The Genius of Venice - A journey through Venetian art

Prices from £2,290


11 Nov 2018 - 17 Nov 2018
Duration: 6 nights
Ref: 18VENI
With: Dr Marie-Louise Lillywhite


Prices from £2,290
Single Supplement: £390
Deposit: £200

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Venice’s artistic treasures range from priceless gold mosaics and enamelled artefacts of the city’s Byzantine beginnings to the grandiose spectacles and festive decorations of the age of the Grand Tour. Our Study Tour will give you a thorough — and thoroughly enjoyable — art historical introduction to the singular art and history of La Serenissima. Our journey back in time will start in the 11th century with visits to the cathedral of Torcello and the basilica of San Marco. From there we will trace the development of Venetian Gothic and Early Renaissance art and architecture, studying marble-revetted palaces, churches furnished with lavishly coloured altarpieces by the Vivarini and Giovanni Bellini, and confraternity halls adorned with Gentile Bellini’s and Vittore Carpaccio’s detailed narratives.

Venetian painting reached its apogee in the Cinquecento with the sensuous visual feasts of Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese. The splendour of their colouring was revived in the 18th century in the works of Sebastiano Ricci, Giambattista Tiepolo and Antonio Canaletto, bringing seven centuries of Venetian art to a glorious conclusion. Experience history at first hand and enjoy stunning works of art in their original setting on what is probably our most popular Study Tour.


Dr Marie-Louise Lillywhite is a lecturer in History at Keble College Oxford, and in History of Art at Middlebury College. Her research focuses particularly on sacred art and architecture in early-modern Venice, as well as on the arts and material culture of the Jesuit Order in Southeast Asia. She has lived, studied and taught in Venice for many years. Prior to moving to Oxford she worked for the History of Art Department at the University of Warwick in Venice, teaching courses on the artistic and architectural history of Northern Italy from c. 1100-1600. She enjoys studying Venetian artworks in situ and understanding the physical, political and social context of the city in which they were made.

DAY 1:

Early afternoon flight with BA from London Gatwick to Venice. Transfer by water taxi to your three-star hotel, located just off the Grand Canal in a quiet part of the Dorsoduro district. Introductory walk through the neighbourhood to familiarise yourself with ‘campi e calli’ — the streets and squares — around S. Margherita.

DAY 2:

An introduction to the spiritual and political heart of Venice: Piazza San Marco and its most important monuments — the handsome arcades of the Procuratorie, the Library of St Mark, the Clock Tower and, of course, the 900-year-old basilica dedicated to the Evangelist Mark. In the afternoon explore the vast complex of the Ducal Palace whose council halls are embellished with paintings by Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese. In the evening return to San Marco for a private view of the stunning gold mosaics and the lavishly enamelled and bejewelled Pala d’Oro altarpiece.

DAY 3:

The former Franciscan church of S. Maria dei Frari is a glorious setting for Titian’s altarpieces of the Assumption and Pesaro Madonna, as well as for works by Giovanni Bellini, the Vivarini, and even Donatello. In the afternoon visit the precious marble votive church of S. Maria dei Miracoli, built in the 1480s to house a miraculous image of the Virgin, and the basilica SS. Giovanni e Paolo, grandest presence of the Dominican Order in the lagoon, with many splendid marble monuments commemorating Venice’s doges.

DAY 4:

All-day excursion by private boat to the islands of the lagoon: a first stop at Murano will take us to see the fascinating exhibits at the glass museum and to visit the church of SS. Maria e Donato, boasting the most beautiful 12th-century mosaic floor in the lagoon. After a stop at San Pietro Martire to admire a devotional painting by Giovanni Bellini continue to Burano and its colourful houses for lunch in one of the lagoon’s most traditional restaurants. In the afternoon study the splendid mosaic of the Last Judgement in the millennium-old cathedral of Torcello.

DAY 5:

A morning in the Accademia Gallery to study works by all major Venetian painters, from Carpaccio’s narrative cycle of St Ursula and Bellini’s beautiful Madonnas to Giorgione’s enigmatic Tempest, and from Titian’s unfinished Pietà to Veronese’s huge Supper in the House of Levi. The rest of the day is free for independent exploration.

DAY 6:

The Counter-Reformation found its perfect expression in Venice in the monumental and serene ecclesiastical architecture of Andrea Palladio: at S. Giorgio Maggiore and Il Redentore he provided harmonious designer churches catering for requirements of the Catholic Church in the wake of the Council of Trent. After lunch pay homage to the decorative genius of Paolo Veronese at San Sebastiano, whose recently restored bright and colourful canvases are in contrast with the tempestuous drama of Jacopo Tintoretto’s paintings in the grandiose Scuola Grande di San Rocco.

DAY 7:

After breakfast, transfer by water taxi to Venice airport for our BA flight returning to London Gatwick at c. 2.30pm.

Please note that at this stage the programme is still provisional. Although we aim at the greatest degree of accuracy from the outset, some details, especially the order of visits, may be subject to change.


Specific fitness requirements for this Study Tour:

This tour involves a lot of walking, unavoidably up and down bridges, and museum and church visits require prolonged periods of standing. You need to be sure-footed to step on and off boats or to stand on floating jetties of the city’s waterbuses.

Please note that all our Study Tours involve a significant amount of standing and walking, often across uneven ground, over cobbled streets, or up and down steps and inclines. While we do not have an upper age limit for participants, we require you to have a level of fitness which does not spoil other participents' enjoyment of the holiday and you should be able to walk at a reasonable pace and / or stand for at least thirty minutes without aid or requiring a rest.

If you are in any doubt as to whether a particular tour is suitable for you, please ring us to check before placing your booking.


Twin/double share: £2290 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £390
Price of the tour without flights: £2140 per person
Deposit: £200 per person


  • Scheduled return flights (Economy class) with British Airways between London Gatwick and Venice Marco Polo
  • Transfers between airport and hotel by private water taxi
  • Six nights B&B in the small, exceptionally friendly family-run three-star Locanda San Barnaba
  • Three dinners and one lunch
  • Guided visits to monuments and museums listed in the programme
  • Services of the lecturer and a tour manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and gratuities for coach drivers and waiters
  • Small group between 12 and 22 participants


  • Three dinners and five lunches
  • Transport between home and London Heathrow
  • Travel insurance. We strongly advise you to be covered by adequate travel insurance

Locanda San Barnaba***

A 16th Century Gothic “Palazzo” now lodges the Hotel “Locanda San Barnaba” located in the cultural center of Venice, Dorsoduro area. Where the family running the Hotel, has remained the same one since the 16th Century. Inside, the Salon is decorated with fresco’s by Bernardino Bison, painter of the late XVIII century and the classic style follows throughout the hotel.


  • En suite
  • Hairdryer
  • Telephone
  • Satellite Television
  • Safe
  • Air conditioning / heating


At this hotel you will find a pretty garden courtyard and a delightful roof terrace.