Tuscany and the Rise of the Renaissance April 21-29 (waitlist only) and May 1-9, 2017

Every year, it seems, we must return to Italy. By now, our affections have earned the active support of W&L's esteemed Italian Renaissance art historian George Bent, who will guide this special art and architectural tour of Siena, Arezzo, Pienza, the wine region of Chianti, and, as our post-tour option, Florence.

Siena is well known as Italy's loveliest medieval city and her most famous hill town. Blessed both by geography and centuries of art patronage, the city spans three hills and at least 2,000 years. Siena's heart is its central piazza, Il Campo, the location of the world's most famous and most riotous horse race, the Palio. Siena will be our base for an eight-day tour of Tuscany and the towns that gave birth to the Italian Renaissance. We'll have ample opportunity to view several of the masterpieces by Michelangelo, Donatello, Vasari, and Bernini as well as the culture and landscape that gave them inspiration. We'll enjoy guided visits to museums and private collections, but also private receptions, gardens, and the wineries of Chianti. Among these special visits will be a private luncheon and tour of the historic villa and gardens of a major Italian art collector. Our day trips will bring us to Arezzo, home of Piero della Francesca, and several of the small hill towns for which southern Tuscany is so beloved.

Our home in Siena will be the four-star Hotel Athena, conveniently located within the walls of the old town. We do recommend the optional three-day extension to Florence, the seat of the Renaissance, whose collections of Renaissance masters has no peer. Early interest has already indicated that this will be a very popular choice for our travelers.

Traveling With You

George Bent

A graduate of Oberlin College with a PhD in Art History from Stanford University, George came to Washington and Lee University in 1993 and has been a member of the faculty ever since. He teaches courses in Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art history, and specializes in 13th- and 14th-century Italian art and culture. A two-time holder of Fulbright grants to Italy, he has written about artistic production, the function of liturgical images, and institutional patronage in early Renaissance Florence, and in 2006 published Monastic Art in Lorenzo Monaco's Florence. More recently, he completed the filming of a DVD lecture course on the art and life of Leonardo da Vinci for the Great Courses Company. He co-founded Washington and Lee's interdisciplinary program in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, chaired it from 2000 to 2003, and served as Associate Dean of the College from 2003-2006. He has chaired the Department of Art and Art History twice, from 2001 to 2003 and from 2008 to the present.