Farnese Bull copyright Brenda Kean Dreamstime.com - detail

An Italian Grand Tour Part II

10 week course: 30th September - 9th December 2022

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We are delighted to announce a new 10-week online course, combining lectures by art historian and National Gallery lecturer Siân Walters with guided walks and museum visits streamed live from Rome, Milan, Naples and Venice, led by expert art historians, archaeologists and guides. We have secured some exclusive openings and museum visits including the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, famous for its magnificent mosaic and sculpture collections.

The lectures and visits are all different from our first Grand Tour course earlier this year so the course can be enjoyed by both newcomers to Art History in Focus as well as students who have attended the previous module. 


All lectures and tours broadcast from Italy are live and interactive, allowing you to ask questions.  Siân and all her expert colleagues are known for their informative but informal approach, combining erudite commentary with an entertaining and approachable delivery.  The lessons, streamed on Zoom Webinar, will enable you to gain special access to sites and galleries in Italy whilst at the same time providing a wonderful opportunity to travel virtually from home. Our visits will also support both galleries and individuals working in the cultural sector and a percentage of the course price is reserved for supporting other cultural institutions in need of assistance.


Each week we will explore a different city. We will discuss masterpieces of art, architecture and sculpture in the cities of Verona, Parma and Perugia, focusing on some of their most well-known artists from Paolo Veronese and Parmigianino to Correggio and Perugino. There will be a session devoted to Vicenza and the architecture of Andrea Palladio as well as a lecture on the delightful town of Sansepolcro, birthplace of Piero della Francesca.

There will also be a special guest lecture by award-winning author Dr Ross King, entitled The Medici Gardens of Tuscany. The Florentine Renaissance was characterised by a rediscovery of the buildings, statues and texts of the Ancient Romans, as well as by a reconfiguration of visual space through such things as linear perspective. If they were crucial to architecture and painting, these developments likewise had a dramatic impact on both the philosophy, design and function of the garden in fifteenth-century Florence. This lecture will examine the Tuscan gardens of the Medici in order to explore the merging of landscape, architecture, philosophy and art.


We have also arranged exclusive access to a number of museums and important art collections such as the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (see photo above) where we enjoy two livestream guided tours led by the well-known archaeologist Dr Raffaele Romano  The museum is an essential stop on an initiatory journey into the world of antiquity and well-known for its world-famous sculpture collection, including the "Farnese Hercules" and "Farnese Bull", as well as its exquisite mosaics discovered at Pompeii and Herculaneum.

We have been granted permission to film in the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan, one of city’s most elegant private museums which was founded by nobleman Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli in the late 19th century and contains an outstanding collection of objets d’art, textiles, sculpture, furniture and paintings with masterpieces by Piero della Francesca, Bellini, Botticelli and Pollaiuolo. Our guided tour will be led by the distinguished scholar and art historian Dr Antonio Mazzotta. 

Dr Luisella Romeo will lead a guided walk from Venice including a private opening of the Oratorio dei Crociferi, one of the hidden gems of the city which contains fine canvases by Palma il Giovane, as well as a visit to the Jesuit church. 

Dr Grace Barbieri will also lead a guided walk from Rome - more details will be available soon.


A full course outline and reading list will be emailed to all attendees approximately one week before the first session. Students also receive an informal weekly newsletter with news, reading suggestions, recipes and website links.

There will be no crossover with any previous courses or livestream visits - all the sessions are new so they can be enjoyed by those who have followed our other online courses as well as newcomers who are always most welcome!

Live streamed sessions are on Friday mornings and run from 11.00am – 12.45 (UK time). There is no session on 4th November (half-term). The cost includes museum entrance fees and donations.  You are welcome to join the course at any point however, please note that you will only be able to see the recording from the previous session if you join after the course start date.

Tune in from anywhere in the world or enjoy a recorded version if you cannot watch live. A link to the recording will be sent soon after the end of the session if you cannot watch live, enabling you to watch on catch up after the session any time until Monday at midnight (UK time).*  Each session will last approximately 1 hour 45 minutes including a short break and two question/answer sessions. 

* Recordings are only available to those who miss a live session.

Our guided walks use the most up-to-date technology to provide you with the best possible virtual experience. You will feel as though you are exploring the city yourself with the running commentary given by our guide, with the possibility of admiring details of the artworks in high resolution as we move around the galleries. Please refer to the Further Information panel below for booking details.


I absolutely love your courses Sian! I am learning so much about art, history and the world .. but above all it is your unique style that is so enchanting and keeps me coming back for more! As an expert in your subject you have great knowledge but also the gift of making your lectures accessible to a wide range of participants through your wonderful use of language and lovely sense of fun. Thank you!

I just wanted to tell you what a wonderful 10 week course the Italian Grand Tour was - I have loved every minute of it and have learnt such a lot. Thank you once again for a truly magical 10 weeks.

Thank you so much for the very enjoyable and amazing Italian Grand Tour course, I have loved it!  All your guides were excellent with their knowledge and enthusiasm . So much to take in and great to have your personal knowledge of the towns and cities. Friday mornings are not going to be the same!

Thank you again, Siân, for arranging these lovely sessions which we look forward to all week....

Thank you for such a wonderful course. Every week’s lectures and visits have been a delight .. and have made Friday mornings the highlight of the week. I shall be signing up for the next and look forward enormously to more Friday mornings of bliss!

Your course is splendid - the combination of lectures and virtual walks/visits works brilliantly....

 I just want to thank you for your brilliant course on Venice which I have enjoyed enormously. The combination of your fascinating lectures and Luisella’s wonderful tours has been so enlightening.  I feel that I have actually been to Venice!...


Art History in Focus is proud to have initiated the concept of online tours in a number of major Italian museums and historic sites including the Castello Sforzesco and Palazzo Bagatti Valsecchi in Milan, the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, the Palazzo Colonna in Rome, the Ca’ Rezzonico and the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, and the Palazzo Medici in Florence. We are delighted to have developed these collaborations which continue to raise important funds for the galleries and cultural sites.

Image, Farnese Bull, National Archaeological Museum of Naples copyright Brenda Kean Dreamstime.com 


Further Information

Just wanted to say how much we are enjoying the Grand Tour course - the format works really well and the lectures are excellent ... it feels really special to be allowed to be in the galleries and churches live. This is the first we have done with Art History in Focus but it won’t be the last!””

Mrs H Shirley-Quick

Read more testimonials and comments


  • Exclusive live access to some of Italy's most beautiful collections and galleries
  • Live broadcasts from the Naples Archaeological Museum and Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Milan
  • Live, guided walking tours in Italy
  • Lectures with specialist art historians
  • Explore a different city each week
  • Interactive Q&A



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