Portland Museum Tour: 

Quattrocento Italy

Rome and the Hill Towns of Central Italy

February 22 to March 2, 2018

The Quattrocento, otherwise known as the early Renaissance of the 1400s, was a particularly rich period for Italian arts and aesthetics:  the age of the beautiful.  During our two days in Rome, we'll look at what remains of the 1400s in this otherwise Baroque city.  Then, with five nights in Perugia, we explore a handful of delightful Renaissance hill towns:  Arezzo, Spello, Montefalco, Assisi, Siena, and Orvieto.  Each with its own exquisitely beautiful frescoes and unique artistic traditions.

While the primary focus of the trip is historical, we also plan to look at Umbria today.  In the evenings while in Perugia, we plan invite Italians from various walks of life to join us for what we call "Cocktail Incontri.  Last year's guests included a nun from Wisconsin, now baed in Assisi,  a school teacher from Umbria, a college professor from Perugia, and a policeman from a nearby village.  These conversations with local Perugini add substance to our understanding of the region and help bridge the gap that keeps many tourists at arms’ length from the places they visit.  The trip also includes visits to local fabbriche where the traditional products of Umbria--linens, cashmeres, wines, ceramics, olive oils--are still being fabricated. 

The Itinerary, in brief:

Thursday, Feb. 22:   Arrive in Rome.  Transfer to the Albergo Santa Chiara.  Afternoon introduction to the Renaissance with a walking tour that include Bramante’s Tempietto, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with the 15th c. Carafa Chapel (Filipino Lippi), and Santa Maria della Pace (Raphael).

Friday, Feb 23:   Morning visit to the Biblioteca Angelica to see and even handle books and manuscripts from the 15th c.   Afternoon tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, with special attention paid to Pinturicchio’s frescoes in the Borgia Apartments (late 15th c.) as well as the Sistine Chapel.  Group lunch or dinner.

Saturday, Feb 24:   Depart Rome.  Our first stop will be Orvieto with its striped duomo and its stunning Last Judgment by Signorelli (mid 15th c.).  Lunch in Orvieto.  Finish the day in Perugia at the Brufani Palace Hotel.

Sunday, Feb. 25:   Full day in Perugia with its deeply medieval city center, Perugino’s Collegio del Cambio (mid 15th c.) and the local art museum with a remarkable collection of works by all the great Umbrian painters:  Piero della Francesca, Perugino, Raphael, and others.  Group lunch.

Monday, Feb 26:   Morning in Assisi.  The Basilica of San Francesco is a veritable treasure trove of the works by the greatest of the great.  Delicious lunch (Enoteca Proporzio) in Spello.  Pinturicchio’s Baglione Chapel (1501) in a local church is one of the gems of the 15th c.

Tuesday, Feb. 27:   Morning visit to Arezzo, with Piero della Francesca's masterpiece The Story of the True Cross (mid 15th c).  Afternoon visit to the hill town of Solomeo where the luxury clothing line of Brunello Cucinelli is based.  We hope to arrange a factory visit.  We finish our day in Perugia at the weaving studio of Giuditta Brozzetti where Renaissance textiles are still woven by hand on wooden looms. 

Wednesday, Feb 28:   Full day excursion to Siena, where medieval Italy is still alive and well.  Highlights of the day will be the striped Duomo and Piccolomini Library with beautiful frescoes by Pinturicchio.  The Palazzo Publicco houses some very important 14th c. frescoes including Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good and Bad Government, with a message as relevant today as it was 700 years ago.  Lunch along the way.

Thursday, March 1:  Morning visit to the Pardi Linens factory followed by lunch at a winery in Montefalco, a town famous for its Sagrantino wine.  Afternoon visit to the local museum where we enjoy our final fresco cycle:  Benozzo Gozzoli's life of St. Francis (mid-15th c.).  We end the day at the Rome Airport Hilton Hotel.

March 2:  The tour ends with breakfast.

Photo by javarman3/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by javarman3/iStock / Getty Images



The cost of the trip includes two nights at the 3-star Albergo Santa Chiara.  and 5 nights at the 5-star Brufani Palace Hotel in Perugia, where everyone has superior rooms with views of the same landscape that artists have been painting for the past 600 years.

The final night of the trip is at the Rome Airport Hilton.



$3500 in Double Occupancy

$3850 in Single Occupancy

Included:  8 nights in hotels. breakfast each morning, one additional meal each day with wine and coffee, private bus transportation throughout the trip, all entrance fees and tips.

Costs for hotel upgrades available upon request.

Not included:  air and airport transportation, unscheduled meals, room service, items of a personal nature.


This custom tour is intended for the docents of the Portland Museum of Art and their friends. To sign up for a trip or to request additional information contact:

I never thought I would join a group tour to Italy, a country I've visited many times on my own.  That was until a friend showed me an Italian Journey’s itinerary.  Several years and four trips later, I realize that I have learned so much more than I would have traveling on my own. I now can "read" a Renaissance fresco . . . and so much else.

Martha Farnsworth Riche, Trumansburg, NY