The Sights, Art and History of Italy

Led by Edward Langerak, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, and Lois Langerak, Retired Dental Hygienist
April 2–18, 2016
$5,400 per person, double occupancy (see inclusions below)

We invite you to join us in vibrant Italy, the cradle of European civilization and home to what is arguably Europe’s richest culture. While visiting many of its major sights, we will explore its art, including its architecture, and its history. We will pay special attention to the periods of Ancient Rome and (even more) to Renaissance Italy. Although we will focus on two artists —Michelangelo and Caravaggio — we will be happily immersed in the museums and architecture that provide the full range of brilliant contributions to the cultures of Ancient Rome and Renaissance Italy.

Ed will invite participants to read and discuss selections from some of the main thinkers of these periods, including the Stoic philosopher Epictetus and that upstart political scientist Machiavelli. Not that we will ignore the passion, problems, and possibilities of contemporary Italy; indeed we will take the opportunity to engage some invited speakers on current issues in Italian economics and politics.

Three nights in Sorrento: Our adventure kicks off in Sorrento, the gateway to the Amalfi Coast. Our first full day includes a visit to Pompeii and the National Archeological Museum, one of the most impressive museums of antiquities in the world. On the second day we will drive in smaller vehicles around the spectacular Amalfi Coast, with plenty of stops to capture the dazzling views.

Four nights in Rome: We will make some stops along the way to Rome before our check-in and group dinner, and we will have a presentation on the art we will see in Rome and Florence. It’s now Thursday, April 7, and we will spend the day visiting the Colosseum, the Forum, Capitoline Hill, the Pantheon, and Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidolgio. There will be free time for more exploration. A day visiting the Catacombs of San Callisto and then Piazza Navona with its nearby Church of San Luifi dei Francesi and its famous Caravaggio paintings. More free time for exploring suggested sights such as the Palatine Hill, St Peter in the Chains church (with Michelangelo’s Moses), the Trevi Fountain, or the Spanish Steps. On our third day we take in the Vatican’s fantastic museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Square and St. Peter’s Basilica. A short trip to Tivoli will bring us to Hadrian’s Villa, the largest and richest Imperial Villa in the Roman Empire. We will have a special group dinner here, though probably not with all the excesses of Roman feasts that you have read about (shucks). The next morning, Sunday, we’ll leave time for an optional worship service at one of the historic churches, and then we will explore the walled city of Assisi, whose famous son’s name was taken by the current Pope.

One night in Perugia: This is one of the 12 Etruscan city-states; its square is one of the most beautiful and grand in all of Italy. After exploring some of Perugia’s architectural treasures we will visit Siena at the heart of the high Tuscan plateau. We will stroll the monumental Plazza Del Compo and, in late afternoon, proceed to Florence.

Four nights in Florence: We start with an exciting day of visits to the Duomo, one of the largest churches in the world, with its magnificent Brunelleschi dome, the bell tower, and the Baptistery with Ghiberti’s bronze Gates of Paradise. Then we venture to the Uffizi Museum with its marvelous collection of Renaissance art. The next day a visit to the Galleria dell’ Academia brings us to Michelangelo’s David. A day trip by private motor coach will show us more of Tuscany, including Pisa (where we may be able to climb the famous tower) and Luccia, with intact Renaissance-era walls and ramparts. Our final day in Florence will provide us with free time to explore any of a host of fascinating sites in this incredible city; suggestions and directions will be provided. You may wish to join an optional group visit to the Palazzo Pitti, the most sumptuous palace in Florence.

Three nights in Venice: On the way to Venice, we will stop in Ravenna, which has some of the finest examples of early Christian mosaics. Our first full day in Venice will give us a guided tour that includes St Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace, and St Mark’s Basilica. There will also be free time to explore this intriguing city on our own. The next morning, Sunday, we will again leave time for an optional worship service at one of the historic churches. Then we’ll take a boat trip to Murano, an island city in the Venetian lagoon, with its famous glass museums. There will be some free time and then a return to Venice for our farewell group dinner. On Monday the 18th we’ll transfer to the nearby international airport. The trip home may feel long, but we will have lots of terrific experiences and memories to mull and appreciate.

Program Leaders
Ed is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at St Olaf, and Lois is a retired Dental Hygienist. Together they have led four student semesters abroad: Term in Asia, 1989-90; Term in the Middle East, 1996-97 and 2009-10; and Global Semester, 2003-04; as well as three Study Travel programs: Turkey, Israel/Palestine, and Jordan in January, 2009; Netherlands and Belgium in April, 2012; and Egypt in March, 2013. They will lead their fourth Study Travel program in India in January 2015. You can learn more about them at

What to Expect
European cities are best experienced on foot and are rarely handicapped accessible. Though we will transfer between cities by private motor coach, you should be prepared for lots of walking.

To fully partake in this program, you should be capable of walking a minimum of one mile at a time over uneven terrain and up to five miles per day, of climbing stairs that may not have handrails, of keeping pace with an active group of travelers on long days of traveling, of dealing with the emotional highs and lows that can occur when experiencing a different culture, and of traveling with a group for several hours each day. You always have the option of skipping a group activity you think will be too strenuous and remaining back at the hotel or coach.

Hotels will be tourist class (typically three or four star) with private baths, air conditioning and English-speaking staff.

April weather in Italy is generally delightful — low 60s (Fahrenheit) during the day, with lows in the upper 40s or 50s. Mornings will feel cool and afternoons warmer, especially if the sun is shining. We recommend wearing light layers that can be added or removed as needed.

You should plan on seeing your family physician or a travel doctor at least four to six weeks prior to departure, preferably earlier, to talk about routine vaccinations. For more information on travel health, visit or

Program Fee
The program fee is $5,400 per person. Based on double occupancy, it includes discussions led by Ed Langerak, assistance by Lois Langerak, accommodations, breakfast daily and group meals as listed on the itinerary, admissions for group activities, ground transportation during the program and gratuities to group guides, drivers and meal servers, and limited medical coverage while overseas . For single occupancy, add $700.

Airfare to and from Italy is not included. Participants are solely responsible for all expenses not specifically included in the program fee. Examples of excluded expenses are: International Airfare • Airport transfers in Italy if you arrive or depart outside of the recommended time frame • Any passport and visa fees • Any recommended immunizations or vaccinations • Baggage and trip cancellation insurance • Beverages, including at group meals • Laundry • Dry cleaning • Phone charges • Room service or other items of a personal nature • Expenses incurred during free time or non-group activities • Lunch and dinner, unless specifically included on program itinerary.

Making Your Travel Plans
You should plan to depart the U.S. on Saturday, April 2, 2016 in order to arrive in Naples on April 3. Plan to depart from Venice any time on Monday, April 18, 2016.

A group transfer from Naples to Sorrento on April 3 is included if you arrive within an hour of the recommended time. Since we cannot book flights until 11 months prior to departure, we will announce the recommended flight in May 2015. If you book flights beyond an hour of the recommended flights, we can help facilitate the transfer to Sorrento, at your own expense.

For assistance with flight arrangements, may we recommend our tour operator, Witte Travel & Tours. You can reach them at 800-Go-Witte or We recommend you not purchase non-refundable airfare until we can confirm the program has enough participants to go.