The detailed itinerary provides an outline of the proposed daily program. Participants should note that the daily activities described in this itinerary may be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate changes in museum opening hours, flight schedules etc. The tour includes breakfast daily, and lunches and dinners as indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch, and D=dinner.
Udine - 3 nights
Day 1: Wednesday 15 September, Arrive Venice – Transfer to Udine
- Orientation Walk (if time permits)
- Welcome Meeting
Group members taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight will arrive at Venice’s Marco Polo Airport in the early afternoon. After clearing passport control and customs, we drive to the city of Udine. If you are not taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight, please meet the group at Marco Polo Airport or make your own way to Astoria Hotel Italia, Piazza XX Settembre, Udine. After check-in at our hotel and time to freshen up, there will be a short orientation meeting and walk, taking in the Loggia del Lionello and Udine’s oldest piazza, Piazza della Libertà. This will be followed by welcome drinks at the hotel. The evening will be at leisure, restaurants in the vicinity will be pointed out to you. (Overnight Udine)
Day 2: Thursday 16 September, Udine – Aquileia – Cordovado – Udine
- Aquileia: ancient port, archaeological site and basilica
- Welcome lunch at Castello delle Rose di Cordovado and tour of castle
This morning we drive to the important archaeological site of Aquileia. We shall visit its port and forum, basilicas and the National Archaeological Museum. Aquileia began as a strategic Roman fortress but soon developed into a thriving riverine port and ultimately, in late antiquity, into a very important ecclesiastical centre with its own patriarch. Little is left of the original Roman city but large numbers of inscriptions and sculptures are preserved in its National Museum. Its real treasure, however, is the mosaic floors of two basilicas that stand side-by-side on the site. These medieval churches have some of the finest floor mosaics in Europe. They are predominantly of secular scenes, echoing mosaics made by an important local school of mosaicists for the houses of the elite. We shall have ample time to explore these marvellous mosaics and the treasure of Aquileia’s aforementioned museum.
We next drive north to one of Italy’s most beautiful towns, Cordovado, to visit Castello delle Rose di Cordovado. Following a welcome lunch at the castle, we meet its owner Bendetta Piccolomini, who will show us her spectacular garden. Benedetta is a garden designer with a particular interest for biodynamic methods, healing gardens and naturalistic gardening. She has been restoring historical gardens in the Veneto and Friuli for many years, and is now concentrating on the maintenance and development of the garden of the Cordovado Castle, dating back to 1700. She has recently planted 3,000 Rosa Damascena from cuttings for her new project, which she will talk to us about and walk us through. After thoroughly exploring the castle’s garden, we shall return to Udine where the evening will be at leisure. (Overnight Udine) BL
Day 3: Friday 17 September, Udine – Trieste – Udine
- Trieste walking tour: Roman Theatre, Borgo Teresiano, Colle di San Giusti and Duomo
- Castello di Miramare
Today we spend a full day in the beautiful Adriatic city of Trieste, a little over an hour from Udine. Trieste is a thriving port situated on the Gulf of Trieste in the northeast Adriatic. Today it is a border city, with a population of Italians, Slovenians and Croats that reflects its geographical location and chequered history. Excavation of a Roman theatre in the 20th century showed that it prospered in antiquity until eclipsed by Aquileia. It then declined somewhat, becoming a Byzantine military outpost and then a Frankish city, a free commune which warred against Venice, and then a dependent of the Habsburg Empire. It revived during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, of which it became a major port. With the collapse of the Austrian Empire at the end of World War I, Trieste came to be annexed by Italy.
The core of the old city is the Colle San Giusto that overlooks the port. Here we shall see the main civic, defensive and religious buildings of the city. One of the main monuments on the hill, which constitutes an important symbol of the city, is its castle. Construction commenced in 1470 on the site of a Venetian fort, but the citadel was not finished until 1630. The cathedral of San Giusto, which also occupies Colle San Giusto, gained its present plan in 1300 when two pre-existing basilicas were merged to form its wide central nave. The cathedral has a beautiful sandstone façade and a bell tower that was built in 1337. Inside are important Byzantine mosaics and a 13th-century chapel behind a rich Baroque rail. The right nave is the chapel dedicated to San Giusto. We also visit Trieste’s Borgo Teresiano, the 19th-century precinct comprising beautiful Neoclassical and Art Nouveau (Secession) buildings constructed when Trieste was an important Austrian port and resort.
After lunchtime at leisure in the city, at the beginning of our return drive to Udine, we visit Castello Miramare, which occupies an extraordinary site perched atop a spur above the sea. It was the home to the younger brother of Franz Joseph I of Austria, Maximilian, until he left to become the Emperor of Mexico. The next resident, Duke Amedeo of Savoy, made it the headquarters for his various military commands. In 1955, it was transformed into a museum. The castle still has original furniture commissioned by Maximilian. There is a chapel, the Japanese and Chinese rooms, rich in oriental ornament, and the apartments where the Duke of Savoy lived. (Overnight Udine) B
San Candido (Innichen) - 2 nights
Day 4: Saturday 18 September, Udine – Parco Nazionale Tre Cime – San Candido
- Church of San Francesco, Udine
- Museo Diocescano e Gallerie del Tiepolo, Udine
- Parco Nazionale Tre Cime (UNESCO-listed Dolomites)
We spend the morning in Udine visiting the church of San Francesco, (now an exhibition space), the Diocesan Museum, and the Tiepolo Gallery. Udine, capital of Friuli, is a delightful small city with deep historic roots; its locale was settled as early as the Neolithic. In the 16th century it came under the sway of Venice, which controlled the city for 400 years. In the 19th century it became a Habsburg possession. Much of its architecture is Venetian, including work by Andrea Palladio, and its café culture is definitely Viennese. The Loggia del Lionello has beautiful pink banding reminiscent of the Doge’s Palace in Venice. Its cathedral and Diocesan Museum have fine works by Tiepolo and the great treasure of its Civic Museum is Caravaggio’s Ecstasy of Saint Francis (1594 – 5).
After lunchtime at leisure, we drive north to the village of San Candido through the Parco Nazionale Tre Cime. The park, which, covers an area of 11,615 hectares, is located in the north-eastern sector of the UNESCO-listed Dolomites and is bordered by the Pusteria and Sesto valleys and the Val di Landro. Its importance rests on its many famous Dolomite peaks, especially the north face of the three, great battlement-like peaks, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (2,000 m). Other important peaks are Punta dei Tre Scarperi (3,152 m), Monte Popera (3,046 m), Croda dei Baranci (2,922 m), Monte Paterno (2,744 m), Una summit (2,698 m), Eleven summit (3,092 m) and the Twelve peak (3,094 m). On arrival at San Candido, and after check-in, we dine together at the hotel. (Overnight San Candido) BD
Day 5: Sunday 19 September, San Candido – Corones – Dobbiacho – San Candido
- Zaha Hadid’s Messner Mountain Museum (MMM), Corones
- Lunch at a local restaurant
- Leisurely walk around Lake Toblach
Today we mix fine mountain scenery with one of the world’s most extraordinary museums. We drive west to Corones where we take a cable car to the Messner Mountain Museum, a subterranean museum built on the summit of the Kronplatz plateau (2,275 metres). The museum, was designed by Islam’s most famous, and one of the world’s greatest, architects, Zaha Hadid. It is one of a number of museums conceived by the German-speaking Italian mountaineer, explorer and author Reinhold Meisner. The Museum is dedicated to the history of culture and climbing in the Tyrol. It displays the development of modern climbing; how mountain climbers gradually dared to approach the great mountain faces, continuously searching for greater challenges. It explores the development of equipment over 250 years, and records the great successes and deadly defeats on the world’s most famous peaks such as the Matterhorn, Cerro Torre and K2.
We return in the direction of San Candido to enjoy lunch at one of the splendid local restaurants in the area that specialise in locally grown produce.
After lunch, we take a leisurely walk around Lake Tolbach (3 km). This is one of the Dolomites’ most beautiful lakes. Its banks have diverse vegetation and it is an ideal nesting and resting place for waterfowl and migratory birds. Hopefully, we shall be able to observe rare species of birds that are only occasionally found in South Tyrol. The evening will be at leisure in San Candido. (Overnight San Candido) BL
Merano - 2 nights
Day 6: Monday 20 September, San Candido – Lagazuoi – Great Dolomites Road – Merano
- Museo all’Aperto, Lagazuoi
- The Great Dolomites Road
Today we drive west along the Great Dolomites Road (Italian: Grande Strada delle Dolomiti) to Merano. On the way we pass both Cortina d’Ampezzo and Bolzano. Our first stop is the extraordinary Lagazoi open-air museum, which we approach by cable car from the top of the Falzarego Pass. Mount Lagazuoi is a veritable ‘rock castle’ with natural spires and turrets, and with military bases hidden in its bowels. During World War I the Italian and Austro – Hungarian armies dug shelters inside the mountain for men and arms, transforming it into an impenetrable 20th-century fortress. Its extraordinary trenches and machine gun posts have been restored, taking you on a behind-the-scene tour of an utterly unique, dramatic campaign, fought at high altitude. The entire area of the museum is crossed by easily used foot paths. The kilometre-long Anticima-Tunnel, excavated by Italian soldiers on the Martini Ledge to the ‘Anticima’ emplacement of Lagazuoi as a mine tunnel, was exploded on 20 June 1917. This most daring tunnel system created during WWI, has been completely restored. We shall also visit the Lagazuoi EXPO Dolomiti exhibition space which comprises 4 rooms, spread over 3 floors which are connected by a panoramic elevator. The exhibition space is known for its temporary exhibitions. We walk the easy, large and well signposted path that follows the front line between the Italian and the Austrian soldiers.
After exploring the museum and with time at leisure to buy lunch at the museum café, we continue along the Great Dolomites Road to Lake Karersee where we make a short stop to enjoy the extraordinary panorama; the small lake is framed by the Latemer mountain range. On arrival in Merano the evening will be at leisure. (Overnight Merano) B
Day 7: Tuesday 21 September, Merano
- Castel Tyrol
- Lunch at a local restaurant
- Afternoon at leisure
We spend the morning exploring Castel Tyrol and its interesting museum. This castle, perched high on a huge morain above Merano, was, until 1253, seat of the original Lords of Tyrol. It gave its name to the whole region, ‘Land Tirol’, a term first used by Meinhard II, Duke of Carinthia (1238-1295) who became sole Lord of Tyrol after 1271. The castle’s walls (c.1100 & 1140) are some of the oldest and best preserved in Europe. Also preserved are the castle’s original impressive portals and its chapel. The latter has many Gothic frescoes and the oldest glass paintings in the Tyrol region, as well as a huge Crucifixion Group. Above the entrance to the chapel is the earliest portrayal of a Tyrolean Eagle (13th c.). Following major restoration in the 20th century, the complex has housed the South Tyrolean Cultural History Museum. It portrays the history of Tyrol down to the present on 20 different levels. Close to the Castel is the Castel Tyrol Bird Care Centre which offers flight shows. We shall enjoy lunch at chef Gerhard Wieser’s Michelin 2-star, Trenkerstube Restaurant, before returning to Merano. (Overnight Merano) BL
Trento - 2 nights
Day 8: Wednesday 22 September, Merano – Naturno – Glorenza – Merano – Trento
- The Proculus Museum and St Proculus Church in Naturno
- Lunchtime at leisure in Glorenza
- Castel Trauttmansdorff Gardens
This morning we drive to Naturno to visit its very ancient church. This beautiful little church was established between 630 and 650 and was dedicated to Saint Proculus, a bishop of Veronathe who survived Diocletian’s persecution. In the following centuries, the church was restored and enlarged several times. St Proculus has what are arguably the most ancient frescoes of the German lands and the most complete early fresco cycle in the Tyrol. The most famous fresco shows a man on a swing, probably St Proculus himself. Very unusual for a sacred building, however, is the representation of a dog with a herd of cows. The church also has some 14th century Gothic frescoes.
Close by, we shall visit the Proculus Museum. This semi-subterranean museum explores 1,500 years of history of the area around Naturno. Four time-space showrooms take you across late antiquity, Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The museum also displays Gothic frescoes removed from St Proculus Church.
After exploring both St Proculus and its museum, we drive to the town of Glorenza, where lunchtime will be at leisure. We shall next drive the short distance to Trautmansdorff Castle and its magnificent botanical gardens. Trauttmansdorff Castle, the architectural centre piece of the gardens, was first documented in 1300 as Neuberg Castle. Its medieval walls are still visible on the southwest side, and the crypt dates from that period. The Renaissance fresco room also survives. In the mid-19th century, Count Joseph von Trauttmansdorff renovated it in Neo-Gothic style. In 1899 Baron Friedrich von Deuster raised the castle’s east wing one level by adding the grand Neo-Rococo Hall; this significantly altered the elevation of the castle. The castle was renovated from 2000; the chapel, crypt, Rococo Hall, and Empress Elisabeth’s second floor living quarters have all been restored to their former splendour. The castle’s botanical garden nestles in a 12-hectare amphitheatre 100 metres in height, offering spectacular views of these exotic gardens and breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountains and of Merano. Colourful plants from around the world thrive and bloom in more than 80 garden landscapes. The gardens feature multifaceted Experience Stations, spectacular themed gardens, artist pavilions and intriguing animals. After visiting the castle and its gardens we drive south to the city of Trento where the evening will be at leisure. (Overnight Trento) B
Day 9: Thursday 23 September, Trento – Rovereto – Trento
- Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto (MART), Rovereto
- Castello dei Buonconsiglio, Trento
- Cattedrale di San Viglio, Trento
This morning we visit the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto, that is located in the small town of Rovereto. This extraordinary building, designed by one of Italy’s most important contemporary architects, Mario Botta, centres on a great circular chamber that evokes Rome’s ancient Pantheon. The museum has a huge collection of modern art, including works by major Italian modernists like Giorgio de Chirico.
After thoroughly exploring the museum and its collection we shall drive back to Trent, where lunchtime will be at leisure before we visit Trent’s Castello del Buonconsiglio. This grand complex, until 1803 the bishop’s palace, comprises three parts, the Castelvecchio founded in the 13th century and modified in later centuries, the grand 16th-century Renaissance Magno Palazzo, and the Giunta Albertina (1686). Since 1992, the palace has housed the Provincial Art Gallery. The complex has a number of very important painted decorations. The so-called Torre Aquila (‘Eagle Tower’) has one of the most important examples of International Gothic art in Europe, the 15th-century Cycle of the Months by a Bohemian artist. The cycle accurately portrays the landscape, economic activity, the social life and fashions of medieval Trent. The walls of the late 16th-century Torre del Falco are decorated with frescoes of hunting scenes, also a rare example of German landscape painting in northern Italy. The decoration of the Palazzo Magno includes works by Dosso and Battista Dossi in the Sala Grande, Sala degli Specchi, the Camera del Camin Nero, the Stua della Farnea (refectory), the Library and other rooms. Girolamo Romanino frescoed the loggia in the Lions’ Court (Cortile dei Leoni) with mythological and biblical and ancient Roman scenes as well as scenes from daily life.
We end the day with a visit to the Lombard-Romanesque cathedral dedicated to San Vigilio, Trent’s patron saint. On the facade of the north transept, over the bay, we can meditate in front the allegory of the Wheel of Fortune that determines man’s destiny. (Overnight Trento) B
Bolzano - 3 nights
Day 10: Friday 24 September, Trento – Bolzano
- Museo scienze naturali Alto Adige (MUSE) designed by Renzo Piano
- Walking tour of Bolzano including the church of San Giovanni in Villa (subject to special permission) and cathedral
This morning we visit MUSE – Science Museum. Opened in 2013 in the former industrial zone, this museum, the destructured forms of which mimic those of the surrounding mountains, was designed by Renzo Piano. Discovery of glaciers and Alpine summits (climate, topography, fauna and flora, geology, populating), the mineral world of the Dolomites, environmental footprint, resilience of natural systems, technological innovations, biological research: MUSE – Museo delle Scienze positions itself as an interface between the scientific world and the general public.
In the afternoon we travel north to Bolzano, the capital of Alto Adige, which is nestled in a conch-shaped valley surrounded by vineyards and orchards. We begin with a walking tour of Bolzano. Capital of South Tyrol, Bolzano is the city in which German-Austrian and Italian cultures meet. Situated on the strategic meeting point of two important trade routes, the ancient Via Claudia Augusta and the Brenner route over Brenner Pass, it has since antiquity been an important frontier trading city. We shall visit Bolzano’s Cathedral of The Assumption of Our Lady, a perfect example of the rich confluence of German-Austrian and Italian forms. The Romanesque cathedral of 1180 was transformed in the 14th century into a fine Gothic church. Its extraordinary High Gothic tower is a masterpiece of intricate stonework. The cathedral interior has important medieval frescoes and sculptures, as well as a magnificent Baroque high altar and 16th-century pulpit.(Overnight Bolzano) B
Day 11: Saturday 25 September, Bolzano
- Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige (South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology)
- Castel Roncolo (Schloss Runkelstein)
- Afternoon at Leisure
This morning we shall visit the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in a special out-of-hours visit before the museum opens to the general public. Its permanent exhibition, occupying 3 floors, is dedicated to one of the world’s most extraordinary Prehistoric discoveries. ‘Ötzi’ is a glacier mummy from the Copper Age preserved in the ice and discovered by hikers in 1998. Experts have been able to reconstruct his body and his clothing and artefacts found with him. These have proved extraordinarily important in reconstructing human life at this time. The mummy is stored in a specially devised cold cell and can be viewed through a small window. ‘Ötzi’s’ numerous pieces of equipment and clothing, including a rare copper axe, have been painstakingly restored and make up much of the museum’s fascinating display.
After lunchtime at leisure, we drive to Castel Roncolo (Schloss Runkelstein) perched on a rocky outcrop above the city. The castle was constructed in 1237, but its greatest treasure, its frescoes, were created in the 14th century. These are some of the world’s most important paintings with secular, literary, subjects. These include stories of King Arthur and his knights, Tristan and Isolde, Dietrich von Bern (Theodoric the Great) and the German Romance poet Pleiers’ Arthurian romance Garel.
On our return to Bolzano, we shall visit the lovely small church of San Giovanni in Villa. This small late Romanesque church was, like Castel Roncolo, decorated with fine 14th-century frescoes. Its barrel vault is dominated by a huge Christ Enthroned and its walls covered with narratives showing the influence of Giotto and the Italian Trecento. (Overnight Bolzano) B
Day 12: Sunday 26 September, Bolzano – Hocheppan – Alto Adige Wine Road – Kastelaz – Enga – Bolzano
- The South Tyrolean Wine Road
- Hocheppan Castle
- Lunch & wine tasting at Parco nell’Ombra del Paradeis
- St James Church, Kastelaz
- Charming small town of Egna (Neumarkt)
Our excursion today includes driving along part of the famous South Tyrolean Wine Road, one of the oldest wine routes in Italy. Our first visit is to Hocheppan Castle, a medieval fortress perched on the precipitous crag, further evidence that we are travelling through a contested frontier. The site may first have been fortified by a confederation of Alpine tribes in antiquity. The present castle, founded around 1125 and largely rebuilt in the 13th century, was approached through a complex system of outworks, guarded by towers much of which date to the 16th century. Outside the actual enceinte, an open round fortification guards the site. Dominating the castle is the high pentagonal tower typical of German castles, but rare in the Tyrol. The Romanesque frescoes (c. 1131) in the castle chapel are some of the best preserved in Tyrol. The small chapel has three apses. Christ in Majesty dominates the central apse. On the wall above the apses are Christ flanked by the Apostles. Images on the chapel walls depict scenes from the Life of Christ and the apostles and other Biblical scenes, such as The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins.
The Tyrol is famous for its wines and one of the most notable vineyards, with an international reputation, is the Parco nell’Ombra del Paradeis of Lois Lageder. We shall visit the winery to enjoy lunch accompanied by some of the vineyard’s fine wines.
We next drive to the town of Kastelez to visit St James Church to enjoy its magnificent medieval frescoes. Around 1220 the chapel, which dominates the landscape around Termeno, was decorated with a Romanesque fresco cycle depicting imaginative hybrid creatures combining elements of humans and animals, including creatures with dog heads, parts of birdmen and fishmen in combat and centaurs from Greek mythology. These represent sin, in contrast to the magnificent depiction of the 12 Apostles and Christ in Majesty on the wall above them. In the side nave, there are colourful Gothic wall paintings by Ambrosius Gander in 1441.
We then drive to the delightful small town of Egna/Neumarkt. The population of the town aptly demonstrates the fascinating cultural mix of this Italian region. Of 5,001 citizens, 62.7% speak German as their first language, 36.89% speak Italian, and 0.42% speak Laden, a Romance language indigenous to the Tyrol. After spending some time in the picturesque town, we return to Bolzano. (Overnight Bolzano) BL
Innsbruck - 4 nights
Day 13: Monday 27 September, Bolzano – Bressanone – Vipiteno – Innsbruck
- Abazzia di Novacella
- Lunchtime at leisure in Bressanone/Brixen
- Alpine town of Vipiteno/Sterzing
Today we cross from the Italian into the Austrian Tyrol. Along the way, we visit one of Tyrol’s most important monasteries, the Augustine Monastery of Novella. This huge complex, founded in 1142, was constantly enlarged during its turbulent history, until the modern era. An expert will lead us on a guided tour of the Abbey Basilica, Museum, Pinacoteca, and Library to document 875 years of its history. We shall encounter sections in the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo styles. Of particular note are the colourful, light-suffused German late-Baroque Basilica, the cloister that is richly decorated with frescoes, the Pinacoteca displaying numerous panel paintings and altarpieces. There are precious manuscripts, liturgical treasures, as well as historic scientific equipment. The stunning Rococo Monastery Library has some 98,000 books and manuscripts.
We shall spend lunchtime at leisure in the town of Bressanone, before driving to Innsbruck via the charming alpine town of Vipiteno/Sterzing. Vitipeno, founded around 14BC, was an important Roman centre. In 1280 Duke Meinhard of Carinthia promoted the village to the rank of city. Its proximity to the Brenner Pass made it an important stage on the trade route between Italy and the German lands. The famous banking family, the Fuggers of Augsburg, opened a branch here to exploit the wealth of the nearby silver mines. After a 1443 fire destroyed part of the town new houses were built, some Late Gothic style, in Neustadt (New Town). These include the Town and Regional Trial House (1450), Hotel ‘Goldenes Kreuz’ (1446), Fugger’ Bank Branch (1553), the Rafenstein House (1472), the Town Hall (1473), the Geizkofler House (1600) and the Mining District House (1500), all still in use. (Overnight Innsbruck) BD
Day 14: Tuesday 28 September, Innsbruck
- Walking tour of Innsbruck Old Town: Cathedral of St James and the Golden Roof
- Tyrolean State Museum Ferdinandeum (incl Imperial Court Church)
- Schloss Ambras
We begin this morning with a walking tour of Innsbruck’s historic core. We shall visit Innsbruck’s Baroque Cathedral of St James (1717-1724), built on site of an earlier Romanesque church. Two highlights of the cathedral are the magnificent 1530 Maria Hilf (‘Maria of Succor’) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, one of the most venerated images of the Virgin in Christendom, and the magnificent Tomb of Maximilian III of Austria, Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights (1620). A bronze figure of Maximilian kneels in prayer, protected by St George. The magnificent classical marble plinth on which the figures are paced is supported by four bronze (twisting) Solomonic columns resembling those of Bernini’s Baldachino in St Peters.
The highlight of our walking tour is, however, the lustrous Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) which is considered the city’s most famous symbol. Built (1493-1500) to celebrate Maximilian I’s marriage to his second wife, Bianca Maria Sforza of Milan, the Goldenes Dachl served as a royal box where the Emperor and his imperial entourage could enjoy festivals, tournaments, and other events in the square below. Its builder, Nikolaus Turing the Elder, the Innsbruck court architect, built the balcony with its roof of 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles to mark Maximilian I’s wedding to Bianca Maria Sforza. Below, the entire structure is decorated with sculpted reliefs and frescoes, including sculpted coats of arms of Maximilian’s territories and Jörg Kölderer’s frescoes of two knights bearing heraldic flags of the Holy Roman Empire and Tyrol. The second-floor balcony displays episodes from Maximilian’s life, including Andalucian Moorish dancers engaged in popular ‘acrobatic and grotesque dancing’. Other images depict Maximilian and his first and second wives, Mary of Burgundy and Bianca Maria Sforza. All of the decorations on the current structure are carefully executed replicas. We shall see the original works in the Tyrolean State Museum, the Ferdinandeum.
We next visit the Tyrolean State Museum, called the Ferdinandeum after the Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria (1529-1595). The museum displays an artistic journey through Tyrolean history, from Prehistory and Roman antiquity times to the Middle Ages and the modern era. Among the exhibits are Romanesque and Gothic masterpieces, a major German and Dutch collection including works by Lucas Cranach, Pieter Brueghel and Rembrandt, Baroque and Neo Classical art such as the work of Angelica Kauffman, and 19th-century masterworks. It displays a collection of precious musical instruments, a Biedermeier collection and has a Modern Gallery with paintings by Egger-Lienz, Klimt and Kokoschka.
After lunchtime at leisure we drive up into the hills around Innsbruck to visit the magnificent Ambras Castle, located at 587 metres above the city. This grand complex with its rich collections, owes its existence to one of Europe’s greatest collectors, Ferdinand II of Austria. He converted what had, since the 10th century, been a fortress, into a magnificent palace on three levels. The Upper Castle is the oldest section. It houses an extraordinary collection of portraits of the Habsburgs and related rulers dating from the Renaissance till the end of the Empire. There are masterpieces by artists such as Lucas Cranach the Elder, Antonis Mor, Titian, Sir Anthony van Dyck and Diego Velázquez. Below the Upper Castle is the magnificent 43-metre-long Spanish Hall, one of Europe’s greatest Renaissance interior spaces. It has a wonderful wood panelled ceiling and is lined with 27 full-length portraits of rulers of the Tyrol. The lower castle houses what is arguably the oldest ‘museum’ in the world, Ferdinand’s Chamber of Art and Wonders, with everything from priceless suites of armour to extraordinary natural specimens. Ferdinand meant this as a museum and some of the precious objects are still displayed in their original cases. The walls of the castle courtyard are covered with arguably the best preserved sgraffito grisaille decorations in Europe. After thoroughly exploring all parts of the castle we return to Innsbruck where the evening will be at leisure. (Overnight Innsbruck) B
Day 15: Wednesday 29 September, Innsbruck – Hall in Tirol – Lake Achen – Innsbruck
- Medieval market town of Hall
- Lunch at Pertisau on the shore of Lake Achen (Achensee)
- Cruise on Achensee from Pertisau to Scholastika
Today we take a picturesque drive through the Tyrol, stopping at the lovely small market town of Hall and cruising across the Achensee from Pertisau to Scholastika. Hall is a picturesque trading town which, from the 13th century, prospered by mining salt. The importance of its salt industry, which exported goods as far as Switzerland, the Black Forest, and the Rhine valley, is reflected in Hall’s coat of arms, which shows two lions holding a cask of salt. Under the Habsburg Monarchy, in the 15th and 16th centuries the town became one of the most important towns in the Empire. This period saw the construction of many of the churches, monasteries and convents that still shape its appearance. Today Hall has the biggest intact old town in the western part of Austria.
After enjoying a walking tour of Hall, we drive to Pertisau for lunch at a local restaurant overlooking the lake. Achensee is an alpine lake and Austria’s largest, that is located between the Karwendel Mountain Range and the Bavarian Alps. It has a maximum depth of 133 metres and is so clear, its water almost drinkable, that you can see 10 metres below the surface. A cruise from Pertisau to Scholastika offers magnificent alpine panoramas. After cruising the lake, we return to Innsbruck where the evening will be at leisure. (Overnight Innsbruck) BL
Day 16: Thursday 30 September, Innsbruck
- Imperial Palace (Hofburg)
- Hungerburg funicular and Panoramic cable car to the Hafelekar
- Farewell dinner at a local restaurant
We spend this morning exploring Innsbruck’s Hofburg (Imperial Palace), the third most important palace in Austria after Vienna’s Hofburg and Maria Theresa’s Schönbrunn. The Innsbruck palace complex has its origins in the 14th and 15th centuries when Duke Leopold II began to acquire land for a palace (1396) and Duke Sigismund the Rich began to build the south tower (1453-1463). Thenceforth, especially under the Emperor Maximilian I and Maria Theresa, the palace underwent major extension and ultimately transformation from a late Gothic to a grand Baroque palace. We shall explore the complex in detail, including such areas as the Royal Apartments. You will come to understand the development of the Habsburg dynasty through the narrative of the development of this grand palace.
After a coffee break we take the Hungerburg funicular from its underground station in the city’s historic core to the Hungerburg district. The four funicular stations were designed by Zaha Hadid, whose work you have already encountered at the Messner Mountain Museum (MMM) in Corones. From here, we continue to the cable car that runs up to the Seegrube to the Hafelekar. On reaching the upper station at 2256 m we may enjoy a magnificent 360 degree panorama with both breathtaking views of the city of Innsbruck on one side, and pristine mountain peaks on the other.
Following an afternoon at leisure, we convene for a farewell evening meal. (Overnight Innsbruck) BD
Day 17: Friday 1 October, Innsbruck – Munich Airport
- Airport transfer to Munich Airport for those taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight
Our tour ends in Innsbruck. Those taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer by private coach to Munich airport. Should you have made your own flight arrangements, you have the option of remaining in, or travelling from Innsbruck, visiting Munich, or planning onward travel from this city. B