29th September – 4th October 2021
Following very successful tours to Lisbon, where the overall sentiment was of delighted surprise, Porto and the Douro Valley comes as an equal yet different pleasure. 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. On our last night we will go north to Guimaraes, a wonderful 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.
Wednesday 29th September
We will arrive in Porto just before lunch 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. Here we will make a quick turnaround in order to head out for our first delicious lunch nearby. Following this we will have a relaxed introduction to this beautiful city with 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
Thursday 30th September
This morning we will set out for a more thorough exploration of Porto. One of the greatest buildings is the Church of San Francesco together with a small museum of wonderful polychrome statues. Next door is the impressive Palácio da Bolsa, or stock exchange, where we remind ourselves that Porto was an important place for trade in the nineteenth century. A spot of church hopping will take us to the Misericordia and the Clerigos Church with its wonderful Baroque tower designed by the painter-architect Nicolau Nasoni, as well as Our Lady of Carmo. A light lunch, hopefully alfresco.
One of the greatest aspects of Portugese art are the decorated tiles. We will have seen them everywhere. In the early afternoon, we plan 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 Cantina Avillez.
Friday 1st October
We will first pay a visit to the former home of sculptor Teixeira Lopes, which encompasses his massive artistic legacy, including plaster models of his main works as well as pieces by other artists such as Silva Porto, Marques da Silva and Acácio Lino. The space is also home to the collection of sculptor and collector Diogo de Macedo, with works by some of the leading figures in Portuguese modernism. We will also visit the Serralves Park in the suburbs of Porto in order to visit the Museum of Modern Art. As well as offering world-class exhibitions inside a contemporary building, the museum is set inside a stunning garden.
Returning to the middle of town 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. We will have a picnic lunch to help pass the time. When we arrive at Pinhão we will be met by a small bus to take us to the
Quinta de la Rosa where we will stay for two nights. The Quinta, which is perched on the north bank of the river, is a working winery where we can have a tasting before an excellent supper. 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.
Saturday 2nd October
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. Dinner will be in Pinhão at the water’s edge.
Sunday 3rd October
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.
Monday 4th October
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. We will also visit the Museu dos Biscainhos, which is a smart 18th century palace with a charming garden. There is much to see and after a late lunch we will drive to the airport which is an hour away.
Nicholas Ross and Marie Naffah will lead the trip. Nick has taken many tours to Portugal and is excited for this new venture.
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.
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:
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.
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.
The fees are £2000 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.
The application form should be returned with a deposit of £600.00. Please call 01379 871800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries.
NB you must buy your own flights.