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An Archaeological Study Tour
Italy: Byzantine to Baroque
May 19 – 30, 2013
12 Days
Led by Professor Ori Z. Soltes,
Georgetown University

As we travel from Assisi to Venice, this spectacular tour will offer a unique opportunity to trace the development of art and history out of antiquity toward modernity in both the eastern and western Christian worlds. The tour begins with four days in Assisi, including a day trip to medieval Cortona. It then continues to Arezzo, Padua and Ravenna, where we will see churches adorned with some of the richest mosaics in Europe. We will complete our tour with three glorious days in Venice, gateway to the Orient. Throughout we will experience the sources of visual inspiration for a thousand years of art while sampling the food and drink that have enhanced the Italian world since it was the center of the Roman Republic and Empire.

Sunday, May 19: Independent departures from our home cities.

Monday, May 20: ASSISI: Arrive into Rome this morning. We then transfer to the walled city of Assisi to spend the next four nights at our lovely, centrally located hotel. During our stay we will have ample time to enjoy this medieval town’s wonderful piazzas and sample the regional cuisine and Umbrian wines. This evening we will meet with Professor Soltes for our opening dinner and orientation lecture. Fontebella Hotel.
Meals: Dinner

Tuesday, May 21: ASSISI: Assisi is associated with the legacy of St. Francis, buried here in the magnificent Gothic Basilica di San Francesco, decorated by the most important artists of the time, among them Cimabue, Pietro Lorenzetti and Giotto. We will spend the morning studying the multitude of treasures housed within these buildings, including the most famous, Giotto’s cycle on the life of St. Francis. After viewing the 15th-century frescoes by Gualdo decorating the Pilgrims’ Oratory, we stroll past the medieval and Renaissance houses to the Piazza del Comune. Here the facade of the Temple of Minerva is integrated into a church, and the remains of the Roman forum can be visited beneath the Piazza. Afternoon visits include the Basilica di Santa Chiara, burial place of St. Clare, the Romanesque facade of the Duomo San Rufino and Gualdo’s triptych in St. Peter’s Church. Fontebella Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Wednesday, May 22: ASSISI: Today we will travel out of Assisi to Monterchi, home to Piero’s Madonna del Parto, a rare depiction of the Virgin Mary nine months pregnant. We will also stop in medieval Cortona, to see the remarkable collection of paintings housed in the Diocesan Museum, most notably the Ecstasy of St. Margaret, by Crespi, and the Museum of the Etruscan Academy. Fontebella Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Thursday, May 23: ASSISI: Touring in Assisi’s outskirts begins at the Monastery of St. Damian and the Carceri Hermitage, in isolation amid a thick oak forest. It is believed that St. Francis and his followers withdrew from the world here as if they were incarcerated (carceri). After visiting St. Mary of the Angels Basilica, which houses a polyptych by Della Robbia and a fresco depicting the history of the Franciscan Order, the afternoon will be at leisure to experience Assisi’s special atmosphere on our own. Fontebella Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast

Friday, May 24: RAVENNA: Although our final destination is Ravenna, we will spend the day in Arezzo, with visits to St. Francis’s Church to see the fresco cycle of Piero della Francesca (providing permission is granted) and the stained-glass windows by Guillaume de Marcillat in the Duomo. During our walking tour in the old town, we will visit St. Dominic’s Church to see the painted crucifix by Cimabue. We will also stop in Sansepolcro, the birthplace of Piero, where his paintings, as well as other wonderful works by Bassano, Signorelli, and the Della Robbia school, are on view in the Municipal Museum. Lastly, we will visit the Romanesque-Gothic Duomo and the medieval city and continue to Ravenna. Ravenna Hotel Bisanzio.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Saturday, May 25: RAVENNA: This incredible day introduces us to the wealth and riches accumulated during Ravenna’s years as the capital of the Western Empire. The mosaics that adorn the city’s churches and mausoleums from that period are the finest in Europe. Our visits will include the Neoni Baptistry and Ravenna’s oldest mosaics at the Tomb of Galla Placidia, which are still within the traditions of classical art and precede the rigid stylizations of the Byzantines; the National Museum, in order to view the Murano Diptych and the Coptic ivory of “Apollo and Daphne,” which was probably carved in Alexandria; and the mosaic floors in the House of Stone Carpets. At the Church of St. Vitalis, one of the grandest built under Justinian, we will see a progression from an interest in movement and realism to the solemn symbols and majesty of Byzantine art; while at the Basilica of St. Apollinaris the New, the mosaics are of several periods. Lastly, we will view Badalocchio’s fresco Christ in Glory in San Giovanni Evangelista and Theodoric’s unusual tomb built without mortar in 520. Ravenna Hotel Bisanzio.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Sunday, May 26: VENICE: We will start the day with a visit to the Basilica of St. Apollinaris in Classe, consecrated in 549 in what was once the port of the imperial fleet. We then continue to Venice, stopping in Padua to view the marvelous frescoes by Giotto and other major works in the Cappella degli Scrovegni. Our next four nights will be at a centrally located Venice hotel. Starhotel Splendid Venice.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Monday, May 27: VENICE: Our tour could only end in the gateway to the Orient, Venice, recipient of riches from the East and still considered to be one of the most beautiful and romantic cities. Nowhere are the glories of the past more evident than in the monuments of the Piazza di San Marco. Touring begins at the Basilica San Marco, where, after studying its facade and its 17th-century mosaics, we enter the main sanctuary and visit the interior. Our full morning here includes the Treasury and the Museum of the Basilica, which houses the Bronze Horses that once adorned the facade. After lunch, our Piazza visit continues at the Doges Palace and the Correr Museum. Starhotel Splendid Venice.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Tuesday, May 28: VENICE: This morning a vaporetto brings us to Murano, an ancient settlement famous for its glass. Our visit will be to the 12th-century Romanesque Santa Maria e Donato, renowned for its mosaic pavement and its Veneto-Byzantine chevet, and a glass factory. Continuing to Torcello, we see the Byzantine mosaic depicting the Last Judgement at the Cathedral of Santa Maria dell’Assunta; the serene Santa Fosca, built in a Greek-cross plan; and the Museo dell’Estuario. After lunch we will have a walking tour of the former Jewish Ghetto, one of the oldest parts of the city. Accompanied by a member of the Jewish community, we visit the three old synagogues and the museum. Starhotel Splendid Venice.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Wednesday, May 29: VENICE: Our day begins with visits to the icon museum at the Orthodox Church of San Giorgio dei Greci and the fabulous Galleria dell’Accademia. The remainder of the day will be at leisure. This evening we will meet for our farewell dinner at one of the city’s fine restaurants. Starhotel Splendid Venice.
Meals: Breakfast & dinner

Thursday, May 30: We will transfer to the airport for our flights home.
Meals: Breakfast

Please note: This tour requires walking through old city centers and large archaeological sites on uneven and rocky terrain. For the most satisfying experience, and in fairness to your fellow travelers, all participants are expected to be physically active and able to walk independently throughout our full touring days.


map of Italy




Assisi Church