Trail of Piero della Francesca

6th –13th October


When travelling through the hills of Umbria and Tuscany it is easy to see how Piero della Francesca was inspired to create such glorious paintings.  Even the light has a certain ethereal quality.  Our trip aims to combine the rich art this area has to offer with a chance to enjoy the landscape, towns and villages which make this region so special.  Many of the paintings are to be found tucked away up twisty streets or in little churches perched high in the hills, often overlooked by the less intrepid traveller.

The trip will concentrate on Piero della Francesca, but we will also look at many other great artists along the way.  We will stay in Citta di Castello for three nights and from there we can easily travel to Sansepolcro, Arezzo and Monterchi.  We will move on to Perugia for two nights followed by Urbino for two nights. We will also visit Rimini on the way home.


Sunday 6th October

We will arrive on a morning flight into Bologna, from there we will drive to the beautiful town of Citta di Castello, stopping for some lunch enroute. Once we arrive at Citta di Castello, we will unpack and settle into our hotel before heading out into the town for an introduction to our trip and some supper at a lively trattoria.

Monday 7th October

We will go for a day trip to the market town of Sansepolcro, birthplace of Piero himself. In the morning we will visit the Museum Civico which holds several works by the master, including the Resurrection and the Madonna della Misericordia. After lunch we will visit the Duomo, which contains a gilded polyptych of the Resurrection attributed to Niccolo di Segna, and perhaps influenced Piero’s version of the same scene. We will also see Piero’s tomb before driving back to Citta di Castello for dinner in the centre of the old town.

Tuesday 8th October

The day will be spent in the lively town of Arezzo. It is all you could hope for from a medieval Tuscan town, but thankfully without the crowds. We will see paintings by Piero della Francesca at San Francesco, home to the truly remarkable fresco cycle of the Story of the True Cross.  Not only is Arezzo rich in art but as we will discover, it has some excellent restaurants for lunch.  Fully refreshed, we will then search out another Piero in the Duomo, the monumental fresco of Mary Magdalene. We will have time to see a couple of Arezzo’s other treasures before travelling back to Citta di Castello for supper.

Wednesday 9th October

In the morning we will set off for the tiny village of Monterchi, the proud custodians of Piero’s Madonnna del Parto – a touching fresco of the pregnant virgin. We will continue on our way towards Perugia, which will be our base for the next couple of nights. We will break the journey with a stop for some lunch at a great lace we know. Once we arrive in Perugia, we will have some time to settle into our hotel before exploring the city along with the fascinating ‘underground city’.  Dinner will be at our favourite place in Perugia.

Thursday 10th October

We will start the day at the Palazzo dei Priori, home to the Galleria Nazionale and an exceptional Polyptych of San Antonio by Piero della Francesca.  We will also look at works by Duccio, Fra Angelico, Benozzo Gozzoli and Gentile da Fabriano. After a good lunch, the afternoon will be free for a rest, wander and shop (to stock up on Perugia’s famous chocolate should one wish).  Supper at a fun trattoria in the centre.

Friday 11th October

We will spend the morning searching out the fantastic churches of Perugia, including San Domenico for a painting by 16th century nun Plautilla Nelli, and the Chapel of San Severo for the well-hidden Raphael fresco. After lunch we will travel to our final hotel in Urbino. Once we have settled in, we will have a walking introduction to the city followed by supper in the beautiful old centre.

Saturday 12th October

Our first visit of the day will be to the Palazzo Ducale, where Duke Federico da Montefeltro gathered around him the great artists, architects and thinkers of the second half of the fifteenth century when Urbino became one of the most prestigious courts in Italy. Federico’s Studiolo within the palace allows you to conjure up a meeting of renaissance minds such as Alberti, Piero and Bramante.  In the Duke’s private apartments hang spectacular paintings by Piero – the Flagellation and the Madonna of Senigalia. We will also see the Ideal City and other wonderful works in the collection by Uccello, Signorelli, Raphael, Titian and Barocci. After a well-earned lunch we will visit the Oratorio of St John the Baptist, with its exceptional fresco cycle by the Salimbeni brothers.  Last, we will seek out the Oratorio of San Giuseppe and other local treasures. Supper will be at a great restaurant nearby the hotel.

Sunday 13th October

With our bags packed we will travel to Rimini, a popular seaside destination for Italians. We will take a look at some of the city’s Roman remains before seeing one last Piero in the Tempio Malatestiano. There will be time to have some lunch and a wander before we make our way to Bologna airport and fly home.


Tuition – Dr Richard Stemp and Cat Manson will lead the trip, both of whom are experts in their field and know Tuscany and Umbria well.

Hotels – In Citta di Castello we will stay in Hotel Tiferno which is a former 17th century monastery converted into a 4-star boutique hotel. In Perugia, we will stay in the Sina Brufani, a 5-star hotel which overlooks sweeping views of Umbria’s valleys. In Urbino we will stay in, Albergo San Domenico, a former convent located right in front of the Ducal Palace.

FlightsWe 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:

Sunday 6th Oct           London Heathrow – Bologna    08:35 – 11:45      BA0540

Sunday 13th Oct         Bologna – London Heathrow   19:55 – 21:15       BA0545

Transport – There will be airport transfers to meet the recommended flights and we will travel by private coach between the towns.  Please note that due to the nature of the trip there is a lot of coach travel, with the average being 40 minutes and the maximum journey length being 1 ½ hours.

Ability – There is quite a lot of walking on this trip, as well as slopes and uneven cobbles.  As many of the streets are small you will need to walk from the coach to the churches and museums.  As is the case for all our courses, there is a lot of standing while we discuss the works we are looking at.

Dinners – 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.  We will adjust the bill for those not drinking alcohol.

All lunches will be set menus and some restaurants may also require a set menu for dinner.

Cost – The fees are £2690 which includes accommodation and breakfast, all eight lunches, transfers for the recommended flight, transport when connected with teaching, entrance fees, tuition, reading lists and local advice.  The single occupancy supplement is £190 (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.

To register – Please complete the online registration form, having read our terms and conditions and pay the fees via bank transfer.

Terms & Conditions

Please register your interest by emailing charlie@arthistoryabroad or calling 01379 871800 (302)