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Christmas in Assisi

Program Number: 19220RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/20/2013 - 12/28/2013; 12/20/2015 - 12/28/2015;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Italy
Price starting at: $2,497.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Holidays
Meals: 20; 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

The holidays in Assisi and surrounding Umbria offer a unique blend of seasonal events, hill town festivities and stunning landscapes, epitomizing Italy in place and spirit. Through expert lectures, archaeological analysis and in-person encounters with some of history's greatest art masterpieces, get to know the home of St. Francis and trace its heritage back to Rome and beyond, as you immerse yourself in the holiday ambiance of this fabled Italian region.




Highlights

• Study the life of Francis of Assisi through personal encounters with 700-year-old Giotto masterworks adorning St. Francis Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Florence's Basilica of Santa Croce.
• Examine the common cultural roots shared by the hill towns of Umbria on a visit to Perugia, a traffic-free city built on Etruscan foundations and embodying an elegant standard for comparison with Assisi.
• Start your own holiday tradition based on those whose roots stretch back through the centuries by participating in a traditional Umbrian Christmas Eve family-style dinner and midnight vigil mass.



Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles, standing, cobbled streets, paved inclines in the hill towns, some steps in town and at museums and archaeological sites.




Date Specific Information

12-20-2013

Consider extending your educational adventure on the New Year in Florence, program #19221 based at the Hotel Rivoli. Ring in the New Year in the capital of Tuscany.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



12-20-2015

Typically a professional choir performs a concert in the Church of S. Clare on the Feast of S. Stephen (Boxing Day) evening. Arrangements are made if it is scheduled.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Florence, 1 night; coach to Assisi, 5 nights; coach to Florence, 1 night; departure.



Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Florence
1 night
Coach to Assisi
5 nights

The hill towns of Umbria share cultural elements that inform holiday customs and the rudiments of everyday life. Examine this common tradition with experts in Assisi, beginning at the Roman Forum to investigate excavations under the main piazza and to learn how the Roman-era Temple of Minerva was later converted into a church. The Basilica of St. Francis is adorned with frescoes by godfather of the Renaissance, Giotto di Bondone. Analyze these works before visiting the basilica and that of one of Francis' earliest followers, St. Clare of Assisi. Embodying the hill town tradition, Perugia stands on Etruscan foundations surrounded by Roman walls. Expert illuminates Etruscan civilization through artifacts housed in the Archaeological museum. At the town's National Gallery, discuss works by Renaissance master Pietro Perugino. Return to Assisi, stopping at the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, which encloses two structures significant to St. Francis. On Christmas Eve, enjoy local holiday customs and culinary traditions, including a Christmas Eve family-style dinner and an optional midnight vigil mass.



Coach to Florence
1 night
Departure

Transfer to Florence. Study leader directs the group to the Basilica of Santa Croce, built in honor of St. Francis and decorated by Giotto with frescoes depicting scenes from the saint’s life and death.




Italy

“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.



Accommodations
Assisi: Three-star hotel located within the heart of the old city. Florence: Historic four-star hotel located in a restored Franciscan convent.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Marco Ceccarani

Marco Ceccarani holds a Ph.D. in humanities from the Università di Perugia (Italy). His field of expertise includes medieval and Renaissance Italian civilization and literature. He has taught for several American universities in the United States and currently teaches in Florence for American university study abroad programs. Marco lives in Assisi and his research has led him to travel to many countries around the globe.
 
Louise Maciejewski

Louise Maciejewski completed her B.A. at the Institute of Archaeology in London with a specialization in the Mediterranean area. Recently, she was awarded an M.A. from the University of Siena in the prehistory and history of Etruria. Originally from the U.K., Louise resides with her family in Cortona. She is passionate about her orchard of olive trees, and in November personally oversees the milling of the olives to make oil.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Rivoli
  Florence, Italy 1 night
   Hotel Giotto Assisi
  Assisi, Italy 5 nights
   Hotel Rivoli
  Florence, Italy 1 night
 Hotel Rivoli
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The centrally located 4 star superior hotel is an ex Franciscan convent from the15th Century. The hotel has undergone a modern restoration that showcases the ancient frescoes, stone arches and vaulted ceilings.
  Contact info: Via della Scala 33
Florence, NA 50123 Italy
phone: +39 055 27 861
web: www.hotelrivoli.it
  Room amenities: mini-bar, air conditioning, hair dryer, safe for valuables.
  Facility amenities: Hotel restaurant, patio and small garden, small pool open May - September. Wi-Fi available in the structure, minimal fee of EUR. 5 for 24 hours; request access code from the reception desk.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: varies by season You can book additional nights directly through the hotel’s online reservation system www.hotelrivoli.it. Indicate to the hotel that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room assignment. Another option is to use the services of online hotel consolidators such as Hotels.com or Expedia.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: varies by season You can book additional nights directly through the hotel’s online reservation system www.hotelrivoli.it. Indicate to the hotel that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room assignment. Another option is to use the services of online hotel consolidators such as Hotels.com or Expedia.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

 Hotel Giotto Assisi
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: 1700's noble family home restructured as a hotel in 1899, recently updated and modernized as a 4 star hotel. Located 200 meters from the Basilica of St. Francis.
  Contact info: Via Fontebella 41
Assisi, NA 06081 Italy
phone: +39 075 812209
web: www.hotelgiottoassisi.it
  Room amenities: Climate control; mini bar; safe; satellite TV; direct line telephone, hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: Panoramic terrace and dining rooms overlooking the Tiber River valley. 24 hour reception; Ishtar Spa Club, open to hotel guests; complementary newspapers in lobby. Wi-Fi, obtain password from reception desk, hourly fees apply.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Lunch provided for those arriving early morning. Hotel check in 2:00 pm. Late afternoon Welcome Reception followed by dinner at the hotel. You will be staying at Hotel Rivoli that night.
  End of Program:
Hotel check out by 11:00 am. No activities other than departure transfers to airport You will be staying at Hotel Rivoli the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Frequent trains from major cities in Italy reach Florence's main train station, Santa Maria Novella.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Florence
  Nearest city or town:  Florence
  Nearest highway: n/a
  Nearest airport:  Vespucci Airport, Florence
  Transportation to site: To reach the Hotel Rivoli from the Florence Vespucci Airport at Peretola one may take a taxi (about EUR 25 per vehicle) or public transportation. "Vola in Bus" shuttles (ticket EUR 5) depart every 30 min from the clearly marked (covered) bus stop just outside the Florence Airport Terminal. Destination is the main train station in Florence, S Maria Novella. The Hotel Rivoli is about a 5-10 minute walk from the station or a short taxi ride (expect taxi fare to be EUR 7-10 with luggage).
  From End of Program
  Location: Florence
  Transportation from site: Public transportation options to reach the airport in Florence - taxi from the hotel in Florence to the airport costs approx. EUR 25. Max 4 persons per taxi. Another option is to take the' Vola in Bus' shuttle from the Santa Maria Novella train station that goes to the Florence Airport. Buses leave about every 20 min. Tickets are EUR 5 each.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
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: Departure from North America. Overnight Flight
(Friday, December 20)
   
 Depart From: Flight departs from US

Day 2: Arrival Florence / Transfer to Hotel
(Saturday, December 21)

Note: Explore downtown Florence on a walk of discovery. Level terrain, watch for uneven cobble stones on sidewalks and roads.



   
 Morning: Arrivals, transfer to Hotel Rivoli.
 Lunch: For morning arrivals, lunch provided at the hotel in Florence
 Afternoon: Late afternoon expert led visit of the historical center of Florence: Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo complex. Meet your fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception at the hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant. Free time to take a stroll in the quiet town center very close to the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Rivoli
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Coach transfer to Assisi, explore Roman temple area.
(Sunday, December 22)

Note: Leisurely walk down and back up a few stairs at the small archaeological site in Assisi.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served buffet style at the hotel.
 Morning: Coach to Assisi. After settling into the hotel, an Orientation Session sets the pace and expectations of the program. A lecture on Assisi's early history follows.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Expert-led visit to the Roman Forum. Roman era excavations under the main piazza, in front of the old Temple of Minerva, bring to light the area of the altar and surrounding structures. The temple, with its columns and pediments still intact, was converted into a church in later centuries. Late afternoon, a local expert gives insight on the Etruscans, ancient peoples who settled in Umbria before the time of the Romans.
 Dinner: Dinner at a restaurant in Assisi center.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Giotto Assisi
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Perugia / Collegio del Cambio / National Gallery of Art / Archaeological Museum
(Monday, December 23)

Note: Non strenuous walk in Perugia



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Coach to Perugia to admire the 15th c. frescoes by Perugino in the Collegio del Cambio--the money changer's guild hall; expert continues the visit to the National Art Gallery.
 Lunch: Enjoy a sampler of Umbrian food at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: A local expert gives insight on the Etruscans, the people who settled in Umbria prior to the Romans, from the artifacts housed in the Archaeological Museum. Coach to Assisi.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Giotto Assisi
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Basilica of St. Francis / Family Style Dinner
(Tuesday, December 24)

Note: Assisi is a hill town; the road to the basilica follow the natural terrain. In the basilica, stone steps to reach the upper and lower levels.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Preparatory lecture illustrating Giotto's frescoes in the Basilica of St. Francis and a discussion on the ongoing restoration of damages incurred in the 1997 earthquake.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Expert-led visit to the Basilica of St. Francis; see items belonging to him as well as his final resting place. Marvel in person at the narrative style and beauty of Giotto's composition and frescoes.
 Dinner: In a local restaurant in Assisi enjoy a traditional Christmas Eve dinner served family style.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Giotto Assisi
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Christmas Day / Living Crèche
(Wednesday, December 25)

Note: Walks in the graded streets of the hill town of Assisi.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Free morning. Option to attend a service at one of the many churches in Assisi..
 Lunch: Enjoy a traditional holiday menu of food and wine at Taverna dei Consoli in the heart of Assisi.
 Afternoon: Learn about local holiday traditions in the region of Umbria and travel by coach to a small village that enacts a living nativity scene.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Giotto Assisi
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Excursion and lunch in the Umbrian hills / Holiday Concert
(Thursday, December 26)

Note: Uneven terrain at the farm and olive grove.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel
 Morning: Coach ride to a small town in the countryside surrounding Assisi. A local family proudly leads a visit of their farm and olive groves, and invites you into their home for a discussion on culinary traditions and life in Umbria and Tuscany today.
 Lunch: Enjoy a sample of regional food for lunch at the home of a local family.
 Afternoon: Afternoon coach returns to Assisi. Enjoy a concert of sacred music and holiday favorites in the Basilica of Santa Chiara.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Giotto Assisi
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Transfer to Florence / Santa Croce / Farewell Dinner
(Friday, December 27)

Note: Coach to Florence, arrive at hotel. Florence is a small city but the historic center is closed to traffic, so expect to walk a mile or more in the pedestrian center of town.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Coach to Florence.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant just outside of Florence.
 Afternoon: Check in to hotel. Expert-led visit to the Basilica of Santa Croce, built in honor of St. Francis. Admire Giotto's frescoes of scenes from the life of the saint from Assisi.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at Benedicta, the hotel's fine restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Rivoli
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Departures
(Saturday, December 28)

Note: Handle one's own luggage from coach drop off point to the check-in counters.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to the Florence Airport for departure flights.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Assisi Midnight Mass
Church services on Christmas Eve are usually embellished with traditional carols and hymns performed by choral ensembles accompanied by pipe organs. Once on site, the group leader will provide details.
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


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.



Every Day in Tuscany, Seasons of an Italian Life


Author: Frances Mayes


Description: Twenty years later Mayes is still besotted by Italy -- her house, the tumbling geraniums, the people and the food -- all lovingly documented in her best memoir yet. With interludes in Portofino, Assisi and Rome and a focus on Renaissance master artist Luca Signorelli.



Fodor's Florence's 25 Best


Author: Fodor's


Description: This shirt-pocket guide includes an excellent map and essential information on the city's highlights, including sightseeing, restaurants and shopping.



Insight Guide Tuscany


Author: Insight Guides


Description: An illustrated guide in the popular series, noteworthy for its maps and illuminating essays on history, art, food and culture.



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 their 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.



Renaissance Florence, The Invention of a New Art


Author: A. Richard Turner


Description: A cultural and social history of the city focusing on the great art and famous monuments, featuring vivid color pictures and illustrations.



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 Finest Wines of Tuscany and Central Italy


Author: Hugh Johnson (Foreword), Nicholas Belfrage


Description: This astute guide to wine-making regions and villages in Tuscany includes a history of Tuscan grapes and culture, excellent color maps and profiles of select vintners and wines.



The Renaissance, A Short History


Author: Paul Johnson


Description: The history, background, literature, sculpture, paintings and architecture of the Renaissance in just over 200 lively, thought-provoking pages.



The Stones of Florence


Author: Mary McCarthy


Description: The classic history of the art, architecture and culture of Florence. Novelist McCarthy takes us on a quick and vivid tour of the history of the Medicis and the city of Florence, focusing on Renaissance art.



Tuscany Map


Author: Touring Club Italiano


Description: A detailed map at a scale of 1:200,000. Imported from Italy.





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