Renaissance Rome - The Eternal City in the age of Michelangelo and Raphael

Prices from £2,195


19 Feb 2020 - 24 Feb 2020
Duration: 5 nights
Ref: 20ROME
With: Dr Paula Nuttall


Prices from £2,195
Single Supplement: £250
Deposit: £200

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Michelangelo buon Arroti and Raffaello Sanzio were the first true superstars of western art. Notwithstanding their contrasting personalities — the former standing out for the tempestuous 'terribiltà' of his character, the latter being renowned for his Christ-like grace — they acquired quasi saintly status in their own lifetime. Celebrated as the greatest artists ever, they produced masterpieces for popes and princes. Their grand compositions are the epitome of High Renaissance art and have remained artistic benchmarks for centuries. This Art Pursuits Abroad Study Tour will take you through the Eternal City in the footsteps of these two artistic giants and their contemporaries, focusing on a period of roughly one hundred years, from 1420 and the papal court's definite return to Rome after its long exile in Avignon to the ignominious Sack of Rome in 1527. In addition, we will be pursuing Renaissance villa culture in and around the city, visiting three outstanding buildings and their gardens: the suburban Villa Farnesina on the banks of the Tiber, the palatial Villa Medici on the Pincian Hill, and the unrivalled Villa D'Este at Tivoli with its spectacular fountains. Special highlight of this Art Pursuits Abroad Study Tour is a private evening view of the Vatican Museums, giving exclusive access to Raphael’s exquisitely graceful frescoes in the stanze of Pope Julius II and of Michelangelo’s sublime creations in the Sistine Chapel.


Dr Paula Nuttall is an authority on Italian and Netherlandish Renaissance art and is Director of the V&A’s Mediaeval & Renaissance Year Course. Her books From Flanders to Florence (Yale, 2004) and Face to Face: Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance Painting (Cali. Univ. Press, 2014) are essential reading.

DAY 1:

Mid-morning flight with BA from London Heathrow to Rome Fiumicino. Drive up the Janiculan Hill to admire a view of the Eternal City, and to study Bramante’s small but perfectly formed Tempietto at San Pietro in Montorio, an icon of High Renaissance architecture. From there walk down the hill through the mediaeval district of Trastevere across the Ponte Sisto — constructed under Pope Sixtus IV who also built the Sistine Chapel — to your four-star hotel.

DAY 2:

In the morning, explore the Roman Forum, stretching from the Arch of Septimius Severus to the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine. After lunch, meet on the Capitoline Hill whose piazza was redesigned by Michelangelo, and whose Travertine-clad palazzi are now housing fabulous collections of Antique sculpture, including the marble Dying Gaul and the magnificent gilt bronze equestrian monument of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

DAY 3:

Morning walk through the Renaissance and Baroque heart of Rome to see Raphael’s little-known frescoes in the churches of S. Agostino and S.Maria della Pace. S. Maria del Popolo, the smallest of Rome’s great basilicas, is abounding with Renaissance and Early Baroque masterpieces, from Raphael’s Chigi Chapel to paintings by Annibale Carracci and Caravaggio. Following an afternoon visit to colossal St Peter’s, experience an exclusive private visit to Raphael’s stanze and the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo’s matchless frescoes.

DAY 4:

By coach to Tivoli to visit the splendid frescoed apartments and magnificently terraced gardens of Villa d’Este with its many spectacular fountains. Lunch in a restaurant famous since the Grand Tour, located in the shadow of the Temple of the Tiburtine Sibyl. Return to Rome for some free time and independent dinner.

DAY 5:

In the morning, by coach to Villa Medici beyond the Spanish Steps on the Pincian Hill, where we will visit the garden and casino of Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici (by appointment). The villa’s garden façade is an exceptional outdoors sculpture gallery, while a small studiolo in the grounds is embellished with delightful frescoes. Reconvene after lunch at the Roman Pantheon with its famous coffered dome, where Raphael is buried. Around the corner stands the Dominican church of S. Maria sopra Minerva, final resting place of Fra Angelico and home to Filippino Lippi’s dazzling frescoes in the Carafa Chapel.

DAY 6:

In the morning, visit Baldassare Peruzzi’s suburban Villa Farnesina, created for the Sienese banker Agostino Chigi. Its famous loggia and apartments were lavishly decorated with sophisticated trompe-l’oeil frescoes by Peruzzi himself, Raphael, Giulio Romano and the Venetian Sebastiano del Piombo. After lunch, coach transfer from the hotel to Rome’s Fiumicino airport for a late afternoon flight, arriving at Heathrow.


Twin/double share: £2195 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £250
Tour without flights cost: £1995
Deposit: £200 per person


  • Scheduled return flights (economy class) with British Airways
  • Private coach transfers and excursions
  • 5 nights’ bed and breakfast in the 4* Hotel Ponte Sisto, Rome
  • 2 dinners and one lunch
  • Guided visits to sites listed in the programme
  • Services of a lecturer and tour manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes & gratuities for coach drivers & waiters

Hotel Ponte Sisto****

Housed in a former monastery with a peaceful garden courtyard is the Hotel Ponte Sisto. Located in the centre of Rome close to the Campo di Fiori. The hotel features bright marble furnishings and floral decoration in its cosy and restful rooms.


  • Flat screen television
  • WiFi
  • Safe
  • Air conditioning
  • Minibar
  • Hairdryer


In the hotel’s inner courtyard is a beautiful garden with towering palm trees, an ideal spot to take breakfast during the warmer months. Overlooking St. Peter's and the roofs and churches of Old Town Rome is the hotel’s roof terrace, perfect for a sunset drink. The hotel features a restaurant ‘Gladiatore’, lounge bar ‘Nerone’ and a breakfast dining room.