Art and Wine Tour of Tuscany
25th – 29th September 2023
*2 Places Left*
It is impossible truly to understand the Italian people without understanding their passions. First, family. Next, food, wine and art, in whichever order they may prefer, an order which will vary according to the occasion. For the first time, Art History Abroad is putting together a trip that will give equal space to these three cornerstones of Italian culture. From our base in a lovely and historic hotel just outside Siena, we will explore the vineyards, restaurants and artistic sites of this most beloved part of Italy.
Our trip will not only take in the best vineyards and estates of the region with high quality wine-tastings, but we will also study artworks in Siena, San Gimignano and the Abbey of Sant’ Antimo. Our beautiful hotel is set in the countryside with stunning views over the Sienese hills, wonderful grounds to explore and a pool.
Monday 25th September
We will make our way from Pisa airport by private minibus to the hotel, via lunch at an out-of-the-way trattoria near San Gimignano. Our base for the week will be La Torre alle Tolfe, only 4km from Siena but surrounded by rolling hills and olive groves. The tower, situated within the grounds of over 100 hectares, dates from the eighth century and is reputed to have been built by one of Charlemagne’s knights. Winemaking on the estate was recorded as early as 1316 and, depending on the timing of the harvest, we may be able to roll up our sleeves and get involved!
We will enjoy a talk from former River Cafe sommelier Emily O’Hare on the story of wine in Tuscany, followed by our first tasting of the trip. Dinner will be taken at the hotel while enjoying views of Siena and the Tuscan hills.
Tuesday 26th September
Our first venture into Siena will be an opportunity to learn about the history of the city and how it developed its own artistic tradition. We will visit the cathedral with works by some of the greatest artists of the day, including Donatello, Pinturicchio and Michelangelo. We will also visit the studio of the highly talented Marco Caratelli for a demonstration of tempera painting and the technique of applying gold leaf.
After lunch at one of our favourite trattorias, we will make our way to San Gimignano for a private tour and tasting at the Montenidoli Estate, famous for wines made with the eponymous Vernaccia di San Gimignano grapes. After a walk around San Gimignano, we will return home via dinner at a wonderful restaurant in the beautiful hill town of Monteriggioni.
Wednesday 27th September
In the morning there will be a chance to discover the art of foraging in the surrounding countryside. A local guide will take us on a Botanical Walk and help us to recognise wild plants and explain their practical uses. At the end of the walk, we will learn how to make our own herbal infused oils and ointments using what we have foraged from the land.
After lunch we will make our way to the fortress of Brolio, home to the wine-making Ricasoli family since at least 1141. Dinner will be taken under the trees in the wood below the fortress.
Thursday 28th September
After breakfast we will travel to the heart of Brunello country, to the lovely town of Montalcino where we can stop for a cappuccino. We will then head to the Sesti family-owned estate, producer of some of the finest Brunellos and Rosso di Montalcinos available, for a private tasting. We will remain on the estate for a private lunch.
On our way back from Montalcino we will spend some time at one of the most special churches in Italy, the Abbey of Sant’ Antimo. A church has been recorded on this site since the 9th century, with the current building dating from the 1100s. It is a place of great peace with a tangible sense of spirituality and, mercifully, it does not appear on the regular tourist trail.
After a freshen up back at the hotel, we will have dinner at a special restaurant in Siena.
Friday 29th September
After a more relaxing breakfast, we will finish the trip in style with our final tasting at Fattoria San Donato with Angelica Fenzi, also an AHA tutor. We will join Angelica for a delicious lunch on her family estate. From here we will be taken to the airport for the flight home.
Ed Aspinall has led several trips for Art History Abroad and is a specialist in Italian Renaissance art.
Ben Whitfield is a restaurateur and founder of Whitfield Wines, which specialises in French and Italian wines, with a focus on the wines of Tuscany.
We will stay at La Torre Alle Tolfe, a sustainably run Tuscan estate a few kilometers away from Siena and owned by the Castelli Family. The historic villa is surrounded by a farm and a winery producing organic wines and olive oil. There is also a restaurant on site with its own vegetable garden, a pool and a tennis court.
We do not book the flights thus allowing you to travel to suit your budget, use airmiles, travel between different airports or on different dates. However, we recommend buying the following flights with Easyjet:
We will travel in comfort in a private coach with air-conditioning. There will be airport transfers to meet the recommended flights.
There is quite a bit of walking on this trip, as well as uneven cobbles and steep slopes. As is the case for all our courses, there is a lot of standing while we discuss the works we are looking at. Two of the days will be long as the group will eat dinner on the way back to the hotel in the evening.
The 1st dinner at the hotel is included in the fees. The 2nd and 3rd dinner will be taken enroute back to the hotel at the end of the day. We will take taxis to Siena from the hotel for the last dinner. Except for the 1st dinner, we will divide the bill equally between everyone.
The fees are £2290 which includes accommodation and breakfast, all lunches, 1st evening dinner, transfers for the recommended flight, transport when connected with teaching, entrance fees, tuition, all wine-tastings, private visits, foraging walk, reading lists and local advice. The single occupancy supplement is £190 (double room for single use). Not included are the flights, all other suppers, travel insurance. The group will not exceed 16 people.
Please complete the online application form and pay a deposit of £600 per person via bank transfer.
Please call 01379 871800 or email [email protected] if you have any queries.
NB you must buy your own flights.