HOLIDAY TOURS AND SHORT BREAKS 2013-2014: A FESTIVE SEASON IN PROVENCE, NEW YEARS EVE AT LA SCALA, THE RENAISSANCE IN PARIS

POPES AND GLORY: AVIGNON AT CHRISTMAS                     THURSDAY 12 TO MONDAY 16 DECEMBER 2013

TUTOR: NICHOLAS FRIEND

In her recent sparkling article in the FT Travel section, Jan Morris describes Avignon as a city “rejoicing in its lost importance… a city at ease with its roller coaster past…” There could be few better places in western Europe to spend the festive season than in the temperate and tourist-free air of Provence snug within Avignon’s ancient ramparts, venturing out and beyond, but returning nightly to its proud sense of historical beauty and importance, a grand and enduring papal bequest.

Seven decades the centre of the Christian world, city of exile for seven successive popes, Avignon transformed from a pleasant 14c village beside the Rhone into a “city of glorious consequence”, one of the wealthiest and most glittering cities in Europe. The best poets, painters, musicians, jewellers, glassmakers, stone masons and architects from Venice, Siena, Flanders, and Catalonia converged en masse to build and embellish the second Rome. Together they created, in Jan’s effervescent words again, “a vortex of papalness.”.

Yet lovely Avignon is not our only reward of journey. In Carpentras, frequently the residence of the Avignon popes, we enjoy a private visit to the great scholarly library of Joseph-Dominique d’Inguimbert, Bishop of Carpentras from 1735 to 1754 with its 140,000 volume collection, celebrated by bibliophiles all over France. We visit the oldest continuously-operating synagogue in France which stands as mute testimony to a large, Judeo-Provencal population surprisingly safe under medieval pontifical protection.

We visit ancient Les Baux, renowned in medieval times for its court of great culture and chivalry. After seeing the oldest triumphal arch in France among the spectacular Roman ruins of Glanum, we pursue the Roman genius in the sublime architecture of water in the Nimes aqueduct and in the great triumphal arch in Orange straddling the ancient Via Agrippa. Finally we visit Saint-Rémy, touring the Saint-Paul Asylum, where Van Gogh spent a prolific year painting everything he could see. A truly unique region rich in artistic and seasonal treasures! 

THURSDAY 12 DECEMBER

Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord, private transfer to Gare de Lyon, TGV to Avignon.

Hotel check in, introductory architectural walk, group dinner at La Fourchette

FRIDAY 13 DECEMBER

Carpentras: private visit to Bibliothèque Inguimbertine; Synagogue; Cathédrale Saint-Siffrein and Porte Juive. Orange: Triumphal Arch and Théâtre antique d’Orange

SATURDAY 14 DECEMBER

Saint-Paul-de-Mausole: St Paul Asylum and Van Gogh’s room

Guided tour of Glanum; Les Baux.

Nimes: Maison Carrée and Sir Norman Foster’s Carré d’Art
SUNDAY 15 DECEMBER

Private visit of Musée Angladon-Dubrujeaud; Ramparts and Pont D’Avignon; Notre Dame des Doms; behind the scenes tour of Palais des Papes; la Chapellerie Mouret; group dinner at La Cuisine du Dimanche

MONDAY 16 DECEMBER

Choice of Christmas Market at the Hotel La Mirande, or Saint-Veran Cemetery for graves of Victor Hugo’s Mademoiselle de Somreuil, John Stuart Mill, and visit singer Mireille Mathieu’s family stonemasonry business.

TGV to Paris Gare de Lyon; private transfer to Gare du Nord; Eurostar to St Pancras.

HOTEL DE L’HORLOGE, AVIGNON

An elegant 19th century house dressed stone house opening directly onto the Place de l’Horloge, the hotel is located in the heart of Avignon’s historic district, close to the Popes’ Palace.

COST  £1195, no SRS, deposit £150, includes Eurostar to Paris, private transfer from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon, TGV to Avignon, private transfers, accommodation, all breakfasts, two dinners with wine, all entrance fees, private views and gratuities

VERDI’S MILAN  

MONDAY 30 DECEMBER 2013 TO THURSDAY 2 JANUARY 2014

TUTOR: NICHOLAS FRIEND

Verdi’s La Traviata is to be performed on New Year’s Eve at La Scala in Milan, and INSCAPE will be there, hopefully en masse!  The opera most beloved by Verdi fans will be the rich centrepiece of this tour to Milan and the province of Piacenza. To experience La Traviata at La Scala, the best-known Opera House in the world, surrounded by its glittering gilt-wood and velvet decor, seated amidst an audience of 2000 people, will be a treat beyond description, a most perfect illustration of the incomparable and eternal force of Verdi. It was at La Scala that Verdi’s first opera ‘Oberto’ was presented in 1839. Three years later the La Scala production of ‘Nabucco’ made him famous overnight. The audience had never heard such music, ‘the theatre was turned upside down’. During rehearsals stage workers ceased their labours to listen, open-mouthed. Fourteen more operas followed, reaching a climax with Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata.

 Fully to understand Verdi’s achievement at his duocentenary, we need to walk in his footsteps in Milan, whether on the Via Dante or the Corso Sempione, in the Duomo or in the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele. We need to see Milan’s perspectival architecture relating directly to the perspectives of its great Renaissance artists and paintings, from Piero della Francesca to Mantegna, Leonardo’s Last Supper to Raphael’s Marriage of the Virgin. We need to see the house where Italy’s greatest poet Alessandro Manzoni welcomed both Verdi and Garibaldi. We need to go 30 miles outside Milan to Verdi’s homeland, take coffee where he took coffee in Piacenza, visit the Cathedral of Cremona, where he sat in the right transept listening to the organ player Gaetano Mascardi before visiting St. Agostino Church and buying his manuscript paper in Cartomusica Cavalli. We need to visit Casa Barezzi in Busseto where he first performed and where his letters are preserved. Above all, we need a private visit on New Year’s Day to Casa Sant’Agata in Busseto, the home of Verdi and his lover Giuseppina Strepponi, the model for La Traviata’s Violetta. It will be fitting end to our visit to Milan to visit Verdi’s own Casa di Riposo per Musicisti established by him for retired musicians where he was finally buried with Giuseppina.  With these experiences in our hearts and minds, we will truly feel we have touched and been touched by the great master, a most life-enhancing way to begin the New Year 2014!

MONDAY 30 DECEMBER

10:40 Flight from London Heathrow to Milan

13:40 Arrive Milan Linate Airport, private transfer to hotel

Architectural tour of Verdi’s Milan including refreshments in Café Biffi

Dinner

TUESDAY 31 DECEMBER

Visit to Santa Maria delle Grazie to see The Last Supper of Leonardo

Museo Poldi-Pezzoli

Milan Cathedral

Return to hotel, free time and tea in hotel

La Traviata at La Scala, with interval champagne and finger sandwiches

Conductor: Daniele Gatti

Director: Dmtri Tcherniakov

Teatro alla Scala Orchestra and Chorus

Performers: Diana Damaru, Piotr Beczala, Zeljko Lucic
WEDNESDAY 1 JANUARY

Transfer to Piacenza, coffee in Café Teatro Municipale, Piacenza Cathedral

Transfer to Busseto, New Year’s Lunch, Teatro Verdi Busseto

Private tour of Museo Casa Barezzi

Private visit to Villa Verdi in Sant’Agata, return to hotel

Free evening
THURSDAY 2 JANUARY

Casa Manzoni, Brera Gallery, Casa Verdi, Private transfer to the airport

16:35 Flight from Milan Linate Airport to London

17:35 Arrive London Heathrow

HOTEL GRAN DUCA DI YORK

A charming hotel set in a 18c historic palace, the Hotel Gran Duca di York is located in a very quiet street, walking distance from the Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

COST £1380 Members, £1430 non-Members, no SRS, deposit £200, includes flights London-Rome-London, private transfers, three nights accommodation at the Hotel Gran Duca di York, all breakfasts, one dinner with wine, one afternoon tea, champagne and finger sandwiches at La Scala, one New Year’s lunch, ticket for La Traviata at La Scala on New Year’s Eve, all entries, private views, gratuities and VAT.

‘SPRINGTIME OF THE RENAISSANCE’

PARIS

 FRIDAY 3 TO SATURDAY 4 JANUARY 2014*

TUTOR: NICHOLAS FRIEND

INSCAPE salutes the New Year with a study tour to Paris for a not-to-be missed exhibition of Quattrocento Italian Renaissance masterpieces arriving at the Musée du Luxembourg from the Strozzi in Florence. Placed as the dazzling centrepiece of an INSCAPE examination of Renaissance works on view in Paris, ‘Springtime of the Renaissance: Sculptures and Arts in Florence, 1400-1460’,’ serves as a treasure-studded tour through western art’s most important era, the early Quattrocento. 140 exquisite objects from several European and American museums, and private collections present nearly all the great pieces of the early Italian Renaissance jigsaw. An intelligent exhibition, the curators demonstrate the roots of the Italian Renaissance as firmly anchored in sculpture, not painting; we see the Renaissance emerging, carved in stone and cast in bronze, in the hands of Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, and Donatello long before being adopted by painters like Masaccio and Fra Angelico.

We take the opportunity of this brilliant display to investigate and compare Renaissance art of the same period in France. At the Louvre we can see how French art in the portraiture of Jean Fouquet owes much in its facial details to the tradition of the Fleming Van Eyck, while its background owes much to Fouquet’s exposure to the work of Fra Angelico in Rome. The moving Provencal Pieta of Villeneuve of the same period as Piero della Francesca opposes the anatomical beauty of Piero’s Baptism by wrenching the body of Christ into a pose designed to wring the heart rather than remind us of the sculptural perfection of the godlike body. Why were artists, separated only by the Alps, using such very different approaches to their art?

ITINERARY


FRIDAY 3 JANUARY



09:17   Eurostar London St Pancras to Paris

12:47   Arrive Paris. Lunch near the Louvre

15:00  Musée du Louvre: French and Italian Gothic and Renaissance art

19:30   Optional dinner

SATURDAY 4 JANUARY



09:30   Musée de Cluny

11:30   Break for coffee and refreshment

12:45   Musée du Luxembourg exhibition

14:30   Late lunch near Musée du Luxembourg

16:00   Eurostar check in

17:13   Eurostar to London

18:30   Arrive London St Pancras International

COST

£289 Members, £305 non-Members, deposit £150
 
The tour includes tuition, all entry fees, one lunch with wine, all metro tickets/taxis when necessary, gratuities and VAT, accommodation and Eurostar are not included.



*Please note, if you wish to attend either day independently, the cost will be adjusted accordingly to £145 Members, £155 non-Members per day.

THE INSCAPE RECOMMENDED HOTEL

Nicholas will be staying at the Hotel Louvre Sainte-Anne, Tel: +33 (0)1 40 20 02 35. The Louvre Sainte-Anne hotel is in an exceptionally fine location just a few minutes walk to the Louvre Museum, Opéra, the Palais Royal, the banks of the Seine, the Rue de Rivoli.

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