Road Scholar : Home
The Best of Italy: Rome, Florence and Venice

Program Number: 18206RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/12/2013 - 10/25/2013; 10/24/2015 - 11/6/2015; 10/31/2015 - 11/13/2015; 4/2/2016 - 4/15/2016; 4/9/2016 - 4/22/2016; 4/16/2016 - 4/29/2016; 4/23/2016 - 5/6/2016; 4/30/2016 - 5/13/2016; 5/10/2016 - 5/23/2016; 5/14/2016 - 5/27/2016; 5/21/2016 - 6/3/2016; 5/28/2016 - 6/10/2016; 9/6/2016 - 9/19/2016; 9/10/2016 - 9/23/2016; 9/17/2016 - 9/30/2016; 9/24/2016 - 10/7/2016; 10/1/2016 - 10/14/2016; 10/8/2016 - 10/21/2016; 10/15/2016 - 10/28/2016; 10/22/2016 - 11/4/2016; 10/26/2016 - 11/8/2016; 10/30/2016 - 11/12/2016;
Duration: 13 nights
Location: Italy
Price starting at: $4,645.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 30; 12 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Experience the beauty of three historic capitals of Classical, Medieval and Renaissance acclaim as local experts lead you on a journey through some of Italy’s greatest cities. Follow the path of legendary artists, scientists and philosophers from the classical remnants of Rome to the preserved treasures of Florence and Venice.


• Trace Roman history through the ages as you visit the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Borghese Museum and the Vatican Museum.
• Journey to Florence and Venice via a high speed EuroStar train, reaching speeds of over 120 mph.
• View the "David" — a Renaissance period masterpiece in Florence — and ride in a gondola through the canals of Venice.

Activity Particulars

Extensive walking in traffic-free urban centers which prevent tourist coaches from parking or loading passengers at sites. The distances traversed on foot can reach 4 mi/day—always interspersed with rest time, typically at a meal. Standing for extended periods of time during site visits. Special attention needs to be paid to the uneven aspect of cobblestone streets. Elevator use in some historic buildings is restricted. Not all staircases have banisters. Venice is unique as a city with no vehicles besides public or private boats that run along the Grand Canal. Extensive walking in Venice includes crossing bridges that span minor canals. As with many things, the effort expended has its aesthetic reward.

Date Specific Information


Moderate-paced program. Experience Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel without the crowds by a special off-hour admission to select rooms in the Vatican Museum. In Venice water taxis replace the crowded Vaporetto.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Rome, 4 nights; train to Florence, 4 nights; train to
Venice, 4 nights; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Rome
4 nights

Begin to unravel the multiple layers of Roman history as you examine some of the masterpieces preserved in the National Museum of Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. Lectures offer insight on various aspects of Roman culture, architecture and artists, such as Michelangelo and Bernini. Marvel at the stunning Ceiling and the imposing Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. Visit the Colosseum and the Roman Forum and delight in the art collection at the Borghese Gallery.

Train to Florence
4 nights

Considered the “cradle of the Renaissance,” Florence retains a treasure trove of works by Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Verrocchio, Donatello and Botticelli. Learn from resident professors of art history the development of styles and feast your artistic senses during visits to the National Sculpture Gallery of the Bargello, the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia — where the newly restored David is housed. Learn about the Duomo complex and Brunelleschi's Dome. Savor the sights, smells, and tastes of Florence as you stroll through traffic free streets, visiting markets and sampling gelato just steps away from breathtaking churches.

Train to Venice
4 nights

Journey to Venice via train and then explore the city along its historic and scenic canals. Notice the grandeur of patrician palaces, with arches indicating near-Eastern influence before exploring St. Mark’s Cathedral and the Ducal Palace. On an excursion to the island of Murano observe a master-craftsman shape genuine Venetian glass in a workshop. Docents will illustrate and illuminate the richness of Venetian history, legends, personages, and of course the art. Venice invites you into its maze.


“Dolce far niente,” the “sweetness of doing nothing.” This ode to leisure is a distinctly Italian phrase, and yet the expression does not do justice to the hard-work ethos of the nation’s inhabitants. The monuments, art and civilization bequeathed to the people of modern Italy are a testament to the industry of their forebearers, and the legacy lives on in today’s Italians, who work hard to better enjoy the sweetness of repose.

Rome: Four-star hotel near the Piazza della Repubblica, the Termini train station, and the Rome Opera House. Florence: Four-star hotel was an ex-Franciscan convent from the 15th century and its modern restoration showcases the ancient frescoes, stone arches and vaulted ceilings. Venice: Four-star hotel with a terrace and private dock on the Grand Canal.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Diana
  Rome, Italy 4 nights
   Grand Hotel Cavour
  Florence, Italy 4 nights
   Hotel Principe
  Venice, Italy 4 nights
 Hotel Diana
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Your hotel in Rome is centrally located near the Piazza della Repubblica, Rome’s Opera House and the Termini train station. The breakfast buffet is served on the top floor with views of the rooftops of Rome and the cupola of St. Peter’s.
  Contact info: Via Principe Amedeo, 4
Rome, NA 00185 Italy
phone: +
  Room amenities: Satellite TV, hair dryer, complimentary toiletries, safe box for valuables, AC/heat with individual controls, and a mini-bar
  Facility amenities: Rooftop lounge affords a panoramic view of Rome. In the spacious lobby, meet for conversation, read an international newspaper or use the internet point. Free Wi-Fi for hotel guests; request the access code and password from the personnel at the reception desk.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: varies by season If you plan to book additional nights at the hotel, contact the hotel’s online reservation system directly Note on the form that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room assignment. Another option is to reserve through online hotel consolidators such as or expedia.
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Grand Hotel Cavour
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Beautifully appointed hotel, located between the apse of the Duomo and the Bargello Museum. Convenient to the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia.
  Contact info: Via del Proconsolo 3
Florence, NA 50122 Italy
phone: +39 055-266-271
  Room amenities: Individual controls for AC and heat; Wi-Fi; mini-bar; safe; satellite TV with LCD screens; direct dial telephones; heated towel rack; hair dryer and allergy-free cotton sheets. Nicely appointed furniture with desk.
  Facility amenities: Marble floors and columns, comfortable lounge, American bar, Wi-Fi, 24 hour desk, roof garden overlooking the Florence skyline offers spectacular views of the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio. There is a MiniSPA with Turkish bath, aromatherapy and a tea corner; exercise room with the latest equipment such as stationary bikes and treadmill machines.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel Principe
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Located in the neighborhood of Cannaregio and close to the station of Santa Lucia. The hotel has a terrance and private dock on the Grand Canal.
  Contact info: Lista di Spagna, 146
Venice,   Italy
phone: +39 041 220 4000
  Room amenities: A/C, hair dryer, TV, safe, mini bar
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, breakfast buffet, comfortable lounge, internet point
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: TBD Contact Trinity College to book additional nights
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Lunch provided for morning arrivals. Hotel check in 2:00 pm. Meet in lobby at 4:00 for neighborhood walk You will be staying at Hotel Diana that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast, transfers to airport. Hotel check out by 11:00 am You will be staying at Hotel Principe the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Train service connects Rome's airport to Roma Termini, the main station. Trains from Europe and Italy stop at Termini. The hotel is within walking distance from the station and a short taxi ride for luggage considerations.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Rome
  Nearest city or town:  Rome
  Nearest highway: autostrada
  Nearest airport:  Leonardo da Vinci/Fiumicino
  Transportation to site: To reach the hotel on your own, from the Rome airport terminal, you have three options: public transportation, shared ride shuttle service and taxi. The Leonardo Express train goes from the airport to Roma Termini, the main train station in the city center. In the airport terminal public area, follow the signs for the train, purchase tickets at the ticket counter on the station platform, stamp the ticket in the yellow/grey box on the platform, and board the Leonardo Express to Roma Termini. Fare is EUR 14 pp. The ride takes 30 min. 10 minute walk from the train station to the Hotel Diana. For door to door service you have 2 options: shared ride shuttle van or taxi. You can book shuttle service online at Fares are about EUR 27 for 1 person; discounts apply if you book for multiple passengers. Taxi fare for direct service from the airport to the hotel is set by the city at EUR 48. Max 4 persons per taxi.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Venice
  Nearest city or town:  Venice
  Nearest highway: autostrada
  Nearest airport:  Marco Polo
  Transportation from site: To reach the airport on your own, there is public transportation by bus from Piazzale Roma, the point that connects Venice to the mainland, to the Venice Airport. Piazzale Roma is a short walk from the Hotel Principe. Note that the walk from the hotel to the bus stop entails crossing a high bridge that has long shallow steps and no ramp. The bus (fare EUR 6, 25 min. ride) leaves you off directly in front of the airport terminal. For direct service from the hotel dock to the airport dock, it is possible to book a water taxi. Fare is approx. EUR 100. Supplemental fees apply for service before 8 am. Max 10 passengers per taxi boat. When the water taxi arrives at the airport dock you can get a cart for the 10 min. walk to the terminal along a covered path. If you are continuing your travels by train, from the hotel you can reach the train station on foot very easily from the hotel.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Flights depart from North America.
(Saturday, October 12)
 In Transit: Overnight flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Arrivals in Rome the following day.

Day 2: Orientation and Welcome Reception
(Sunday, October 13)
 Arrive To: Rome airport and clear customs, join others for transfer.
 Morning: Transfer to hotel. Check-in time is afternoon. Your room might not be ready for occupancy if you arrive early morning, however, the staff at the reception desk will accept your luggage and place it in the deposit. After which you can explore the area around the hotel.
 Lunch: Lunch at the Hotel Diana.
 Afternoon: Program overview and orientation, distribution of on-site materials including the detailed and most updated daily schedule. At the Welcome reception a chance to meet your fellow Road Scholars. A brief neighborhood walk to locate ATM's, banks, pharmacies, grocery stores, eateries.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel's rooftop restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Diana
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Welcome to Rome / Forum and Colosseum
(Monday, October 14)

Note: Steep steps to reach the top level of the Colosseum. An elevator for disabled visitors is available through special request. The walk around the Roman Forum is on uneven paths and original pavement of cobblestone.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Begin to unravel the multiple layers of Roman history through the sharp insight of a local expert, first in the classroom and then on site at the Colosseum.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant near the Roman Forum.
 Afternoon: Guided visit continues to the Roman Forum. Some free time before dinner to explore the Viminal neighborhood where the hotel is located.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Diana
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: St. Peter's Basilica / Piazza Navona / Pantheon / Galleria Borghese
(Tuesday, October 15)

Note: Extended standing in St. Peter's Basilica where the pews are reserved for persons attending prayer services. Leisurely walk in the heart of Rome along uneven pavement and cobblestones. Extended standing in the Borghese Gallery, a small manageable museum with very limited benches for visitors.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Transportation to St. Peter's Basilica for an expert-led visit. Admire Michelangelo's Pieta' and Bernini's Baldacchino, made with bronze removed from the Pantheon. Transfer to Piazza Navona. The local expert leads a walk from the famous and elegant Navona square to the Pantheon.
 Lunch: Lunch at Ristorante L'Angoletto Romano, near the Pantheon. Coach back to the hotel.
 Afternoon: Coach to the Borghese Gallery, the private pleasure and reception palace of Cardinal Scipio Borghese, an avid art collector and patron of the young Bernini. On display in the Gallery are important paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, Botticelli and Titian and the emotionally charged sculptures by Bernini, a true evocation of the Baroque. Return to the hotel by coach.
 Dinner: Dinner at Ristorante Cotto in the vicinity of the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Diana
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Spanish Steps / Exclusive off-hours private expert led visit in the Vatican Museums--the Hall of Maps, Stanze of Raphael and Sistine Chapel
(Wednesday, October 16)

Note: Crowd free walk to the Sistine Chapel along the museum corridors.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Transportation to the Spanish Steps. A local expert leads a Walk of Discovery to the Fountain of Trevi.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time after lunch.
 Dinner: Coach to the Vatican for an early dinner before entering the Vatican Museums.
 Evening: Short walk to the Vatican Museums for the highlight of the trip, an exclusive private visit to the Stanze of Raphael and the Sistine Chapel along the long corridors. On-site lecture by an art historian illuminates the masterpieces. Enjoy a crowd-free walk. The appointment is from 6-8 pm. Coach back to the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Diana
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Palazzo Massimo / Train to Florence
(Thursday, October 17)

Note: The visit of the Palazzo Massimo museum will require ascending two flights of stairs from street level. Once inside, there is an elevator to reach the upper floors. Short walk from the hotel to the train station, comfortable ride on the train. Transfer provided to Florence Hotel.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Expert-led visit of some of the masterpieces of Roman art preserved in the National Museum at Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. You will see the frescoes from the dining room walls from the Villa of Livia, wife of the Emperor August Caesar. Other notable bronze pieces are the Seated Boxer and a Doryphoros (Spear Holder.)
 Lunch: Lunch at a local cafe.
 Afternoon: Transfer to Florence by train. After settling in, a short walk with the group leader gets you familiar with the neighborhood.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Cavour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Welcome to Florence / Bargello Museum / Baptistery
(Friday, October 18)

Note: Leisurely walk to the museum. One steep flight of stairs leads to the second floor gallery. Afternoon visit includes climbing a narrow steep and winding stair case (optional) to reach the women's gallery on the upper level.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: In a Welcome to Florence classroom session learn about the city from Roman times, through the Renaissance to today. Short walk to the Bargello Museum where an art historian leads you through the rooms and examines the development of sculpture from antiquity through the Renaissance with special emphasis on the works of Ghiberti, Donatello and Michelangelo. Notable works include Donatello's David and bronzes by Cellini and Giambologna.
 Lunch: Lunch at Ristorante Circus in Piazza della Signoria.
 Afternoon: Field trip continues to the Baptistery of the Duomo where you will have exclusive access to the 2nd floor women's gallery to experience up close the beautiful 13th C. mosaics depicting scenes from the Bible and the last judgment.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Cavour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Renaissance Art / Uffizi Gallery / Accademia
(Saturday, October 19)

Note: Walk to the Uffizi. Elevator for disabled visitors may be accessible at the museum. There is a long flight of stairs to reach the exhibition rooms of the gallery. Expect some crowding in the museum; it is a popular destination for art afficionados.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Morning lecture on medieval and Renaissance art in preparation for the visit to the Uffizi Gallery. Short walk to the museum. For the self guided visit of the Uffizi we will enter as a group, but you are free to spend as much time as you wish. This is the most extensive collection of art, tracing the development from Gothic to medieval to Renaissance to Mannerist paintings in the world. You will find many recognizable masterpieces, including DaVinci's Annunciation, Botticelli's Birth of Venus and the Primavera, some Titians, Michelangelo's Holy Family, and a few Caravaggios as well as Artemisia Gentileschi. There is a coffee bar at the end of the second corridor, on top of the Loggia, with a wonderful view of the watch tower and Duomo where you can get a refreshment and rest.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon
 Dinner: Imagine yourself attending dinner with Napoleon and his sister Pauline Borghese, (you will remember her from Canova's statue in the Galleria Borghese in Rome). Her house was decorated in Imperial style in anticipation of his visit, but he did not make it. Now the Palazzo hosts a Renaissance themed dinner with madrigal singers and musicians, court jester and dancers - all make for a lively entertaining evening.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Cavour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Accademia / The Medici
(Sunday, October 20)

Note: The main gallery of the Accademia (sculpture collection) is on the ground floor. Stairs to the second floor painting gallery.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Expert-led visit of the Accademia Gallery where the newly restored David by Michelangelo is prominently displayed. Some free time to explore the market of San Lorenzo.
 Lunch: Lunch at Ristorante Lorenzo de'Medici near the market of San Lorenzo.
 Afternoon: In a classroom session at the hotel learn about the intrigues of the influential Medici family.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Cavour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 10: Transfer to Venice / Introduction Venice
(Monday, October 21)

Note: High speed train to Venice, minimal walking around Venice.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Train to Venice, short walk to the hotel. Your bags will be delivered by courier.
 Lunch: Check-in right after lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: A local historian presents Welcome to Venice, a lively lecture that points out the origins of the lengthy and wealthy republic whose trade with the East allowed the grandeur still visible today. Neighborhood walk will indicate the location of ATM's, pharmacies, stores and shops.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Principe
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: St. Mark's Square: Basilica / Accademia
(Tuesday, October 22)

Note: Leisurely boat taxi ride to S. Mark's Square. The ample square is very often teeming with tourists crowding to see one of the most famous squares in Europe. Continue on foot or ride a boat to the Accademia, climb a few flights of stairs to reach the upper floors of the gallery.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Travel to Piazza S. Marco along Venice's famed Grand Canal on a private taxi boat to avoid crowded vaporetti, or public boats. Notice the patrician palaces, with arches indicating near-Eastern influence. Some of the houses have names based on the prominent mosaic, e.g. Ca' d'Oro, the "Golden House." Mark's Cathedral, built during the 13 C., shows Byzantine influence. There are more than 45,000 sq. ft. of mosaics adorning the church, giving the impression of streets of gold.
 Lunch: Lunch at Ristorante San Trovaso.
 Afternoon: Walk or ride a boat up the Canal Grande to the Accademia. On-site lecture and visit to the Accademia museum; the paintings are grouped according to period and school. It contains a great collection of art by such notables as Veronese, Veneziano, Bellini, Tintoretto and Giorgione.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel Principe
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 12: Rialto / Ducal Palace / Gondola ride
(Wednesday, October 23)

Note: The walk through the many rooms of the Ducal Palace requires climbing a few flights of stairs. Assistance is offered for boarding and disembarking the gondola.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Expert-led visit of the Gothic church "I Frari" to admire works by Bellini, Titian and Donatello. Note the beautiful sculptures that adorn the large white marble tomb of Canova while the guide explains the meaning of the resting angel, the sleeping lion and slightly open door leading to the imposing pyramid that dominates the funerary monument to the great Neo Classical sculptor.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: In St. Mark's Square the guided visit continues to the Ducal Palace, seat of civic and political power. Doges embellished the palace to demonstrate their wealth and importance. There are murals by Tintoretto and Veronese. Later, experience the city from a different point of view as you enjoy a gondola ride along the canals of Venice.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Principe
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Glassmaking demonstration in Murano
(Thursday, October 24)

Note: Enjoyable boat ride to the island, minimal effort to walk around the town.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Boat ride to the island of Murano for a glassblowing demonstration by master artisans. Some free time to stroll the narrow streets along the canals.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon. With your vaporetto pass you can easily take the boat from Murano to explore the island of Burano, whose leaning tower rivals that in Pisa. Here you can find Venetian lace and small shops where you can watch the crafters create their handiwork. Or return to the center of town.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Principe
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14: Departures
(Friday, October 25)

Note: Transfer to the airport will be by private taxi boat from the hotel dock. Your bags will be loaded onto and off the boat but at the airport dock there are 3 steps from the boat landing to the road. The walk (along a canopied path) to the terminal takes about 8 minutes. If you have trouble managing your luggage on the flat path you can use an airport cart (euro coin deposit) or engage a shuttle van that provides assistance from the airport dock to the terminal for a small per bag fee.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel; continental style for participants with early morning departures.
 Morning: Departure transfer to Venice Airport.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Ancient Rome: Art, Architecture, and History

Author: Ada Gabucci (Editor)

Description: This lively, illustrated survey of Ancient Rome's monuments, history and art is a terrific introduction.

Blue Guide Concise Italy

Author: Paul Blanchard

Description: The first ever guide to all of Italy by the venerable Blue Guides (which publishes individual guides to Northern, Southern, Central, Rome, Tuscany, Sicily et al), this lavishly illustrated, handy and compact guide covers key sights, museums, churches, art, dining and accommodations throughout Italy.

Brunelleschi's Dome, How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture

Author: Ross King

Description: The story of the design and construction of the dome in the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, a tale rife with politics, cut-throat competition and mighty inspiration.

Eyewitness Guide Italy

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: This superb guide features color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a region-by-region synopsis of the country's attractions.

Italy Map

Author: Borch Maps

Description: A handy, laminated map.

Italy in Mind

Author: Alice Powers

Description: A terrific collection of some of the best literary writing on Italy, including pieces by Melville, Lawrence, Henry James, Mary McCarthy and many others.

Italy, A Short History

Author: Harry Hearder

Description: Elegantly written, generous and informative, this compact book takes in the sweep of Italian history from the Roman Republic through the Renaissance, World War II and up to the present.

La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind

Author: Beppe Severgnini

Description: Italians themselves love this guide to the Italian character, which addresses the apparently never-ending passion for beauty, disorder and high emotion. Severgnini opens the book with a snapshot of the hubbub at Malpensa Airport, then moves on to Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Sardinia.

La Bella Lingua

Author: Dianne Hales

Description: Inebriated with the sounds of Italian, lovesick for its phrases and enamored of its earthy idioms, Hales, "a sensible woman of sturdy Polish stock," dives into the Italian of the piazza, literature, movies and streets in this charming memoir.

Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling

Author: Ross King

Description: Presented with flair and backed by a wealth of research, King's captivating chronicle of Michelangelo's painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel tells the story of its conception and creation.

The Art of the Renaissance

Author: Peter Murray

Description: A classic, illustrated survey of the world of the Renaissance and its art. With chapters on Florence and its artists, the Netherlands, early illustrated books and many individual artists.

The City of Florence, Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings

Author: R.W.B. Lewis

Description: A vivid tour of the city and its riches by the fine biographer of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Lewis has written what he calls "a partial biography of Florence," beautifully interweaving the personal and the historical.

The Colosseum

Author: Keith Hopkins, Mary Beard

Description: This engaging overview of the history of the Colosseum deconstructs Hollywood-perpetrated misconceptions of gladiator-eating lions, Nero fiddling and other myths.

The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall

Author: Christopher Hibbert

Description: A well-written, entertaining history of the Medicis in Renaissance Florence. Great to read before going to Florence, where the influence of the Medicis and the artists they supported is still very much in evidence.

The World of Venice

Author: Jan Morris

Description: Morris displays her talent for research, anecdote and well-wrought prose in this spirited history of a beloved city.

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