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NEW! Italy - Po Delta & Rome

Great birding short break in one of Europe's most important National Parks, followed by an optional few days in Rome

This is a unique holiday, combining enjoyable birding in the Po Delta area with a three-night visit to the timeless city of Rome. Our hotel in the Po Delta is an exceptional 'agritourismo' experience, and the cuisine here is superb. Dinners, breakfast and lunches in the field are delightful; you may get a little carried away! We also use a high quality hotel in Rome, perfectly located to explore the key sites that the city has to offer.

The Po Delta is the site of one of Europe’s most important national parks. In early spring, birding features a range of resident and migrant species, and we spend three full days here. Key birds include Pygmy Cormorant, Marsh Sandpiper, Caspian Tern, Slender-billed and Mediterranean Gull, Black-necked Grebe, Montagu's Harrier and many other migrants, residents and water birds.

On Sunday you can return to the UK via Bologna (transfers included), or continue onwards by train to Rome with Mike, and spend three nights in this wonderful city, where you have the opportunity to explore at leisure. Your Heatherlea Guide will be on hand to help you get the most from your visit, advise you how to visit the many museums and tourist sites, and arrange tickets for evening entertainment. A unique two-centre experience combining absorbing birding with a great city break!

Please note in 2021 we offer Po Delta combined with Venice, so choose 2020 if you wish to combine with Rome.

Enjoy your complimentary pre-flight overnight hotel before your holiday begins.

Days 1 to 4: Wed 1 April to Sun 5 April - Arrival and the Po Delta       
After a relaxing introduction to the holiday in our VIP Airport Lounge, we fly London Gatwick to Bologna and within an hour's drive are at our first hotel, ready to go birding! Birds of this vast wetland include Black-necked Grebe, Pygmy Cormorant, Purple, Night and Squacco Heron, Great White, Cattle and Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Ferruginous Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Little Bittern, Marsh Harrier, many waders perhaps including Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Wood Sandpiper, Avocet, Kentish Plover, Little Stint and Whimbrel, Caspian and Gull-billed Tern, Mediterranean and Slender-billed Gull, Cetti’s, Fan-tailed, Great Reed and Sedge Warbler, Firecrest, Penduline Tit, Spanish Sparrow and Serin. Just as rewarding will be our hunt for migrants, which might include Saker Falcon, Montagu's Harrier, Black Kite, White Stork, Hoopoe and several races of Yellow Wagtail. Nightingale, Cetti's Warbler, Great Reed Warbler and many other small passerines should be heard and seen.

Other excitement in previous holidays include an Adder swallowing a large Marsh Frog before our eyes, good views of Coypu and time spent identifying different races of Yellow Wagtail on passage to more northerly breeding grounds. We usually record 15-20 species of butterfly too, perhaps including European and Scarce Swallowtails, Mallow Skipper, and Eastern Dappled White among others.

On this part of the holiday we will be joined for two days by our friend and top local birder Menotti Passarella. 'What Menotti doesn't know about the birds ............ of the Po Delta isn't worth knowing' Bob Scott, 'Where to go birdwatching in the Po Delta'. We are always guaranteed fascinating birding with Menotti, and often gain access to places not normally open to the public. We may also take a boat trip out into the shallow Adriatic lagoon to see breeding Slender-billed Gull, depending upon availability. 

Our lovely hotel in the Po Delta region is a major element of our holiday experience. A beautiful building set in acres of open fields and tended gardens, everyone who has joined this holiday has loved this delightful venue. All meals are included from dinner on Wednesday evening to breakfast on Sunday morning. Breakfasts are expansive and luxurious, and evening meals are superb. A real treat, and very much a taste of rural Italy. picnic lunches are included Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Overnight for four nights at Villa Belfiore, Ostellato.

Day 5 to Day 7: Sun 5 April to Tues 7 April - Rome

Transfer back to the UK with Kevin on Sunday 5 April, or continue onwards with Mike to Rome.

The historical city of Rome is just two hours from Bologna by train, a total journey time of around four hours from our first hotel. This relaxing journey takes us through towns and countryside, giving us a real flavour of rural Italy. We aim to arrive in Rome late-morning and with three nights here, you will have plenty of time to explore. The Colosseum, Pantheon, Roman Forum, Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain will be among the sites given priority, but you will have the freedom to visit lesser known locations or just stroll the cobbled streets and relax if you prefer. With a myriad of art museums and classical architecture you will be spoilt for choice, although a visit to the Vatican City and St Peter's Square are a must when spending time in Rome. Queues are often long and you can waste time waiting in line, so we have arranged a ticket allowing 'queue jump' access to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel as part of your holiday price.

We use a very good hotel in a quiet part of the city, convenient for major tourist locations yet quiet and secluded, tucked away from the tourist bustle. Your Guide will be available throughout to help you get the most from your stay.

Day 8: Wed 8 April - Departure
Depending on flight times we may be able to enjoy a final morning in Rome before we transfer to the airport, and onwards to the UK.

Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).

A few notes about Rome....

Rome is a wonderful place, but it helps to have a little knowledge to get the most from your visit. Here are a few things you should know!

Purchase euros before you arrive; currency exchange rates in Rome can be poor.

Many of the major sites are booked well in advance, so if there is a key place that you wish to visit we recommend purchasing tickets before your departure. Don't forget - a ticket to the Vatican Musuems and the Sistine Chapel is included in your holiday price! 

In many cafes and bars it is cheaper to eat or drink standing up rather than sitting down. You will notice many people drinking expresso or eating panaderies whilst standing, (Italians have a sweet tooth!), then it’s ‘ciao’ and away they go.

The area immediately around the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon is more expensive than the back streets. It is worth a walk to get away from the throng and appreciate a more traditional place at a realistic price.

A metro ticket is a real asset – This is a great way to see Rome and also to give your feet a rest. These can be easily purchased from the metro station and your Guide can help if needed. Please contact our office if you require further information in advance. 

What's included in your holiday price:

  • Return scheduled flight from London – Bologna, Rome - London, airport taxes, baggage and hand luggage up to airline ticket-included limit.
  • Airport transfers, ground transportation, accommodation and meals as specified.
  • Economy train ticket from Bolonga to Rome
  • Queue jump ticket to see the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.
  • the services of your Heatherlea leader(s), and local birding expert Menotti Passarella.
  • The Heatherlea Pre-Flight Service offers everything you need at the airport, including hotels, car parking, airport lounges, regional flights, and upgrades. Let Heatherlea take the strain! Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included free of charge subject to terms and conditions. Read more..

What's not included in your holiday price:

  • travel to and from departure airport before and after holiday, in-flight meal, baggage above airline included limit.
  • meals in Rome with the exception of breakfast. We arrive at Rome train station around mid-morning, so your first non-inclusive meal will be lunch that day.
  • incidental tips, expenses of a personal nature including drinks and personal insurance.

More holiday information

Accommodation: is in excellent hotels with all rooms en suite. Full-board basis in Po Delta area, and B&B basis in Rome.
Food: breakfast is a sensational buffet in our Po Delta Hotel. Homemade bread, jams and tarts are included as part of the feast, as well as a choice of meats, cheeses, home-grown fresh fruits, eggs, fruit juice, tea and coffee. Picnic lunches are provided on the first three days, and include a variety of excellent local produce (the family owners produce a huge range of jams, condiments, sweetmeats and cakes) plus soft drinks. Evening meals are generally local dishes, with vegetables and aromatic herbs coming from the hotel’s organic garden. The introductory buffet often features up to two dozen home-made vegetable dishes as a sumptuous dinner begins! The food during this part of the trip is exceptional! You can see properties similar to the one we use on this website: www.agriturismo.it/en/
In Rome, breakfast is a good quality buffet with lots of choice. No other meals are included here, though your Guide will recommend eating places to you.
Walking:The birding part of this holiday is not strenuous. Leisurely walking, very occasionally over moderately rough terrain, is the only physical requirement. Rome can be hard on the feet, however Metro tickets can be purchased for a reasonable price.
Weather : There can be surprising variations in temperature. Direct sunlight can send the thermometer above 25C, though 15 – 20C is more usual. Minimum temperatures may be about 10C during daytime, and winds can be cool. 
Insects: biting insects may be encountered, depending on the weather. Bring a good repellent just in case.
Group size is restricted to 7 clients per guide.
Flights are by scheduled airline, from London Gatwick. We may be able to offer flight arrangements from another airport and/or quote without flights. If you wish to add an extension either before or after your holiday, please contact us and we will be happy to arrange for you.

 Your Leaders:               

Mike Coleman: A very experienced European birder, Mike also recently visited Rome, making him the ideal Leader for this tour!

Kevin Shaw: Founder of Heatherlea with wife Caryl, and frequent visitor to the Po Delta and our excellent hotel there, Kevin is very much looking forward to joining you!



Other birding and wildlife holidays in Italy

Why choose Heatherlea for your birding and wildlife holiday in Europe?

Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.

Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.

The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;

  • We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for over 30 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
  • Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
  • Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
  • All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
  • Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
  • Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).

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The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: +44(0)1479 821248