He was never prolific as a painter, but all the same, sheer talent and intelligence carried Leonardo da Vinci from an unpromising start in a Tuscan farmhouse to the service of a French king - and his own chateau on the Loire. In this incisive four-day trip, we trace the formative years of his career and see most of his finest surviving works. 2019 is the 500th anniversary of his death, and our wide-ranging itinerary includes two key commemorative exhibitions, at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan and the Louvre in Paris. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to consider both the depth and breadth of his achievement.
Fly at 09.10 (British Airways) from London City airport to Florence, arriving at 12.15. After settling into our Florence hotel, we walk to the Uffizi to see its new Leonardo gallery, containing three early works: The Baptism of Christ by Andrea del Verrocchio, on which da Vinci collaborated; his unfinished yet revealing Adoration of the Magi, and his Annunciation from the church of Monte Oliveto. All are now too fragile to be loaned to other museums. Back at the hotel, our first lecture with Dr Luca Leoncini is followed by a group dinner.
Leonardo was born in the hamlet of Anchiano, the illegitimate son of a wealthy Florentine notary and a domestic servant. We visit his reconstructed birthplace, before continuing by coach to the Museo Leonardiano in the charming town of Vinci. Here, da Vinci’s fascination with technology is centre-stage. After driving back to Florence, we catch a train to Milan, where our second lecture with Dr Luca Leoncini is followed by a free evening.
We begin in the refectory at S. Maria delle Grazie - home to Leonardo’s Last Supper. Then, at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, the Mysteries of the Codex Atlanticus exhibition reveals some of the most exciting drawings from the 12-volume collection of his notebooks. Paintings in the permanent collection include Caravaggio’s basket of fruit, and Portrait of a Musician, thought to be by da Vinci. After some free time in Milan, we fly with from Milan Malpensa at 17.55 (Air France), arriving at Paris Charles de Gaulle at 19.30.
Our final lecture with journalist and broadcaster Alastair Sooke is followed by the Louvre. The French kings Louis XII and Francis I amassed an unrivalled collection of Leonardo’s paintings: The Mona Lisa, St Anne, St John the Baptist, The Virgin of the Rocks and La Belle Ferronnière. All five will be on show at the museum’s celebratory exhibition, accompanied by 22 drawings and several international loans. We’ll spend at least two hours there, before returning to London on Eurostar, arriving at St Pancras International by 17.00.
Journalist and broadcaster. Critic at Large for The Daily Telegraph and columnist for BBC Culture. He has written and presented documentaries on BBC TV and radio, and is the author of three art books published by Penguin. He joined the Telegraph in 2003 and reported regularly for BBC Two’s The Culture Show from 2009–14. In 2016, he sat on the British Council’s Venice Biennale Selection Committee and was a judge for the inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture. He serves on the Courtauld Association Committee, on the advisory board of the Classical Art Research Centre at the University of Oxford and is a trustee of The Ampersand Foundation. Alastair was educated at Westminster School, where he was a Queen’s Scholar, at Christ Church, Oxford, and at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.
Dr Luca Leoncini
An art historian specialising in Italian painting of the Quattrocento, Luca is Director of the Collections at the Palazzo Reale in Genoa. His first degree and PhD were from Rome University, followed by research at the Warburg Institute in London. He has written several guides to the Palazzo Reale, as well as articles on the classical tradition in Italian art of the 15th century, Renaissance drawings, and Andrea Mantegna. He is a contributor to the Macmillan Dictionary of Art.
Price, per person
£1,595 per person sharing in a double room. £1,775 for one person in a double room.
The price includes two speakers and a trip manager, accommodation with daily breakfasts, one dinner with wine, transport to and from London and throughout the trip, admissions to sites as mentioned in the itinerary.
This is a fast-paced itinerary with lots of moving around. You must also be comfortable standing around for some time.
There is no minimum number of clients required for this trip to run, with the maximum being 23 clients.
Please check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice before you book to make sure you are happy with the advice for the places you are visiting.