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Overview

A truly unforgettable adventure

The glories of Tuscany’s art, cuisine and scenery have long been celebrated, but Umbria has remained in the shadow of its better-known neighbor to the west. Explore both regions on our walk through ancient towns and learn about those who have passed this way: the enigmatic Etruscans, the Romans, St. Francis of Assisi and the princes and artists of the Italian Renaissance.

Dust off your hiking boots and get ready for daily walks led by trail expert Peter Watson and illuminating lectures from comparative literature scholar Ed Steidle. Take in the stunning landscapes during al fresco lunches and marvel at the works of Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico and Luca Signorelli, tucked away in the churches of ancient Etruscan towns.

Dates

May 17–28, 2023

Duration

12 days

Price

From $9,595 per person

Trip size

32 participants

Minimum age

18 years
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Faculty leader

A different kind of classroom

With renowned Stanford faculty and scholars leading the way, every Travel/Study trip is a one-of-a-kind educational experience.

Ed Steidle

Stanford Continuing Studies

Ed's background is in comparative literature and medieval literature, and he teaches on the arts and literatures of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

“Ed is superb. The ideal combination of intellectual, engaged, friendly, and topical both in his lectures and informal conversations.”

— Lauren Post, '79, MBA '90

Itinerary

Medieval hill towns and Renaissance art

Begin our journey in the Tuscan hill town of Cortona. Weave our way through Tuscany and Umbria to the medieval town of Orvieto by way of Arezzo, Perugia and Assisi. Walk through stunning mountain landscapes and across verdant valleys. Explore the cobbled alleys of Etruscan towns and venture into impressive churches to see the frescoes of renowned Renaissance artists.

  • Rome, Italy / Cortona

    Upon arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, transfer to the Tuscan hill town of Cortona, on the border of Tuscany and Umbria, where we spend the next three nights at a town palazzo. Gather this evening with fellow walkers for a welcome reception.

    Accommodations:

    Hotel San Michele

  • Cortona

    This morning we drive a short distance out of town to embark on our first walk along a scenic ridge to an al fresco lunch. In the afternoon we continue down a Roman paved road into Cortona to explore this ancient Etruscan town. Walkers preferring a longer option can continue their afternoon walk back past a Franciscan monastery to the hotel.

    Accommodations:

    Hotel San Michele

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Arezzo

    Today offers a scenic walk through quintessential Tuscan scenery dotted with cypress trees and past Etruscan walls, or a longer hike climbing the hills for magnificent views over the valley. Both groups convene for a picnic lunch before continuing to Arezzo, birthplace of the 14th-century poet Petrarch. Visit the Basilica of San Francesco, which contains one of Italy’s greatest fresco cycles, Piero della Francesca’s magisterial Legend of the True Cross.

    Accommodations:

    Hotel San Michele

    Included meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Cortona / Sansepolcro / Perugia

    Our walk today leads to Montecasale Hermitage, a Franciscan convent with lovely views over the Tiber Valley. Descend into the little town of Sansepolcro, famous as Piero della Francesca’s birthplace. Visit the town’s Civic Museum to see the famous Resurrection. This afternoon we travel by road to Perugia, the principal town of Umbria and one of the great medieval cities of Italy. Our home for the next four nights is the historic Hotel Brufani Palace in the center of the old town.

    Accommodations:

    Sina Brufani

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Perugia

    Begin our morning with a guided tour of this medieval city. Then spend the rest of the day at leisure, wandering the cobbled alleys, perhaps visiting the great Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria or enjoying a caffè in the lively piazza.

    Accommodations:

    Sina Brufani

    Included meal: Breakfast
  • Gubbio

    Drive northeast to the austere medieval mountain town of Gubbio, isolated from much of the region. Walk above the town on Mount Ingino, still home to a few wolves, descendants of the very beast charmed by Saint Francis eight centuries ago. Those choosing the shorter walk visit the town itself, a huge imposing bastion on the edge of the Marche region. Its fine Palazzo dei Consoli houses the famed Iguvine Tablets, a rare remnant of the ancient Umbrian language. Return to Perugia for dinner.

    Accommodations:

    Sina Brufani

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Assisi

    The World Heritage site of Assisi is set against the dramatic landscape of Monte Subasio. Spend the morning walking this iconic mountain before riding to the town in the afternoon to visit the Basilica di San Francesco, home to one of the great fresco cycles by Giotto. Alternatively, participants may opt to descend to Assisi on foot. Return to our hotel in Perugia for an evening at leisure.

    Accommodations:

    Sina Brufani

    Included meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Perugia / Norcia

    Crisscross the picturesque Umbrian landscape as we walk between the lovely villages of Montefalco and Bevagna. Later this afternoon we drive to the ancient town of Norcia, famed as the birthplace of Saint Benedict and one of Italy’s gastronomic capitals.

    Accommodations:

    Palazzo Seneca

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Piano Grande

    A dramatic full-day hike takes us through the Sibillini Mountains to the Piano Grande, a high plateau that provides one of the most incredible panoramas in Italy. There are two versions of our circular walk—one descending to the valley floor and the other visiting the nearby peaks.

    Accommodations:

    Palazzo Seneca

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Norcia / Orvieto

    Depart Norcia today for a lovely valley walk to the beautiful little Abbey of San Eutizio. After lunch we continue down the Valnerina, the valley of the River Nera, to the medieval town of Orvieto, situated on a high volcanic tufa plug rising suddenly out of the countryside. Spend our last two nights in a hillside resort with magnificent views.

    Accommodations:

    Altarocca Wine Resort

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Orvieto

    Drive into Orvieto for a full day of exploration, including the famous cathedral with its glittering mosaic and carved-stone façade. Inside, marvel at the spectacular Last Judgement mosaic by Luca Signorelli. After exploring the town on our own, return to the hotel for an elegant farewell reception and dinner.

    Accommodations:

    Altarocca Wine Resort

    Included meals: Breakfast and dinner
  • Orvieto / Rome / Home

    Transfer to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport for our homebound flights.

    Included meal: Breakfast

Trip details

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Pricing

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The price of your trip covers a comprehensive educational program in addition to meals, accommodations, tours and excursions. Continue reading for a full list of what’s included.

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