back to Italy


Venice and Verona Carnivals

A celebration to prepare for Lent

A week before Lent join together to enjoy carnival in the Italian region of the Veneto. Within the region we visit the cities of Venice and Verona as well as the towns of Padua (the city of Saint Anthony), Vicenza and Bassano del Grappa all included in this delightful eight day stay. We explore locations created using the rich architecture of Palladio and classical and religious art of Giotto, Donatello, Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and many others. All to have a final celebration before Lent and joining together in worship in some wonderful locations.

Carnival in Venice dates to the time of the Serene Republic, when masks were worn to eliminate differences between people and dissolve inhibitions before becoming serious and devout again for Lent. Everything (or almost) was granted by the Doge on these feast days that for centuries have attracted the curious, creative and famous from all over the world to the lagoon city. Witness stunning costumes, colourful hand-painted masks and flamboyant headdresses as you wander the bridges, canal-side paths and Piazza’s.

In Verona we witness and experience the parade with marching bands and floats and a wonderful atmosphere. We include tours of Palladian villas; one including lunch, a cruise on the Brenta River, guided tours in some of these cultural gems and we stay in Venice until after sunset to fully experience the carnival atmosphere. All staying in a four-star spa with a host of facilities to enjoy.


  1. Travel to Italy (D, DR)

    Morning: meet your Tour Leader at Heathrow Airport and check-in for your flight to Italy.

    Afternoon: on arrival you will be met by your local Tour Manager who will escort you to your hotel in the spa resort of Abano Terme to check-in for a seven-night stay. Your resort is located within easy reach of the beautiful towns and attractions that you will visit. After arrival take time to stroll your resort or make use of the hotel’s excellent spa facilities.

    Evening: meet your Tour Leader and Tour Manager for a welcome drink reception followed by dinner in the hotel with a drink and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  2. Padua, the city of Saint Anthony (B, L, D, DR)

    Morning: travel to Padua, the city of Saint Anthony, for a guided tour. Padua is a city of art, rich in culture. From Giotto to Donatello, Petrarch to Galileo, Padua has hosted the greatest artists and scientists, making it a temple of knowledge and beauty. Its ancient history breathes through the architectural miracles of the Middle Ages, the legacy of the famous University, and the charm of the aristocratic villas, arcaded streets, and squares. We also visit the Basilica and tomb of St. Anthony and offer prayers for those lost items during a short worship.

    Afternoon: included lunch in a local restaurant followed by free time in Padua before a mid-afternoon return to the hotel to enjoy its facilities.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with a drink and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  3. Verona and the carnival (B, D, DR)

    Morning: enjoy a guided walking tour to include the Piazza Bra, Piazza dei Signori, Piazza Erbe, the Arena di Verona, Romeo and Juliet’s balcony as well as the Arsenale and Castelvecchio. The castle is the most important military construction of the Scaliger dynasty, the family that ruled the city in the Middle Ages. Optional worship will be offered in a local church in Verona.

    Afternoon: watch as nearly seventy floats march through the streets of Verona with a wide variety of themes and fantasies. Almost all the are made from papier-mâché, and all the artisans responsible for making them put their heart and soul into the endeavour. Read about the history of the Verona carnival at the end of this itinerary.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with a drink and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  4. Bassano del Grappa and Treviso (B, L, D, DR)

    Morning: drive to Bassano Del Grappa, a picturesque town at the base of the Dolomites. Famous for its Grappa, cuisine, world renown wines, ceramics, stunning villas, rolling hillside vineyards, picture perfect piazzas and Ponte Vecchio, (a wooden bridge that dates back, to 1209, that today is synonymous of the town). Your guided tour will also include the Piazza Libertà and Piazza Garibaldi. Of course, we will offer a sample of the town’s famous product! After the tour enjoy free time to wander at leisure.

    Afternoon: continue to Treviso for an included lunch at Villa di Maser. Conceived around 1550 by architect Andrea Palladio as for the noble Venetian brothers Daniele and Marcantonio Barbaro, who employed the painter Paolo Veronese and sculptor Alessandro Vittoria to decorate the building. We also visit the Palladian Barbaro Temple for a short optional worship. After, enjoy a short-guided tour of Treviso with its medieval city walls, lots of pretty canals, narrow cobbled streets and frescoed churches. Despite this, it receives few visitors, making it a more authentic insight into life in the Veneto.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with a drink and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  5. The Palladian Villas of the Brenta River (B, L, D, DR)

    Morning: drive to Venice to transfer by boat to St Mark’s Square for a guided walking tour of Venice including St Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs, Rialto Bridge and the city’s hidden lanes showing an insight into Venetian life.

    Afternoon: free time for lunch before enjoying the atmosphere, During the Carnival of Venice festival people engage in activities such as masquerade balls, street performances, and concerts. Street singers, jugglers, acrobats, and other artists are seen on the squares, bridges and passing by in boats on the canals. As you walk around enjoy the costumes and elaborate masks.

    Evening: dinner in a local restaurant in Venice with drinks included and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  6. Venice and its carnival atmosphere (B, D, DR)

    Morning: cruise along the Brenta River, a scenic waterway inland from Venice towards, best known for its scenery and over 30 grand villas. Its construction and subsequent use as a transportation link dates back to the 16th century, and during the centuries that followed many magnificent villas were built alongside the canal by the gentry who carried out their business along the waterway. During the course of the morning, you will tour Villa Pisani once owned by Napoleon and the Habsburgs and home to the first meeting of Hitler and Mussolini. Then we visit Villa Valmarana which is still inhabited.

    Afternoon: lunch in a local restaurant before returning to the hotel to enjoy its facilities.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with a drink and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  7. Vicenza (B, D, DR)

    Morning: drive to Vicenza a prosperous town under Venetian rule. Its pride was demonstrated in fine architecture, much of which still survives. Its 'unique appearance,' largely owing to the work of influential sixteenth-century architect Andrea Palladio, has led to the town's designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We include entrance to the The Teatro Olimpico, the first indoor theatre in masonry in the world, with interiors made of wood, stucco and plaster and some of the ornate Palladian villas where we join together in worship in these stunning surroundings.

    Afternoon: free time for lunch and to wander at leisure before returning to the hotel to enjoy its facilities.

    Evening: farewell dinner in the hotel with a drink and tea or coffee included. After dinner enjoy an evening of live music in the hotel.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  8. Depart for the UK (B)

    Depart for the airport, bid farewell to your Tour Manager and check-in for your return flight to the UK where you bid farewell to your Tour Leader and fellow travelling companions.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  9. The history of the Verona Carnival

    During the 16th century Verona was suffering from a terrible famine as a result of a series of devastating floods and repeated raids by the armies of Emperor Charles V fighting against Lombardy. In these desperate times, the bakers had increased their prices for bread and the people decided to blockade the bakeries.

    As happened many times through history, hunger caused an uprising among the population of Verona, notably in San Zeno in June 1531 when the bakery was raided for bread and grain. The charity of some citizens, who supplied the poorest residents of the neighbourhood out of their own pockets, meant that disaster was averted, quelling the revolt. According to tradition, the charitable citizens included doctor Tommaso Da Vico, now officially recognised as the founder of Bacanal del Gnoco, who kept the custom going by stipulating in his will that bread, wine, butter, flour and cheese should be distributed every year to the people of San Zeno.

    Bread for all!

    These are many theories about the origins of Carnival in Verona. The Festival of “Venardì Gnocolàr” (or Gnocchi Friday) dates back to 1405 when the city was conquered by the Republic of Venice. The historian Zagata recounts the story of Verona’s "Devotion to Venice". When the city’s ambassadors travelled to meet the Doge and pledge their allegiance to the Republic. On their return, they paraded a banner donated by the Doge on the Carroccio, a richly decorated wagon that was a symbol of the city in wartime. This allegorical wagon, the Wagon of Plenty, seems to have been a reference to the Venetian wagon, in the same way that the huge flag alluded to the Venetian standard. Since Verona was subsequently struck by famine in 1406, it seems very plausible that the new government would have wanted to gain popularity from citizens by founding the Festival of Plenty, with donations of food and using the might of the Republic which a few months previously had marched triumphantly through the city.

    Another theory places the origins in the even older “Festival of all People” set up in 1208 by Ezzelino da Romano to mark the victory of the Ghibellines over the Guelphs in their battle for control of northern Italy, whilst others say it dates back to the time of Cangrade della Scala who, to commemorate Saint Zeno, would hold a great fair in the courtyard of the Basilica every May, featuring singing, dancing and much merry-making.

    The Papà del Gnoco, the king of the festival

    Verona Carnival was suspended from 1900 to 1923 but following its restoration by students it has become a much-loved holiday in the city and since 1949 the king of the festival has been Papà del Gnoco. In the historic district of San Zeno, Papà del Gnoco is portrayed as an old man, with a ruddy face and a long white beard, dressed in brown with a red cape and top hat decorated with bells.‘Father Dumpling’, as his name translates, is traditionally elected by the residents of San Zeno. The king of the festival grasps his sceptre, which is a large gnocchi impaled on a giant golden fork, and travels on a mule, handing out sweets to children and portions of gnocchi with tomato or meat sauce to adults, helped by his servants. In Verona and the surrounding region, it is still traditional on the last Friday before Lent to eat a lunch of home-made gnocchi. If you are in Verona in the final week of Carnival, don’t miss the opportunity to try our traditional gnocchi and soak up the festive atmosphere in the city. During this time, it is impossible to resist all of the pastries baked for the festival: fritters and galani (thin pieces of fried batter) are two sweet treats you have to try when in Verona.

Essential Information

Included excursions

  • Guided tour and visit of Padua
  • Guided tour and visit of Verona
  • Carnival in Verona
  • Guided tour and visit of Bassano del Grappa
  • Lunch in Treviso in a Palladian villa
  • Guided tour and visit of Treviso
  • Cruise on the Brenta River
  • Visit of Villas Pisani and Valmarana
  • Guided tour and visit of Venice
  • Carnival in Venice
  • Guided tour and visit of Vicenza
  • Entrance to The Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza

Optional excursions

None! – all excursions and extras as listed above and below are included!

Included extras

  • Hotel Porterage
  • Personal audio guiding system
  • All entrance fees
  • All hotel and restaurant gratuities
  • All Local Guide and coach driver gratuities

Included meals & drinks

Meals: half board with three lunches are included. Breakfast will be an extensive buffet in the hotel. The three lunches will be in local restaurants during excursions with one in a beautiful Palladian villa. Six dinners will be in the hotel and one in a local restaurant in Venice.

Drinks: welcome and farewell drinks and a beer, wine, soft drink and tea or coffee are included with all lunches and dinners.

Our team in Italy

Our dedicated ordained McCabe Tour Leader will meet you at Heathrow and travel with you, escort all excursions and lead optional worship on some occasions for the start of Lent and in keeping with the regions visited. On arrival in Italy you will be met by our Tour Manager who will look after all logistics, offer fascinating commentary during journeys and be there for any questions or queries and to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Your journey

The flight is direct to Bologna with British Airways from London Heathrow. Regional connecting flights to Heathrow from some UK airports and flight seat upgrades, for that extra comfort and ease through the airport, can be arranged at a supplement. An overnight stop at Heathrow may be required which we can assist you with. Please enquire at time of booking.

Outbound flight (updated 15/11/23)

Flight BA departs Heathrow: 14:40               arrives Bologna: 17:50

Return flight (updated 15/11/23)

Flight BA departs Bologna: 07:35                 arrives Heathrow: 09:05

Length of flight to Bologna: two hours and 20 minutes

Flight times are subject to change and confirmed with your final paperwork

Your hotel


An idyllic oasis of relaxation, in Abano Terme within an hour of most excursions to Vicenza, Padua, Venice and Verona. The thermal waters of its swimming pool are surrounded by a magnificent park and you can pamper yourself with excellent services, professional spa and wellness treatments.

Hotel facilities: heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools, sauna, steam, gym, on site barber and beauty salon. Complimentary WiFi is available throughout the hotel. Hotel Helvetia’s restaurant serves both Veneto and international cuisine. An extensive buffet breakfast is offered with a wide-ranging selection worth taking time for. There is a bar and cosy lounge areas for relaxing in the evening.

Your room: rooms are classically furnished and are equipped with air-conditioning/heating, balcony, desk, TV, minibar/fridge and safe.

Your bathroom: bath or shower, hairdryer, bathrobe and slippers as well as ample towels for bathroom and pool use. Complimentary toiletries are also provided.

Practical information

Entry requirements

British Citizen and EU Citizen Passport holders can currently enter Italy freely with no restrictions or other documentation required. Stays within the EU can be up to 90 days (can be spread over multiple visits) within any 180-day period.

Please note your passport must be valid for three months after your return from Italy.

Full details of entry requirements and any required vaccinations will be detailed in your final paperwork 14 days before departure.

For the latest and most up to date travel advice including entry requirements please consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office travel advice website.

Health & wellbeing

For travel within the EU you should ensure that you have the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which is free of charge.  You can apply for the GHIC card by calling 0191 218 1999 or applying on line at…

The level of cover offered by the GHIC card varies by country visited and is only applicable in state-run health facilities. In some countries coverage may just be a partial contribution.

Adequate insurance cover will be required for all hospital emergencies and doctors’ visits.


In the Abano Terme and the Veneto regions the average daily minimum and maximum temperatures during your stay should be around 05 to 14 degrees centigrade in late February. It is advisable to bring warm clothing and layers as on occasions mild afternoon temperatures are possible. Bassano del Grappa is at the foothills of the mountains and temperatures can drop.


Dress is casual throughout the holiday. You may wish to take one or two smarter items for the evenings. Warm layered clothing is recommended in the day time with evenings being smart/casual. We recommend a hat, gloves and scarf. As the sightseeing visits require a certain amount of walking, we suggest you take a pair of comfortable and warm lined shoes with a good sole for the cobbled streets.


There is a certain amount of walking (and stairs) involved on a daily basis on this holiday so please make sure you pack comfy footwear for this so that you are prepared. Your Local Guide will keep you updated on a daily basis with what to expect the following day. If you are finding it difficult to keep up then please make sure you tell your Local Guide who can help you to find places to rest and relax and then you can re-join the group at a later stage.

Some streets in towns and villages that you will visit will be cobbled. We suggest you take a pair of comfortable shoes with good grips or trainers. For your guided walking tours in Verona, Padua, Vicenza, Bassano del Grappa and Venice you must be prepared to walk one-and-a-half kilometres, be on your feet for up to 90 minutes without the need to sit down and be able to manage two to three flights of stairs.

The McCabe Educational Trust

The McCabe Educational Trust is an independent registered charity with the aim of helping inspiring people we meet on some of our pilgrimages. As ‘the haves’ encounter the ‘have nots’ the Trust has become a practical tool for one to help the other.

McCabe Pilgrimages invite all travellers to become partners in this work. A £20 voluntary donation to the Trust’s work is added to every pilgrim’s invoice and all money raised in this way is given in full to the projects the Trust supports. This scheme is voluntary and confidential with nobody put under any pressure to participate.

Travel insurance

Ensuring that your holidays are appropriately protected is one of our main priorities. That’s why we have specifically chosen Holiday Extras as our *preferred travel insurance provider to ensure that you are protected before and whilst you are travelling. Holiday Extras offer McCabe Travel guests favourable rates for single trip, multi-trip and annual policies.

For more information or to obtain a quote click below for their website

Or call them on 0800 083 3551 to speak to a friendly advisor.

Please quote AG628 upon calling to receive the best rates

Full financial security

All money paid to McCabe is fully secure. Holidays including flights are covered by our ATOL license from the Civil Aviation Authority, and holidays without flights are protected by our membership of the ABTOT bonding scheme. If a pilgrimage is cancelled, for instance through lack of numbers or for political considerations, McCabe will promptly refund all monies paid.

AITO Quality Statement

McCabe Pilgrimages is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The Association represents Britain’s leading independent tour operators and encourages high standards of quality and service. McCabe abides by the Association’s Code of Conduct and adheres to the AITO Quality Charter.

You can read McCabe reviews on the AITO website here


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