Italy: Art Treasures Pre-Tour
For those who have never seen the art of Italy, or who want to enjoy it again with the expert guidance of MIU Art Historian Matthew Beaufort of Italy and Sicily.
October 2-9, 2023
Tour starts and ends in Rome
Day 1 - Rome
We will take a walking tour of Rome. The historical sites of the city are closed to traffic, thus the best way to explore Rome is to use the convenient subway system. We will visit the famous attractions: St. Peter’s Basilica, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, and the Coliseum. We will appreciate the grandeur of Imperial Rome 2000 years ago. We will continue down Via dei Fori Imperiali and, along the Via Sacra, we will follow in the footsteps of Julius Caesar, Marc Anthony, and the Good Emperors. Then we will visit the Capitol Hill with its square by Michelangelo and Piazza Venezia, considered the Center of Italy.
Day 2 - Florence
This morning we’ll take a high speed train to Florence. After an early lunch we’ll stroll through the fantastic statuary and mysterious grottos of the Boboli Gardens, a backdrop for Dan Brown’s novel Inferno. Then Professor Beaufort will highlight the artistic treasures of the Pitti Palace, including works by Raphael, Georgione, Rubens, and Caravaggio. We will also regale in the luxurious Royal Apartments and, if there’s time, stop in at the costume and fashion museum.
Day 3 - Florence
Today we’ll explore the medieval Baptistry with its incredible mandala-like mosaic ceiling illustrating the layers of creation from divine to angelic to human. In the Duomo Museum Professor Beaufort will engage us to discover stories encoded in art, including Donatello’s haunting Mary Magdalene, Ghiberti’s luminous Gates of Paradise, and Michelangelo’s Pieta, which contains a self-portrait. After lunch, Professor Beaufort will explain Masaccio’s revolutionary Brancacci Chapel, which ignited the Renaissance in painting.
In the late afternoon, we will pilgrimage by van to San Miniato on the mountain, an exquisite 1000-year old church. Those who wish can attend Mass in the crypt. Then we will all listen to the monks sing melodious and moving Gregorian chant. Afterwards we’ll stroll down the hill to the Piazzale Michelangelo to enjoy dinner with a panoramic view of Florence.
Day 4 - Florence
This morning we will journey to Florence, the heart of the European Renaissance. Florence is an open-air exhibit of art and culture where beauty is a way of life. We will stroll across the romantic Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) to admire the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) and Giotto’s bell tower. We will experience the gigantic Duomo housing a large painting of Dante’s Inferno that plays a key role in Dan Brown’s novel and movie Inferno.
We will take in the Uffizi Gallery, the world’s greatest museum of Italian Renaissance art. Professor Beaufort will reveal the secrets of beloved paintings like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera (Spring, seen on the left), Leonardo’s Annunciation and Adoration of the Magi, Titian’s Venus of Urbino, and many others.
(B, L & D)
Day 5 - Florence
This morning we will focus on the art of Michelangelo. In the Accademia, we’ll experience his magnificent and heroic David, as well as the Captive Slaves, which reveal his method of working. Then in San Lorenzo we’ll explore his evocative sculptures of Dawn, Dusk, Day, Night, and the Medici Madonna, as well as innovative Renaissance architecture.
In the afternoon we’ll return to the Uffizi to explore more masterworks including Michelangelo’s only panel painting, the Holy Family. Professor Beaufort will illuminate works by Giotto, Lippi, Rembrandt, Durer, and many other great artists.
As an alternative to the Uffizi, you may choose to shop, explore on your own, or pass time in a café.
Day 6 - Florence
This morning we’ll visit the monastery of San Marco to delight in the pure and celestial art of Fra Angelico. We’ll explore monk’s cells with simple yet powerful images to aid in contemplation and meditation. We will also compare two large frescos of the Last Supper that inspired Leonardo to create his famous depiction. We’ll lunch in the gourmet food court of Florence’s Central Market, where you can watch chefs and bakers creating Italian delicacies. Then spend a couple hours shopping for quality gifts and souvenirs from nearby boutique shops and street vendors. Early this evening we will catch a high-speed train to Rome.
Day 7 - Rome
Our grand hotel, a former Papal palace, is only a five-minute walk from the Vatican. Today we’ll explore the vast artistic riches of the Vatican Museums, with some of the world’s best ancient Roman sculpture. We will experience the astonishing magnificence of Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling now restored to full, vibrant color. Professor Beaufort will illuminate the profound symbolism of the Creation of Adam in the light of higher states of consciousness. He will also explain how Raphael’s School of Athens and many other works exemplify transcendental beauty and truth.
Day 8 - Depart from Rome or Tour Extensions
Join the Culinary tour.