Porto and the Douro Valley

26th September – 1st October 2022

*Fully Booked*

We are excited to be returning to Porto and the Douro Valley after such a successful tour in 2021. Porto itself is a busy place, where Portuguese trade has forged ahead. One only needs to think of Port itself. Set a little inside the Douro estuary, its vertiginous streets and wonderful architecture make this a city of mediaeval, renaissance, baroque, neoclassical and eclectic architecture. Both contained and various, Porto is simply beautiful.

By contrast the Douro Valley is magnificent to behold. Again, steep valley walls cut through granite over millennia, terraced and clipped into shape since before the Romans, this is a landscape at which to wonder. We have timed the trip to coincide with the vines laden with grapes, a truly delicious sight. On our last night we will go north to Guimaraes, a delightful mediaeval city and to Braga which too is full of history.

This is a tour of great variety; elaborate baroque, glorious sculpture, wine and port, tiles and landscape – please join us.

Itinerary

Monday 26th September
We will arrive in Porto at midday and take our private bus to the hotel. The Hotel Portobay is a newly renovated old palace with additional buildings which are beautifully brought together. Once settled in we will have a light lunch before a relaxed introduction to this beautiful city. We will set off on a walking tour of the old town, Ribeira, taking in the Cathedral in particular. With time to unpack and refresh in the late afternoon, we will set out again in the early evening for a wander along the Douro River and dinner.

Tuesday 27th September
In the morning we will head out for a more thorough exploration of Porto. One of the most splendid buildings is the Church of San Francesco together with a small museum of wonderful polychrome statues. Next we will visit the Museo da Misericórdia before moving on to the impressive Palácio da Bolsa, or stock exchange, where we remind ourselves that Porto was an important place for trade in the nineteenth century – and also an excellent place for lunch.

One of the greatest aspects of Portugese art are the decorated tiles. We will have seen them everywhere. In the early afternoon, we have an optional session of tile painting. Nothing illustrates more the skill that lies behind such decoration. It is enormously enjoyable too. Later in the afternoon we will cross the splendid Dom Lius I Bridge, designed by a pupil of Gustave Eiffel to Gaia, where the great port houses are found and where we will spend the early evening tasting wonderful ports. Supper close by at a Cantina.

Wednesday 28th September
We will spend the morning doing a spot of church hopping to include the Clerigos Church with its wonderful Baroque tower designed by the painter-architect Nicolau Nasoni, as well as Our Lady of Carmo and the Carmelitas. We will end the morning at the Livraria Lello, ranked among the most beautiful bookshops in the world.

After lunch we will take a train up the Douro Valley, pausing to take in the wonderful mosaics in the station. The journey up the Douro, hugging the north bank all the way, has to be one of the more impressive rides in Europe. When we arrive at Pinhão we will be met by a small bus to take us to the Quinta de la Rosa, which is perched on the north bank of the river. The rooms are well appointed and spread over several farm buildings. Some of the rooms are a short pleasant walk through the vines to the dining room for breakfast. Dinner will be in Pinhão at the water’s edge.

Thursday 29th Sepetmber
It is always nice to get onto the water so we have chartered a boat privately to take us up river. Then we will board a private bus for Lamego and the monastery of São João de Tarouca. Lamego is a busy little town, full of Baroque palaces and dominated by the pilgrimage church of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios. The town museum in the former episcopal palace contains a series of panels by Grão Vasco. We will also visit the cathedral, a largely Renaissance building with a Romanesque bell tower. In the church of São João de Tarouca there are paintings by Grão Vasco and Gaspar Vaz, beside which are the ruins of the first Cistercian abbey in Portugal. As our Quinta is a working winery we will have a tasting before an excellent supper.

Friday 30th September
Leaving our Quinta after a leisurely morning, we will travel north to Guimarães, known as the historical capital of Portugal and a charming town. The Hotel Olivero is in the middle of town and after lunch we will explore the well-preserved medieval quarter with its cobbled streets and old town houses. Supper at Guimarães.

Saturday 1st October
In the morning we will travel to Braga, which once competed with Santiago de Compostela in Spain in terms of power and importance and remains to this day one of Portugal’s main religious centres with the oldest cathedral in the country. After lunch we will visit the Museu dos Biscainhos, which is a smart 18th century palace with a charming garden before driving to the airport which is an hour away.

Further Details

Tuition

Nicholas Ross and Richard Stemp will lead the trip. Both tutors have taken several trips to Portugal and are keen enthusiast of all the country has to offer.

Hotels

In Porto we will stay in the 5 star Hotel Portobay do Flores located on a pretty pedestrian street with an inner courtyard and an indoor pool, we have booked superior rooms. In Pinhão we will stay outside the town in Quinta de la Rosa. The Quinta (farm or estate) has a stunning location with rooms spread along the riverside. We have seven rooms in an old farmhouse with a small swimming pool.  It is about 300 meters from the dining room and breakfast room. The remaining rooms are close to the reception. In Guimarães we will stay at the charming 4 star Hotel Oliveira located in the centre of town.

www.portobay.com/en/hotels/porto-hotels/portobay-flores/

www.quintadelarosa.com

www.hoteldaoliveira.com/en/

Flights

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. We recommend buying the following flights out with Easyjet  and return with TAP.

26th September Easyjet London Gatwick 09.50 – 12.15 Porto EJU8583
1st October TAP Air Porto 18.05 – 20.20 London Gatwick TP1332

www.easyjet.com
www.flytap.com

Transport

There will be a private coach for the airport transfer to meet the recommended flights. We will take the train to Pinhão and there will be a boat trip. We will mostly walk in the towns.

Ability

There is quite a bit of walking on this trip, as well as uneven terrain 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.

Covid-19

We will send out our Covid-19 Safety Protocol shortly before the trip. Please read the Covid-19 cancellation policy in our Terms and Conditions and ensure your travel insurance covers you for cancellation should you test positive for Covid-19.

Cost

The fees are £2150 which includes accommodation and breakfast, all lunches, transfers for the recommended flight, transport when connected with teaching, boat trip, entrance fees, wine-tasting, reading lists and local advice. The single room supplement is £210 (double room for single use). Please state on the form if you would be happy to share. Not included are the flights, all suppers and travel insurance. The group will not exceed 16 people.

To register

Please complete the online application form and pay a deposit of £600.00. Please call 01379 871800 or email charlie@arthistoryabroad.com if you have any queries.

NB you must buy your own flights.