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Study Holidays

Study Week in Perugia and Umbria: 24–30 September 2012

Like Tuscany, Umbria is a region of Italy famed for its beautiful towns perched on the tops of hills and ridges. Many were city-states in the early middle ages before coming under Papal control, and they preserve remarkable historic centres, unspoilt by traffic, and, in Umbria, in many cases not much visited by tourists. Both regions are also justly famed for their countryside, but landlocked Umbria, often called il cuor verde d'Italia (the green heart of Italy), is more mountainous and less covered in vineyards. In this spare and sometimes severe landscape, it is perhaps not surprising to remember that two of Italy’s most celebrated and unworldly saints, Benedict (the founder of Western monasticism), and Francis (founder of one of the main orders of friars), were both born in Umbria.

Assisi is a small medieval town dominated by the Basilica dedicated to St Francis. Begun two years after the saint’s death in 1228, this pilgrimage shrine was decorated by many of the foremost artists of the thirteenth century, including Cimabue, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti and Giotto.

Orvieto is another striking medieval hill-top town, home to a great cathedral with a magnificent Gothic west front. By contrast inside there is a Renaissance masterpiece, Luca Signorelli’s great fresco of the Last Judgement, completed in 1504, in which both Michelangelo and Raphael found inspiration.

Spello is another charming Umbrian town, which boasts the beautiful Bagioni chapel frescoed by the colourful Sienese painter Pinturicchio.

Perugia, the capital of Umbria, will be the centre for this varied study week. Here there is also plenty to see and enjoy.  Its centro storico is the focus for a busy and sophisticated city, full of interesting medieval buildings. Outside the Duomo is the Fontana Maggiore, decorated by the celebrated thirteenth-century sculptors, Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, and opposite is the Palazzo dei Priori full of frescoed rooms dating from the thirteenth century. On the second floor of the Palace, in the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, are some of the greatest paintings from the region, including major works by Perugino, who captures the luminous Umbrian sky so perfectly, as well as superb altarpieces by Fra Angelico and Piero della Francesca.

We will spend the best part of a day each in Assisi, Orvieto and Spello, travelling there by coach. Assisi and Spello are only about half-an-hour away from Perugia; Orvieto is about an hour-and-a-half’s drive through picturesque countryside.

During our study week in Perugia we will stay in a four-star hotel in the heart of the city and within easy walking distance of all its treasures. The hotel has its own restaurant — a half-board option will almost certainly be made available — but cafes and restaurants are abundant in central Perugia. As on other Learn Italy holidays, a number of group meals will be organised.

The tutor for this study week will be Alice Foster. She is a frequent lecturer for the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education and for NADFAS, and has led many successful Learn Italy trips to Italian cities, including a study week in Perugia in 2006. Organiser will be Martin Gray.

Guideline prices:

Per person, single use of double room: £1,290

Per person, sharing a double room: £1,140

These prices do not include the cost of your flight, but cover the following:

six nights accommodation with breakfast in a four-star hotel;

a series of illustrated lectures exploring the art of Umbria;

entrance fees to galleries and churches on our itinerary;

transfers by coach between Rome airport and Perugia (a journey of about three hours);

coach travel to and from Assisi, Orvieto and Spello;

coach travel between the Cotswolds and a London airport and return if  there are sufficient numbers travelling for the area to make this appropriate.

Flights from the UK to Rome are frequent and likely to be cheap if bought well in advance. When enough people have subscribed to the holiday, suitable flights will be chosen and tickets on these can be bought over the Internet or from a designated travel agent. Further information about these arrangements will be supplied on receipt of your booking form, and when the group has become viable.