Tours

We offer small, exclusive tours for discriminating travelers looking for a rare, richly contextual, cultural and convivial experience. Our unique itineraries are conducted by the tour leaders as well as experts and "insiders" who all have a deep knowledge and passion for these fascinating places.

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
May 27 – June 8, 2018

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 lectures and discussion with 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 and Umbria, 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, Pienza, Montalcino, Arezzo, Montepulciano, Sansepolcro, Gubbio, Assisi, Orvieto and venturing into the Marches, the magnificent city of Urbino. 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 Hennessy. 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 first-hand the resonance of the places in which their genius flourished.

The tour leaders are Francis J. Ambrosio, Assoc. Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University, and Deborah Warin, Director, Renaissance Tours Company, LLC, former Director of Continuing Education and Lecturer at Georgetown University, and author of the forthcoming book Battista Sforza and the Court of Urbino. Together they have led more than 40 previous tours to Italy.

The cost of the Tour is $4795. for each participant. Airfare is not included in the price. Breakfast is included each day in the hotels; the welcome reception on the first evening, the wine tasting luncheon in Montalcino 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. All prices are based upon double occupancy and do not include airfare. 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

Sunday, May 27

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

Monday, May 28

In the morning, we gather for a preparatory lecture and slide program to introduce some of the major artists, cultures and monuments that we shall encounter in the days ahead. Later, we visit the historic center of the city including experiencing the art of Giotto, Masaccio, Donatello, Lippi and Michelangelo. The evening is at leisure.

Tuesday, May 29

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 architectural predecessor of the Florentine Palazzo Vecchio. The land around Volterra is rich with minerals, especially the highly prized alabaster from which craftsmanship have produced objects of rare beauty for centuries. In a short stop before leaving the town, we take in the panorama from the rapidly eroding edge of the cliffs on which Volterra has stood for century, where in clear weather one can catch a glimpse of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

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, May 30

This morning, we travel to the home of the Palio, the 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 watch over the city and its passionate contrade; the famous Piazza del Campo and the Palazzo Publico with its soaring tower and the extraordinary frescoes by Simone Martini. Time for shopping or an aperitif before returning to our hotel.

Thursday, May 31

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 Sant’ Antimo. Originally part of a Benedictine monastery, the alabaster and travertine 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. We conclude the day with a short trip to our hotel in Pienza.

Friday, June 1

Today is devoted to Pienza, the tiny jewel of Renaissance urban planning, perched atop 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 (1405-1464), one of the great proponents of humanism who undertook the project of creating an ideal city to embody the vision of Renaissance humanistic principles. Beyond its historic importance, 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.

Saturday, June 2

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, 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, before returning to Pienza for the night.

Sunday, June 3

This morning, we depart Pienza and travel 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. Then, we travel a few miles down the road to the charming and historic town of Sansepolcro, Piero della Francesca’s birthplace, where we spend the night.

Monday, June 4

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

Later that afternoon, we travel to the austerely beautiful medieval town of Gubbio, where we will spend three nights in a lovely former Cappuccian convent that has been restored and turned into a modern, comfortably appointed hotel. The evening is at leisure to explore the haunting, evocative character of Gubbio, a small city nearly wholly intact from the medieval period

Tuesday, June 5

While still residing in Gubbio, today we will venture into the Marches region to what was once one of the great 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 influential Book of the Courtier. The Palazzo Ducale, a careful articulation of Neo-Platonism and one of the most beautiful palaces in Europe, is still considered 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 as well as his Madonna della Senigallia. After lunch and a stroll through the city, we return to again to Gubbio.

Wednesday, June 6

A short trip takes us to Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis and itself one of the loveliest of 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. As Francis transformed traditional notions of religious and spiritual values, Giotto was the master who transformed the rigidity of Byzantine painting to the very human yet spiritually inspiring image that are 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 for contemplation and then the little church of San Damiano where St. Francis received his mission from God to rebuild His Church. Later it was here that St Francis composed the Canticle of the Creatures and where St Clare founded the Sisters of the Poor Clares and where she died in 1253. We return to Gubbio for an evening at leisure.

Thursday, June 7

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, among the first of the modern age (1499-1503) of Luca Signorelli’s apocalyptic Last Judgment. The city was also an important Etruscan center and there are still 1000 caves in “underground Orvieto” which can be visited in the afternoon.

This evening we will gather for our Cena Addio, our farewell dinner bidding “Arrivederci” to Bell’Italia and to one another.

Friday, June 8

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 Friday night, June 8. Participants wishing to spend the night in Rome should make hotel reservations independently in advance.

Program Notes

Cost of the Tour:

The cost of the Tour is $4795, per person, double occupancy. Airfare is not included in the price. Breakfast is included each day in the hotels; the welcome reception on the first evening, the wine tasting luncheon in Montalcino 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. All prices are based upon double occupancy and do not include airfare. Please be sure to read the Terms and Conditions  carefully for other important information including the Payment schedule and the Cancellation Policy.

Participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to the hotel in Florence, arriving at the hotel on Sunday, May 27 for the opening reception beginning at 6:30 pm. The tour officially concludes with the group’s arrival at the Leonardo da Vinci airport in Rome. All arrangements for subsequent travel and accommodation are solely the responsibility of the participant. In addition to the accommodations specified below, the cost of the tour includes ground transportation and admission fees for all activities included in the itinerary. Participants are themselves responsible for all charges (including personal, discretionary hotel room charges) incurred in connection with any activity not explicitly specified in the itinerary.

Level of Physical Activity:

The nature of the tour program and the type of sites which the group will visit make for a moderately strenuous routine; those who need to limit their physical activity or who cannot easily walk longer distances are strongly encouraged to consult with the tour leaders prior to reserving space. The directors reserve the right to limit individual participation in group activities at their sole discretion in cases where the group’s interests might be adversely affected.

Accommodations:

Cost is based on double occupancy in hotels. In most cases single rooms are available at the hotels for a supplemental charge. All hotels are three or four star and have been carefully chosen for their location, comfort and quality of service. A list of hotels will be provided separately to registered participants. Room assignments are made by the hotel management. Breakfast is included each day at the hotel.

Reservations:

The tour is strictly limited to a maximum of 20 participants to ensure the comfort and focused attention of the group experience. Reservations on the tour are held in the order in which deposits are received. Places may be reserved by completing the application form below, and returning it with a deposit of one thousand dollars per person to the address listed on the reservation form Deposits are refundable according to the terms specified on the Reservation Form. Payments must be made by check; we do not accept credit cards. The balance must be paid in full by April 1, 2018. Refunds in the event of cancellation are subject to the restrictions outlined in the Terms and Conditions. Please be sure to read these carefully before submitting a deposit. Travelers are strongly urged to purchase separate travel insurance including coverage for cancellation loss to protect themselves in the event that they are unable to travel for any reason.

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.

Florence and Chianti
October 6 – 16, 2018

Program Overview

The transition in Western Europe from the medieval to the Renaissance world both contributed to and was shaped by new modes of expression in art, literature, philosophy, and spirituality. Through a first-hand observation of some of the most important of these intellectual and artistic creations in their original historical settings, this tour will seek to give participants a rich and lively understanding of one of the most fascinating episodes in human history – the Florentine Renaissance.Our goal is to give participants the opportunity to experience all of the city’s major artistic and historical sites in depth, with expert guidance and without the haste that unfortunately characterizes mass tourism.We will reside in a four star hotel conveniently located near the center of the old city. Ordinarily, we shall visit the city in the morning and most afternoons, although there will ample time free for individual explorations. The itinerary includes a two stay in the Chianti wine region, stopping for a tour of the production facility and cellars of one of Chianti’s best known and respected vintners, including a wine tasting meal. From Chianti we will also make a day visit to Florence’s great medieval rival, Siena to visit its spectacular cathedral and the Palazzo Pubblico.

The tour leaders will be Francis J. Ambrosio, Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University and Director of the Georgetown MyDante Project, and Ms. Deborah Warin, Director, Renaissance Tours Company, LLC, former Director of Continuing Education and lecturer at Georgetown University, and author of the forthcoming book, Battista Sforza and the Court of Urbino. Together they have led more than 40 previous tours to Italy.

The price of the Tour is $3,450.00 per person, exclusive of airfare. This price includes hotel accommodations (double occupancy) with breakfast, all entrance fees and guided tours by the tour leaders as indicated in the itinerary and subject to the specified conditions; also included are the welcome reception on the first evening of the tour, a wine tasting session in Chianti and the farewell dinner. No other meals are included.  Please read the Terms and Conditions carefully for full details. Airfare and ground transportation to and from the hotel in Florence are not included.

 

Detailed Itinerary

Saturday, October 6

Welcoming reception at the hotel beginning at 6:30 pm., followed by an introduction to the program.

Sunday, October 7

This morning we begin with a walking tour of Dante’s Florence, following the circuit of the walls of the medieval town.

In the afternoon we visit the magnificent Uffizi Gallery tracing the development of Medieval and Renaissance art.        

 Monday, October 8

Today is dedicated to visiting the churches of the two great medieval Orders that played crucial formative roles in the development of the Florentine Renaissance, the Franciscans and Dominicans. First, in the morning we visit Santa Maria Novella, founded by the Dominicans and the site of Masaccio’s revolutionary fresco, The Holy Trinity. Then, in the afternoon we cross the town to visit the Franciscans’ Santa Croce, with its magnificent frescoes by Giotto and the tomb of Michelangelo.

Tuesday, October 9

 In the morning, we visit the Convento San Marco to see its beautiful frescoes by Fra Angelico. From there, we walk to the Palazzo Medici to see the fabulously restored frescoes there in the private chapel by Benozzo Gozzoli.

The afternoon is free to allow you some time to get acquainted (or reacquainted) with the magnificent city of Florence on your own.

Wednesday, October 10

The day begins with a tour of the spectacular Palazzo Pitti and the Galleria Palatina, including famous works by Raphael, Titian, and Lippi to name but a few.

In the afternoon, we visit the small but enormously important Brancacci Chapel with its frescoes by Masaccio – a fresco cycle that revolutionized western art with Masaccio’s use of the new principles of perspective and chiaroscuro as well as his unique ability to imbue his figures with human emotion.

Thursday, October 11

In the morning we visit the National Sculpture Museum in the Bargello, where the work of Donatello (including his bronze David), and the della Robbias are featured in an exceptionally evocative setting.  From the Bargello, we go on to visit the Museum of the Opera del Duomo, where we shall find, among many riches, Donatello’s sublime Mary Magdalene and Michelangelo’s Florentine Pieta.  

The afternoon is free in Florence.

Friday, October 12

This morning, we visit the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall and seat of government of Florence for more than 800 years.  In the afternoon, we take a short excursion to one of the most scenic spots from which to view the city, the Church of San Miniato, the oldest and, many would say, the most striking of the city’s great churches.           

Saturday, October 13

This morning we visit the most well-known sites associated with Michelangelo in the city of Florence: the Galleria dell’ Accademia to see the David and the Bound Slaves; the Church of San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapel with its extraordinarily powerful tomb sculptures, and the Laurentian library.  The remainder of the day is free for a last leisurely afternoon enjoying the dignified charm of Florence.

Departing our hotel in Florence we begin a two-day excursion through the Chianti wine district heading for the heart of the “Chianti Classico” territory, where we spend two nights. On the first day we immerse ourselves in the rich traditions of Chianti production, including the origins of the DOCG designation which controls the use of appellation “Chianti Classico,” and a tour of the fattoria (production facility) and cantina (cellars) of one of Chianti’s most renowned producers. The day culminates with a shared meal with wine pairings, allowing us to enjoy the fruits of our learning to the full.

Monday, October 15

From our hotel we make a short trip to Siena, the famed home of the Palio horse-race, and visit the uniquely impressive twin icons of Sienese identity, its stunning Cathedral, together with its museum housing Duccio’s masterpiece, the Maesta`, and Palazzo Publico with its tower dominating the Campo (main city piazza) and its artistic treasury of works by Simone Martini and Piero and Ambrogio Lorenzetti.

After free time in Siena, we then return to our hotel for our last evening in Tuscany.

Tuesday, October 16

We leave our hotel in Chianti by bus traveling first to the Florence Airport to accommodate those with flights from there and then to central Florence near the train station for those who need to make rail connections. The tour concludes upon our return to Florence.

 

Program Notes

Air Travel:

Participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from Florence. Participants should plan to arrive at the hotel on October 6 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 Florence airport is estimated for mid to late morning on Tuesday, October 16. We cannot, however, guarantee a specific arrival time. Participants who wish to schedule a flight from Florence earlier than Tuesday afternoon, 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 $3,450. 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 in Chianti 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.
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.
*** 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, is strongly recommended, as well as trip cancellation insurance, is strongly recommended.***

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.