• Learning: a Pursuit for Life

    These are fully escorted programs designed to keep that spark and passion for learning alive. Small groups allow each individual to discover this amazing peninsula at an even pace, capturing the essence and vitality that offers up that unique spirit of "learning for the sake of learning."
  • Getting the right introduction to a place will set you up well for exploring on your own. DI are experts at making you feel settled and comfortable in any new environment.
  • In Brief

    There is a simple pleasure at the heart of these programs, whether it is in that boundless spiritual haven of Umbria and southern Tuscany, the unequalled splendour of "La Serenissima" that is Venice, the endlessly fascinating vicoli of the "eterna" that is Rome or at the very seat of the most revered city of the Renaissance, Florence, where the life-long search for meaning and knowledge of all things reached such dizzying heights.
  • Here, we are at the Etruscan burial mounds at Cerveteri. More of our favourite Etruscan sites are the archaeological park of the painted tombs near Tarquinia, and the ancient settlement at Vulci. There are a number of these very special, select sites, where it is possible to gain a real insight into these wonderful and enigmatic people.
  • The fanciful "Il Sacro Bosco" park in Bomarzo is a must see for those who can appreciate the intellect and wit of its creator Pier Francesco Orsini in the 16th C. It is the perfect retreat for a quiet, contemplative wander
  • ROME - CENTRAL ITALY (Umbria & Southern Tuscany) - FLORENCE - VENICE
  • No matter how many times we sit and watch this process it never dulls. These are the master artisans of Murano, the famous "glass" island in the northern lagoon of Venice
  • Winery visits, tastings & cooking classes are a typical inclusion in many of our programs. These activities are a great way to appreciate the local produce and personal endeavour of these hard working people - and they are great fun
  • History & the Arts

    To get to know and understand a place, its people and its spirit is such a special privilege. At DI, we pride ourselves on creating opportunities for learning at all levels, across a broad range of disciplines. For Italy, the very essence lies as much in the culture of food and wine as it does in history and the arts. Discovering all means going back to the very beginnings and the ancient land of the Etruscans, overtaken by the great and profound Empire of Rome, dipping into the dark secrets of Medieval struggles then bursting forth into that great period of enlightenment of the Renaissance, and beyond.
  • Looking over the high ramparts of the old castle towards Bolsena Lake, the largest volcanic lake in Europe.
  • Civita di Bagnoregio - soaking up the wonder of this place that still clings to life as on a cliff edge, literally, where miracles do occur
  • The Culture of Food & Wine

    Nowhere is a society of people so caught up in the local traditions of food and wine as in Italy, with regional specialities a celebrated source of pride. And there is no better way to get to a true appreciation of that deeply imbedded nature than by experiencing this unique culture of cuisine. In these programs we weave our way through vineyards, olive groves and specialty centres, many way off the well-trodden tourist trail, opening up the valleys and rolling hills to inspect traditional cuisines and produce, as well as getting to prepare some of it in hands-on classes, always including the best local wines. Whether the focus is on cooking or tasting (or both), each itinerary typically includes at least one introductory meal in each new location to give you a better understanding of that region's specialities, with other recommendations to give you the confidence (and the relevant language) to go exploring on your own.
  • Civita di Bagnoregio and the valley of the "calanchi" are now on the list of World Heritage sites, and a must see to understand the upheavals this land has witnessed in the past (and still). It is sadly now being overrun by tourism but, with a careful timing, can still be experienced as it should, in quiet appreciation of the resilience of the people and the land
  • Siena is one of those wonderful places with so much to give up to the interested visitor. Again, stories about individuals and communal troubles abound to enrich every experience
  • Judith Greenaway, Principal Director of Discovering Italy and historian/guide in Italy. Having a long association with this wonderful land of Umbria has allowed us to seek out those special, out of the way places, with lots of stories and anecdotes to bring it to life each time - you never know what you will see until you walk through that door . . .
  • Marino Moretti is an internationally acknowledged Master Artist, specialist in maiolica painting. Classes with Marino are a unique addition not only to our arts programs but also for more general programs that seek to enhance your experience and knowledge with a "hands-on" approach to learning
  • Every type of artisan work tells a story about individuals and offers a great insight into a long and complex social history. Even if you are looking to purchase those very special items as a keepsake of your journey, understanding the background and traditions helps in making the right choices for you
  • Not all Roads Lead to Rome

    While Rome is one of our all-time favourite venues - with so much to offer beyond the more obvious tourist attractions - not everyone wants to spend time in a big, bustling metropolis. DI specialises in creating experiences that take you into the heart of Italian rural life, whether it is uncovering Etruscan ruins with stunning art works that teach us about this most enigmatic civilisation, or discovering what it meant to be "Roman" as the great empire swept imperiously through the land, or finding an out of the way abbey with the most amazing stories to tell in the fresco cycles and always, taking a meal or wine tasting in a tiny little trattoria not yet discovered by mass tourism. This is the REAL Italy, still waiting to be discovered . . .
  • The little, but beautifully organised, Civic Museum at Bolsena is one of our favourites. It houses a great collection from the local archaeological site of the Etruscan/Roman village and also provides a great starting point to understand the geological as well as social upheavals of the past centuries, in a very accessible format
  • Learning as You Go

    Many of DI programs offer hands-on classes across a variety of media. Classes are conducted by local artists or artisans and not only provide a fascinating interaction with real people but also allow for a much deeper appreciation of traditional art forms. In Venice, for example, we offer mask painting sessions that include an explanation of the history behind the masks or, take a morning to watch seasoned workers create the absolute beauty that is a gondola, all the better to understand the magic as they glide through the waters of the canals. In Umbria, it might be painting on ceramics (maiolica decorating), or creating mosaics, or painting/drawing/photography classes. In each venue it is possible to arrange evenings with a talk on the history, background and import specific to the following day's activities.
  • At DI we love and embrace those places that celebrate and promote their own artisan workshops, and no place does this better than the southern Tuscan town of Volterra, a great Etruscan stronghold that takes great pride in presenting its own artisans and their special work in metals and alabaster
  • The magnificent cathedral of Orvieto sits atop the ancient "rupe," once a sophisticated Etruscan settlement and a thorn in the side of Imperial Rome as it vanquished all on the push northward. The Medieval city that is visible today, still imagines those embattled times, as it emerged into the Renaissance, all contained within the circle of its geological confines, perched 325m above the valley below.
  • Typical Inclusions

    Each program is customised to reflect what each person or group wants but there are many inclusions repeated as a matter of course. When you receive a quotation, suited to your budget, a fully outlined set of inclusions will be listed. Typically included in each quotation will be land-cost only items such as: accommodation, breakfasts, some meals (lunches or dinners or produce/wine tastings etc), all entries as listed on the itinerary, all guide fees and class fees (if any), the cost of an accompanying facilitator. Internal transport that takes you between venues and visits is always included, however, arriving at the first night's accommodation and departing from the last may need to be negotiated on an individual basis.
  • Late Renaissance / early Mannerist style gardens appear all around Rome, spreading out into the countryside and on into Umbria and southern Tuscany. They each have their own tall tales to tell and each offer up a unique insight into the more well-to-do families (and the upper echelons of the clergy) who were intent on making their own statements of wealth and power paramount (and visible) over others
  • Local fresh food markets still abound, from the larger cities to the smallest hamlets, although in some areas, sadly, they are beginning to give way to the influx of cheap imported goods (clothing and the like) to satisfy tourist needs rather then the local populace. Fortunately, we at DI know where to go to get those very special sites where local goods are sold and bartered primarily for the benefit of the locals.
  • Presenting those moments for quiet contemplation, from the best vantage points - even in the hustle and bustle of the busiest places - is what we are good at at DI. It is those moments of quietness that make for the most lasting memories
  • The places we love best are those that signify a long association with our best service providers, where the owners become part of our family and we theirs. These are always venues that provide the best in regional cuisine and who uphold those simple standards of tradition with a great pride and an equally great resilience to change
  • Time to Absorb it All

    Time has a habit of fleeing by, just as you are enjoying it most and while most tourists like to cram their journey full of exciting memories, at DI we like to slow the pace a little, to give you time to inhale, to settle and "live while you learn." We find that experiencing and learning are cumulative events best taken at a steady meander rather than a too fast trot where everything goes by in a blur. With this in mind, but always with an eye to the budget and the reality of time constraints, we encourage travellers to build in "days off" where you can begin to "feel" the beautiful nature of places and people in this endlessly beguiling land. Umbria in particular is regarded as the "land of the saints" with a deep-rooted connection to the spirit of the land, where time passes easily and, if you let it, if you give it enough time, it will refresh and invigorate you again for the journey still to come.
  • Facilitated Travel

    At DI we understand that, whether you are a first-time-traveller and a little nervous about stepping out into the world where you do not speak the language or understand the customs, or whether you just want all the details of the journey taken care of for you so you can relax, learn and enjoy, that you may well appreciate the services of a facilitator who travels with you. This can be for single travellers up to small and larger groups. What it means is that you can experience a true, easy journey of discovery making sure you get to see the most and get the most out of every day. Fully escorted programs mean you have someone to call on 24/7 to help with the language and to help you be as independent (or not) as you like. All the worry about bookings, payments, transport and understanding why you are where you are is taken out of your days.
  • Some of the most magical places are best explored at leisure, at your own pace and, most critically, at the right time of year. The unique setting of the 5 villages in the National Park (and World Heritage site) of the rugged Italian Riviera coastline: Le Cinqueterre, offers a journey unequalled in the setting and the cuisine, though be warned, at the "wrong" time of year, it is awash with tourists, foreign and Italian alike. However, with the right direction and timing, it is still a place of wonder with so much to offer.
  • If you want to learn about the Etruscan civilisation, with all its artistry, sophisticated learning and rites, and the impact on modern day Italy, there is no place better than Tarquinia. It not only boasts one of the best (local) collections of Etruscan wares but also provides one of the most engaging journeys through the painted tombs of the Monterozzi Necropolis
  • Sample Itineraries

    Each itinerary is designed to create the maximum opportunity while allowing time to discover and explore at your own pace. These sample itineraries are just a starting point to give you and your group a focus in developing a travel plan that is right for you. If you find something here, in any of these suggested programs, DI will then take that point and customise the program until it suits you or your group's needs.
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  • No journey to Rome is "complete" without a visit to that most wondrous of all places, the Chapel of the Popes, within the walls of the Vatican Palace, the Sistine Chapel. Here you will see not only amazing stories of Christianity (regardless of belief) but also a manifestation of the most accomplished artists of the time.
  • The iconic monuments in Rome become "iconic" for a reason, and there are always intriguing stories to tell beyond the mere urban/tourist legends that arise. In any case, it is always fun to do some things that are just that - fun!
  • Story telling is one of those ancient arts, practiced across all the eons of existence from cavemen, to the Egyptians, the Etruscans, through rich heritage of the Anglo Saxons and the Medieval Mystery plays and so into the early Renaissance. By far, the richest of narrative cycles in this great Italian peninsula are to be found in that “golden age of fresco painting” stretching from the 13th to the 16th centuries. The ones we concentrate on in this fascinating journey are spread throughout Central Italy and encapsulate the best in terms of the artists, the subject and the intent. Whether the motive was for power or glory or quiet contemplation, they were all clearly didactic in purpose.
  • Every style of Venetian mask has a story to tell. The best way to learn about this great tradition is to take part in a hands-on workshop where you will learn the background and also get to paint one of your own - learning other skills as you go.
  • Some of the most evocative stories of the saints are secreted away in tombs and places not on the usual tourist routes. The story of Santa Cristina, a young Christian martyr, is just one of many with intriguing, if sometimes rather fanciful anecdotes bordering on myth, to tell.
  • Standing atop the Carrara mountain (where Michelangelo sourced his marble) looking down to the marina and the Ligurian Sea
  • Secret rooftops with spectacular views - all you need do is to Ask us HOW . . .