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Palladian Villas & Art Treasures of Northern Italy

June 1st - 6th 2020

Discover the art, wine and gastronomy of northern Italy with this new tour based at the luxury 5-star Villa del Quar. 

The award-winning boutique hotel is surrounded by the famous vineyards of Valpolicella and produces its own wines which we will sample during the week. We use this delightful coutryside retreat as a base to explore the local area, with a day trip to Mantua where we discover the treasures on display in the Ducal Palace including Mantegna’s delightful Camera degli Sposi frescoes, the Basilica of Sant’Andrea and the Palazzo del Te, a pleasure palace designed by Giulio Romano for Federico Gonzaga.  We enjoy a private opening of the magnificent Villa Mosconi Bertani (see above) with an exclusive private concert and dinner in its exquisitely frescoed Salon of the Muses, accompanied by the property's famous Amarone and Valpolicella wines. We spend time exploring Palladian villas (including some not open to the public) with day trips to nearby Vicenza, Verona and Padua. A highlight will be a private visit to the Villa Valmarana, famous for its frescoes by Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo, where we enjoy a tour and lunch hosted by Countess Carolina Valmarana.

The region is full of artistic treasures and we will follow in the footsteps of artists such as Giotto, Veronese, Pisanello and Mantegna, exploring exquisite works which remain in the places for which they were commissioned.  As always, the holiday will be accompanied by excellent dinners in beautiful locations, as well as a number of private wine-tastings in some of the region's most spectacular locations, including the award-winning Zyme estate, one of the most renowned wine cellars of Valpolicella.

There will also be a specially arranged study day in London the week before we travel, giving us an opportunity to meet other members of the group and learn more about the artists whose work we will encounter during the tour.

Priority Booking for the tour is now open for Friends of Art History in Focus. General Booking will open on 22 August.

 

Itinerary

Introductory Study Day on Thursday 28th May: For those who are able to come, there will be an introductory late morning study tour in London before we depart, giving us an opportunity to meet other members of the group and explore works by artists such as Veronese, GIotto and Tiepolo whose work we will see in Italy. The tour will last approximately 1½ hours and a light lunch is arranged for those who would like to join the group. Further details will be given a little nearer the time.

DAY 1 (JUNE 1st): We depart in the morning from London Gatwick to Verona airport and transfer by private coach (journey time approx. 25 minutes) to the 5-star luxury boutique Villa del Quar situated in the heart of Valpolicella vineyards. An antique villa and National Monument, this award-winning hotel has a fascinating history, having served as a castle for powerful medieval lords as well as an elegant home for prosperous Venetian merchants. It boasts stylish Renaissance interiors and antique furnishings and is surrounded by beautiful private gardens, a large outdoor swimming pool and the hotel's own vineyards.

After some time to relax and perhaps enjoy a light lunch by the pool we visit the nearby world-famous Zýmē vineyard which produces some of the finest wines in Italy’s Valpolicella region. The winery is characterised by a fascinating combination of tradition and innovation thanks in part to its recent striking transformation by contemporary architect Moreno Zurlo. We will taste a number of wines from traditional favourites such as Amarone (Decanter World Wine Award 2019: silver medal) to innovative new wines such as Kairos (Decanter World Wine Award 2018: bronze medal)

After some time to relax, a gourmet dinner with wine (included) is served at the Villa del Quar

DAY 2: After breakfast we spend the day exploring the nearby beautiful city of Verona, where our visits include the fine Romanesque church of San Zeno with its magnificent bronze doors and its altarpiece by Andrea Mantegna, and the church of Sant’Anastasia with its famous fresco of St George by Pisanello and a fine monument attributed to Andrew Palladio.   A light lunch is arranged for those who would like to join the group in the Piazza Bra, where the famous Roman amphitheatre is situated. The third largest in the world, the arena attracts music lovers from all over the world during the annual Opera Festival.

We have also arranged a guided tour of one of Verona’s hidden gems, the Giusti Gardens. Featuring formal  parterres,  sculptures and beautiful views from the terraces,  they are  considered  today some  of  the  most  beautiful  Renaissance gardens  in  Europe.  The adjacent Giusti family palace is normally closed to the public but will be opening soon as a “casa museo”, so we will also have an opportunity to enjoy the family collection of furniture, paintings and decorative arts.

We return to the hotel to rest and this evening enjoy a private opening of the magnificent nearby Villa Mosconi Bertani (see above), built in the 18th century and decorated with beautiful trompe l’oeil paintings. After an aperitivo in front of the villa we enjoy an exclusive private concert and dinner (included) in the exquisitely frescoed Salon of the Muses, accompanied by the property's world-famous Amarone and Valpolicella wines.

DAY 3: We enjoy a trip to nearby Mantua, which was ruled for 300 years by the Gonzaga family. This important dynasty commissioned works by the greatest artists, architects and musicians of their day, from Titian and Leonardo to Rubens and Monteverdi. We discover the many treasures on display in the Ducal Palace including the exquisite Camera degli Sposi, decorated with frescoes by Mantegna depicting Ludovico Gonzaga and his family, and then take a short walk through the charming city centre. After lunch (optional) in one of medieval squares, we will see the Basilica of Sant’Andrea designed by Alberti as well as the delightful Palazzo del Te, a pleasure palace designed by Giulio Romano in the 1520s for Federico Gonzaga and his mistress

Dinner has been arranged (optional) at an excellent family-run restaurant in Verona for those who would like to join the group.

DAY 4: We depart for Vicenza, the city of Andrea Palladio who became the most influential architect of his generation. First we stop at the beautiful, classically inspired Villa Rotunda  where we enjoy an exclusive private tour of the interior and exterior when it is closed to the public. We will be welcomed by the owner Count Niccolo Valmarana, descendant of one of the oldest families in Venice whose family acquired the property over 100 years ago and have brought this Palladian masterpiece back to life once more.

Afterwards we enjoy another private opening, the Villa Valmarana ai  Nani, famous for its magnificent and playful frescoes by father and son team, Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo. These were commissioned in the 18th century by Giustino Valmarana. His descendants still live in the property and we will be welcomed by Countess  Carolina  Valmarana who will give us a guided tour of the villa and then join us for a delicious lunch (included) beneath the Tiepolo paintings.

This afternoon we visit Palladio’s last commission, the Teatro Olimpico, based on classical models and boasting impressive stage sets designed by his pupil Scamozzi. We then stroll into the centre of town towards the Piazza dei Signori where further buildings by Palladio dominate the square, such as the green-roofed Basilica covering Vicenza’s town hall.

This evening we have a chance to enjoy some of the wines produced by the Villa del Quar during a specially arranged private wine tasting in the hotel’s evocative Roman cellars. The tasting is accompanied by light snacks.

Dinner this evening is independent.

DAY 5: Today we drive to Padua where our visits include the Basilica di Sant’Antonio known as Il Santo, built to house the relics of Saint Anthony of Padua whose miracles are recorded on Donatello’s superb sculpted reliefs on the high altar.  We will also see some wonderful little-known early frescoes by Titian next door (private opening), and then stroll towards Palazzo della Ragione, the town’s medieval law court, which is surrounded by loggias which shelter shops, restaurants and cafes.

After a light lunch (optional) we have reservations to see Giotto’s magnificent frescoes which cover the walls of the Scrovegni Chapel. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the chapel was commissioned by a local merchant Enrico Scrovegni to atone for the sins of his father, and the patron himself appears prominently in an act of dedication on the west wall. A specially arranged ticket will allow us to spend extra time in the chapel.

En route home we stop for a short private visit of Andrea Palladio’s Villa Trissino.

Dinner with wine (included) is served at the Villa del Quar this evening.

DAY 6: After some time for relaxation at the villa we depart for nearby Verona airport where our BA flight departs at midday, returning to London Gatwick.

Further Tour Information

Accommodation
5 nights’ accommodation including breakfast in the luxury 5-star Villa del Quar, a landmark boutique hotel which is a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts and Historic Hotels Worldwide. Each of the 25 rooms is extremely comfortable and stylish and individually decorated with antiques, elegant furnishings and rich fabrics in keeping with the historical legacy of the building. Rooms in the superior category have been reserved. Outside there is a swimming pool surrounded by a large private garden and the hotel's own vineyards. There is a gourmet restaurant “Arquade” with 3 dining rooms as well as more informal choices – a poolside Gazebo or the Salgari Bar.  The hotel is situated in a peaceful rural location yet within easy access of all the towns, villas and vineyards on our itinerary.

Rooms are in the superior category but you may like to upgrade to a luxurious Junior Suite (doubles/twins) at an extra cost of £60 per room per night.

Itinerary and Meals
I will lead guided tours on all days, giving you some free time too (please feel free to join the group or be independent). A detailed, confirmed itinerary will be provided nearer the time and all reservations made where necessary. Please note that flight times may be subject to alteration. All will be done to ensure that the details of the trip remain as indicated, but museums and churches may close without warning, and if this happens I will always make every effort to organise alternative arrangements. I will always suggest good places for lunch and dinner, so we can either eat together as a group or you can be independent – it’s up to you.

How Strenuous?
Please note that there is a fair amount of walking involved in the trip, although at a gentle pace and not strenuous. There will be regular coffee stops and breaks during each day, and the use of headsets for guiding allows you to sit down when listening to your lecturer’s commentaries, wherever seats are available.

Price
The price will be £2599 per person for those sharing a twin or double room, and there is a single room supplement of £399.

The price includes scheduled flights and taxes with BA; 5-star hotel accommodation for 5 nights, city taxes and breakfast; transfers and excursions by private coach; fully guided tours; a number of specially arranged exclusive visits; a study day at the National Gallery; 3 gourmet dinners with local fine wines; 2 private wine tastings; a private concert at the Villa Mosconi Bertani; lunch with wine at the Villa Valmarana ai  Nani; porterage; gratuities; receiver headsets to listen to guide/lecturer from a distance; tour notes; reservations and all entrance fees in the itinerary. It does not include meals other than those indicated; travel to and from UK airports; insurance and personal spending.

Participation
If you would like to join the tour please complete the online booking form. If you would prefer to send a booking form by post please download a copy here.  

Please note a £225 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of booking. I will send your tickets, full travel details and other practical information approximately 3-4 weeks before travel. Numbers on this trip are strictly limited, so do get in touch earlier rather than later if you would like to join the group, to avoid disappointment. There has already been a lot of interest in this trip so we would recommend booking early, to avoid disappointment.

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for booking this trip.

Once your booking has been accepted, we will notify you by email. If you have not received an email confirmation, please check your ‘deleted items' and 'junk mail' folders. If you have not received a confirmation please do contact us to ensure that we have received your booking.

All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate.

Thank you so much for an absolutely excellent few days ... As always you had put on an excellent itinerary, superbly organised and with a great mix of art and gastronomy! It was a genuinely fascinating tour”

Mr and Mrs John and Ros Hamburger

Read more testimonials and comments

Highlights

  • 5-star luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Valpolicella vineyards
  • Exclusive private visits and lunches with owners of historic villas
  • Wine-tastings at award-winning estates
  • Day trips to Mantua and Vicenza
  • Private concert and dinner at the Villa Mosconi Bertani
  • Superior Rooms
  • Pre-tour Study Day

Practicalities

  • Tour Price: £2,599.00
  • Single Supplement: £399.00
  • Room Upgrade: £60.00 per room per night
  • Deposit: £225.00
  • Lecturer: Siân Walters

Booking

Booking only available to Friends of AHF
until 22 August 2019. Become a Friend of AHF

If you have any questions regarding the tour or booking please send us an email or
call on +44 (0)1932 267322

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