Rome and the Hill Towns of Central Italy
March 14 to 22, 2019
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." Past guests have included a nun from Wisconsin, now based 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, March 14: Arrive in Rome. Transfer to the Albergo Santa Chiara. Afternoon introduction to the Renaissance with a walking tour that includes the Palazzo Spada plus various Renaissance buildings in what is for the most part a Baroque city. Dinner to follow.
Friday, March 15 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, March 16: Depart Rome. Our first stop will be Orvieto with its striped duomo and stunning Last Judgment by Signorelli (mid 15th c.). Lunch in Orvieto. If there is interest, we will stop in the afternoon at the cashmere factory store of the designer Fabiana Filippi. Finish the day in Perugia at the Brufani Palace Hotel.
Sunday, March 17: 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. Cocktail Incontro at our hotel in the early evening.
Monday, March 18: 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. Group lunch. Cocktail Incontro.
Tuesday, March 19: Morning visit to Arezzo, with Piero della Francesca's masterpiece The Story of the True Cross (mid 15th c). Afternoon visit to the weaving studio of Giuditta Brozzetti where Renaissance textiles are still woven by hand on wooden looms. Group lunch. Cocktail Incontro.
Wednesday, March 20: 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 in Siena.
Thursday, March 21: 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.
The cost of the trip includes standard rooms at the 3-star Albergo Santa Chiara. For an additional fee, you can upgrade your room at the Albergo Santa Chiara or to the nearby 5-star Grand Hotel de la Minerve.
In Perugia, we spend 5 nights at the 5-star Brufani Palace Hotel 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.
$3600 in Double Occupancy
$4050 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.
Group size: 12 people
Optional add-on in Rome:
March 14: Morning tour of the Galleria Borghese, perhaps the most beautiful art gallery in Italy.