8 days, £1,590
Lecturer: Polly Buston
Nearly everywhere hilly and in some parts mountainous, the Italian Marches remain difficult of access. The topography did not lead to poverty or cultural backwardness, however, and tucked away in churches and museums are many gems of mediaeval and Renaissance art.
Two painters in particular are associated with the area, Carlo Crivelli and Lorenzo Lotto. Crivelli (c. 1435–1494) was one of the greatest artists of the Early Renaissance. Within conservative conventions of gold backgrounds, low relief ornament and elaborate framing, he created an emotionally charged use of line, powerfully tactile detail, virtuosic use of perspective and intensity of expression.
Lorenzo Lotto (c. 1480–1557) was similarly individualistic, and his works evince similar emotional power. Most of his long and peripatetic career was spent in small cities in the Venetian Empire and the Marches. While the major figures of Italian painting – Bellini, Raphael and Titian – provided the foundations of his style, he was also influenced by the angular expressiveness of German painting.
DAY 1: ASCOLI PICENO—fly at c. 9.15 a.m. from London Heathrow to Rome, and drive to Ascoli Piceno, an exceedingly attractive little city which became Carlo Crivelli’s home town—overnight Ascoli.
DAY 2: ASCOLI PICENO—an unspoilt agglomeration of mediaeval, Renaissance and Baroque buildings around arcaded squares and narrow streets, there are works by Crivelli in the cathedral and the diocesan and municipal museums—some free time—overnight Ascoli.
DAY 3: MONTE S. MARTINO, OFFIDA—in the foothills of the Monti Sibillini, the village of Monte San Martino has four excellent 15th-cent. polyptychs, by Carlo Crivelli, his brother Vittore and two ‘Crivelleschi’—Offida is a handsome town ringed by walls—overnight Ascoli.
DAY 4: MONTEFIORE DELL’ASO, FERMO, CORRIDONIA, MONTE S. GIUSTO—a Crivelli is preserved in Montefiore d’Aso, another is in the museum in Corridonia, hilltop Fermo has a sequence of architectural delights, the great Crucifixion by Lotto at Monte San Giusto—overnight Recanati.
DAY 5: ANCONA, JESI—the port of Ancona has an Assumption by Lotto, a Crucifixion by Titian, and works by Crivelli, Lotto and Titian in the art gallery—drive through some of the loveliest landscape to Jesi where there are 11 panels by Lotto—overnight Recanati.
DAY 6: CINGOLI, TOLENTINO—from the hilltop town of Cingoli there are magnificent views and a masterpiece by Lotto, the Rosary Madonna—the shrine of S. Nicola da Tolentino made the town a major pilgrimage destination and the sumptuous church has fine frescoes—overnight Recanati.
DAY 7: LORETO, RECANATI—Loreto is another great pilgrimage centre, and some of the finest artists and architects of Renaissance Italy worked here including Lotto, several of whose last works are here—a charming town, Recanati has four Lotto paintings in the museum, including the famous Annunciation—overnight Recanati.
DAY 8: RIMINI—richly sculpted 15th-century Tempio Malatestiano—fly from Bologna, arriving Gatwick c. 7.45 p.m.
Price: £1,590 (deposit £200)–this includes:–air travel (economy class) on scheduled British Airways flights (aircraft: Boeing 737, 767)–hotel accommodation as described below–coach travel within Italy–breakfasts and five dinners with wine, water and coffee–admission to museums etc.–all tips and taxes–the services of the lecturer–single room supplement £135–price without flights £1,460.
Polly Buston: Followed an MA in French with English at Edinburgh University with an MA at the Courtauld Institute–freelance lecturer at the Courtauld Summer School–works for art history publishers as editor and picture researcher, and was co-author of Titian’s Venice, a multi-media project accompanying the 2003 National Gallery Titian exhibition.
Hotels: in Ascoli (3 nights): a converted Renaissance palace in the heart of the city which retains many original features–rooms are spacious, stylishly decorated and comfortable–in Recanati (4 nights): a former private palazzo–newly opened, the rooms are furnished and decorated in a contemporary style–both hotels are rated locally as 4-star.
How strenuous? There is a lot of driving through hilly terrain and walking on steep, cobbled streets–average distance by coach per day: 86 miles.
Small group: between 12 and 22 participants.