Below I have picked out 9 italian of 50 international best cultural tours for 2013
- 6 Emperors and Artists, Italy
A great option for those new to the cultural treasures of Italy, this tour promises all the show-shopping Italian moments, from gondola rides in Venice to gelati in the Roman sunshine. It also offers a snapshot of Italy’s artistic legacy, including an expert-guided tour of Florence’s Uffizi Gallery; and the many artistic riches housed in the Vatican City at Rome, including that famous paint-job by Michelangelo.
July 8 and 22, from £4,489 (0845 485 1525; abercrombiekent.com)
- 8 Norman Might, Baroque Splendours: Puglia Across the Ages
The historian Charles Freeman leads this “leisurely” exploration of Puglia, the heel of Italy. It includes visits to a wide range of monuments from medieval and later periods, and time to absorb the magnificent Baroque architecture of Lecce and the much lesser-known Norman cathedrals and castles of the regio.
September 23-30, £1,995. Ciceroni Travel (01869 811167; ciceroni.co.uk)
- 11 Florentine Palazzi
A new itinerary focusing on Renaissance palaces and allowing access to several that are normally closed to the public. These include Palazzi Corsini, Lanfredini, Pandolfini and Capponi all’Annunziata. Special arrangements also allow entry to the Uffizi’s 16th-century Vasari Corridor. The leader is Dr Joachim Strupp, an expert in Italian art.
November 6-10, £1,920. Martin Randall Travel
- 15 The Ancient Greeks and Romans of Naples
Rupert Smith, a classicist and teacher, brings the stories of ancient Greece and Rome to life on this week-long Easter holiday tour aimed at families with children aged 11 and over. Boat rides and a stay on a mozzarella farm combine with trips to Naples, Pompeii, Amalfi and Paestum to provide a good balance of fun and education.
April 4-11, £1,630 excluding flights. Cazenove and Lloyd (020 7384 2332; cazloyd.com)
- 23 Pompeii, Herculaneum & Classical Campania
A chance for special, behind-the-scenes access to some of Pompeii’s private monuments and buildings is why this tour is among Andante Travels’ most popular options. Spring and autumn departures are led by a range of expert lecturers including William Manning, Emeritus Professor of Roman Archaeology at Cardiff University.
Seven departures March to May and September to October, £1,365. Andante Travels (01722 713800; andantetravels.com)
- 34 Verdi at La Scala, Milan
Kirker is offering several trips to La Scala; given that this is Verdi’s year, the one that includes two of his greatest works in three days looks like the one to pick. The productions of Aida and Don Carlo are conducted by Fabio Luisi, and the trip is accompanied by Sandy Burnett, the musician and former Radio 3 presenter. October 28-31, £1,290. Kirker Holidays (020 7593 1899; kirkerholidays.com)
- 41 Eastern Sicily
Private visits to gardens in the company of Robin Lane Fox, reader in ancient history at Oxford University, gardener and occasional contributor to Telegraph Travel. The itinerary includes palaces in Catania and Syracuse, the amphitheatre at Taormina, the Baroque town of Noto and a trip to see the Riace bronzes.
Sept 13-19, £2,985 excluding flights. Fine Art Travel (020 7437 8553; finearttravel.co.uk)
- 45 Gastronomic Piedmont
Piedmont, centre of the Slow Food movement, arguably takes its food and wine more seriously than anywhere else in Italy. This tour includes visits to Alba, the world’s white-truffle capital, and to several Barolo wineries, plus meals at simple trattorias and Michelin-starred restaurants. It also leaves time to explore the region’s art and architecture – which are also of the highest order. The lecturer is Marc Millon, co-author of Frommer’s Food Lover’s Companion to Italy.
Oct 5-11, £2,660. Martin Randall Travel (020 8742 3355; martinrandall.co.uk)
- 46 Gastronomic tour of Sicily
Peter Sommer is best known for his cultural cruises in Turkish gulets, but he also offers themed trips to other European destinations. This itinerary in Sicily takes in both gastronomical and historical highlights and is led by Marcello Baglioni, a cultural specialist, and Dr Michael Metcalfe, an archaeologist. It includes cooking classes, visits to local producers of cheese, olives, honey and wines, and numerous tastings, including one of traditional modicano chocolate.
Oct 5-12, £2,495 excluding flights. Peter Sommer (01600 888220; petersommer.com)