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Music in Venice - Eight glorious concerts of Venetian music in palaces, churches and halls

 

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13 - 18 Nov 2022 £2,970 Book this tour

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Overview

 

If hearing music in the place for which it was written is a special joy, imagine the experience when that place is the most beautiful city on Earth.

 

Venetian music in Venice

This festival provides a unique opportunity to hear the authentic sound of La Serenissima. The city may be utterly enchanting to look at and its art and architecture among the finest achievements of western civilisation, but the maritime republic happens also to have been the centre of European musical life from the Renaissance to the Age of Baroque.

 

Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Vivaldi

The early music revival has placed these names alongside the great names of the Classical and Romantic periods. But they were not alone: for over 200 years there were countless other composers and performers in Venice, an astonishing profusion of talent which fed the voracious appetite for spectacle and beauty that so distinguished Venetian life, both public and private.

 

Eight concerts in eight venues

All of music from Venice and the Veneto, all performed by some of the world’s leading specialists in Renaissance and Baroque music, and all in beautiful and appropriate buildings: this festival provides a truly exceptional experience which really is unique.

 

Performers among the finest in their fields

Monteverdi specialists La Venexiana and Vivaldi specialists Modo Antiquo will be there, as will be sopranos Roberta Mameli and Emanuela Galli. Virtuoso violinists Fabio Biondi and Giorgio Fava appear with their groups Europa Galante and Sonatori della Gioiosa Marca. Baroque specialists Il Pomo d’Oro and wind band La Piferescha have been engaged, as have the choral ensembles Odhecaton, Ricercar Ensemble Mantova and Cantori Gregoriani.

Note they are nearly all Italian; none of the 150 musicians need board a plane to take part in the festival.

 

Insight into the music

Every day at 10.00am there is a talk about music by Professor John Bryan – emeritus professor of Music at the University of Huddersfield, and a practising musician with the Rose Consort of Viols. He founded the North East Early Music Forum, is an artistic adviser to York Early Music Festival and chair of the Viola da Gamba Society. He has been the speaker on many Martin Randall Festivals.


The festival package

– All eight performances.

 Daily talks on the music.

 Accommodation for five nights – choose from six hotels.

 Return flights between London and Venice – reduced price if you arrange your own transport.

 Breakfasts, three dinners and pre-concert drinks.

 Water taxis (motoscafi) between airport and hotels, and unlimited free use of the vaporetti (water buses).

 Tips, taxes and obligatory charges.

 Detailed programme booklet.

 Assistance of a team of Italian-speaking festival staff.

 

Optional extras

 Choice of pre- and post- festival tours.

 Arriving a day early.

 Package of two extra dinners.

 Selection of walks and visits in the company of an art historian or local guide. 

The concerts

The concerts are private occasions: all the performances are planned and administered by Martin Randall Festivals exclusively for those who have bought the festival package. There are eight concerts, two every day except the travelling days, one daytime and one in the evening. 

Daytime concerts are in smaller halls so the audience is split and the concert repeated. Participants will be pre-assigned to either the morning or the afternoon performance. Evening concerts are before dinner on three occasions (6.00pm) and after dinner once (8.45pm).

The duration of concerts will be between 50 and 90 minutes. None has an interval, though refreshments will be available at the venue before some of the concerts.


Concert 1

Chiara’s Diary

Fabio Biondi violin

Europa Galante

Palazzo Pisani, Conservatorio di Benedetto Marcello


Fabio Biondi is one of the world’s great violin virtuosi specialising in earlier repertoire. The group he directs here, Europa Galante, was a pioneer when he founded it in 1989, a time when period instruments and historically informed performance was an almost exclusively north-European thing. Europa Galante rapidly became acknowledged as one of the world’s most vibrant and sensitive of such ensembles.  

Their programme is a remarkable monument to the unique musical accomplishments of Venetian orphanages. In 1718, at the age of two months, Chiara was abandoned at the door of the Ospedale della Pietà. There she flourished and became a famous violinist, even though she never left the institution and died there in 1791. The ‘Diary’ is an anthology of her favourite works by composers who taught at the Pietà including Vivaldi, Porpora, Martinelli and Bernasconi. Some of these concertos are dedicated to her. 

That they can be performed again is due to a thirty-year research project which reconciled thousands of loose separated pages in the Pietà archive. This is now in the conservatory which occupies the Palazzo Pisani Santo Stefano adjacent to the Accademia Bridge – where this concert takes place. One of the largest of patrician palaces in Venice and the property of one of the richest families, its principal building phases were the early 17th and the mid 18th centuries. The ballroom is now used as a concert hall..


Concert 2

Cavalli’s Requiem

Il Pomo d’Oro

Giuseppe Maletto director

Scuola Grande di San Rocco


Francesco Cavalli’s Missa pro Defunctis (Requiem Mass) is one of the highlights of Venetian 17th-century liturgical music, not infrequently performed in mainland Europe but for some reason rarely in Britain. It is performed here with a choir of 16 and continuo, and features a variety of exquisite instrumental sonatas, delectable solo motets and spectacular polychoral masterpieces. Pieces by Giovanni Gabrieli and Claudio Monteverdi are inserted for extra variety and splendour. 

The location is the great hall of La Scuola Grande di San Rocco, the most magnificent of all confraternity premises, the walls and ceiling being adorned by a magnificent cycle of highly-charged canvasses by Tintoretto. In combination with the carved and gilded woodwork, this creates one of the most lavish interiors in Venice. The sombre spirit and religiosity of the hall matches the music. 

The ensemble il Pomo d’Oro, founded in 2012, is characterised by an authentic, dynamic and deeply felt interpretation of operas and instrumental works from the Baroque and Classical periods. The musicians are all well-known specialists and are among the best in the field of historical performance practice. Regular guests in prestigious concert halls and festivals all over Europe, they have also made several recordings, particularly of operas by Handel, Stradella and Vinci, and concertos by Bach and Haydn


Concert 3

Barbara Strozzi Songs

Roberta Mameli soprano

Il Pomo d’Oro

Francesco Corti director

Ca’ Sagredo


The extraordinary composer-performer Barbara Strozzi (1619–77) published eight collections of works. She studied with Cavalli, who had studied with Monteverdi. A selection of secular music by all three composers recreates the atmosphere of the Venetian soirées at which Strozzi unveiled her sophisticated union of poetry and harmony.

Soprano Roberta Mameli is one of the finest sopranos in the Baroque repertoire and enjoys a very busy opera and concert schedule in Italy and abroad. She possesses an exceptionally crystalline and diaphanous voice, and her head and heart work together to achieve enthralling acting and interpretation. 

Founded in 2012, Il Pomo d’Oro is characterised by its authentic, dynamic interpretation of operas and instrumental works from the Baroque and Classical periods. The musicians are all well-known specialists and are among the best in the field of historical performance practice. They made a Strozzi recording on the occasion of her 400th birthday.

Situated on the Grand Canal, the Ca’ Sagredo dates largely to the first half of the 18th century. A Baroque stairway leads to a sequence of frescoed halls – one with a ceiling by Giambattista Tiepolo – and culminates in the ballroom, glorious if endearingly past its prime in a quintessentially Venetian way.


Concert 4

Piety and Pageantry

Odhecaton

La Pifarescha

Paolo Da Col director

La Madonna dell’Orto


A choral ensemble and a wind band combine for a concert which alternates between sacred vocal works and secular instrumental pieces, confronting the spiritual with the celebratory as was standard on great occasions in Renaissance Venice. The principal composers in the programme are Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1533–85) and his nephew Giovanni (c. 1555–1612), the preeminent musical figures of their time. There is little to match the suffusion of polyphony through a resonant church and nothing quite like the noble sonority of sackbuts and cornetts.

Founded in 1998 and directed by Paolo Da Col, Odhecaton takes its name from the first printed book of polyphony, published in Venice in 1501. The ensemble brings together some of the best Italian male voices specialising in Renaissance and Baroque repertoire. Their programmes and recordings embrace Franco-Flemish and Iberian as well as Italian Renaissance masters, and they also perform Baroque and contemporary works. The have appeared in Europe’s leading festivals and their recordings have garnered many awards. 

La Pifarescha is internationally recognized as one of today’s leading protagonists of early wind music. The ensemble explores the entire spectrum, from the alta cappella, a configuration of wind and percussion instruments that was immensely popular throughout medieval and Renaissance Europe, to the noble consort of cornetts and sackbuts, which flourished into the early Baroque. In 2020 the ensemble was awarded first prize in the International Classical Music Awards (ICMA) Early Music category, for the CD ‘Willaert e la Scuola Fiamminga a San Marco’.

The voluminous monastic church of Madonna dell’Orto dates largely to the 15th century and takes its name from the orchards that used to be here on the less populated northern fringe of Cannaregio. It belongs to the last phase of Venetian Gothic, built of brick with stone dressings and timber roofs, but is best known for the many paintings by Tintoretto, late of this parish. Restoration of the church was one of the major projects undertaken by the Venice in Peril Fund.


Concert 5

Sussuri d’amore

Emanuela Galli soprano

Carlotta Colombo soprano

La Venexiana

Gabriele Palomba theorbo and direction

Ca’ Zenobio


‘Whispers of love on the canals of Venice’ doesn’t quite capture the sensuous beauty of ‘Sussuri d’amore nella laguna di Venezia’, so we have stayed with the original language for the title. Two sopranos and three instrumentalists, all regulars with La Venexiana (see Concert 8), present this alluring programme of amorous songs by Claudio Monteverdi, Tarquinio Merula, Giovanni Felice Sances and Barbara Strozzi. 

The Baroque ballroom of the Ca’ Zenobio is one of Venice’s hidden jewels, a joyous confection of fresco, stucco and mirrors. Built in 1690 and decorated over the next few decades, the melancholy canalside palace is located towards the southern edge of the Dorsoduro. Since 1850 it has been in the hands of the Armenian Church.


Concert 6

Vivaldi’s Last Vespers

Modo Antiquo

Ricercar Ensemble Mantova

Federico Maria Sardelli director

Church of the Pietà


Vivaldi’s farewell to Venice, this great work was performed in the Church of the Pietà on 14th April 1739 shortly before the composer left for Vienna. He had high hopes of fame and fortune in the service of the emperor, but in this he failed and he died a pauper two years later; musical tastes had moved on. After years of research, Federico Sardelli has managed to piece together this musically magnificent but previously unknown Vespers; only one number had to be substituted by an earlier version. The unprecedented juxtaposition of Vivaldi’s and Monteverdi’s settings of vespers on successive days will enable you to judge how the one stands up against the other. 

In the 30 years since its formation, and over 30 award-winning recordings later, period-instrument orchestra Modo Antiquo has established a worldwide reputation for the scholarship and fiery brilliance of their performances of Baroque and earlier music. They are joined for this performance by Ricercar Ensemble Mantova, a Mantua-based chamber choir founded in 1984 and one of Italy’s finest vocal groups. This concert has nearly 50 performers in total. 

Vivaldi has always been central to Modo Antiquo’s activities, and Sardelli, its dynamic founder-director, is also Italy’s leading Vivaldi scholar. He has provided the modern world premières of several works by the composer unearthed in European archives, written a monograph on his music for flute and is in charge of the monumental undertaking of assembling a complete list of Vivaldi’s works for the revised Ryom (RV) catalogue.

The Church of the Pietà, attached to the orphanage where Vivaldi spent most of his career as a violin teacher, is not the building he knew: it was rebuilt shortly after he left Venice. But it is a glorious space, well suited to the performance of Baroque music. It is located on the waterfront across the Canale di San Marco from San Giorgio Maggiore, and was designed in Neo-Palladian style by Giorgio Massari, the leading architect of the time in the Veneto. 


Concert 7

Venetian Dances

Sonatori della Gioiosa Marca

Ateneo Veneto


In the 17th and 18th centuries, dance music was the meeting point of popular music and art music, and the place of exchange between the two. It ran like an underground river through all genres – church, chamber, opera – and its tight phrasing, simple themes and rhythmic nature bubble up into all manner of compositions. And then there is dance music itself, the balli Veneziani of the title. This programme includes pieces by the 17th-century composers Tarquinio Merula, Giovanni Picchi and Biagio Marini and their 18th-century successors Antonio Caldara, Giovanni Reali and Antonio Vivaldi.

The Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca was founded in Treviso in 1983 by half a dozen young pioneers of period instrument playing. The name means ‘Musicians of the joyous Marches’, Treviso being situated in the borderlands of the Venetian Republic since the 15th century and awarded the sobriquet Marca Gioiosa et Amorosa. Most of the founders are still with the group, and they haven’t lost the skilled and spirited ensemble playing that has led to nearly 40 highly successful years. They have brought to light innumerable pieces by composers from the Veneto which had never been performed in modern times before. Of their ample discography, the most recent won the ICMA Award 2020 in the category Baroque instrumental music. 

The Ateneo Veneto was built in the 1590s as the Scuola di San Fantin. Since the confraternity’s dissolution in 1806, the building has become the seat of various cultural societies. The main hall is decorated with elaborate woodwork and paintings (Veronese, Palma Il Giovane).


Concert 8

Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers

La Venexiana, Gabriele Palomba director

I Cantori Gregoriani, Fulvio Rampi director

Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

Our closing concert presents what is arguably the finest achievement of Venetian liturgical music in one of the most magnificent churches in Venice: Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine of 1610 in the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. 

A qualification needs to be entered: ‘Venetian’ here is an elastic term, for it was composed while Monteverdi was still in the service of the Duke of Mantua and he only moved to Venice three years later. But it was printed in Venice in 1610 and may have been composed with La Serenissima in mind, perhaps as a surrepticious job application. And Venice became the place where the composer stayed the longest; he died there 36 later. 

The 1610 Vespers is both a landmark and a fulcrum, embodying the traditional liturgical style, the prima pratica, and the new style which emerged in tandem with opera, the seconda pratica. A virtuoso collection of 13 movements – motets, psalms and Magnificat – this performance adds plainchant antiphons, taking it beyond the usual concert-hall format into another realm of spiritual and artistic experience.  

The Franciscan church of I Frari is one of the largest in Venice, and the one best endowed with works of art of the Renaissance and Neo-Classical eras. It is a particularly suitable location for these Marian vespers because the church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and because Titian’s great Assumption will form a sublime backdrop to the performance.


More about the concerts

Private occasions: all the performances are planned and administered by Martin Randall Festivals exclusively for those who have bought the festival package. There are two every day except the travelling days, one daytime and one in the evening.

Daytime concerts are in smaller halls so the audience is split and the concert repeated. Participants will be pre-assigned to either the morning or the afternoon performance. Evening concerts are before dinner on three occasions (6.00pm) and after dinner once (8.45pm).

The duration of will be between 50 and 70 minutes, with Monteverdi’s Vespers lasting two hours. None has an interval, though refreshments will be available at the venue before some of the concerts.

Seating. Specific seats are not reserved. You sit where you want. 

Comfort. Seating in churches is likely to be on pews. In a couple of venues heating is inadequate; expect to wear coat and gloves during those concerts.

Acoustics. This festival is more concerned with locale and authenticity than with acoustic perfection. The venues may have idiosyncrasies or reverberations of the sort not found in modern concert halls. The noise of passing water vessels is a feature in a couple of venues.

Changes. Musicians fall ill, venues may close for repairs, airlines alter schedules: there are many circumstances which could necessitate changes to the programme. We ask you to be understanding should they occur.

Image of John Bryan

Professor John Bryan

Emeritus professor of Music at the University of Huddersfield, and a practising musician, he is a member of the Rose Consort of Viols and has performed with Musica Antiqua. An artistic adviser to York Early Music Festival, he founded the North East Early Music Forum, is chair of the Viola da Gamba Society and has been guest conductor of York Opera and The Academy of St Olave's. His book Early English Viols: Instruments, Makers and Music was published by Routledge in 2016. He has lectured on several previous Martin Randall Festivals.

Index

i. Accommodation and prices

ii. Travel options: joining and leaving the festival

iii. Pre- and post-festival tours

iv. Speakers

v. Optional walks and visits

vi. Further practicalities


Accommodation and prices

We have selected six hotels for this festival. All are 4- or 5-star. The hotel is the sole determinant of the different prices for the festival package. There is also the option of arriving at your festival hotel a day early (12th November).

 

Notes on hotels

WiFi. Complimentary at all hotels.

Quiet? Though blessedly free of the sound of vehicular traffic, motor boats and street life mean that few hotels can be guaranteed to be absolutely quiet.

Rooms vary. As is inevitable in historic buildings, rooms vary in size and outlook.

Suites and rooms with views. Some hotels have suites and rooms with views of the Grand Canal. All are subject to availability at the time of booking. For some, prices are only available on request..

 

Hotel Bonvecchiati (4*)

A well-located and comfortable 4-star hotel close to Piazza San Marco. Rooms vary in size although the room category we offer avoids the smaller rooms in the hotel. Rooms are decorated in a mix of classic Venetian and contemporary styles. All have baths with shower attachments. Public areas are comfortable even if the décor is a little dated. There is a restaurant and hotel staff are friendly and helpful. Proximity to San Marco is an advantage however the concomitant of the central location is the possibility of noise in the morning from goods delivery boats on the side canals.

Prices, per person

Two sharing

Superior room £3,110
Or if arriving a day early £3,260

Single occupancy

Superior double for sole use £3,500
Or if arriving a day early £3,730
 


Splendid Venice
(4*)

A delightful hotel situated between Piazza San Marco and the Rialto bridge. Despite the central location the hotel is quiet, with rooms overlooking side canals or an internal courtyard. Public areas include a good restaurant, bar and lounge, library and roof terrace. Bedrooms are light, well-appointed and decorated in a contemporary style. The majority have a bath with shower fitment, though a small number have a stand-alone shower.

Although the hotel has its own mooring point, water taxis are not always able to arrive at the door during particularly severe acqua alta (high tide) as they cannot pass under the nearby bridges. Hotel and festival staff will be present to assist if we encounter difficulties.

Prices, per person

Two sharing

Deluxe double £3,620
Or if arriving a day early £3,860

Single occupancy

Superior double for sole use £3,970
Or if arriving a day early £4,260


Palazzo Sant’Angelo
(4*)

The smallest hotel on the festival with just 26 rooms, the Palazzo Sant’Angelo has a warm and personal atmosphere and will exclusively accommodate our group (if all rooms fill). It is well located on the Grand Canal near the Campo Sant’Angelo, less than one minute from the Sant’Angelo vaporetto stop. Rooms are richly decorated in a classic Venetian style, and have views of the canal or hotel courtyard and garden. Bathrooms have sizeable jacuzzi-style bathtubs with an overhead shower fitment. Public areas include a small bar and lounge but no restaurant

Prices, per person

Two sharing

Deluxe room £3,960
Or if arriving a day early £4,230

Junior Suite £4,070
Or if arriving a day early £4,380

Junior Suite with Grand Canal view £4,710
Or if arriving a day early £5,120

Deluxe Suite with Grand Canal view £4,860
Or if arriving a day early £5,320

Single occupancy

Classic double for sole use £4,320
Or if arriving a day early £4,660

Deluxe double for sole use £4,630
Or if arriving a day early £5,030


Hotel Luna Baglioni
(5*)

A luxurious hotel that manages to combine Venetian splendour with warm and friendly service. The location is excellent, minutes away from Piazza San Marco and the Royal Gardens but removed from the main thoroughfare. Rooms are spacious and richly furnished in a classic Venetian style; the marble bathrooms are equipped with a bathtub with shower fitment. Public areas are again opulent and attractive, and the restaurant is excellent. Rooms with lagoon or side canal views, or suites, are available on request.

Prices, per person

Two sharing

Deluxe room £4,110
Or if arriving a day early £4,420

Single occupancy

Superior double for sole use £4,600
Or if arriving a day early £5,030

 

St Regis (5*)

A historic and elegant 5-star hotel positioned at the mouth of the Grand Canal (previously Hotel Europa & Regina). It is maintained to a very high standard and has a good restaurant with magnificent views of Santa Maria della Salute directly opposite. Rooms are elegantly furnished and decorated in a classic style. The hotel occupies two palaces so rooms are accessed via two separate lifts. The hotel has recently undergone extensive renovation works.

Prices, per person

Two sharing

Deluxe room £4,410
Or if arriving a day early £4,740

Luxury room with Grand Canal view £5,140
Or if arriving a day early £5,650

Single occupancy

Deluxe double for sole use £5,230
Or if arriving a day early £5,720

 

Hotel Gritti Palace (5*)

The most venerable hotel in Venice situated at the mouth of the Grand Canal just opposite the Basilica Santa Maria della Salute. Occupying the elegant Gothic palace of a 15th-century doge, the style is one of restrained luxury, and with excellent, discreet service. Sensitive restoration has retained its Venetian character; rooms and public areas are sumptuously decorated with Rubelli fabrics, Murano chandeliers and antique furniture. There is a bar, lounge and two restaurants with a terrace area

Prices, per person

Two sharing

Deluxe room £5,220
Or if arriving a day early £5,730

Landmark room withGrand Canal view £6,150
Or if arriving a day early £6,930

Single occupancy

Deluxe double for sole use £6,530
Or if arriving a day early £7,300

 

Travel options: joining and leaving the festival

Flights with British Airways from London Heathrow to Venice Marco Polo are included in the price. 

There is also the option to fly out on Saturday 12th November, the day before the festival begins.

Or you can choose to make your own arrangements for travel to and from the festival, for which there is a price reduction.

 

Arrive a day early

Option 1

12th November: depart London Heathrow 08.40, arrive Venice at 12.00 (BA 578). 

18th November: depart Venice 09.15, arrive London Heathrow at 10.50 (BA 583). 

Option 2

12th November: depart London Heathrow 13.20, arrive Venice at 16.40 (BA 596).

18th November: depart Venice 13.05, arrive London Heathrow at 14.40 (BA 579).

Option 3

12th November: depart London Heathrow 17.20, arrive Venice at 20.40 (BA 582). 

18th November: depart Venice 17.45, arrive London Heathrow at 19.20 (BA 597).

 

Arrive on the first day of the festival

Option 4

13th November: depart London Heathrow 08.55, arrive Venice at 12.15 (BA 578). 

18th November: depart Venice 09.15, arrive London Heathrow at 10.50 (BA 583).

Option 5

13th November: depart London Heathrow 13.05, arrive Venice at 16.20 (BA 594).

18th November: depart Venice 13.05, arrive London Heathrow at 14.40 (BA 579).

 

The no-flights option

You can choose not to take any of our flights and to make your own arrangements for joining and leaving the festival.

Should you decide to join the festival at Venice Marco Polo Airport at a time which coincides with our flight arrivals, you are welcome to join one of our water-taxi transfers to your hotel.

Price reduction for ‘no flights’: £140.


Rail travel

London – Paris – Turin – Venice : 14–18 hours. Contact us for more information..

 

Pre- & post-festival tours

You do not need to choose a flight option if you choose to book one of these tours. When combined with the festival, they have their own separate arrangements. We charge for return flights (if you are taking them) as part of the tour booking – therefore you pay the ‘no flights’ price for the festival.

The Story of Venice

7–12 November 2022 (MI556)

Venetian Palaces

8–12 November 2022 (MI567)

Venice Revisited

21–26 November 2022 (MI573)

Florence Revisited

21–27 November 2022 (MI575)  


Speakers

Every day at 10.00am there is a talk about music by John Bryan.

Professor John Bryan is emeritus professor of Music at the University of Huddersfield, and a practising musician with the Rose Consort of Viols. He founded the North East Early Music Forum, is an artistic adviser to York Early Music Festival and chair of the Viola da Gamba Society. He has been the speaker on many Martin Randall Festivals.

 

Optional walks and visits

Dr Michael Douglas-Scott is an art historian specialising in the Italian Renaissance. He studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art and Birkbeck College, both University of London, taught at Birkbeck and for American universities and has been published in learned journals. A perennial favourite among Martin Randall Travel clients, he has led many tours in Italy and presented webinars.

Dr Susan Steer is an art historian specialising in Venice – she has lived in the city and nearby for 25 years. She has extensive experience of teaching the History of Art in the UK and Italy, recently for Warwick University, and is also qualified as a local guide.

Full information about walks and visits, with prices, will be sent to all those booked at a later stage.

 

Further practicalities

Fitness for the festival

We must stress that it is essential to cope with the walking and stair-climbing required to get to the concerts and other events. The hotels we have chosen are situated in the San Marco district, whereas some of the concert venues are on the other side of the Grand Canal in the San Polo district.

Venice covers a large area. There are the steps of numerous bridges to negotiate. Water taxis are not always an option.

You should be able to walk unaided for at least 30 minutes and to be able to get on and off (sometimes pitching) water buses and taxis.

We ask that you take the simple fitness tests on the booking form before booking.

If you have a medical condition or a disability which may affect your holiday or necessitate special arrangements being made for you, please discuss these with us before booking – or, if the condition develops or changes subsequently, as soon as possible before departure.

Pre- and post-festival tours: mainly, we travel on foot; the nature of Venice and Florence makes no other mode feasible. So there is a lot of walking along the flat, and also up and down bridges. Standing around in museums and churches is also unavoidable. Fitness is essential


Why November?

November is relatively low season in Venice. Fewer visitors and cruise ships make it much easier to get around and to visit places for which congestion is standard for much of the year.

Temperatures can be mild and blue skies can be expected at least for part of the time, though rain is likely. Important for the festival is that at this end of winter unheated buildings retain some trace of their summer warmth.

November is the peak month for acqua alta: the rise in water levels is such that some areas are inundated. This flooding is related to tides and therefore lasts only for a few hours, but we strongly recommend that you bring waterproof footwear such as full-length wellington boots. Floods of 2–3 feet or more above street level are very rare, and anyway we have chosen dates when the pull of the moon will be least.

The new ‘Mose’ flood gates are now in use. They can isolate the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea during exceptionally high water and prevent some of the low-lying parts of the city (in particular Piazza San Marco) from being flooded.


Participation in our festivals is a very different experience from conventional group travel

No repetitive or redundant announcements, no herding by elevated umbrella, no unnecessary roll calls, little hanging around. We work on the assumption that you are adults, and our staff cultivate the virtue
of unobtrusiveness. 

Though this is a large event, you will often find yourself in smaller groups – the audience is divided between six hotels, and into different restaurants for some of the dinners.

For those who are not averse to group activities there are extra meals, walks and visits to sign up to. You choose the level of participation that suits you.

We provide sufficient information to enable you to navigate the festival events without needing to be led. However, festival staff are also stationed around the events to direct you if needed.


Travel advice

Before booking, please refer to the FCDO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting.

‘The attention to detail, the intelligent and creative programme, the kindness of the staff, and the unstinting standard of everything made me feel extraordinarily privileged.’ 

‘Top quality, private performances and immaculate planning and organisation in amazing places.’

‘The organisation – travel, accommodation, meals – was impeccable.’

'To hear a Vivaldi I had never known or, as in The Four Seasons, performed in such a fresh and magical manner was a continuous joy and source of surprise.'

'The standard of performance and the quality of the musicians was wonderful indeed, and the pleasure of hearing and seeing such chamber-sized music at such close quarters a real privilege.'

'I remark, as I have done before, on the pleasure of the company to be found on MRT trips. You can always be sure of finding like minds or significantly overlapping interests among your travelling companions, and some become long-term friends.'

'The music was superb. I was very impressed by the quality of the musicians and soloists. We were in the presence of greatness, and I felt that many of the younger soloists will be people to watch as their careers unfold.'