ROME -OPTIONAL PRE TRIP BEGINS
DAY 1 This will be your arrival day. We will meet in the evening for a dinner at a local Trattoria and to introduce the group to one another.
DAY 2 The two Michelangelo's who transformed Rome.
We start our day out early. Because we will be attempting to be the first visitors to the Sistine Chapel. Being the only visitor to the Sistine Chapel is a true bucket list experience. The experience can be transformational. Afterward, we will visit the Pinotecca and the sculpture gallery.
After a break we will visit St. Peters and then cross Rome visiting the many Caravaggios "in situ." That is where the were meant to be seen. Stopping for a terrific local meal at a trattoria.
DAY 3 A visit to the Villa Borghese with even more wonderful Caravaggios and works by Bernini.
Afternoon you are free to relax.
DAY 4 DEPART FOR THE VAL DI ORCIA-Offical start to program
After departing Rome we will make a stop in the exceptional town of Orvieto to visit the Duomo with the monumental frescos of Luca Signorelli. After lunch in a local trattoria (and an espresso) we will stop to draw in countryside.
After a handmade Italian breakfast we will head out to Pienza to paint near the town. There are many areas to paint around the town.
Paint around Montalcino, taking a visit to Sant'Antimo.
Paint in the beautiful little town of Montecciello, we will take a wonderful lunch at on of my favorite locations to eat anywhere.
Today is a unique opportunity for us. We will visit a farm that still raises the famous Val di Chiana cows which the Bistecca all Fiorentina are produced. These are the largest cows in the world. There white color makes them a fantastic subject to paint. We will arrive in the late morning as the cows tend to move about to much in the early morning. This is a special day.
Our destination today will be the are West of Montalcino. Using farm roads you will discover some wonderful places to paint. In the afternoon we will visit Argiano Winery for a chance to try their wines. But its the olive oil I usually carry home with me. It's amazing!
Montepulciano has some fantastic valleys below it. We will spend the day in and around, discovering just a small portion of what it has to offer.
Painting at Spedalone and relaxing, you will see that there really is no reason to go anywhere else. The afternoon we can paint or visit the local town of Pienza famous for its cheeses.
Official end of program
DAY 12 OPTIONAL DEPART FOR CORTONA-Offical end of program
We will depart for Cortona and make our way across the Val di Chiana. Famous for its enormous cows and the steak called the Bistecca alla Fiorentina. In Cortona we will be greeted by our hosts and taken to our hotels. Lunch and the afternoon will be open time to visit this lovely town. In the evening we will gather for an walk through the town. We will visit some of my old friends in the shops. Dinner will be at a very small establishment, where the Tiramisu alone, is worth a trip to Italy.
We will start the day with a wondering walk "up" to Santa Margarita. The walk can feel more like a climb up the Matterhorn then a small Tuscan town. It is steep! But the views are fantastic and the hike will make us hungery for our next meal. We will take lunch in a little place that is not in any guidebook. The husband wife team (now in their 80s) banter back and forth in Italian to the amusment of anyone in the trattoria. In the afternoon we will visit the enormous but engaging museum of Etruscan Art.
Lunch today will be with Antonella. She is an amazing chef with a beautiful kitchen. We will make Pics by hand and learn how to cook some Italian food.
Our last evening dinner will be taken at a local pizzaria that still uses wood to cook the pizza. This has actually become quite hard to find in Italy these days.
Many of us will be off to Rome and the airport. A driver can be arranged for trips into Rome, the airport or the train station.