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Article posted on: August 30, 2018

Lake Garda is one of our most popular destinations for concert tours. With the backdrop of the Alps and the tranquillity of the lake, it’s a stunning destination that is easily reached by coach. This breath-taking landscape is also within easy reach of the historic cities of Verona and Venice.

There are many venues, suitable for all types of ensembles, whether you want to perform in magnificent venues in the city, or in buzzing squares by the lakeside. One opportunity not to be missed is the chance to perform at Mass at the world-famous St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. 

And the weather is, of course, fantastic during July, when many groups choose to tour here. 

One of those groups was Classical Chorus. Our Alison and Simone joined them on their tour to assist them – here Alison takes us behind-the-scenes. 

Friday 27th July 2018

Three flights, four coaches, sole occupancy (nearly) of the Hotel Saccardi & Spa, 525 dishes plated up for the evening meal and copious bottles of Aperol - Lake Garda was ready and waiting for the arrival of Classical Chorus – 175 adults embarking on the concert tour of a lifetime!

Check in ran extremely smoothly. We actually set up our own front desk in the hotel foyer and had the rooming lists and keys laid out already, along with big smiles ready to welcome the first flight group mid-afternoon. 

Once the whole group had arrived, settled in and had a chance to chill out around the pool, it was time for the tour to begin in earnest. At 7.30pm everyone piled into the bar and dining room ready for their 3-course meal, drinks and a sing song before a tour briefing.  

Saturday 28th July 2018

The sun was shining, and it was already 25 degrees at 7am. It was going to be a scorcher! 

The group bounced down to breakfast, bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for Verona and their first concert of the tour.  After coffee and a continental breakfast of cheeses, ham, fruit, yoghurt and pastries, everyone was ticked off the register as they piled onto the buses ready for departure. 

Each coach had been given a different codename – Prosecco, Cappuccino, Limoncello and Cornetto - so that everyone knew which coach to board. With this crafty bit of organisation, we were set to go in less than 15 minutes.

35 minutes later we arrived in Verona. Squeezing 4 coaches down tiny Italian roads was a little tricky but with the driver’s skills, we managed a slick drop off without causing too much traffic disruption!

As our passengers disembarked the coaches they headed straight for the cathedral for a group photo outside before heading in to set up and warm up.  The concert began at 10.30 and as the minutes passed, more and more passers-by entered the cathedral to see who was creating the magnificent, ‘give you goose bumps’ sound.  It was a very emotional concert with the choir performing many recognisable songs.  

Once the emotions had simmered down, the group packed up and set off on foot to the centre of Verona to find places to have lunch and enjoy a celebratory glass of wine. 

After lunch and a bit of sightseeing, everyone met by the town hall ready for the brisk walk to the coach park outside the city where Prosecco, Cappuccino, Limoncello and Cornetto were waiting to take everyone back to the hotel to have a swim in the pool, relax and freshen up before meeting to head back in to Verona for the evening activities.  

Early evening the coaches departed the hotel with everyone on board dressed in their evening finery to go for dinner in Verona before taking their seats at the Arena di Verona for the performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’.  

The Arena di Verona is a truly magnificent venue and on arrival each member of the audience was given a small candle to light to welcome the first act on stage. 

As the sun set and the performance got underway, the group embraced the magical surroundings and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.  

The opera was a long one – 4 hours including intervals so several of the group decided they wished to return to the hotel at the 2nd interval.  Orchestrating this wasn’t easy but we managed to arrange two coach loads to return half the group to the hotel while the other half remained until the end – returning to the hotel at 1am.  The bar was still open and a few opted to stay for a late night drink before retiring to bed. Let’s just say it was a very late night! 

Sunday 28th July 2018

Weary heads rose early for breakfast before setting off for the two-hour journey to Venice. 

Warming voices up on the coach with a short sing song, the group were nervous with anticipation for their participation in Mass at St. Mark’s in Venice.  

Arriving at Tronchetto, the group waited a short while before all boarding a vaparetto.  Seeing Venice draw nearer, the group couldn’t wait to arrive on land, feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement. 

Once off the boat, we walked quickly to St. Mark’s, weaving around the large queues of tourists vying to get into St. Mark’s.  Time was tight but once in St. Mark’s, the choir organised themselves into position just in time for the priest to enter to start Mass proceedings.  

Participating in Mass is always a very special experience bringing high expectation, but the group felt very proud once it was over as well as a little relieved as the pressure was now off!

The group then had a few hours to get lunch and explore the wonders that are Venice, although the extreme heat meant that most sought out shade and a drink.  

Most could have stayed in Venice longer, but we had the two-hour journey back to the hotel to make and the promise of a quick dip in the hotel pool before the next concert encouraged everyone back on to the coaches. 

The group were to perform their third concert at Lazise, a beautiful lakeside commune, situated on the eastern shore of Lake Garda. We left the hotel around 5pm for the short 20-minute journey to Lazise. 

On arrival, the group had a quick bite to eat before positioning themselves by the lakeside ready to perform.  As the sun set and they sang, crowds gathered and gave huge applause after their final song, calling for an encore.  

After performing for an extra 15 minutes, the crowd applauded loudly as they accepted it was the end of yet another spinetingling performance. After a celebratory ice cream, we all headed back to the coach park and returned to the hotel to swap ice cream for Aperol!

Monday 29th July 2018

After a slightly later breakfast, the coaches left the hotel and headed to Peschiera del Garda, a resort on the southern tip of the lake. 

The group enjoyed a quick nosy around the small shops and cafés while waiting for the ferry to Sirmione.  

After a 30-minute breezy ride across the lake, we arrived at Sirmione, docking only a short walk to the main square and the Scaligero Castle, a medieval castle overlooking the town square.  

A truly magical place, Sirmione is a favourite of many tourists to the region including Prime Minister Theresa May (who was staying at the time we visited). 

The group spent the afternoon sightseeing, having lunch, eating ice cream (the largest in the world) and souvenir shopping.  Not wanting to leave, we walked through the castle walls to the coach park, half a mile from the main entrance of the walled commune.  

Travelling back to the hotel for a quick freshen up, the choir rehearsed their programme for their performance later that night which as to be held in the centre of Verona.

On arrival back at the hotel, the group only needed a quick shower and change before departing the hotel for Verona for their final performance of the tour.  

The coaches dropped us off a short walk from the Piazza dei Signori, where the group performed their programme one final time.  

Hundreds gathered in the square and once the bells of the church finished chiming, the group began, once again impressing all ears listening.  Tears were brought to the eyes of both the choristers and the audience as they neared the end – it was a very proud moment for all.

 

Once praises of congratulations all round subsided, the group took a steady walk back to the coaches which were waiting to take the group back to the hotel one final time.  

Once at the hotel, the group quickly changed into their party gear and headed to the pool area outside for a celebratory end of tour pool party.  

Wearing sparkly, shiny, shimmery masks, party goers were disguised but, as the drinks started flowing and the conversation and music got into full swing, guests revealed their faces and dancing and fun was had by all. 

Some even made it into the pool, dresses and all! It was a truly fantastic, memorable experience to celebrate the success of a fantastic tour and extremely talented group of singers.  

Tuesday 30th July 2018

For some, only a few hours’ sleep was had as the pool party didn’t finish until 4am. Up at 7am, an early breakfast was taken, ready for the flight home.  Sleepy and sad that the tour was over, everyone boarded the coaches for the short journey back to the airport to return home taking with them memories that would last a lifetime. 

Feeling inspired?

Contact us today for further information on our music tours to Lake Garda, or to request your tailor-made quote

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