1st – 5th March 2023
Bologna is a wonderfully vibrant city full of surprising treasures. With the oldest university in Europe, unbeatable food, first class artworks and its untouched medieval centre, it is hard to believe that it is so free from tourists. However, what makes this city really special are its porticoes, which have recently been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. The arched arcades began to emerge in the 12th and 13th century and weave their way across 62km of the city. One day will be spent in Modena visiting the remarkable 16th century life-size terracotta sculptures and the Romanesque Cathedral. We will also discover the secrets of Balsamic vinegar with a tasting at a traditional acetaia and there will be a chance to master the art of Bolognese cooking at an excellent school.
Good food and markets will play an important part of our time in Bologna and so we will stay in the historical centre near the lively market streets full of excellent bars and restaurants.
Wednesday 1st March
Our morning flight will get us to Bologna just in time to settle in to our hotel and have a quick light lunch at a good restaurant close by. The eclectic collection of buildings creating the impressive Piazza Maggiore is an ideal place to introduce the history of Bologna. We will pause at the wonderful doors before entering the cavernous San Petronio. Here we will see a fabulous San Rocco by Parmigianino and a highly disturbing, but truly fantastic portrayal of Dante’s Inferno. A real treat lies in store for us in the small church of Santa Maria della Vita nearby. Our first introduction to Niccolo dell’Arca will leave you questioning why Bologna does not play a larger role in the History of Art as we know it. The sculptor’s passionate portrayal of the Lamentation in life-size terracotta will stay with you forever. Our last surprise is to be found in the Medical School nearby. Beautifully frescoed arcades will lead us to a fascinating 18th century anatomical theatre, made entirely of wood with carved figures lining the walls. After an apperitivo or two we will walk to a lively trattoria for supper.
Thursday 2nd March
In the morning we hope to have a private visit to an old Palazzo, now a bank, to see some rather wonderful hidden Carracci ceiling paintings. We will then follow the arcaded medieval streets to find San Giacamo Maggiore with the Bentivoglio Chapel frescoed by Lorenzo Costa. Next door is the Oratory of Santa Cecilia with fascinating frescoes by Francesco Francia, Lorenzo Costa and Amico Aspertini.
Lunch will be at one of my favourite places in Bologna, a quirky restaurant housed in an old pharmacy. We will then visit one of the most peaceful church complexes in Italy, Santo Stefano, known locally as Santa Gerusalemme. Seven small churches, one dating from the 5th century, intertwine to create a fascinating story. On our way home we will pass under the ‘Due Torri’, one leaning more alarmingly than the Tower of Pisa. We will have supper at a local restaurant.
Friday 3rd March
We will spend the day in the medieval town of Modena. Famous for Pavarotti, Ferrari and vinegar, we will explore the latter. On the outskirts of town is found the villa of one of the oldest balsamic vinegar producers, where we will pop in for some tasting. Before a fun local lunch of tigelle, we can explore the Mercato Albinelli, one of our favourites in Italy.
In the afternoon we will visit the perfectly preserved Romanesque Cathedral. It is no surprise that this is a World Heritage Site due to the amount of exquisite treasures within. Another local terracotta master of great skill is the little known Antonio Begarelli. We will search out his life-size scene of the Deposition which fills an entire chapel. A true feat of engineering. Our coach will take us back to Bologna where we will have an excellent supper in the centre.
Saturday 4th March
For those who wish, we will walk to the Salotto di Penelope in a beautiful area of Bologna. Barbara and Pietro will share their passion and knowledge of Bolognese cooking with us and we will learn to make a variety of dishes. We will enjoy our efforts over lunch.
In the afternoon we will visit San Domenico, home to one of the more important, yet under visited monuments in the Christian world, the tomb of St. Dominic. It is beautifully sculpted in marble by three great artists; Nicola Pisano, Niccolo dell’Arca and Michelangelo. Nearby hangs a charming painting by Filippino Lippi of ‘The Marriage of St. Catherine’. There will be plenty of time to shop or relax before supper at a charming restaurant.
Sunday 5th March
We will start the day with a walk (or bus for those who prefer) to San Luca, along a monumental 3.8km roofed arcade, the Portico di San Luca. The arcade consists of 666 arches, making it the longest covered walkway in the world and was originally built to protect the icon of the Madonna as it was paraded up the hill. At the summit we will be rewarded with stunning views over the city, a fantastic restaurant to eat lunch, and of course the church of San Luca itself. We will return to the centre either on foot or by minibus.
Our coach will then take us to the airport for our flight home.
The trip will be led by Charlie Winton and Ed Aspinall. Ed studied Art History at the British Institute of Florence and at Cambridge University, and is a specialist in the art of the Italian Renaissance. Charlie lived in Bologna for three years and so knows the intricacies of the city well. Both Charlie and Ed are also experienced experts in the food of Bologna!
We will stay in the medieval centre at the Corona d’Oro. This four-star hotel is an interesting combination of a 19th century palazzo and a 13th century porticoed building. It has also just renovated the bar and provides excellent aperitivi!
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 British Airways:
1st March London Heathrow 08.40 – 11.55 Bologna BA0540
5th March Bologna 19.20 – 20.55 London Heathrow BA0545
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.
Dinner is by no means compulsory, but we book a table for the group each night at different restaurants and divide the bill equally between everyone.
The fees are £2100 which includes accommodation and breakfast, all lunches, transfers for the recommended flight, transport when connected with teaching, entrance fees, tuition, Cooking lesson, Balsamic Vinegar tasting, reading lists and local advice. The single occupancy supplement is £195 (double room for single use). Not included are the flights, all suppers, travel insurance. The group will not exceed 16 people and we will divide in to two smaller groups wherever possible.
If you have any queries please email charlie@arthistoryabroad or call 01379 871800 (302)