The ancient glories of Rome, Renaissance Florence and the unique mix of old grandeur and contemporary edge in Venice make for a masterclass in Western civilisation. Together with our guides in Italy – art historians, writers and artists – we can design an exceptional itinerary to three of the most beautiful cities in Europe visiting museums out of hours, taking in private collections and artists’ studios as well as allowing for slow time to relax.
Begin in the Classical period with the Roman Forum, Colosseum and the Pantheon exploring the might of successive Emperors. Moving up through the centuries with Early Christian and medieval gems to the Vatican Museum, arguably the greatest in the world with Michelangelo and Raphael’s masterpieces. We also have a black book of hidden sights to take you off the beaten track, including exceptional private collections, artist studios, artisans and city walks.
Florence is the cradle of the Renaissance. Art and culture flourished here in the 15th and 16th centuries when the great Medici family ruled the Florentine Republic. Today their patronage is on view everywhere. The city’s cathedral, churches, palaces and squares are architectural wonders.
The Uffizi Galleries hold the world’s most important collection of Renaissance paintings including works by Botticelli, Cimabue, Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael. Our superb guides in Florence include museum curators, writers and a brilliant sculptor who will bring Michelangelo’s David to life. Our visits to all the most important sights are private, giving you space away from the crowds.
Florence is also a perfect starting point for exploring the landscape and hill towns of Tuscany.
Venice is one of our most popular destinations – sheltered in the lagoon and navigated by canals it is perhaps the most romantic city on earth. In Venice we have a black book of hidden gems to share with you and keep you away from the hordes. The art agenda is endless: from the luminous colour of the Venetian school of painters – Bellini, Titian and Giorgione – to the twentieth century works at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the sprawling Venice Biennale. When it’s time to slow down we can organise private boats trips around the lagoon with lunch onboard and stops at some of the lesser known islands.
Specialists in Italy
“McDonaugh takes clients behind the scenes at many of the great museums of the world, from the British Museum and Louvre, to the Vatican and The Hermitage and many more, and often knows the curators and museum directors personally. He’s closed sections of museums during opening hours for VIPs, landed clients by helicopter at classical sites before the crowds appear, and arranged private al fresco dinners in extraordinary places, from ruins in Italy to stunning English gardens. He’s even arranged for a client to go on a private diving expedition with underwater archaeologists to explore ancient shipwrecks in the Mediterranean.” Condé Nast Traveller