1) The Grand Tour of Italy: Journey of the Heart & Mind
Rome, Siena, Florence & Tuscany, Venice & the Veneto
In this tour of Italy we shall start with the classical world of ancient Rome. The ancient stones of the Roman Forum and the Coliseum will be made to speak and tell their tales of glory and we shall listen. No trip to Rome is complete without a day at the Vatican with its Raphael frescoed rooms, Michelangelo ceiling & dome, or St. Peters Square. Then we shall explore one of the great moments in Mediterranean history: the Renaissance of Florence under the aegis of the Medici, the birthplace of the Renaissance of Florence. More than any other city, Florence was the seat of Renaissance Humanism and the center for the flourishing of the classical arts. Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, Florence witnessed a revival of classical antiquity in literature, philosophy, architecture and the arts that decisively changed Europe and the West forever. It was also a period of a remarkable influx into Florence of ideas and goods from various parts of the Mediterranean. In more than one way, it is to Florence that we owe the origins of the modern world. We will spend most of the time in Florence with day trips through the rolling hills of Tuscany to visit several Tuscan hilltop towns and villages such as the Gothic town of Siena & the picturesque San Gimignano.
No trip to Italy is complete without Vencie and the Veneto. The Veneto is one of the most romantic and evocative regions of Italy. Located on the northeastern tip of Italy on the Adriatic Sea, it is a region that can boast of the glorious city on water, Venice, the great architecture of Palladio,and Verona, the site for Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. At the heart of this legendary Province is of course Venice, with its numerous bridges spanning the canals navigated by gondolas, its churches, bustling piazzas, narrow alleyways, silent waters, and of course the famous Carnival of Venice. The tour will cover Venice, and either Verona, Lake Garda, Padua, or Vicenza.
This tour is ideal for the refined traveler who wants an educational journey of a lifetime. It is 10 days long packed with lectures, site visits, and stimulating discussions with time for solitary reflection and encapsulates the Mediterranean Cultural Academy's philosophy: travel, explore, learn!
2) Executive Retreats to the Lakes
The Northern Lakes (Como, Orta, & Maggiore with short trips to Switzerland)
The main lakes of Maggiore, Lugano, and Como fan out across Italy’s north and sprinkled between them are countless smaller lakes such as Orta, famous as a refuge for the German philosopher Nietzsche. Surrounded by snowcapped mountains, the lakes have been a sanctuary for writers, royalty, and adventurers alike. Writers from Goethe and Stendhal to DH Lawrence and Hemingway have been inspired by their beauty. But even their lavish praise of the lakes does not do them justice. The lakes offer the most serene soul-soothing backdrop for nature lovers and those escaping the bustle of city life. Winding mountain passages, crystal clear water, picturesque islands, idyllic gardens and villas, earth-toned buildings huddling mountain sides, balconies over blue water, centuries old luxurious palaces and villas, perched monasteries, sleepy cobblestone villages, hidden gardens, exotic flora, a mix of legend and history, and of course warm and exuberant locals. There will also be occasional day trips to Switzerland (literally 15 minutes away).
This tour of the lakes is as much a retreat as a holiday. The pace will be slow in order to take it all in. It is ideal for a weekend getaway or a 5 day relaxing escape.
Please feel free to contact me about exact itineraries and prices or look at the Bespoke Tours page for more on how I can create the cultural and educational itinerary just for you.