along our chosen 'roads less travelled' in Italy. Bellissississimo!!!