It is hard to resist the siren call of Italy. Few countries can match its heady mix of history, art and landscape: so perhaps it is no surprise that we have five Italian trips planned for 2019.
Their subjects are as diverse as the destination. We tackle a rich and fascinating range of them, and offer original and incisive itineraries. In Venice, for example, our examination of the city’s artistic heritage includes an out-of-hours tour of St Mark’s – so we can marvel at its glittering mosaics without the usual crowds and queues. Meanwhile, in Florence, we consider not just the artistic achievements of the Renaissance, but the powerful patrons and institutions that funded them. And when we visit Pompeii, we see not just a single, isolated archaeological site, but the wider landscape of settlement.
Ultimately, it is our expert speakers who make our trips memorable. Whether we are celebrating the fusion of Christian and Islamic culture in Sicily, tracing the origins of Baroque architecture in Rome, marvelling at the palaces and gardens of lakes Como and Maggiore, or soaking up the atmosphere at Verona’s opera festival, they are the ones who bring both subject and setting to life.
For 2019, we are running a very special one-off trip to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo's death with visits to his home town of Vinci, to the Uffizi in Florence, to his breathtaking Last Supper in Milan, and to Paris to see the blockbuster exhibition at the Louvre. All this in the company of expert art historian Dr Luca Leoncini and the Telegraph's art critic Alistair Sooke.