arthisto August 30th, 2011
Evening in the Roman Forum
ITALY – ROME AND TUSCANY: A Colosseum and a Castle
SEPTEMBER 30 – OCTOBER 8, 2012 ~ 9 DAYS ~ GROUP SIZE: 6 – 8
$3,900.00 Price now: $3,400
NOTE: Below is a good example of just what travel is like with ART HISTORY ALIVE. If you find that this post does not pique your interest, then you may not be a good fit for AHA, but if you begin reading and find yourself wanting to read and learn more, it is ten times better when we are there. Cynthia
Eventually, all roads should lead to the awesome city of Rome at least once in a lifetime. Jim and I have traveled far and wide in this world, but since our discovery of Italy in 1987, we return every chance we get. And in all of that little boot, Rome has the strongest draw for us. Cumulatively, we have spent over 4 months in that city, and still we keep going back. Of everywhere we have been, Rome holds for us the richest and most stimulating bounty of art, history, architecture (which is an art), and culture, hands down. And the people . . . . . . . !
- On this trip we will literally spend time in, under, and around Rome. Our tiny group of travelers will go down into a hidden, lesser-known catacombs under the bustling Roman streets on a guided tour where you can ask all the questions you need to fully understand. We will wander the Forum and Colosseum, explore St. Peter’s Basilica and experience the art of Michelangelo, Bernini, and Caravaggio. Along the way and over delicious meals, these questions and more will be answered:
- Why did Michelangelo sign only one piece of art and which one was it?
- Why is the almost 2000 year-old Pantheon in such perfect condition when buildings in the Forum, of the same age, are rubble?
- Why is St. Peter’s Basilica the most popular church in Rome, and the world, when Rome’s St. John Lateran was the first Christian church to be built?
- Where is the white travertine exterior that once covered the Colosseum walls?
- Where are the gilded bronze tiles that once covered the roof of the Pantheon?
- What did the terms Middle Ages and Dark Ages describe?
On warm evenings we will sit in outside cafés on cobblestone alleys and watch the most interesting people in the world stroll by. We will shop, rest and overall, catch the Spirit of Rome which, you will want to take home with you.
Next it is off to the hills of Tuscany in our spacious, panoramic-windowed van toward the tiny hill town of Proceno, in southern Tuscany. However, on our way, we will drive up a hill to soaring Orvieto for a delicious lunch and the first of many an awe inspiring wander. No one actually knows the age of Orvieto, however we do know that around 750 B.C. the Etruscans thrived here, inheriting it from their Iron and Bronze Age ancestors. How exciting it is to visit a city that has survived for thousands of years, with its bustle interrupted only once, in the 14th century, by the Black Plague. We will meander at our own pace through Orvieto‘s crown jewel, her Cathedral, with its brightly colored mosaic facade. Built over a mere 300 years, it holds precious art that I love to visit and share.
Forty minutes deeper into beautiful Tuscany and we will arrive at Castello di Proceno. This castle/fortress was built in the 11th century and has been creatively redesigned into several beautiful apartments. This is my favorite landing spot in all of Tuscany.
Once we check in and relax a bit, we will take a walk around town so that you can get your bearings. It isn’t difficult as it is tiny, but the views, in all directions are dreamlike, no, actually they are “calendarlike“. I will introduce you to Pucci and Giovanni, the owners of the castle, Roberto the grocer, where you can buy anything from locally made salami, to bedroom slippers, and Gianfranco, of Trattoria da Gianfranco. The castle will be our home for the next four days as we explore more picturesque hill towns and savor some of the most delicious food and wine you will have ever tasted.
On the list of must sees, in these first four days, are the cathedral of Sovana, that took so long to build that it actually spans two architectural periods. So, as we sit in the back of the church you will see that two of its three aisles are Romanesque and the third is Gothic. Amazing! The hill town hamlet of Pienza that was, luckily for us, caught in a time warp. During the first half of the 1400′s, Pope Pius II, responsible for the revitalization and redesigning of his beloved hometown, was called away to raise troops for a crusade to the Holy Land. He left a Papal Bull, in beautiful Latin, that stated nothing should be touched until his return. Unfortunately, in 1465 he died while away, and Pienza dutifully has left everything just as it was. Because of this, a visit to Pienza gives us a real time snapshot of Tuscan life in the 1400′s. Pienza was miraculously spared during World War II bombing raids, however the machine gun holes in the exterior side wall of the cathedral are a reminder of what happened here when both Germans and Americans took turns occupying Pienza and the surrounding towns. This is a fascinating area with lots to explore, learn and taste. Brunellos come from this region, as does a most delicious soft, not salty, pecorino cheese.
And who can be in this area and not visit the most haunting of all hill towns, Civita di Bagnoregio?
- Civita di Bagnoregio
Not me! Civita sits a top a rock spur, built entirely of rock taken from the spur, it appears to be something organic that simply grew out of the mountain. However, because of earthquakes over the centuries much of the spur and city have dropped away, leaving Civita sitting like a diamond nestled in a round solitaire setting. There is one approach to the city, a walking bridge that spans the gorge that encircles Civita.
Often, in the morning, the city is engulfed in clouds or fog and it appears that the bridge leads to no where. Sometimes the fog fills just the gorge with Civita above as if floating in the sky. This is like nothing else you would have seen up to this point, and you will remember it always. Comfortable walking shoes, a camera, and a hefty appetite are a must for Civita da Bagnoregio.
Following our explorations of Tuscany we will say good bye to our castle and new friends, and head for Rome and flights home.
Physical Level: Moderate
Art History Alive will offer seven destinations in 2012! Great places to visit, more interesting things to learn, and very small groups. Over the next few weeks I will post a list of recommended reading and movies, destination specific, that will allow you to front load your travel experience.
You will notice that we have added an itinerary that includes my absolute favorite places in California. If Europe is not on
your radar screen for this year, consider touring the best that California has to offer. I am a fifth generation Californian and would love to show you around. I think that you will agree, this is wonderful line up and I sincerely hope that you will share it with your friends and family.
We are very happy to announce:
The NEW money saving opportunities are on the Specials and Discounts Page. These trips can fill up fast so early booking is important and saves you money.
All trips include: Hotels, all meals and house wines, (well, you don’t have to have wine with breakfast) ground transportation, museum admissions, and travel insurance.
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