8–14 January: Stones of Rome — now full
22–26 February: Long Weekend in Padua
The main purpose of this short visit to Padua will be to see Giotto’s masterpiece, the Scrovegni Chapel. Normally visitors are restricted to a fifteen-minute glimpse of these magnificent frescoes, and even this must be booked in advance. On former Learn Italy visits two special half-hour private visits have been arranged for the group, and it is hoped that this very special booking can be achieved again.
The group will stay at a comfortable four-star hotel in the historic centre of Padua, about fifteen minutes walk both to the Scrovegni Chapel and to the Basilica of Sant’Antonio. The Basilica has been a focus of pilgrimage from the thirteenth century to the present. It is packed with fascinating works of art, including several works by Donatello, whose famous equestrian statue of Gattamelata stands outside. Participants will have the chance of joining a tour of the Palazzo del Bò, the centre of Padua’s university, founded in 1221, with its sixteenth-century anatomy theatre. Other places to be visited include the Palazzo della Ragione with its astonishing ‘Salone’, the largest medieval hall in Europe, and the famous nineteenth-century Caffè Pedrocchi.
Padua is also a lively and sophisticated city; near our hotel there are interesting markets and shops of all kinds, as well as good restaurants. Tutor for this study weekend will be Patrick Doorly, lecturer and tutor at the Oxford University for Continuing Education. Patrick will offer lectures about Giotto’s frescoes before our visits to the Chapel, and tell us about other aspects of Padua’s rich artistic heritage. Organiser will be Laura Gray.The guideline prices below include:
- three nights bed and breakfast in a four-star hotel;
- two evening meals in Padua;
- pre-visit lectures about Giotto’s frescoes and other works of art in Padua;
- special entry to the Scrovegni Chapel;
- an Urbs Picta Card offering free or reduced entry to many of Padua’s monuments and museums;
- transfers between an Italian airport and the hotel.
Per person, single use of double room: £1,200 Per person, sharing a double room: £1,050
Travel to Italy is not included. Tickets on a suitable flight to Venice will be chosen as soon as the trip has ten participants. This short visit offers the opportunity for participants to add on a few days in La Serenissima, or in any of the other interesting cities in the Veneto. If you wish to join this study weekend, please use the contact form on this website (at bottom of the homepage).
16–20 April: Turin
This is the first Learn Italy visit to Turin. For Italians Torino is the great industrial city of the twentieth century, home to Alfa Romeo and Lancia, and to Fiat (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili di Torino), and thus the hub of the Italian economic miracle of the 1950s and 60s. It is also often considered the ‘cradle of Italian liberty’ for its major role in the unification of Italy. It is a city of famous bars, the haunts of writers and intellectuals in the twentieth century, as well as palaces and museums. Italy’s most famous left-wing thinker, Antonio Gramsci somewhat improbably lived for a time in our hotel.
Turin’s most celebrated museum is the Museo Egizio, an extensive and varied collection, beautifully displayed. It offers a panoramic introduction to the three thousand years of artistic development which was the wonder of the ancient world. Whether or not you know anything about ancient Egypt, a visit here will be a very special experience. On our list of other possible visits will be the Museum of the Risorgimento, the Palazzo Madama (sixteenth century and eighteenth century), and the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, housed in Turin’s iconic landmark, the strange Mole Antonelliana. All these are in easy walking distance of our central hotel. There will be spare time to go further afield, perhaps to the National Museum of the Automobile, or the Pinacoteca Agnelli, situated above the famous Lingotto rooftop car test track, a small but exquisite collection of mostly modern art dominated by several paintings by Matisse.
Lecturer for this study weekend will be Michael Duigan, Egyptologist and art historian, sometime lecturer at Birkbeck, the City Lit., and Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. Organiser will be Martin Gray.
The guideline prices below include:
- four nights bed and breakfast in a four-star hotel;
- two evening meals in Turin;
- pre-visit lectures about the Egyptian museum;
- an informal talk on Turin and the Risorgimento;
- entry to other museums and sites on our programme;
- transfers between an Italian airport and the hotel.
Per person, single use of double room: £1,850
Per person, sharing a double room: £1,550
Travel to Italy is not included. Tickets on a suitable flight to Turin will be chosen as soon as the trip has ten participants. If you wish to join this study weekend, please use the contact form on this website (at bottom of the homepage).
12–17 October: Lucca
Lucca is among the most beautiful and best preserved medieval cities in Italy. Its proud history and prosperity make it a most attractive centre for a week-long visit. The old town is tucked inside an intact ring of massive defensive sixteenth- and seventeenth-century walls. With its towers, palazzi, ancient squares and narrow car-free streets, as well as excellent shops, cafes and restaurants, this is a fascinating place to explore. A walk or bicycle ride along the tree-lined ramparts provides a marvellous perspective on this compact, peaceful and intriguing town.
Lucca is not a town wholly dedicated to tourism, such as Florence or Venice, but for the discriminating visitor there is plenty to see and enjoy, and one purpose of this weekend is to relax and take pleasure in the unique qualities of Lucca’s historic centre, with its square built around a Roman amphitheatre, and its streets of medieval houses and ‘Liberty’ shops, Italy’s version of Art Nouveau. The most remarkable feature of the city is the number of beautiful and well preserved Romanesque churches. San Michele in Foro stands at the city-centre, with a three-tiered façade of twisted and fantastically carved columns, every one different and a delight to the eye. The cathedral of San Martino is another astonishing Romanesque work, the façade filled with thirteenth-century sculpture. These buildings and their contents will be the focus for the study aspect of this weekend. The particular development of Lucca’s Tuscan examples of the Romanesque will be explained in terms of the general development of art and architecture in Italy and Western Europe.
For the sake of comparison we will spend two days looking at other examples of eleventh- and twelfth-century architecture and sculpture. We will visit Pisa’s Campo dei Miracoli – the cathedral, baptistery and tower that comprise the most famous examples of Tuscan Romanesque. This city is also inextricably associated with the ground-breaking sculpture of Nicola and Giovanni Pisano. We will see many works by them and their followers. Our second visit will be to nearby Pistoia, another small medieval city with a very fine Romanesque cathedral and baptistery at its centre, and a number of exquisite churches.
Tutor for the weekend will be Dr Diana Matthews, an expert on Romanesque architecture. A four-star hotel just inside the city walls has been chosen as our centre for these visits.
The guideline prices below include the following:
- five nights bed and breakfast in a four-star hotel in Lucca;
- lectures on the art and architecture of Lucca, Pisa and Pistoia;
- coach travel between Pisa airport and Lucca;
- travel by coach to Pisa and Pistoia;
- two group meals.
These prices do not include the flight to Italy. Flights will be chosen and information about how and when tickets can be purchased will be supplied when the group has arrived at about ten people.
Price of study weekend, excluding flights:
Per person, single use of double room: £1,950
Per person, sharing a double room: £1,750
If you wish to join this study weekend, of find out more, please use the contact form on this website. Places on this study holiday will be first-come, first-served, based on receipt of the booking form and deposit. Please use the contact form on this website (at bottom of the homepage) if you’d like to put on the waiting list.
18–24 November: Florence
This might be the time to visit Florence again, to look again at the world’s best collection of thrilling and ground-breaking Renaissance art. Patrick Doorly has led these study weeks many times before and will be the expert on this occasion too. At the moment this trip is still in the planning phase. Please use the contact form (at bottom of the homepage) if you’d like to be put on the waiting list.