Marvellous opportunity to explore the Veneto & its many famous villas
Visit important masterpieces by Palladio, Scamozzi, Giotto & Veronese
Several private visits to villas in some of which we shall be entertained to lunch & dinner
Hotel situated in lovely countryside near Vicenza with wonderful views
The art history of Italy from the end of the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and beyond is dominated by several interwoven strands. There is the emergence of city-states great and small – in the case of this visit, Venice and its rich agricultural hinterland, the Veneto. Given the power of Venice, ambitious families used patronage via the creation of magnificent works of architecture and art as a means of furthering their status and to serve these ends, great artists produced masterpieces in every possible medium. Quite simply, this part of northern Italy offers an unrivalled selection of architecture, sculpture, painting and landscape art for the discerning traveller.
In British eyes the architectural heritage of the Veneto is dominated by one man, Andrea Palladio (1508 – 1580). His career, centred on his adopted home of Vicenza, saw his style mature into a sophisticated blend of architectural theory, modular planning and a mastery of the classical language of architecture. At the end of the sixteenth century Palladio’s student and assistant, Vincenzo Scamozzi, not only completed many of the buildings left unfinished at his master’s death, but he also continued to work in Palladio’s style. Indeed, it is through the meeting in 1613 between Scamozzi, Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel and Inigo Jones (while they were visiting the Veneto), that the Palladian style came to be introduced into England. Subsequently, it was in the eighteenth century that this very combination of sources – Palladio, Scamozzi and Jones – led Lord Burlington, William Kent and others to create that most quintessential of styles, neo-Palladianism, soon spreading to the adjacent Celtic peoples and the American colonies.
These wonderful buildings will not be our only focus as the Veneto has an equally rich heritage of paintings and sculptures. Giotto’s wonderful frescoes in Padua’s Arena Chapel and their neighbour, Mantegna’s early work in the Eremitani church, will be complemented by Donatello’s many works created during his time there. Veronese is the painter strongly associated with Palladio and his work at Villa Barbaro at Maser will surely be a highlight? Finally, the Tiepolo family of fresco painters left work of outstanding beauty at Villa Valmarana.
We shall stay in the Berici hills at Arcugnano, just south of Vicenza, at the charming 4* Hotel Villa Michelangelo. A former historic villa, it is surrounded by lovely countryside and has a swimming pool and an excellent restaurant. Vicenza is 15 minutes away by bus or taxi.
Day by day
- Day 1: Thursday 13 October
- On arrival at Venice Airport in the mid afternoon, we make our way by coach directly to our hotel in the Berici hills south of Vicenza, the charming 4* Hotel Villa Michelangelo at Arcugnano and later that evening we have dinner in the hotel’s restaurant - wine, water and coffee are included with all group lunches and dinners.
- Day 2: Friday 14 October
- We drive into Vicenza and begin with Palladio’s famous re-cladding of the city’s Palazzo della Ragione or Basilica. We also look at a selection of his palace designs to include Palazzi Thienne, Iseppa da Porto and Varmarana. We break for lunch (not included), after which we visit the justly famed Teatro Olimpico. We return to our hotel via a short visit to the votive Monte Berico Sanctuary to see a fine altarpiece by Veronese. In the early evening we drive the short distance into the Berici Hills to have dinner in one of Vicenza’s well-regarded restaurants.
- Day 3: Saturday 15 October
- Our day starts at the Villa Barbaro at Maser, one of Palladio’s most famous compositions. The villa stands apart from all other villas within Palladio’s oeuvre, not least because of the amazing quality of the fresco decorations, painted between 1560 and 1562 by Veronese, the great Venetian painter and younger contemporary of Titian’s. We continue to Villa Godi, one of Palladio’s earliest villas, which we visit privately and have lunch in the villa’s frescoed salone. We return to the hotel and a free evening.
- Day 4: Sunday 16 October
- Padua is one of northern Italy’s most important cities and it will be the focus of today’s visit. Giotto frescoed the Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel by about 1313 and these remain one of the supreme achievements of medieval painting. Miraculously spared from bombing damage during World War II, the nearby Eremitani church was not so lucky and its famous frescoes by Mantegna were severely damaged, though enough remains to support their deserved reputation. The city centre is a delightful place for lunch (not included) and afterwards we visit the Basilica of St Anthony, a fine medieval church with amazing sculptures by Donatello on the main altar, to which we shall have privileged access. We return to our hotel where the evening will be free.
- Day 5: Monday 17 October
- We drive to Palladio’s Villa Emo Capodilista at Fanzola, still the centre of a working farm, where the interiors have frescoes by Zelotti and his team. We continue the short distance to Villa Cornaro at Piombino Dese. Palladio was engaged to design this villa about 1552 and it was inhabited by 1554, though the side wings were not completed until 1590. The villa interiors have been under restoration for some time and we shall be able to see the exteriors. Nearby we also visit Villa Marcello for a private lunch, hosted by Count Jacopo Marcello. This is one of the finest early eighteenth-century villas in the Veneto and was clearly inspired by Palladian prototypes. We return to the hotel and the evening will be free.
- Day 6: Tuesday 18 October
- We travel south of Vicenza to Villa Rocca Pisani, designed by Palladio’s assistant and successor, Vincenzo Scamozzi, which we visit privately. This is a particularly important villa as it is the major source for Lord Burlington’s villa at Chiswick. Following a coffee break we visit Villa Pisano Bonetti at Lonigo. It was designed by Palladio just after his 1541 return from Rome and it displays a new confidence in his work based on his recent experiences. After lunch (not included) in Lonigo, we return to our hotel via Villa Poiana, one of Palladio’s most original and diverse villa commissions. In the evening we drive the short distance to Villa Valmarana ai Nani, for a private visit. The “ai Nani” refers to the amusing group of statues placed on the walls of the garden. The villa sits on a lovely hillside and it has magnificent frescoes by Giambattista Tiepolo, while his son, Giovanni Domenico, frescoed the nearby guest villa where we shall have our final group dinner.
- Day 7: Wednesday 19 October
- We leave our hotel for the final time to visit the nearby Villa Almerico Capra Valmarana, popularly known as La Rotonda, surely the most famous of all his designs? The lavishly frescoed interiors are open one day per week, and luckily this will be one of those days! We continue the short distance eastwards of Vicenza to admire from the outside Villa Chiericati da Porto Rigo, one of Palladio’s final villas. Following a final group lunch, we continue to Venice Airport for the return flight to London’s Heathrow Airport.
- Price: £2,795 per person
- Price without flights: £2,650
- Deposit: £395
- Single Supplement: £270 (Single Room)
£335 (Double Room for Sole Use)
- Tour Manager: James Hill
6 nights with breakfast at the 4* Hotel Villa Michelangelo
£475 Upgrade to DSU Superior
Couples/ Two sharing are in Superior Rooms, Upgrade to Deluxe Room £120 (per room) subject to availability.
Outward: BA2586 Depart London Heathrow (T5) 1200, arrive Venice 1515
Return: BA2585 Depart Venice 1815 arrive London Heathrow (T5) 1935
3 dinners & 3 lunches with wine, water & coffee, all local transfers, entry fees & gratuities, services of James Hill as Tour Manager and Lecturer Tom Duncan
Travel to/from Heathrow, 3 dinners & 3 lunches
Weather Conditions for Verona in October are:
Average Temperature between: 9oC - 18oC / 48oF - 65oF
Average Rainfull: 91mm / 3.6 inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.