Baroque Rome and Orvieto

Private View of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel

13th – 17th November 2023

*Two Places Left*

A trip to Italy in the Autumn is always special, fewer crowds and an excellent time of year for food and wine. Our focus will be on the drama of the High Renaissance and Baroque taking in historic Orvieto as well as the Eternal City, Rome. We will concentrate on the bold works of Signorelli, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Bernini and Borromini.

Orvieto is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the death of their leading artist Signorelli, whose Last Judgement cycle was so pivotal to Michelangelo. In Rome, we will study the master of drama, Caravaggio and the dramatic rivalry of Bernini and Borromini. The highlight of the trip will be the extraordinary experience of a private visit to the Vatican culminating in the Sistine Chapel and the Last Judgement by Michelangelo.

We will stay in two historic hotels, both with an unbeatable locations. Add in good food, wine and company to create a perfect Autumn escape.


Monday 13th November
We will land in Rome at midday and drive to our hotel. After we have dropped off our bags, we will take a short walk to orientate ourselves with the history of our local area, before heading to a delicious lunch.

We will then set off via the Campo di Fiori, the site of one of many dramatic episodes in Caravaggio’s life, to San Luigi dei Francesi. Here we will spend time looking at Caravaggio’s first important ecclesiastical commission focusing on the Life of St. Matthew. Next, we will visit S. Agostino to see Caravaggio’s ‘Madonna of Loreto’. Nearby we will find Bernini’s charismatic elephant and finish with a quick visit to the Pantheon. In the evening we will enjoy a spritz followed by dinner in Trastevere.

Tuesday 14th November
Very early in the morning we will meet the holder of the 300 keys to the Vatican and join them as they open each room. Our visit will take us through the main rooms including the Raphael Stanze and we will finish in the Sistine Chapel and watch as the custodian switches on the lights. Here we will have the rare opportunity to study the frescoes without the crowds. After a delicious breakfast in the Vatican before it opens, we will stay on to study some of the areas in more detail. On our way back from the Vatican there will be an optional visit to Palazzo Spada to see important works by Artemisia Gentileschi and a special surprise by one of our architects or you can return to the hotel for a quick rest.

After a good lunch, we will visit the church that historically welcomed pilgrims to Rome, a true treasure-trove of artistic highlights, Santa Maria del Popolo, designed by Raphael and home to important works by Pinturicchio and Caravaggio. We will end the day in Piazza Navona looking at the fountain designed by Bernini and Borromini’s Chiesa di Sant’ Agnese in Agone commissioned by the powerful Pamphili family. Dinner will be in a local place that specialises in modern Roman cuisine.

Wednesday 15th November
In the morning we will head to the Museo Borghese to study masterpieces by Caravaggio and Bernini, as well as other masters including Titian and Raphael. We will discuss Bernini’s greatest sculptural works; ‘Daphne and Apollo’ and ‘Pluto and Proserpina’. Here we will look at how artists interpret the drama of their narratives and use light in their works. We will then have lunch before boarding our coach to Orvieto, taking about an hour and a half.

On arrival in Orvieto, we will check into our hotel and orientate ourselves with a walk and discuss the history of the town over an aperitivo. This medieval city may be small, but it is packed full of historical delights. We may take a quick visit to the church of Sant’ Andrea among other views. Supper will be at an historic trattoria that contains a secret adventure.

Thursday 16th November
Our morning will be devoted to the magnificent Duomo, one of the greatest of all Italy’s cathedrals, which has a stunning golden mosaic Gothic façade. The interior is no less striking and is full of treasures including frescoes by Luca Signorelli, which had such an important influence on Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel.

Lunch will be at a local favourite. We will then explore more of the city with a visit to a masterpiece of 16th century engineering at the Pozzo di San Patrizio, a well shaft with a double spiral staircase designed to supply the whole city with water. Dinner will be at an excellent trattoria.

Friday 17th November
We will have a leisurely start, allowing you to explore the city further or to pick up some pick up some treats to take home. We will then take our coach towards the airport, stopping enroute at the extraordinary ‘Sacro Bosco’ at Bomarzo. These dramatic gardens, also known as ‘Park of the Monsters’ were created in 16th Century by Vincino Orsini. This bizarre masterpiece, hidden deep in a wooded valley, was not rediscovered until the 20th century when Salvadore Dali put it back on the map. We will then have a late lunch before heading on to the airport for our flight home.


Further Details

Cat Manson and Ed Aspinall will lead the trip. Both tutors know Rome well and are experts on where to find the best restaurants, shops and cafes.

In Rome we will stay at the Albergo del Senato in the heart of the city with a roof terrace overlooking the Pantheon. In Orvieto we will stay in the best hotel available, the Palazzo Piccolomini, built by the Papal family in 16th century. The rooms are small and simple, but the communal spaces and location are unbeatable. In both hotels we have booked standard rooms and you can upgrade to a superior room at the Senato with a Pantheon view plus a suite in the Piccolomini for £300 extra in total. Please let me know as soon as possible as these are subject to availability and limited in number.

Albergo del Senato Website
Palazzo Piccolomini Website

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 with British airways:

13th November 08.55 London Heathrow – Rome Fiumicino 12.40 BA0554
17th November 17.25 Rome Fiumicino – London Heathrow 19.10 BA0559

There will be a private coach for the airport transfer to meet the recommended flights. Private coach to Orvieto. We will mostly walk but may also take taxis.

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.

There is quite a bit of walking on this trip, as well as uneven terrain. Orvieto has some very steep streets. As is the case for all our courses, there is a lot of standing while we discuss the works we are looking at.

The fees are £1950 which includes accommodation and breakfast, all lunches, transfers for the recommended flight, transport when connected with teaching, entrance fees, the Vatican Private Visit, tuition, reading lists and local advice. The single room supplement is £150 (double room for single use). The upgrade supplement is £300 and subject to availability. 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 per person via bank transfer.

Please call 01379 871800 or email [email protected] if you have any queries.

NB you must buy your own Flight.

Registration Form

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