Art & architecture walks and day tours in Italy

Delve more deeply into the Old Masters with these art history and architecture walks and seminars led by pros and scholars

UNESCO estimates that a full 40% of the entire planet's artistic legacy is in Italy. To anyone who has tried to see it all, that actually sounds about right.

Italy gave us the Renaissance and the baroque, Classical carvings and mannerist masterworks. Italy has fostered such genius Old Masters as Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Tintoretto, Giotto, Caravaggio, Bernini...the list goes on and on.

Frankly, artists and altarpieces that would be the pride of the city anywhere else in the world are, in Italy, often crammed into a small room in the town's second-best museum, or hidden in a dark side-chapel of a little-visited church.

I'm here to help you find the best of it, no matter where it is hid.

Art and architecture walking tours and seminars

A little professional help can help make sense of it all—and to find those hidden masterpieces. It can be well worth the price of hiring a professional guide—particularly one who is a trained art historian.

In each city below, you can find guided walks and seminars of great museums, galleries, and other art-festooned sights; tours devoted to particular arists; art-themed guided walks; and architecture tours.

Self-guided art tours

To help with some of the most popular names, I have created mini-tours of the best works by great artists in Florence and Rome. These can help you can cobble together your own self-guided tour of their masterpieces.

In Rome

In Florence

Tips & links

Useful links & resources
Book ahead

While for some activities you can just show up, this is one travel item you really should try to reserve in advance.

Popular activities like cooking classes can sell out.

Many are available only on certain days of the week, so it pays to know that you'll have to set aside, say, Tuesday morning for that guided market walk with a local cookbook author.

Many of the best activities are available by advance booking or appointment only—particularly wineries. Some vineyards welcome walk-ins, true, but many more will give you a cellar tour and wine tasting only if you call ahead a few days (and those tend to be the ones most liberal with the free samples).

If you have your heart set on dining in a particular restaurant, go ahead and call ahead,even if it's just earlier on the same day—though a day ahead is preferable. I have found that a corrollary of Muphy's Law applies to this aspect of travel. Any restaurant I am particularly keen on but blithely assume I can just waltz into will inevitably be filled to the brim: no tables available. However, half the time when I do book a table in advance I'll end up being the only guy in the place (nor near enough for my advance booking to feel like overkill). Still, better safe than sorry. Reserving a table is quick and painless; getting turned away at the door can be crushing.

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