Hidden Tuscany Study Tour

This tour has already taken place and is now here as an archive
James McDonaugh

This is a very special tour designed to explore the hidden treasures of Tuscany. Set in some of Italy’s most beautiful landscapes, magnificent art and architecture await. Highlights include the extraordinary buildings and sculptures of Pisa, the stunning Romanesque church St Antimo and wonderful hilltop towns of Pienza, Montepulciano and Cortona. You will also visit gardens and a private Tuscan villa. For five nights you will stay in one of Tuscany’s most delightful small towns, Pienza, and you will enjoy the best of Tuscan cuisine. Transport throughout will be by private coach.


Your Lecturer

James McDonaugh is an art history lecturer focusing on Italy, Turkey and Greece. He has led tours for academic bodies in the UK and America including the Art Fund, The Courtauld Institute of Art and Historic New England. Combining a deep knowledge of art, literature, history and theology, his aim is ‘to bring to life some of the most beautiful objects and places of interest in Europe’. James has an MA in Philosophy and Theology from Oxford, a diploma in Art History and an MA in Architectural History from the Courtauld Institute. He runs his own travel company, Art Tours Ltd, for private clients and academic groups. James led the hugely successful tours of “Istanbul” (2009) "Ancient Greece" (2011) and “Great Country Houses of Dorset” (2012) for THE COURSE.

Piazza dei Miracoli Roof of Cathedral from Leaning Tower

Your Hotel

Relais Il Chiostro’ di Pienza

Corso Il Rosselino 26, Pienza

This beautiful hotel is an ancient Franciscan convent in the centre of Pienza, at the heart of Val d’Orcia. It is charming and has all modern amenities including free wi fi and an outdoor swimming pool. From the shade of the lime trees on the terrace there are panoramic views of the stunning Val d'Orcia valley and hills. Chef Michele and Maitre d'hotel Maurizio offer authentic Tuscan dishes and a wide variety of wines.

Book your place

Places are limited so please book early. For further information:

Mary Bromley
020 7266 7815
E Mail:
The Course, 105 William Court, 6 Hall Road, London NW8 9PB

This tour is organised by Art Tours Ltd who are responsible for all the arrangements. Please refer to Art Tours Booking Terms and Conditions which can be found on their website www.arttoursltd.com. In relation to any flights booked as part of the tour, Art Tours works with Lupus Travel Limited to ensure that all participants receive proper financial protection for flights booked as part of a tour. Lupus Travel Limited has an ATOL number of 2551 and is a member of ABTA with membership numbers E3558 & V4886. The itinerary is subject to change should local conditions or unexpected restrictions occur. It has also been arranged many months in advance and the visits may be subject to amendment.

S. Biagio, Montepulciano

Hidden Tuscany tour outline

Day 1 / Wednesday 10 April


Latest reporting time at Heathrow (Terminal 5)
Depart on flight BA600

Arrive at Pisa airport

Transfer by private coach to Noce a small town on the outskirts of Pisa


Lunch at ‘Osteria Vecchia Noce’

Continue to historic centre of Pisa

Visit the historic highlights of Pisa in the Campo dei Miracoli: the Duomo, Baptistry, Leaning Tower and frescoes in the Camp Santo

Settle into hotel

Dinner at the hotel
Pisa Tower

Day 2 / Thursday 11 April

Monte Oliveto Maggiore & Colle di Val D’Elsa


Depart by coach

Visit Monte Oliveto Maggiore: this beautiful monastery contains a cycle of frescoes in the cloisters the finest works by Sodoma

Depart by coach

Lunch at an excellent restaurant in Colle

Visit Colle di Val D’Elsa: one of Tuscany’s most charming medieval towns; churches, architecture and astonishing views

Return to Pienza

Dinner in a nearby restaurant
Colle di Val d'Elsa

Day 3 / Friday 12 April

St Antimo & La Foce


Depart by coach

Visit the Church of Sant’Antimo: Tuscany’s most beautiful abbey and a Romanesque gem from the 12th century

Depart by coach

Visit the Church of S. Anna in Camprena: well off the beaten track in landscapes from The English Patient this church contains frescoes by Sodoma


Lunch privately at the Castello di Cosona with Marchesa Bichi Ruspoli Forteguerri

Visit the gardens of Villa La Foce: perhaps Tuscany’s most famous garden once owned by Iris Origo

Return to the hotel

Dinner at a restaurant
Church of Sant'Antimo

Day 4 / Saturday 13 April

Montepulciano & Pienza


Depart by coach for Montepulciano

Visit the Church of San Biagio: this 16th century church by Antonio Sangallo is one of the hidden architectural masterpieces of Tuscany

Continue by coach to the upper town of Montepulciano for a walk down to the lower town


Continue to Pienza

Lunch at Ristorante ‘Il Rossellino’ a family run restaurant

Visit the Duomo: another masterpiece of Renaissance architecture

Visit the garden of the Palazzo Piccolomini: with beautiful views over the Val d’Orcia this is one of the gems of Renaissance palace architecture

Return to the hotel

Dinner at a restaurant
Palazzo Piccolomini, Pienza

Day 5 / Sunday 14 April



Depart by coach

Visit Cortona: visit the Church of S Maria del Calcinaio, a hidden Renaissance gem

Visit the Museo Diocesano: for wonderful paintings by Signorelli

Visit the Accademia Etrusca: one of the best small museums in Tuscany


Lunch at ‘Il Preludio’

Medieval walk through the town up to Church of San Nicolo and S Margerita and time depending the Stations of the Cross by the Futurist Gino Severini

Return to the hotel

Dinner at the hotel

Day 6 / Monday 15 April


Depart by coach for Pisa Airport
Check in for flight BA0601
Flight departs
Flight arrives at Heathrow Airport (Terminal 5)
Bell 'Dal Pozzo' in the Leaning Tower, Pisa dedicated by Nicola Castello