Day 1 Establishing connections - Ancient Rome & the 18th century Grand Tour
After our early scheduled British Airways flight to Rome, we are met at the airport by Peter and Tom and transfer by coach to the city centre where we stop for coffee and a panini (included). Refreshed, we then visit the church of St Paul-within-the-Walls where Peter and our accompanying violinist give the first of our private concerts. The music performed will be of the type heard by British travellers in Rome during the 17th and 18th centuries. Continuing with the theme of Ancient Rome and the British on the Grand Tour in the 18th century, we take an introductory guided tour of Rome by coach with a chance for a brief visit to the Colisseum and the Arch of Constantine, and - should weather and time permit - a walk along the Forum to the Piazza Venezia, where our coach meets us and transfers us to our 4* hotel. We gather in the hotel for a 20 minute solo violin recital, which in turn is followed by a drinks reception, and then by dinner at a local restaurant (included).
Day 2 The Cult of St Cecilia - patron saint of music
After breakfast we begin the day's schedule with a lecture by Peter on the cult of St Cecilia, the Roman patrician who was martyred for her faith around 230 AD. We then visit St Cecilia's church in the Trastevere rione, which legend claims was built over the actual house of the saint. Here we see the famous effigy of St Cecilia by the sculptor Carlo Maderno who based his work on what he himself reportedly saw when Cecilia's coffin was opened, namely, the incorrupt body of the saint. The church is also famous for its frescoes (c1300) by Pietro Cavallini and there is time to see these as well. A surviving fragment on the west wall of the Last Judgment is particularly fine. We leave the church and take a walk to another one: San Francesco a Ripa, dedicated to St Francis of Assisi, who was accommodated in the adjacent convent (‘Ripa’ refers to the nearby river edge of the Tiber). Here we enjoy the third of our private concerts with a programme of music directly inspired by St Cecilia. Pieces include arias from Purcell, Blow and Handel's odes to St Cecilia. A light lunch (included) in the Auditorium ReD Restaurant & Design is followed by a visit to the Academia of Santa Cecilia to view the musical instrument collection, located in the Auditorium Parco della Musica. The focus of the collection is a group of Italian stringed instruments from the 17th to 20th centuries, and includes the famous Tuscan violin by Stradivari, built for Grand Prince Ferdinando de’Medici. We enjoy a private guided tour of the collection, as well as the cavea, the foyers, and the archaeological area. The remainder of the day and evening is at leisure.
Day 3 The great Angelo Corelli & his music, & thoughts on the Roman Baroque
This morning's lecture focuses on the music of Angelo Corelli, the famous 17th/18th century Roman composer of concertos and sonatas. On leaving the hotel we visit the Spada Galleria where Tom guides us through the collection of 16th and 17th century art. This is followed by a visit to Santa Maria della Vittoria, to view Bernini’s Ecstasy of St Theresa and where we enjoy the fourth recital by Peter and our violinist. The programme will consist of works drawn from Corelli's magnificent set of Violin Sonatas Op 5. After a light lunch (included) in the Pantheon area, we visit the Pantheon itself, a building remodelled and completed by Emperor Hadrian in 126 AD, but which has been a church since the 7th century. The building interests us particularly today, because it is the resting place of Angelo Corelli. We continue on to the Palazzo Colonna, one of the oldest and largest privately owned palaces in Rome. Here we have an included guided tour, visiting Princess Isabelle’s apartment - where we see frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi - and the Galleria Colonna apartments, which houses a superb art collection. The tour lasts about 2 hours. The evening is at leisure, but depending on availability, there will be an optional visit to a concert or opera.
Day 4 The high priest of Latin oratorio, more thoughts on the Roman Baroque, & two magnificent Church organs
The lecture this morning concentrates on the life and music of Giacomo Carissimi (1605-74), the founder of Latin oratorio and a key figure in the mid Roman Baroque. After the lecture we visit to the Galleria Borghese, which houses a substantial part of the Borghese collection of paintings, sculpture and antiquities originally amassed by Cardinal Scipione Borghese. Here Tom explores works by Bernini, Raphael and Titian. We enjoy a light lunch (included) in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna. Since we are already in the building, the first part of the afternoon is spent viewing the highlights of the Galleria d’Arte Moderna founded in 1883 and dedicated to modern and contemporary art. Our time here provides a sharp and interesting contrast to the galleries visited so far on the tour. We then visit the Baroque church of Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola, built in the 1600s and which functioned as a chapel to the nearby Roman College. Peter will give an organ recital here. After this, a short walk brings us to the nearby Oratorio Francesco Saverio di Caravita where Peter once again gives a short recital on the particularly famous historic organ. It is said that Frescobaldi and Mozart played here, and so Peter will perform organ music by both of these composers. The evening is at leisure.
Day 5 A musical cardinal, the Palazzo Cancelleria & a spectacular day in the country
This morning we visit the Palazzo della Cancelleria, a Renaissance Palace in Rome and famous for being a centre of musical life during the residency of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (1667-1740). The Cardinal was a dedicated patron of the arts and supported and cultivated the work of composers such as Corelli, Handel, Alessandro Scarlatti, Antonio Caldara and Vivaldi. After this, we make our way to the hillside town of Tivoli, which at the height of the Roman Empire was a favourite retreat for poets and the wealthier citizens of Rome. The lavish villas - all scattered around sacred woods and scenic waterfalls - attracted distinguished visitors such as Horace, Catullus, Maecenas, Sallust and the emperor Trajan. A highlight of our day is a visit to the Villa Adriana, the largest of the complexes and built by Hadrian between 110-30 AD as a retreat from duties in Rome. Hadrian himself was the architect and the site consists of pools, baths, fountains and classical Greek architecture - Hadrian's especial passion. After this, we make our way to the Villa Gregoriana where we have a light lunch at the cafe (included). The afternoon consists of two visits. The first is to the Villa D’Este, which along with its garden is one of the most remarkable gestures of Renaissance culture. Its extraordinary design along with the architectural components of the garden (fountains, ornamental basins, etc) make this a unique example of an Italian 16th century garden, in fact, it was an early model for the general development of European gardens. The second visit is to the Cathedral of Tivoli, which according to legend was built by Emperor Constantine after the Edict of Milan in 313 AD. However, today's outstanding Baroque structure dates from 1634 to 1652. There is a likely chance that Peter will play the organ here.
Day 6 Mother of all churches, Palazzo Barberini & San Luigi dei Francesi, & a trio of Caravaggios Morning lecture
This morning we visit the Papal Archbasilica of St John in the Lateran, which is the cathedral church of Rome and the official episcopal seat of the Bishop of Rome, the Roman Pontiff. It is the oldest and ranks first among the five Papal Basilicas of the world and the four major Basilicas of Rome. A plaque over the main entrance states that it is the 'Mother Church of the entire World'. Built at various stages over the centuries, it is particularly loved for its dramatic façade, completed in 1735 to a design of Alessandro Galilei's. We follow this with a visit to Palazzo Barberini a 17th palace and home to the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica. Here we view Raphael's La Fornarina, Guido Reni's portrait of Beatrice Cenci and Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes. After, we have an included light lunch. In the afternoon we go the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, designed by Giacomo della Porta and built by Domenico Fontana between 1518 and 1589. While we are there, we pick up the thread of St Cecilia's story once more, by viewing the frescoes by Domenichino portraying the histories of St Cecilia. Tom will also explore the three resident paintings by Caravaggio - The Calling of St Matthew, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew, The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew - while Peter prepares the Joseph Merklin organ in the west gallery for a short recital. Afterwards, you may wish to enjoy some time at leisure in the nearby Piazza Navona or return to the hotel.
Day 7 St Peter’s & the Vatican Museum, the Palazzo Valentini & a farewell dinner
The seventh day of the tour is a very special one, indeed. After an early morning cup of coffee at the hotel, we begin with a 7.15 am visit to the Vatican Museum. During our time here, we experience an audio guided tour of the complex, which takes in the many and spectacular rooms of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, as well as St Peter's. Also, we will be fortified this morning by an American style buffet breakfast (included). The Vatican Museums began their collection in 1506 with the sculpture of Laocoön and his Sons, a work that had been discovered in a vineyard near the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Since then, the collection has been built up by successive Popes and now includes some of the finest classical sculptures in the world, as well as some of the most impressive pieces of Renaissance art. However, the undoubted highlight of the day is the visit to the Sistine Chapel, a building remodelled in the late 15th century by Pope Sixtus IV and famous for its ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. After cake and coffee, we have free time in the Basilica and St Peters Square. There is an optional visit to the Palazzo Valentini, described by one critic as Rome's Coolest, Most Cutting-Edge Ancient Underground Site. The Palace - built over two surviving 4th century AD patrician villas and the remains of a private thermal bath - takes the visitor on a journey through time and over a 20,000 square foot complex in the heart of Imperial Rome. The experience is heightened by sophisticated multimedia reconstructions featuring computer generated projections and realistic light and sound effects. This evening we have a farewell dinner at our carefully selected restaurant near to our hotel.
Day 8 The Borghese Gallery of musical instruments, the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj & return to London
Our lecture by Peter this morning is a summing up of our week together, after which we revisit the Borghese Gallery to see the national collection of musical instruments. The bulk of this fascinating collection came from Evan Gorga (opera tenor) who, in exchange for a pension, left the collection to the State. Today, the museum possesses some 3,000 musical instruments from all over the world, but one of its greatest treasures is a piano of four octaves by Bartolomeo Cristofori, dated 1722. Cristofori had invented the piano 22 years earlier. Prior to our departure from Rome, we squeeze into the schedule one last port of call, which is to the large and magnificent art collection housed in the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, where we see some masterpieces of Italian art, including Caravaggio’s Penitent Mary Magdalene, Parmigianino’s Madonna and Child and Titian’s Judith. In the afternoon we transfer to the airport for our scheduled British Airways flight back to London.
Tour limited to 22 passengers
Lectures by Peter Medhurst each morning
Thomas Abbott - professional tour manager & art historian
Engagement of private violinist
4 private violin & organ recitals
3 private organ recitals
4* hotel in the centre of Rome
Direct scheduled British Airways flights from London to Rome
Professional local guide on Days 2 to 7
All excursions, entrance fees & guided tours included
Executive coach in Italy
Audio headsets included on Days 2 to 7
Gratuities for all restaurants where meals are included
- 5 two-course lunches
- 2 dinners including wine
- 1 American style breakfast
- 1 panini & coffee lunch
- 1 afternoon coffee & cakes
Church of St Paul-within-the-Walls
Guided tour of Rome
St Cecilia's church in the Trastevere rione
San Francesco a Ripa
Academia of Santa Cecilia
Santa Maria della Vittoria
Galleria d’Arte Moderna
Baroque church of Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola
Oratorio Francesco Saverio di Caravita
Palazzo della Cancelleria
Cathedral of Tivoli
Papal Archbasilica of St John in the Lateran
Church of San Luigi dei Francesi
St Peter's Chapel
Basilica and St Peters Square
Palazzo Doria Pamphilj
We stay seven nights at the centrally located 4* Hotel dei Mellini (www.hotelmellini.com). Located on the right bank of the Tiber between Piazza di Spagna and the Vatican City, the hotel is magnificently placed at the heart of the historic and cultural area of Rome. Facilities at the hotel include a restaurant and bar and all rooms are en suite and feature television, telephone, air conditioning and a mini bar.
Single room supplement from £279
Upgrade to larger deluxe room (twin/double only) £80 per person
Optional opera / concert tickets
Local accommodation tax to be paid directly to the hotel (approximately €6 per person per night)
Gratuities for the local guide
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