11th – 14th May 2021
May is a beautiful time to be in Siena. The continued importance of the ‘Palio’ horserace that takes place twice a year attests to a history that remains very much part of its present. Once a fierce rival of its larger neighbour Florence, Siena was able to attract artists such as Michelangelo and Donatello and thus within the complex of its stunning cathedral there is a wealth of art to study. Add to this a rich local school of painting, with important names including Duccio, Simone Martini and the Lorenzetti brothers and you see that this is truly a unique cultural centre. We will also have the chance to visit the studio of Marco Caratelli, a charming and highly skilled master of tempera painting and gold leaf. For those who wish, there will be a workshop where you can try the techniques for yourself.
We will stay at the best hotel in town, beautifully frescoed and a stone’s throw from the campo. It goes without saying that the food and wine will be excellent and the company fun. So do join us for this short escape to Italy.
Tuesday 11th May
Our flight will land in Florence just after lunch and we will take our coach to Siena. Once we have settled into our hotel we will begin exploring this beautiful city by walking its winding streets to the famous Piazza del Campo. The site of the famous Palio horse race, this is the ideal place to discuss the rich history of the city and its particular system of rule whose legacy is still felt in the city today. Dinner will be at an excellent restaurant near to the hotel.
Wednesday 12th May
In the morning we will focus on the religious hub of the city by exploring the many sites of the Cathedral complex. The cathedral itself is a masterpiece of the local Romanesque-Gothic style, rich with sculpture and ornamentation on the exterior. Inside we will see the extensive floor mosaics and sculpture by Renaissance greats such as Pisano, Donatello and Michelangelo. We will also visit the stunning Piccolomini Library, frescoed by Pinturrichio to celebrate the life and deeds of Sienese Pope, Pius II. We can then look at the fascinating early paintings unearthed beneath the cathedral before ascending to the newly opened ‘Gate of Heaven’, a route which takes you up into the interior vaults of the cathedral to see the nave from above and out on to the roof.
After a restorative lunch we will visit the 14th Baptistery where the beautifully frescoed interior houses one of the most important Renaissance sculptural monuments – the Baptismal font created by Donatello, Ghiberti and Jacopo della Quercia. We will then explore the complex of Santa Maria della Scala, a fascinating labyrinth of frescoed halls, tunnels and internal ancient roads. The building began in the 12th century as a Pilgrims’ hospice – one of the oldest in Europe – as it grew, the floors spread down the side of the hill incorporating roads and churches as it went. We shall see the Pellegrinaio, a hall frescoed in the 15th century depicting rare everyday scenes from the life of the hospital as well as the chapel. In the evening we will meet up for aperitivi before supper at a great trattoria in the centre.
Thursday 13th May
First we will visit the Museum of the Cathedral which houses much of the original sculpture and stained glass from the wonderful building, as well as one of the greatest masterpieces of the early Renaissance: Duccio’s Maesta, which once graced the high altar of the newly-built cathedral. Here we will also have an opportunity to ascend the facciatone, the abandoned façade of the vast new cathedral project that was never realised due to the arrival of the Black Death. This will afford us spectacular views over the Tuscan landscape. Our last stop of the morning will be the Basilica Cateriniana di San Domenico to see ‘The Ecstasy of Saint Catherine’ by Il Sodoma.
After a good lunch you will have the option to attend a workshop on tempera painting and the technique of applying gold leaf at the studio of the highly talented Marco Caratelli. There will also be some free time for shopping of exploring the city further. Dinner will be at a good restaurant famed for its Tuscan cooking.
Friday 14th May
In the morning we will visit the Palazzo Pubblico where we will admire the pinnacle of achievements of Siena’s finest artists – Simone Martini and Ambrogio Lorenzetti, the latter being the author of the iconic scenes of Good and Bad Government. After a light lunch we will see San Francesco, a church crammed with masterpieces including works by the Lorenzetti Brothers, Il Sodoma and Sassetta. We will then head to Florence airport for the flight back to London.
Dr Richard Stemp and Charlie Winton will lead the trip. Richard is one of our most knowledgeable tutors and Charlie specialised in Sienese art before moving to Italy for several years.
We will stay at the Grand Hotel Continental, a 5* palazzo with beautiful frescoes in the heart of the city and a short walking distance from all of the main sights.
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:
11th May London City 11.15 – 14.25 Florence BA3279
14th May Florence 18.15 – 19.25 London City BA7022
NB Flights are very reasonable at the moment
There will be a private coach for the airport transfer to meet the recommended flights. We will Siena explore by foot.
We will send our safety protocol ahead of the trip. If for reasons of Covid-19 we need to cancel the trip 24 hours before we leave we will refund all money except for any payments made on non-refundable entrance tickets. If the trip is cancelled within 24 hours then we will only need to charge the cost of the hotel room.
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.
The fees are £1430 which includes accommodation and breakfast, all lunches, transfers for the recommended flight, transport when connected with teaching, entrance fees, Gold Leaf Workshop, tuition, reading lists and local advice. The single room supplement is £120 (double room for single use). Not included are the flights, all suppers, travel insurance. The group will not exceed 16 people.
Please complete the online registration form, having read our terms and conditions and pay the fees via bank transfer.
If you have any queries please email charlie@arthistoryabroad or call 01379 871800 (302)
NB you must buy your own flights.