Gioachino Rossini is commemorated in his birthplace, the coastal resort of Pesaro, by an annual summer festival devoted to his music (the Rossini Opera Festival). Designed around a single composer in an appropriate location and attaining the highest artistic standards it well merits its epithet ‘the Italian Bayreuth’. The mix of well known and little-known works from Rossini’s vast oeuvre and the participation of some of the world’s greatest bel canto singers make this festival one of the most significant musical events in Italy. This year the festival commemorates the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death.
The heart of the little city of Pesaro retains its ancient walls – much of the Roman structure is evident – and a compact mass of fine buildings and picturesque streets. The hotel is located beyond the seaward walls, stretched along the magnificent beach, leaving the old city virtually untouched by the adjacent resort.
This tour includes excursions to other enchanting mediaeval and Renaissance towns such as Urbino and Rimini, and we see remarkable works of art tucked away in hilltop fastnesses, but the landscape also plays an integral part in the visitor’s experience. There is quite a lot of driving, but through some remarkably unspoilt and attractive scenery.
Fly at c. 8.00am from London Heathrow to Bologna. Break for lunch in the small town of Forlimpopoli, birthplace of Pellegrino Artusi, the author of the original Italian national cookbook. In Rimini visit the outstanding Tempio Malatestiano, designed by Leon Battista Alberti for the tyrant Sigismondo Malatesta, before continuing to Pesaro.
Pesaro. Works by Giovanni Bellini and Guido Reni are in the Museo Civico. Visit Rossini’s house, which is now a museum, and the cathedral. The afternoon is free. Evening opera at the Teatro Rossini: Adina with Diego Matheuz Regia (conductor), Rosetta Cucchi (director); singers to include Lisette Oropesa, Vito Priante and Levy Sekgapane.
Urbino. The compact hilltop stronghold of Urbino is one of the loveliest in Italy, and enjoys an importance in cultural history out of all proportion to its size. The Palazzo Ducale is the most beautiful of all Renaissance secular buildings and the picture gallery housed here is the finest in The Marches (Piero della Francesca, Raphael, Titian). Evening opera at the Adriatic Arena: The Barber of Seville with Yves Abel (conductor), Pier Luigi Pizzi (director); singers to include Aya Wakizono, Davide Luciano, Pietro Spagnoli, Michele Pertusi and Maxim Mironov.
Fano, Pesaro. Walk around Fano, whose layout still conforms to the Roman plan. There is a 2nd-cent. triumphal arch here, as well as tombs of the Malatesta dynasty. After returning in Pesaro there is a private visit to the Tempietto Rossiniano, which houses some of the composer’s original scores and posters. Evening opera at the Adriatic Arena: Ricciardo e Zoraide with Giacomo Sagripanti (conductor), Marshal Pynkoski (director); singers to include Juan Diego Flórez, Pretty Yende and Sergey Romanovsky.
Drive to Bologna airport. Arrive London Heathrow at c. 1.30pm.
Price, per person
Two sharing: £2,380 or £2,140 without flights. Single occupancy: £2,720 or £2,480 without flights.
Flights (Euro Traveller) with British Airways (aircraft: Airbus 319); travel by private coach; hotel accommodation as described below; breakfasts; 1 lunch and 3 dinners with wine, water, coffee; all admissions; all tips; city tax; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.
Tickets (top category) for 3 performances are included costing c. £380.
Hotel Savoy, Pesaro: modern, well-run 4-star hotel in a central location.
The tour would not be suitable for anyone with difficulties with everyday walking or stair-climbing. Some late nights (operas start at 8.00pm). Average distance by coach per day: 54 miles.
Between 10 and 22 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.fco.gov.uk.