PALLADIAN ODYSSEY – UMBRIA ITINERARY
Monday, Day 1 – Meet in Florence
You will have made your own way to Florence where the adventure begins. We will board our coach at 10:00am to head South through Arezzo to our destination of Montone, our home base for the duration of the tour. It’s a 2 hour trip with a brief rest stop which leaves us with plenty of time to check in and gather for our inaugural lunch. We’ll dine on the terrace of Erba Luna, once the stables of the Castello Fortebraccio, whilst overlooking the beautiful, rolling hills of Umbria – a worthy location to welcome us to the region. In the afternoon it’s down to business as Liz introduces us to her first workshop: ‘Building Essential Drawing and Painting Skills’.
In the evening we have some free time to explore the town of Montone and perhaps enjoy an aperitif in the piazza with the locals, before gathering there for our first taste of the gourmet delights of Umbria.
Tuesday, Day 2 – Day trip to Assisi.
Assisi is famed as the home of Saint Francis (of Assisi) and a significant destination for christian pilgrims. It is also known as a showcase for some of Italy’s finest hand painted ceramics and tiles, produced in the region. But there is much more to its rich history, including the focus of its main piazza: the facade of the Temple of Minerva dating back to the 1st Century BC, which is now the portico entry to the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Beneath the piazza are the excavations which reveal the form of many architectural and sculptural remnants of the ancient Roman Forum – a must see for anyone with a passion for ancient history. Our local guide is again on hand to describe the important sites. Of course we’ll be capturing the dazzling beauty of this city in our sketch books.
The City of Assisi presents some pretty challenging subjects but here, Liz’s morning workshop will help you to describe the story of the busy piazza and, in the afternoon, tackle a complex Basilica in a fun and loose way.
We return to Montone for dinner at the hotel and a relaxing evening.
Wednesday, Day 3 – Explore Montone
We spend today in the beautiful town of Montone, exploring its narrow alleyways opening into small piazzas or leading us to the medieval wall surrounding the town and dominating the stunning rural landscape beyond. Both morning and afternoon sketching workshops focus on the colours, textures and shapes of this beautifully preserved ancient environment. For lunch we relax under the ‘ombrelloni’, the market umbrellas, of the local café in the piazza.
Dinner is a special treat at Osteria Tipico, with its eccentric chef and fine selection of local specialties featuring, at this time of year, many truffle dishes and a fine selection of wines.
Thursday, Day 4 – Day Trip to Gubbio and Fabriano
After breakfast at the hotel we set off on our coach for Gubbio, an imposing Umbrian medieval town ascending the side of Mount Ingino from where the views of the Apennines are breathtaking and potentially an excellent sketching subject. But there’s also plenty within the town to sketch, most notably the Gothic Consoli Palace where Liz will hold her ‘Grand Buildings and Spaces’ workshop. Our lunch venue again takes advantage of the view in the shade of a vine covered pergola.
We begin the afternoon with a walking tour of the key sites of Gubbio described by our expert local guide. Later we drive to the nearby town of Fabriano, home of the famed watercolour paper manufacturer, where we visit the paper museum with a demonstrations of the traditional process of hand made watercolour papers.
Back in Montone it’s dinner and an early night after a long day of adventuring on our feet. For those who still want more the bar in the piazza is open until you leave and a few evening drinks or a gelato are on us – just wave you Palladian Odyssey tag!.
Friday, Day 5 – Montone and its Rolling Hills.
Following our day on the road, we’ll settle in for a more restful time in our home base of Montone again. It’s only a small town but there is still plenty to explore with amazing tucked away nooks or expansive views that invite us to sketch. The morning workshop focuses on ‘Street Scenes in Watercolour’, while the afternoon looks at ‘Rooftops and Landscapes’.
The evening light offers a perfect opportunity to explore the neighbouring hill which rewards us with stunning views back onto the town and a perfect sketching location. As we look back across the valley to Montone, the warm hues of its stone walls are brought to life by the late afternoon sun. It’s a short walk (up hill of course) but we will have shuttle bus available for those who prefer to use the time sketching.
For dinner we return to Erba Luna, housed in the converted stables of the Medieval Castello Fortebraccio. It’s an amazing location with an equally amazing, fine menu and wine list.
Saturday, Day 6 – Umbria Sketch Journal & The Winery
The morning workshop in Montone looks at consolidating the sketches in your book and creating a sketch journal that tells the story of your experience. So bring a glue stick to add those museum tickets, cards, menus, maps or whatever takes your fancy.
Lunch is at the Blasi Winery, established in 1742 where you’ll visit the cellars with their 200-year-old oak casks and, along with their wines, taste our hosts own home cured prosciutto and porchetta. You might also choose to do some quick sketches during the cellar tour or at lunch to add to the variety of your journal.
The free afternoon sketching session begins back in the Montone piazza where Liz will invite each sketcher to a 1 on 1 session to review the week’s work and ask any specific questions. While we enjoy an aperitif before dinner, there will be an opportunity to share and describe your favourite pages from your sketch book with the group.
Our final dinner is at the Taverna del Verziere, a charming and unpretentious bistro style restaurant. Don’t be fooled by its decor, though, the food is far from ordinary. The dishes are of the highest quality from locally sourced ingredients with fine attention to presentation and matching of local wines. Finally, the views from the terrace over the mountains to the west with the setting sun offer a fitting farewell to Montone!
Sunday – return to Florence.
Our bus departs from the hotel in Montone at 10:00am to return you to Florence. Expect to arrive in Florence around 12:15 at the airport or 12:45 at the station (we will go to both if required) so if you are planning to travel onward from Florence on the day be sure to book your flight/train well into the afternoon to be safe. If you plan to leave Umbria from Perugia, the Hotel can arrange for a shuttle bus to Perugia Station or Perugia airport. Finally, you may wish to remain in beautiful Montone or in the region to capture those iconic scenes that you hadn’t had time for during the workshops. You can book an extended stay directly with our hotel or a farm stay near by – just let us know you intend to stay on after you have booked the tour and we will help you with all the arrangements.
The Palladian Odyssey Tour – Umbria is all inclusive: pick-up and return from Florence, daily sketching workshops (bring your own art materials and sketch books), accommodation, all meals with wine if desired, refreshments during the day, occasional aperitifs, coach to excursions with local accredited guide and vineyard tour with wine degustation. From the moment you board the bus you will only need money if you wish to buy a souvenir, but of course the best souvenir will be your sketch book! We look forward to you joining us.
Not included: fares to and from Florence, accommodation in Florence.