Depart from your city to Rome
NOTE: Daily schedule listings below indicate in parentheses which meals are covered by your tour purchase (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=dinner)
Arrive in Rome and transfer by bus to a first class resort hotel in Maremma, Tuscany, with a private beach and a crystal clear sea on a scenic gulf. This resort will be our home away from home for the next 4 nights. If you want to relax on the beach and take a long walk in the forest instead of going on a day tour, feel free to do so.
During the drive we will stop about one hour to visit Capalbio. This beautiful village is one of the most romantic on the Etruscan Riviera and is largely undiscovered by tourists. The turquoise water of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the beautiful coastline, and the simple and tranquil village life are the perfect combination for relaxation.
Full day tour 1 – This morning we will visit lovely Lucca, one of the few cities with its Medieval walls intact. The wide walls have been transformed into a charming pedestrian promenade ringing the old town. Each of the four principal sides is lined with a different type of tree. In the afternoon we will see Italy’s most photographed attraction, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The tower is one of many exquisite works of art and architecture in the city’s Campo dei Miracoli or “Field of Miracles”, which also houses the Duomo (a Duomo is the main cathedral in an Italian city) and the Baptistery.
(B, L & D)
This morning we will journey to Florence, the heart of the European Renaissance. Florence is an open-air exhibit of art and culture where beauty is a way of life. We will stroll across the romantic Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) to admire the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) and Giotto’s bell tower. We will experience the gigantic Duomo housing a large painting of Dante’s Inferno that plays a key role in Dan Brown’s novel and movie Inferno.
We will take in the Uffizi Gallery, the world’s greatest museum of Italian Renaissance art. Professor Beaufort will reveal the secrets of beloved paintings like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera (Spring, seen on the left), Leonardo’s Annunciation and Adoration of the Magi, Titian’s Venus of Urbino, and many others.
(B, L & D)
Today we will see first hand why the enchanting scenery of the Tuscan countryside is so well-loved with its picturesque vistas bathed in golden light. We will visit Siena, Italy’s best preserved and most beautiful medieval town. Siena’s heart is the Piazza del Campo famous for the Palio, a festival and horse race that takes place on the piazza twice a year. The majestic Duomo contains works by Donatello and Pisano. In the old City Hall we will gain inspiration from the Allegory of Good Government which envisions ideal life in town and country.
(B, L & D)
This morning we will depart for Rome, the Eternal City. Along the way, we will stop in the hilltop towns of Orvieto & Todi. Orvieto has one of the loveliest cathedrals in Italy with a facade encrusted with brilliantly colored mosaics. Sit at a café table and watch the ever-changing tableau of this evocative square, or stop for a gelato at one of the finest ice cream shops in Italy. We will continue to Todi, which boasts one of the few central plan churches, a symmetry that Leonardo and Bramante considered the ideal of architecture.
Our first class hotel in the heart of Rome is near many famous sites and will be our home for the next 3 nights, We invite you to enjoy dinner at a nearby local restaurant.
We will make a pilgrimage to the sacred town of Assisi where Saint Francis and Saint Clare were born and lived. Their purity, devotion, and cosmic awareness are still felt by visitors. In the St. Francis Basilica we will see Giotto’s frescos depicting the life of the saint, and experience the spiritually powerful tomb of St. Francis. From Assisi we will journey to Spello, home of wondrous paintings by Pinturicchio. We’ll savor some of best Italian culinary specialties like olive oil, truffles, and porcini mushrooms while marveling at a panoramic view of the Umbrian countryside.
We will take a walking tour of Rome. The historical sites of the city are closed to traffic, thus the best way to explore Rome is to use the convenient subway system. We will visit the famous attractions: St. Peter’s Basilica, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, and the Coliseum. We will appreciate the grandeur of Imperial Rome 2000 years ago. We will continue down Via dei Fori Imperiali and, along the Via Sacra, we will follow in the footsteps of Julius Caesar, Marc Anthony, and the Good Emperors. Then we will visit the Capitol Hill with its square by Michelangelo and Piazza Venezia, considered the Center of Italy.
This morning we’ll take a high speed train to Florence. After an early lunch we’ll stroll through the fantastic statuary and mysterious grottos of the Boboli Gardens, a backdrop for Dan Brown’s novel Inferno. Then Professor Beaufort will highlight the artistic treasures of the Pitti Palace, including works by Raphael, Georgione, Rubens, and Caravaggio. We will also regale in the luxurious Royal Apartments and, if there’s time, stop in at the costume and fashion museum.
Today we’ll explore the medieval Baptistry with its incredible mandala-like mosaic ceiling illustrating the layers of creation from divine to angelic to human. In the Duomo Museum Professor Beaufort will engage us to discover stories encoded in art, including Donatello’s haunting Mary Magdalene, Ghiberti’s luminous Gates of Paradise, and Michelangelo’s Pieta, which contains a self-portrait. After lunch, Professor Beaufort will explain Masaccio’s revolutionary Brancacci Chapel, which ignited the Renaissance in painting.
In the late afternoon, we will pilgrimage by van to San Miniato on the mountain, an exquisite 1000-year old church. Those who wish can attend Mass in the crypt. Then we will all listen to the monks sing melodious and moving Gregorian chant. Afterwards we’ll stroll down the hill to the Piazzale Michelangelo to enjoy dinner with a panoramic view of Florence.
This morning we will focus on the art of Michelangelo. In the Accademia, we’ll experience his magnificent and heroic David, as well as the Captive Slaves, which reveal his method of working. Then in San Lorenzo we’ll explore his evocative sculptures of Dawn, Dusk, Day, Night, and the Medici Madonna, as well as innovative Renaissance architecture.
In the afternoon we’ll return to the Uffizi to explore more masterworks including Michelangelo’s only panel painting, the Holy Family. Professor Beaufort will illuminate works by Giotto, Lippi, Rembrandt, Durer, and many other great artists.
As an alternative to the Uffizi, you may choose to shop, explore on your own, or pass time in a café.
This morning we’ll visit the monastery of San Marco to delight in the pure and celestial art of Fra Angelico. We’ll explore monk’s cells with simple yet powerful images to aid in contemplation and meditation. We will also compare two large frescos of the Last Supper that inspired Leonardo to create his famous depiction. We’ll lunch in the gourmet food court of Florence’s Central Market, where you can watch chefs and bakers creating Italian delicacies. Then spend a couple hours shopping for quality gifts and souvenirs from nearby boutique shops and street vendors. Early this evening we will catch a high-speed train to Rome.
Our grand hotel, a former Papal palace, is only a five-minute walk from the Vatican. Today we’ll explore the vast artistic riches of the Vatican Museums, with some of the world’s best ancient Roman sculpture. We will experience the astonishing magnificence of Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling now restored to full, vibrant color. Professor Beaufort will illuminate the profound symbolism of the Creation of Adam in the light of higher states of consciousness. He will also explain how Raphael’s School of Athens and many other works exemplify transcendental beauty and truth.
Enjoy a safe return home, enriched with unforgettable memories and meaningful inspirations.
NOTE: This itinerary is subject to changes for logistical reasons