Tours

Our itineraries are rich but not rushed. Savor each experience free from the logistical worries of travel, while enjoying comfortable, well-appointed inns, palazzi, castelli, villas, cloisters, and charming hotels – with enough time to discover each place on your own after the guided visits each day. Our tours are planned to minimize multiple hotel moves. On each tour we stay in a few carefully chosen accommodations to allow for a breadth of experience of each region without a lot of unnecessary packing and repacking.

In addition to our announced tours below, The Renaissance Company offers a wide range of programs custom designed for specific groups, educational institutions, businesses, and diverse organizations seeking itineraries and theme oriented travel. We are happy to speak with you about an offering tailored to the interests of your group.

The Hilltowns of Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche

October 5 – October 18, 2019

Program Overview

The tour will begin in the city of Florence. During our brief stay here, we will use our time to become acquainted through our lectures and discussion of the places we will visit, their special attractions, and the rich patterns of historical and cultural interconnection among them during the Renaissance.

Departing from Florence, we will spend several days traveling through western and southern Tuscany, including the Chianti district, a region of unique and unsurpassed natural beauty as well as home to a richly-layered heritage of living culture from the medieval period to the present day. Along the way we will visit towns like Siena, San Gimignano, Volterra, Radda, Pienza, Montalcino, Arezzo, La Verna. Montepulciano, Sansepolcro; in Umbria Gubbio, Assisi, Orvieto; and a day in the magnificent princely court of Urbino in the Marche.

A unique attraction of this itinerary is that it allows us to follow the “Piero della Francesca Trail,” a pilgrimage for art lovers made famous by Aldous Huxley and John Pope Hennesey. The trail will ultimately lead us over the mountains from Umbria into the Marches and to the beautiful ducal city of Urbino and the ideal Renaissance Court. “The Piero Trail” allows us to take a day trip through the breathtaking Casentino province of Tuscany to visit Mount La Verna where St. Francis of Assisi is believed to have received the stigmata. Throughout the tour, we will experience the masterpieces of not only Piero della Francesca but of Giotto (Assisi), Fra Angelico (Cortona), Signorelli (Cortona & Orvieto), Andrea della Robbia (La Verna), Sangallo, Francesco Laurana, Rossellino and many others as well as experiencing firsthand the resonance of the places in which their genius flourished.

The tour leaders will be Francis J. Ambrosio, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Georgetown University MyDante Project, and Deborah Warin, Director, Renaissance Tours Company, LLC, former Director of Continuing Education and currently lecturer at Georgetown University, and author of the forthcoming book Battista Sforza and the Court of Urbino. Together they have led more than 30 previous tours to Italy.

The cost of the tour $4,850. per person, exclusive of airfare. Breakfast is included each day in the hotels; the welcome reception on the first evening, the wine tasting luncheon in Montalcino, the tasting in Chianti, and the Farewell dinner on the final evening are also included. All other meals are at the expense of participants. The cost of the tour includes ground transportation and admission fees for all activities included in the itinerary. Please be sure to read the Terms and Conditions (see below) carefully for other important information including the Payment schedule and the Cancellation Policy.

 

Detailed Itinerary

Saturday, October 5

Travelers arrive at the hotel in Florence. In the evening, we gather for a Welcome Reception and a brief orientation before dinner.

Monday, October 6

In the morning, we will do walking tour of Dante’s Florence, the evocative medieval quarters of the city. Later, we visit the churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce while experiencing the art of Giotto, Masaccio, Donatello, Lippi and Michelangelo. The evening is at leisure.

Tuesday, October 7

Leaving Florence, we travel across western Tuscany, enjoying splendid panoramas as we approach the ancient Etruscan City of Volterra. There we will find one of the finest museums of Etruscan culture in Italy, together with the important Romanesque cathedral and the Palazzo dei Priori, architectural predecessor of the Florentine Palazzo Vecchio. The land around Volterra is rich with mineral, especially the highly prized alabaster, and as in ancient times, the bustling town with its rich mineral resources is full of alabaster and jewelry workshops.

Later in the afternoon, we visit San Gimignano, the medieval city of skyscrapers and the outstanding fresco cycle in its main church and end the day at our hotel in the countryside near Siena.

Wednesday, October 8

This morning, we travel to the home of the Palio, the mystical and majestic city of Siena. In the course of the day, we will visit the dramatic black and white cathedral which, even when viewed from miles away, seems to keep watch over the city. We will visit the famous Piazza del Campo and the Palazzo Pubblico with its soaring tower and the extraordinary frescoes by Simone Martini. Before we return to the hotel, there will be time for shopping or an aperitivo before returning to our hotel.

Thursday, October 9

We will spend Thursday touring in the picturesque Chianti district. Depending on the seasonal weather, we should find ourselves very close to the height of the grape harvest (vendemmia) and experience the wine maker’s art as we visit the fattoria of one of the great Chianti producers. Our day concludes with a private tasting dinner at the headquarters of the Consorzio del Chianti Classico in the ancient, lovely village of Radda.

Friday, October 10

Departing our hotel, this morning we travel into the heart of the gorgeous Val d’Orcia, making our way to the beautiful, luminescent 9th century church of San Antimo. Originally part of a Benedictine monastery, the alabaster church, one of the most beautiful in Italy, was according to legend founded by Charlemagne. After our visit we will have lunch, paired with the famous wines of the region at one of the loveliest and most noble wineries in Tuscany. Later, we visit the beautiful walled city of Montalcino, home of the famous Brunello di Montalcino wine and the nearby Banfi vineyards. At Banfi we will enjoy a special luncheon menu with selected wine pairings, the best way to a appreciate the awarding winning quality of the Banfi Wines, already twice selected the European winery of the year in this century.

Saturday, October 11

Today is devoted to Pienza, the tiny jewel of Renaissance urban planning, perched atop one of the most breathtaking landscapes in Italy. Here we will visit its splendid Gothic cathedral, as well as the Piccolomini Palace all built with the support of Pope Pius II who undertook the project of creating an ideal city to embody the vision of Renaissance humanism. Pienza is a delightful town to enjoy at leisure – the gorgeous views, the wine, the wonderful food (since the time of the Etruscans, Pienza has been the capital of Pecorino cheese), pici, the thick, round Tuscan pasta, beautiful locally produced linens, and the charm that makes Pienza one of the best loved cities in Italy.

Sunday, October 12

This morning we travel to Arezzo, our first stop on the Piero della Francesca Trail to view that artist’s magnificent fresco cycle The Legend of the True Cross perhaps the most important fresco cycle of the 15th Century. In the afternoon we will visit the bustling Etruscan hill town of Cortona. Long before it became popularly known for the setting of “Under the Tuscan Sun” Cortona was an important medieval and renaissance cultural center. Fra Angelico traveled here to do two important altarpieces including his famous The Annunciation of Cortona now in the Museo Diocesano. The artist Luca Signorelli (1441-1523) was born in Cortona and several of his paintings remain here. Another native painter, Pietro Berrettini (1596-1669) known as Pietro da Cortona was born here. We will visit the museum and other historical sites while still having time to experience the town’s charms.
In the later afternoon, we travel to the austerely beautiful medieval town of Gubbio, where we will spend four nights in a lovely former Cappuccian convent that has been restored and turned into a modern, comfortably appointed hotel.

Monday, October 13

This morning, we travel north form Gubbio through the ruggedly beautiful Casentino to Mount La Verna, the wooded retreat of St. Francis and his followers. It was at La Verna that Saint Francis prayed to receive the Stigmata. In the chapel of the Stigmata we view some of the most magnificent and beautiful of Andrea della Robbia’s works.
After a leisurely visit to this remarkable sanctuary, we return to Gubbio and are at leisure to visit this remarkably vertical hilltown, the home of the annual spectacle of the Corso dei Ceri, the giant “candlestick race” up the mountain to the shrine of San Ubaldo.

Tuesday, October 14

It is a short trip to the town of Sansepolcro, where we will visit the small museum housing perhaps Piero della Francesca’s most famous work, The Resurrection, as well as his stately Madonna della Misericordia. After lunch, we travel a very short distance to Monterchi to see Piero’s haunting fresco the Madonna del Parto, portraying the rare image of a heavily pregnant Virgin Mary.

Wednesday, October 15

While still residing in Gubbio, today we will venture into the Marches region to what was once one of the cultural centers of Europe, the small fairytale like city of Urbino. Urbino was the birthplace of Raphael and Bramante, but it is most famous for the creation of the ideal, humanistic court under the rule of Federico da Montefeltro and his wife Battista Sforza, the Duke and Duchess of Urbino-a court which inspired Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier. The Palazzo Ducale, one of the most beautiful palaces in Europe, is still considered to be an architectural wonder. The palazzo also holds our final stop on the Piero della Francesca Trail: The “world’s greatest small painting” – The Flagellation by Piero della Francesca. After lunch and a stroll through the city, we return to again to Gubbio.

Thursday, October 16

Today takes to nearby  Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis and itself one of the loveliest of the hill towns. Here we shall visit the famed Basilica of San Francesco, built in the mid-13th century and decorated by many of the most renowned painters of the Gothic period, Giotto and Cimabue. St. Francis’ beliefs, his humility, his love of his “brothers and sisters” as well as his celebration of nature, while having a tremendous influence on religion, gave rise to a wholly new humanistic vision in art and literature. Giotto was the master who transformed the rigidity of Byzantine painting to the very human yet spiritually inspiring image seen in to the upper basilica depicting the life of the saint. After lunch we will enjoy the opportunity to visit first the “Carceri,” the retreat high up on Mount Subasio used by St. Francis and his companions, and then the little church of San Damiano where St. Francis received his mission from God to rebuild His ruined church, where he composed the Canticle of the Creatures and where St Clare died in 1253. We return to Gubbio for an evening at leisure.

Friday, October 17

In the morning, we travel to Orvieto, home of Orvieto Classico wine, and certainly one of the most striking of the hill towns for its dramatic setting atop a plateau of volcanic rock. It is easy to see why Clement VII fled to Orvieto when Rome was sacked by the French King Charles VII in 1527. We will visit the famed cathedral with its golden facade of mosaics and carvings, and within it the dramatic frescoes of Luca Signorelli’s Last Judgment. The city was an important Etruscan center and there are still 1000 Etruscan caves in “underground Orvieto.”
This evening we will gather for our Cena Addio, our farewell dinner bidding “Arrivederci” to Bell’Italia and to one another.

Saturday, October 18

After breakfast, our motor coach will transport the group to Leonardo da Vinci Airport where our tour will officially end.

**N.B. to allow participants greater flexibility in planning their travels, the tour does not include hotel accommodations in Rome for Saturday night, October 18. Participants wishing to spend the night in Rome should make hotel reservations independently in advance.

 

Program Notes

Air Travel:

Participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to Florence and from Rome airport. Participants should plan to arrive at the hotel on October 5 in time for the welcome reception at 6:30. All arrangements for and costs of extended stays before and after the tour are the sole responsibility of participants. N.B. Our arrival at the Rome airport is estimated for approximately 10 a.m. on October 18. We cannot, however, guarantee a specific arrival time. Participants who wish to schedule a flight from Rome earlier than midday should be aware that they may need to make their own arrangement for an early departure from the hotel via private car service.

Accommodations and Meals:

Cost is based on double occupancy at the hotels; some single rooms may be available at a supplemental cost to the participant. Breakfast at the Hotel each day is included; the welcome reception, wine tour and one group meal in Chianti are also included. No other meals are included.

Level of Physical Activity:

The nature of the tour schedule and the type of sites which the group will visit make for a moderately strenuous routine; those who experience difficulty walking distances at a normal pace or otherwise need to limit their physical activity should consult with the tour leaders prior to reserving space. The Directors reserve the right to limit individual participation in group activities in cases where the group’s interests might be adversely affected.

Reservations:

To enhance the educational opportunity and enjoyment for all participants, places on the tour are strictly limited to no more than twenty. Places on the tour will be reserved in the order in which deposits are received. Please use the Reservation Form and mail it with deposit to the address indicated.

All details of the itinerary subject to change based on availability of accommodations, changes in opening/closing schedules, acts of God and other conditions beyond the control of the tour directors. Be sure to read the Terms and Conditions carefully before submitting a deposit.

Terms and Conditions:

The total cost of the tour is $4,850. Prices include hotel accommodations (double occupancy) with breakfast, all entrance fees and guided tours as indicated in the itinerary and subject to the specified conditions; also included are the welcome reception on the first evening of the tour, the wine tasting meals in Chianti and Montalcino and the final group dinner. No other meals, fees, personal expenses, or other costs not explicitly detailed in the itinerary are included. Airfare and ground transportation are not included.

Enrollment is determined by date of receipt of a deposit of $1,000, which shall be refundable according to the conditions of the stated cancellation policy. Payment in full is due by September 1, 2018.

Cancellation Policy:

* After receipt of the deposit, cancellation by the participant will be subject to a minimum $150 per person cancellation fee.
* Cancellation after 90 days prior to the commencement of the tour will result in forfeiture of the full amount of the deposit ($1000.).
* Cancellation after September 1 or “no show” at the commencement of the tour will result in forfeiture of the full cost of the trip per person.

*** In light of the Cancellation Policy outlined above, the Renaissance strongly recommends that participants carefully consider purchasing third party trip cancellation insurance. In view of the statutory or contractual limitations which may apply to personal injury or property damage losses, the purchase of accident and baggage insurance should also be considered.

All tours are offered on condition of sufficient enrollment. If the offer of a tour must be withdrawn at any time due to insufficient enrollment, all deposits and additional payments will be refunded and this will constitute full satisfaction of all claims by participants on the Renaissance Company.

Responsibility

The Renaissance Company, LLC, and its representatives act only as agents in making arrangements for hotels, transportation, sightseeing, restaurants or any other services in connection with the itinerary, and they will exercise reasonable care in making such arrangements. However, they do not assume any liability whatsoever for any injury, damage, loss, accident or delay to person and property due to any act of default of any hotel, carrier, restaurant, company or person rendering any of the services included in the tour. The tickets, coupons, tariffs, rules or contracts currently in use by any carrier, hotel, restaurant or other rendering service shall constitute the sole contract between such contractor and the tour member. Baggage and personal effects are the sole responsibility of the owners at all times. Further, the Renaissance Company and its representative agents accept no responsibility for any damage or delay due to sickness, pilferage, labor disputes, machinery breakdown, quarantine, government restraints, weather or any other cause beyond their personal control. The right is reserved to cancel or change itineraries or substitute services without notice, and to decline to accept any tour member at any time, when such action is determined to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general welfare of the tour group or individual. No carrier shall be responsible for any act, omission or event during the time passengers are not on board its own conveyance.

Finally, the Renaissance Company bears no responsibility whatsoever for any travel arrangements made by individual travelers that do not form part of the published itinerary. Extensions of stay, hotel accommodations beyond those indicated in the program, early arrivals or departures, hotel charges not included in the basic room rate including but not limited to telephone, beverages and meals, and hotel services, and all other arrangements undertaken at the initiative of individual participants are the sole responsibility of the individual. No change can be made in group plans or schedules to accommodate such arrangements.

All details of the itinerary subject to change based on availability of accommodations, changes in opening and closing schedules, acts of God and any other cause beyond the immediate and direct control of the Tour Directors.

My wife and I have traveled extensively but this was by far the best trip we have ever taken.  Tom and Martha P.

The group was the perfect size for conviviality and conversation but small enough to be discrete.  Mary Jo F.

You really found the balance: a richly guided trip and yet plenty of time to experience each place on our own.   Jim C.