7 days, £1,640
Lecturer: Julia Boadle
For the world's most beautiful city, Venice had an inauspicious start. The first settlers came as refugees fleeing the barbarian destroyers of the Roman Empire. They sought to escape to terrain so inhospitable that no foe would follow.
By the end of the Middle Ages Venice had become the leading maritime power in the Mediterranean, keeping her independence until the end of the eighteenth century. ‘Once did she hold the golden East in fee, and was the bulwark of the west, Venice, eldest child of liberty.’
Western styles are here tempered by a richness of effect and delicacy of pattern which is redolent of oriental opulence. It is above all by its colour that Venetian painting is distinguished. And whether sonorous or poetic, from Bellini through Titian to Tiepolo, there remain echoes of the transcendental splendour of the Byzantine mosaics of St Mark’s.
Thoroughfares being water and cars non-existent, the imagination traverses the centuries with ease. And while picturesque qualities are all-pervasive, there are few other cities in the world which surpass Venice for the sheer number of major works of architecture, sculpture and painting.
DAY 1: fly at c. 11.00 a.m. from London Heathrow to Venice—cross the lagoon by motoscafo (water taxi) to the hotel—introductory walk.
DAY 2: morning walk including S. Zaccaria and S. Giovanni in Bragora, two churches with outstanding Renaissance altarpieces by Vivarini, Bellini and Cima—see the wonderful cycle of painting by Carpaccio in the Scuola di S. Giorgio degli Schiavoni—the incomparably beautiful Doge’s Palace with Gothic revetment and rich Renaissance interiors—a special private visit to the Basilica of S. Marco, an 11th-century Byzantine church enriched over the centuries with mosaics, sculpture and various precious objects.
DAY 3: cross the Grand Canal to the Dorsoduro district—see Titian’s Assumption in the great Franciscan church of S. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari and dramatic paintings by Tintoretto in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco—visit the Scuola Grande dei Carmini with fine ceiling paintings by Tiepolo—finish with a visit to a private palace with splendid interiors.
DAY 4: morning in the Accademia, Venice’s major art gallery—visit the Ca’ Rezzonico, a magnificent palace on the Grand Canal, now a museum of 18th-century art—free afternoon.
DAY 5: by vaporetto to the pretty glass-making island of Murano—see the mediaeval cathedral and the Bellini altarpiece in the church of S. Pietro Martire—cross the lagoon to the island of Torcello—virtually all that remains of the city is the magnificent Veneto-Byzantine baptistry and cathedral with its 12th-century mosaics—back in Venice, see Titian’s St Lawrence in the Gesuiti.
DAY 6: the Bellini altarpiece in the Early Renaissance church of S. Giovanni Crisostomo—S. Maria dei Miracoli with its multi-coloured stone veneer—the gothic church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo houses many works of art—in the afternoon cross the bacino to Palladio’s beautiful island church of S. Giorgio Maggiore and then to the tranquil Guidecca to see his best church, Il Redentore.
DAY 7: free morning—by motoscafo to Venice airport—arrive London Heathrow at c. 4.30 p.m.
Price: £1,640 (deposit £200) – this includes:–air travel (economy class) on scheduled British Midland flights (Airbus 319)–travel between Venice Airport and hotel by water-taxi, some journeys within Venice by vaporetto–accommodation as described below–breakfasts and 3 dinners with wine, water, coffee–all admissions–all tips and taxes–services of the lecturer–single supplement £345 (double room for sole use)–price without flights and the private motoscafo transfer £1,450.
Julia Boadle: Art historian and freelance writer, specialist in Byzantium, the Middle Ages and Renaissance –read languages (French, Spanish, Italian) at Kings College, London and art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she received her MA and is currently undertaking doctoral research on Byzantine and pre-Renaissance bilateral painted panels.
Hotel: a 4-star hotel in an excellent location just a few steps to the north of St Mark’s Square–rooms are comfortable and well-equipped but vary in size and decoration.
How strenuous? A lot of walking along the flat and up and down bridges; standing around in museums and churches is also unavoidable.
Small group: between 8 and 17 participants. The tour has a lower maximum number than most of our tours.