Renaissance Milan - Cultural ambition and the House of Sforza

Prices from £1,880


17 Oct 2019 - 21 Oct 2019
Duration: 4 nights
Ref: 19REMI
With: Dr Paula & Dr Geoffrey Nuttall


Prices from £1,880
Single Supplement: £340
Deposit: £200

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In the late 14th and 15th centuries Milan’s power and prestige as a princely state ensured it a distinguished role as an artistic centre. The transfer of authority from the Visconti to the Sforza dukes in 1450 was mirrored by changes in Milanese artistic orientation, originally turned northwards towards the courts of France, but increasingly influenced by the Florentine Renaissance. We shall trace these developments in the mediaeval Castello Sforzesco, rebuilt by the Sforza Dukes in the Renaissance style, in the Portinari Chapel commissioned by the Sforza’s Florentine bankers, and at the Certosa di Pavia, the most spectacular princely mausoleum in Italy, whose construction and lavish decoration spans the entire late mediaeval and early Renaissance period.

At the end of the 15th century, Milan entered its Renaissance heyday under Lodovico Sforza ‘il Moro’, whose court artists included the perspectivist and architect Bramante, and Leonardo da Vinci. We shall study them at the church of S. Maria delle Grazie, which houses Leonardo’s Last Supper. Additionally, a visit to the Brera Gallery, which contains masterpieces by (among others) Mantegna, Bellini and Raphael, enables us to set the art of Renaissance Milan within the wider context of Italian painting.


Paula is an authority on Italian and Netherlandish Renaissance Art and director of the V & A’s Mediaeval and Renaissance year course. She is the author of Flanders to Florence and Face to Face: Florence and Renaissance Painting. Dr Nuttall has lectured on many APA tours over the years. After a career in academic publishing, Geoffrey Nuttall gained a PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art for research into the artistic patronage of Lucca’s great mercantile families. Now he combines lecturing with writing and tour managing with his wife, Paula.

DAY 1:

Flight from London Heathrow to Milan Malpensa airport. Coach transfer to the historic centre for an introductory walk, taking in Piazza Mercanti, the city’s mediaeval heart, and two masterpieces of religious architecture, Bramante’s jewel-like San Satiro, and the flamboyant and monumental Duomo.

DAY 2:

Explore the Castello Sforzesco, built by Milan’s Sforza lords as a stronghold against external (and internal) enemies. Leonardo da Vinci helped design the castle’s fortifications and decorated its most celebrated room, the Sala delle Asse. After lunch, view Leonardo’s unparalleled Last Supper in Santa Maria delle Grazie, before continuing to the church of San Maurizio, which is adorned with 16th-century frescoes.

DAY 3:

A half-day excursion to the Certosa di Pavia, Italy’s most spectacular monastic complex. Admire paintings by Guercino and Perugino, the tombs of Ludovico Sforza and Gian Galeazzo Visconti, and the harmonious architecture, which successfully balances Gothic and Renaissance styles. There will be some free time in Milan today.

DAY 4:

In the morning, visit the Brera Gallery, one of Italy’s premier collections, revitalised under its new British-Canadian director. The Brera features works by Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio and Rubens, among a host of other major artists of the Renaissance and Baroque. In the afternoon, see two breathtaking chapels: the elegant, restrained Cappella Trivulzio, designed by Bramantino, and the magical Cappella Portinari, where the architecture of Michelozzo seems to blend with Vincenzo Foppa’s frescoes.

DAY 5:

Morning visit to the Museo Poldi-Pezzoli, which contains an outstanding collection of Flemish masters, including Lucas Cranach and Pieter Breughel the Younger, alongside native Italian glories by Pollaiolo, Botticelli, and Piero della Francesca. The museum also contains a trove of porcelain, glassware, tapestries and armour. Continue to the airport for a flight to London Heathrow.


Twin/double share: £1880 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £340
Tour without flights cost: £1680
Deposit: £200 per person


  • Return flights with BA from London Heathrow to Milan Malpensa
  • Private coach transfers and excursions in Milan
  • Four nights’ bed and breakfast in the 4* Hotel Rosa, Milan
  • Three dinners
  • Guided visits to monuments and museums listed in the programme
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes & gratuities for coach drivers & waiters

Hotel Rosa Grand****

The only hotel on Piazza Fontana, the stylish Rosa Grand is just a short stroll from some of Milan’s most impressive artistic and architectural treasures. Ideally located in the historic centre, it’s just minutes from the gothic spires of Milan’s famous Duomo cathedral and many of the city’s modern attractions.


  • Pillow menu
  • WiFi
  • Smart Television
  • Espresso coffee machine and kettle facilities
  • Minibar
  • Safe