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Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center

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Shakespeare’s Italy

October 13 – 21, 2012

Renaissance Italy looms in the imagination of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Nearly a third of Shakespeare’s plays and poems mention specific sites and events in the country, or adapt Italian sources and literary models. The cultural center of medieval Europe, inheritor of the great classical empires, hotbed of humanistic learning, and a prosperous player in the emerging maritime economy — Italy offered English writers the cultural model to admire, imitate, and seek to surpass. Modern Italy has returned the passion, making fictional Shakespearean settings into real pilgrimage sites. Amidst the glories of Italian humanist architecture and art, we will sample the magnificent results of this centuries-long artistic dialogue.

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Preliminary Itinerary
(please click on location to reveal details)


Day 1: October 13 Depart US for Venice (VCE)

Depart the U.S. on flights for Venice.

Day 2: October 14 Arrive VCE, transfer to Vicenza

Upon arrival at Venice’s Marco Polo airport, meet a deluxe private coach and transfer directly to the charming city of Vicenza, our home for the week. After settling into our recently renovated, centrally located hotel, enjoy a welcome dinner at the delectable Ristorante Agli Schioppi. Hotel Campo Marzio (D)

Day 3: October 15 Palladio's Vicenza

Buffet breakfast included each morning at the hotel.

Meet local guide for a full-day walking tour of Vicenza, the hometown of Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (a contemporary of Shakespeare, and the most influential architect of the 16th-century) with visits to some of his most important buildings. The walking tour will focus first on several of Palladio’s stately palaces in Vicenza’s historic center.

Visit the Palazzo Chiericati, housing Vicenza’s impressive art gallery.

Continue to Palladio’s shocking Teatro Olimpico, Europe’s oldest surviving indoor theater, and imagine seeing a Shakespeare performance on this monumental stage, which was opened in 1585 (the same year as the birth of Shakespeare’s twins).

Enjoy lunch at a local café in the shadow of the impressive Basilica Palladiana.

After viewing Palladio’s beautiful, 13th-century Dominican church of Santa Corona, drive to the outskirts of the city (climbing Monte Berico) for a visit to a hidden Veronese fresco.

Independent dinner and evening. Pending the Teatro Olimpico’s 2012 schedule, an optional performance will be offered on this or another evening of the tour. Hotel Campo Marzio (B, L)

Day 4: October 16 Padova

Visit Padua, the set for Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

Upon arrival visit the Scrovegni Chapel to see Giotto’s fresco cycle.Follow our expert guide to Padua’s historic center for a guided walking tour, including its historic university, Piazza delle Erbe, and the Basilica di Sant’Antonio. Lunch at a local restaurant.

In the afternoon visit the little village of Abano Terme, just outside Padua, where there is a museum housed in a private palazzo that is devoted to masks of the Italian Commedia dell’Arte. Pending the schedule of the museum’s workshop, a specially arranged, private mask making demonstration will be held for Bryn Mawr Alumnae.

Return to Vicenza; independent dinner. Hotel Campo Marzio (B, L)

Days 5: October 17 Verona

Drive to Verona, the backdrop for Romeo and Juliet and The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Upon arrival meet a local guide and visit the 12th-century Basilica of San Zeno, the most famous religious building in Verona because of its beautiful architecture a sparkling altarpiece by Jacopo Bellini, and its crypt, where the marriage of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet took place.

Continue to the lovely center of Verona, with its elegant palaces and quaint piazzas. Stroll through Piazza Erbe, named after the city’s old herb market. The piazza has been used as a marketplace for 2,000 years.

Walk by the “Casa di Romeo” before a more in depth visit to Juliet’s house. Lunch at a local restaurant

This afternoon follow our guide for a special visit to Verona’s Roman Arena, the third-largest ancient amphitheater in the world, famous for its summer opera festival.

If time permits, visit two impressive churches: the Romanesque Duomo (Santa Maria Matricolare) and the looming church of Sant’Anastasia, with 15th- century frescoes adorning its Gothic portal.

Return to Vicenza; independent dinner. Hotel Campo Marzio (B, L)

Day 6: October 18 Venice

After breakfast drive to Venice, and upon arrival meet our revered local guide – born and raised in the city – who will lead us on a Shakespeare-inspired tour of the city.

Follow our Venetian guide on a walking tour through the Jewish Ghetto, with special visit to its important synagogues, reveal Shakespeare’s inspiration for The Merchant of Venice.

Take private water taxis down the Grand Canal arriving at the Rialto Bridge, an important Shakespearian landmark.

After lunch at a tucked away neighborhood restaurant, we have special reservations for a behind-the-scenes tour of the newly reborn Teatro La Fenice, Venice’s opulent, accursed opera house, whose story was so memorably told in the book City of Falling Angels.

Conclude the afternoon with a visit to the monumental Arsenale. This place once served as the shipyards for the Venetian Republic, and Shakespeare lovers will recall that in The Merchant of Venice, Antonio’s money was invested in ships, and in Othello, the fleet commander would have set sail from this impressive dockyard.

Return to Vicenza late this afternoon; independent evening. Hotel Campo Marzio (B, L)

Day 7: October 19 Mantua

This morning depart for the enchanting city of Mantua, which boasts a rich trove of artistic and architectural gems and is surrounded by artificial lakes fed by the Mincio River. Mantua and its forest are settings specified by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet and The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and one can recall this as the place where Romeo spent part of his famous exile.

Members of the ruling Gonzaga family in Mantua were loyal patrons of the arts and theater during Renaissance times, and supported many of the city’s artists with whom Shakespeare was familiar. The visit will begin with an in depth tour of the Palazzo Ducale, the 500-room palace built for the Gonzagas that dominates Mantua’s skyline. The palace is filled with artistic treasures in a seemingly endless series of grand rooms. The highlight is the Camera Degli Sposi (wedding room), painted by Andrea Mantegna.

Lunch is included at one of Mantua’s most charming restaurants -- the city is renowned for its delectable northern Italian specialties.

This afternoon continue to the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, which is home to several frescoes by painters of Giulio Romano’s school, as well as the tomb of Mantegna.

Finally visit Antonio Bibbiena’s “Teatro Scientifico”, an impressive and beautifully preserved theater given this name in the spirit of the Enlightenment, as it was intended to host academic meetings. Notice the unique bell shape of the seating area, and imagine one of Shakespeare’s plays being performed in this captivating setting.

Return to Vicenza for an independent evening. Hotel Campo Marzio (B, L)

Day 8: October 20 La Rotonda AM / Free PM

Begin the day with a visit to Andrea Palladio’s most iconic villa, La Rotonda, which is just outside of Vicenza. Bryn Mawr Alumnae will enjoy a private viewing of the interior of the villa, which is normally closed to the public.

Return to Vicenza, where lunch and the afternoon are independent.

This evening attend a lavish farewell dinner at one of the city’s finest restaurants.
Hotel Campo Marzio (B, D)

Day 9: October 21 Departure

Group transfer to VCE for independent flights to the U.S. (B)

Rome Extension Itinerary
(please click on date to reveal details)

This extension includes:

  • A one-way economy class flight from Venice to Rome
  • 3 nights at the Garden Palace hotel (or similar)
  • Breakfast daily, 2 lunches, 1 dinner
  • An expert local guide throughout, plus an ISDI tour manager

Extension Day 1: October 21

Depart Venice for Rome on a one-way flight
Arrive Rome, transfer to the four-star Garden Palace Hotel
Lunch at a local restaurant
Follow an expert guide on an orientation walking tour, featuring a private opening of a historic, art-filled Palazzo
Independent evening

Extension Day 2: October 22

Breakfast in the hotel
Morning visit to Cinecitta (pending permission)
Visit and Lunch at American Academy of Rome
Follow a Poetic walking tour that begins at the AAR, and ends at the Protestant Cemetery
Independent evening

Extension Day 3: October 23

Breakfast in the hotel
Visits to the Roman Forum, Colosseum, and Baths of Caracalla
Break for independent lunch
Afternoon visit to E.U.R.
Return to the hotel to relax/pack
Farewell dinner at a favorite restaurant

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Cost and Program Inclusions
(Land Only)

Shakespeare’s Italy
October 13 - 21, 2012

Land Only Package: Single Supplement:
$3, 795 $395

Rome Extension
October 21 – 24, 2012

Land Portion: Single Supplement:
$2,595 $445
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Faculty Study Leader

Katherine Rowe,
(Ph.D., Harvard), Professor of English, Director of the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center and Director of Digital Research and Teaching

Katherine Rowe teaches and writes about literature and media change. Trained as a scholar of Renaissance drama, she turned her attention to questions of media history and adaptation. Her courses explore the history of reading, writing and performance, from the Renaissance to the digital age. A recipient of grants from the NEH, the Mellon Foundation, and the PA Department of Education that support her work in media history, Prof. Rowe is Associate Editor (responsible for the online edition) of The Cambridge World Shakespeare Encyclopedia. She currently serves on the Association of Departments of English Executive Committee and has contributed to several MLA initiatives including the MLA Ad Hoc Committee on the Structure of the Annual Convention. She has longstanding interests in faculty development, undergraduate research, and curricular innovation.

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