Explore the work of exceptional artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. His chiaroscuro technique, accentuating the dramatic contrasts between light and shade, control of the oil medium, and infusion of emotional intensity and the theatre of everyday life ensure that his works continue to captivate art lovers. This tour surveys the majority of Caravaggio’s works in Italy, from his early days as a painter of natura morta (still life), to his mature works in Rome and Naples’ chapels.
A broad survey of Caravaggio’s Italian masterpieces
The colourful life and criminal exploits of Caravaggio, Italian art’s most celebrated rogue
The virtuosity of other Italian artists, including the Mannerists in Parma and Florence, and Bernini and Raphael in Rome
Art and architecture, from little-visited Gothic Naples to Renaissance Florence and elegant Milan
Stunning landscapes and culinary delights of Italy’s leading gastronomic regions
Private visit of Leonardo’s Last Supper and Palazzo Colonna, a grand and privately owned Roman family residence
Tour Lake Iseo, the rising star of Italy’s Lake District
Hidden gem museums, including the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan and the Galleria Borghese in Rome
Regional masterpieces in difficultto- access places, from Correggio and Parmigianino in Parma to Pontormo’s Visitation outside Florence
The virtuosity of Caravaggio’s work in situ, in Naples and Rome
Days 1–4: Arrive Milan, see Leonardo’s Last Supper and tour the Brera. Visit the town of Caravaggio, the artist’s birthplace, and tour Lake Iseo.
Days 5–8: Travel to Florence via elegant Parma, admire masterpieces in the Uffizi and spend a day in the Tuscan countryside.
Days 9–12: In Rome, where Caravaggio established his reputation and notoriety, explore the contexts in which he worked and his indelible influence on Western art.
Days 13–17: The tour ends in vibrant Naples, where the artist was received with acclaim. See his final works in churches, chapels and galleries.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
Emirates have flights into Milan and out of Rome at times that coincide with the tour. Contact us for competitive quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Wednesday 13 September: Arrival
This afternoon tour leader Dr Kathleen Olive meets the group at the hotel and we walk to the nearby cathedral to ascend to the panoramic terraces. There is a light dinner in the hotel. Overnight Milan (D)
Thursday 14 September: Leonardo and optical science
A still life painter, Caravaggio was interested in optics in order to depict transparent objects. After 1495 Renaissance optics were revolutionised by Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. Following our booked visit, we see Leonardo’s dramatic changes to Italian science and artistic technique reflected in his contemporary Luini’s work at San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. This afternoon is at leisure to perhaps visit the Castello Sforzesco, the iconic fortress partially designed by Leonardo and hosting Michelangelo’s final work, the Rondanini Pietà. Overnight Milan (B)
Friday 15 September: Caravaggio and Lake Iseo
This morning we visit the town of Caravaggio near Bergamo, where our painter spent his early years. His father worked for the marquis and Caravaggio’s connections with the Colonna would prove instrumental in his career and safety! We then continue to Lake Iseo where we tour the tranquil lake by boat, stopping at Monte Isola and enjoy lunch in an excellent restaurant. We return to Milan in the late afternoon. Overnight Milan (B, L)
Saturday 16 September: Still lifes and suppers
This morning we travel to San Simpliciano, where Bergognone – a key Lombard contemporary of Leonardo – worked on beautiful apse frescoes. Caravaggio’s apprenticeship in Milan would have included the study of masterpieces like these. We continue to the Pinacoteca di Brera, where the world-class art collection includes Mantegna’s Dead Christ, works by Raphael and Piero della Francesca, and Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus. In the afternoon there is an optional visit to the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, a private gallery with a large collection of Leonardo’s drawings and Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit. Overnight Milan (B)
Sunday 17 September: Mannerism in Parma
We depart for Florence today, travelling via Parma. In this elegant town we admire the work of 16th-century painters Correggio and Parmigianino in the cathedral, San Giovanni Evangelista and the Camera di San Paolo. Farnese court artists and fashionable Mannerists, their artifice and exaggeration are a counterpoint to Caravaggio’s naturalism. In the afternoon we continue to Florence and enjoy a light dinner near our hotel. Overnight Florence (B, D)
Monday 18 September: 17th-century science and culture
We begin today at the Museo Galileo Galilei, Florence’s science museum. Galileo’s career highlights, like Caravaggio’s, the tensions in Counter Reformation society. Restricted by the Church’s approach to science and culture, he was forced to deny heliocentrism (which challenged scriptural interpretation). An engineer and scientist, Galileo took a personal interest in optics for his astronomical study. Overnight Florence (B)
Tuesday 19 September: World-class art
We start this morning at the Uffizi, Florence’s premier art collection, reflecting the tastes of the Medici. The dynasty received diplomatic gifts of Caravaggio’s paintings: the early Bacchus, terrible Medusa, and tense Abraham sacrificing Isaac. This afternoon we continue to the Pitti Palace, to see Caravaggio’s disturbing Sleeping Cupid. At both galleries we compare Caravaggio with his followers – particularly Artemisia Gentileschi, a female painter with a difficult but celebrated career. Overnight Florence (B)
Wednesday 20 September: In the Tuscan countryside
This morning we journey into the Florentine countryside, Medici playground and site of the court’s favoured villas. In the 16th century Pontormo – whose naturalism and emotional range parallel Caravaggio’s own – was called to work at Poggio a Caiano, his frescoes celebrating a Medici golden age. We continue to Carmignano for a degustation and lunch at a family winery in the hills, then visit Pontormo’s moving meditation on identity: the Visitation. Overnight Florence (B, L)
Thursday 21 September: On a beach in Porto Ercole
We transfer to Rome today via Porto Ercole. Caravaggio died a lonely death here on 18 July 1610, during his desperate attempt to reach Rome. Conspiracy theories abound: was he pursued by an assassin sent from the Knights of Malta? Did he contract malaria? Archaeologists even claim to have discovered Caravaggio’s bones! After a group lunch by the pretty harbour, we continue to Rome. Overnight Rome (B, L)
Friday 22 September: Pilgrims & penitents
Caravaggio’s career peaked in Rome and we spend today where he lived, loved, worked and fought! At Santa Maria del Popolo, we see his powerful Conversion of Saul and Martyrdom of Paul, dynamic meetings of the everyday world and the divine. After lunch, we walk to San Luigi dei Francesi, where the quiet nature of Caravaggio’s Calling of Matthew contrasts with the violent swirls of the Martyrdom. Nearby in Sant’Agostino is the Pilgrim Madonna. A community of courtesans favoured this church, and Caravaggio shocked contemporaries by giving his lovely Madonna one of their faces. Overnight Rome (B)
Saturday 23 September: Music and gambling
This morning we visit the Galleria Doria-Pamphilj, an elegant family palace. Caravaggio’s Penitent Magdalene and Rest on the Flight to Egypt are displayed. Schedules permitting, we enjoy a concert of music here from Caravaggio’s time. At the Capitoline Galleries this afternoon, we examine a re-attributed work and early piece that Caravaggio himself copied, the John the Baptist and Fortune Teller. There is a group meal tonight. Overnight Rome (B, D)
Sunday 24 September: Roman palaces and villas
This morning we take a coach to the Borghese, one of the world’s best small museums. Its collection boasts Caravaggio’s Boy with a Basket of Fruit and Sick Bacchus, and there are fine works by Titian, Raphael and Bernini. Afterwards we continue to the Palazzo Barberini, where Caravaggio’s Judith beheading Holofernes, Narcissus and John the Baptist are complemented by the works of his rival Baglione. Overnight Rome (B)
Monday 25 September: The Carracci
17th-century Rome buzzed with competition and the workshop of the Carracci was highly innovative, favouring a vibrant palette and energetic style. We have a special visit to the Galleria Colonna, still a private residence and host to Annibale Carracci’s Bean Eater, along with other fine works. We then continue to Naples, where we check in and enjoy a light dinner near our hotel. Overnight Naples (B, D)
Tuesday 26 September: 17th-century Naples
When Caravaggio was convicted of murder, he fled to Naples where he found a populous city and wealthy patrons. This morning we have a guided visit of the Museo di San Martino, a grand monastery decorated by Caravaggists De Ribera and Battistello. In central Naples San Giovanni a Carbonara is little visited but a beautiful oasis of Gothic charm and in the cloister of Santa Chiara, we enjoy vivid depictions in majolica of Neapolitan life after Caravaggio. Overnight Naples (B)
Wednesday 27 September: Walking with Caravaggio
We begin today at Naples cathedral, dedicated to St Januarius. His blood liquefies as a sign of the city’s continuing fortunes, and Jusepe De Ribera’s fine Treasury paintings indicate Caravaggio’s impact on Neapolitan painting. At the Pio Monte della Misericordia, we admire the complex Seven Works of Mercy. We also enjoy a private visit of Palazzo Cellammare, Caravaggio’s final refuge in Naples. Overnight Naples (B)
Thursday 28 September: Capodimonte and Ursula
This morning we visit Capodimonte, a vast Bourbon hunting lodge. Its celebrated fine arts museum hosts masterpieces by Masaccio, Botticelli and Raphael. Caravaggio’s triumph of perspective, the Flagellation, is here alongside works by De Ribera and El Greco. In the afternoon, at the Palazzo Stigliano, we admire Caravaggio’s last work, The Martyrdom of St Ursula. We enjoy a farewell dinner in Santa Lucia harbour tonight. Overnight Naples (B, D)
Friday 29 September: Departure
After check-out we visit Naples’ Archeological Museum. Known for its Pompeii collection, the museum also hosts the wonderful Farnese collection of ancient sculpture. The monumental Farnese Bull and Farnese Hercules were, before their removal to Naples, an inspiration to Michelangelo and so too for Caravaggio’s understanding of the human form. For those with evening flights, we continue to Rome’s Fiumicino airport. (B)
Dr Kathleen Olive
Has a PhD in Italian Studies, speaks fluent Italian and lectures on the art, history and culture of Europe. Kathleen has an outstanding knowledge of Italy.
Kathleen has a doctorate in Italian literature from the University of Sydney. She has a strong interest in medieval history and contemporary fiction writing, which she has taught at a number of universities in Australia. Kathleen leads travel groups to Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United States. She lived and studied in Italy and speaks fluent Italian.
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.