Peter Medhurst and Thomas Abbott continue their explorations of music and the arts by turning their attention to Rome during the late 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.


 Allegro from Corelli’s Concerto Op 6 No 7 in D

Day 1

Establishing connections – Ancient Rome and the 18th century Grand Tour

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 15.57.00After our early scheduled British Airways flight to Rome, we will be met at the airport by Peter and Tom and transferred by coach to the city centre where we will stop for coffee and a panini (included).  Refreshed, we then visit the church of St Paul-within-the-Walls where Peter and our accompanying violinist will give the first of our private violin and organ concerts.  The music performed will be of the type heard by British travellers in Rome during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Continuing with the theme of Ancient Rome and the British on the Grand Tour in the 18th century, we will take an introductory guided tour of Rome by coach with a chance for a brief visit to the Coliseum and the Arch of Constantine, and – should weather and time permit – a walk along the Forum to the Piazza Venezia, where our coach will meet us and transfer us to the 4* Hotel dei Mellini, for our 8day/7 night stay.

At 7 pm we will gather in the hotel for a 20 minute solo violin recital, which in turn is followed by a drinks reception, and then by dinner at a local restaurant (included).

Day 2

The Cult of St Cecilia – patron saint of music

After breakfast we begin the day’s schedule with a lecture by Peter on the cult of St Cecilia, the Roman patrician who was martyred for her faith around 230 AD (see the painting by Gentileschi, right).  We then visit St Cecilia’s church in the Trastevere rione, which legend claims was built over the actual house of the saint. Here we will see the famous effigy of St Cecilia by the sculptor Carlo Maderno who based his work on what he himself reportedly saw when Cecilia’s coffin was opened, namely, the incorrupt body of the saint.   The church is also famous for its frescoes (c1300) by Pietro Cavallini and there will be time to see these as well. A surviving fragment on the west wall of the Last Judgment is particularly fine (see detail below).

We leave the church and take a walk to another one: San Francesco a Ripa, dedicated to St Francis of Assisi, who was accommodated in the adjacent convent (‘Ripa’ refers to the nearby river edge of the Tiber).  Here we will enjoy the 3rd of our private concerts with a programme of music directly inspired by St Cecilia. Pieces include arias from Purcell, Blow and Handel’s odes to St Cecilia.

A light lunch (included) in the Auditorium ReD Restaurant & Design is followed by a visit to the Academia of Santa Cecilia to view the musical instrument collection, located in the Auditorium Parco della Musica. The focus of the collection is a group of Italian stringed instruments from the 17th – 20th centuries, and includes the famous Tuscan violin by  Stradivari, built for Grand Prince Ferdinando de’Medici.  We will be given a private guided tour of the collection, as well as the cavea, the foyers and the archaeological area.

The remainder of the day and evening is at leisure.

Day 3

The great Arcangelo Corelli and his music, and thoughts on the Roman Baroque

This morning’s lecture will focus on the music of Arcangelo Corelli, the famous 17th/18th century Roman composer of concertos and sonatas (right).

On leaving the hotel we will visit the Spada Galleria where Tom will guide us through the collection of 16th and 17th century art.  This is followed by a visit to Santa Maria della Vittoria, to view Bernini’s Ecstasy of St Theresa and where we will enjoy the fourth recital by Peter and our violinist.  The programme will consist of works drawn from Corelli’s magnificent set of Violin Sonatas Op 5 (above left).

After a light lunch (included) in the Pantheon area, we will visit the Pantheon itself (below), a building remodelled and completed by Emperor Hadrian in 126 AD, but which has been a church since the 7th century.  The building interests us particularly today, because it is the resting place of Angelo Corelli.

We continue on to the Palazzo Colonna, one of the oldest and largest privately owned palaces in Rome.   Here we will have an included guided tour, visiting Princess Isabelle’s apartment – where we will see frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi – and the Galleria Colonna apartments – which houses a superb art collection.  The tour will last about 2 hours.

The evening is at leisure, but depending on availability, there will be an optional visit to a concert or opera.

Day 4

The high priest of Latin oratorio, more thoughts on the Roman Baroque, and two magnificent Church organs

The lecture this morning concentrates on the life and music of Giacomo Carissimi (1605-74), the founder of Latin oratorio and a key figure in the mid Roman Baroque.

After the lecture we will visit to the Galleria Borghese, which houses a substantial part of the Borghese collection of paintings, sculpture and antiquities originally amassed by Cardinal Scipione Borghese.  Here Tom will explore works by Bernini, Raphael and Titian.

A light lunch (included) will be enjoyed in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna.

Since we wiScreen Shot 2015-12-31 at 09.39.14ll already be in the building, the first part of the afternoon will be spent viewing the highlights of the Galleria d’Arte Moderna founded in 1883 and dedicated to modern and contemporary art.  Our time here will provide a sharp and interesting contrast to the galleries visited so far on the tour.

We then visit the Baroque church of Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola, built in the 1600s and which functioned as a chapel to the nearby Roman College. Peter will give an organ recital here. After this, a short walk will bring us to the nearby Oratorio Francesco Saverio di Caravita where Peter will once again give a short recital on the particularly famous historic organ.  It is said that Frescobaldi and Mozart played here, and so Peter will perform organ music by both of these composers.

The evening is at leisure.

Day 5

A musical cardinal, the Palazzo Cancelleria, and a spectacular day in the country

This morning we visit the Palazzo della Cancelleria, a Renaissance Palace in Rome and famous for being a centre of musical life during the residency of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni d.1740 (right).  The Cardinal was a dedicated patron of the arts and supported and cultivated the work of composers such as Corelli, Handel, Alessandro Scarlatti, Antonio Caldara and Vivaldi.

After this, we make our way to the hillside town of Tivoli, which at the height of the Roman Empire was a favourite retreat for poets and the wealthier citizens of Rome.  The lavish villas – all scattered around sacred woods and scenic waterfalls – attracted distinguished visitors such as Horace, Catullus, Maecenas, Sallust and the emperor Trajan. A highlight of our day will be a visit to the Villa Adriana, the largest of the complexes and built by Hadrian between 110-30 AD as a retreat from duties in Rome.  Hadrian himself was the architect and the site consists of pools, baths, fountains and classical Greek architecture – Hadrian’s especial passion.

After this, we make our way to the Villa Gregoriana where we will have a light lunch at the cafe (included).

The afternoon will consist of two visits.  The first will be to the Villa D’Este (left), which along with its garden is one of the most remarkable gestures of Renaissance culture. Its extraordinary design along with the architectural components of the garden (fountains, ornamental basins, etc) make this a unique example of an Italian 16th century garden, in fact, it was an early model for the general development of European gardens.

The second visit will be to the Cathedral of Tivoli, which according to a legend was built by Emperor Constantine after the Edict of Milan in 313 AD.  However, today’s outstanding Baroque structure dates from 1634 to 1652.  There is a likely chance that Peter will play the organ here.

Day 6

Mother of all churches, Palazzo Barberini and San Luigi dei Francesi, and a trio of Caravaggios

This morning we visit the Papal Archbasilica of St John in the Lateran, which is the cathedral church of Rome and the official episcopal seat of the Bishop of Rome, the Roman Pontiff.  It is the oldest and ranks first the five Papal Basilicas of the world and the four major Basilicas of Rome. A plaque over the main entrance states that it is the ‘Mother Church of the entire World’.  Built at various stages over the centuries, it is particularly loved for its dramatic façade completed in 1735 to a design of Alessandro Galilei’s (above).

We follow this with a visit to Palazzo Barberini a 17th palace and home to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica.  Here we will view Raphael’s La Fornarina, Guido Reni’s portrait of Beatrice Cenci and Caravaggio’s Judith
Beheading Holofernes. 
After, we will have a light lunch (included).

In the afternoon we go the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, designed by Giacomo della Porta and built by Domenico Fontana between 1518 and 1589.  While we are there, we will pick up the thread of St Cecilia’s story
once more, by viewing the frescoes by Domenichino portraying the histories of Saint Cecilia. Tom will also explore the three resident paintings by Caravaggio – The Calling of St Matthew, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (right), The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew – while Peter prepares the Joseph Merklin organ in the west gallery for a short recital.  The church organ is over the main entrance, in a spectacular balustraded floating gallery held aloft by stucco angels.

Afterwards, you may wish to enjoy some time at leisure in the nearby Piazza Navona or return to the hotel.

Day 7

St Peter’s and the Vatican Museum, the Palazzo Valentini, and a farewell dinner

The seventh day of the tour is a very special one, indeed. After an early morning cup of coffee at the hotel, we begin with a 7.15 am visit to the Vatican Museum.  During our time here, we will experience an audio guided tour of the complex, which takes in the many and spectacular rooms of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, as well as St Peter’s (left).  Also, we will be fortified this morning by an American style buffet breakfast (included).

The Vatican Museums began their collection in 1506 with the sculpture of Laocoön and his Sons, a work that had been discovered in a vineyard near the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Since then, the collection has been built up by successive Popes and now includes some of the finest classical sculptures in the world, as well as some of the most impressive pieces of Renaissance art. However, the undoubted highlight of the day will be the visit to the Sistine Chapel, a building remodelled in the late 15th century by Pope Sixtus IV and famous for its ceiling (below), painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512.

After cake and coffee, we will have free time in the Basilica and St Peters Square.

There is an optional visit to the Palazzo Valentini, described by one critic as Rome’s Coolest, Most Cutting-Edge Ancient Underground Site.  The Palace – built over two surviving 4th century AD patrician villas and the remains of a private thermal bath – takes the visitor on a journey through time and over a 20,000 square foot complex in the heart of Imperial Rome. The experience is heightened by sophisticated multimedia reconstructions featuring computer-generated projections and realistic light and sound effects.

This evening we have a farewell dinner at our carefully selected restaurant near to our hotel.

Day 8

The Borghese Gallery of musical instruments, the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, and return to London

Our lecture by Peter this morning will be a summing up of our week together, after which we revisit the Borghese Gallery to see the national collection of musical instruments.  The bulk of this fascinating collection came from Evan Gorga (opera tenor) who, in exchange for a pension, left the collection to the State. Today, the museum possesses some 3,000 musical instruments from all over the world, but one of its greatest treasures is a piano of four octaves by Bartolomeo Cristofori, dated 1722.  Cristofori had invented the piano 22 years earlier.

Prior to our departure from Rome, we squeeze into the schedule one last port of call, which is to the large and magnificent art collection housed in the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, where we will see some masterpieces of Italian art, including Caravaggio’s Penitent Mary Magdalene, Parmigianino’s Madonna and Child and Titian’s Judith.

In the afternoon we transfer to the airport for our scheduled British Airways flight back to London.

NB:- Please note the above itinerary may be subject to change and we reserve the right to alter the itinerary if required for operational reasons.

End of the tour


Return British Airways flights from London to Rome

Seven nights’ bed and breakfast at the outstanding 4**** Mellini Hotel, in the centre of Rome

5 two-course lunches, 2 dinners including wine, 1 American style breakfast, 1 panini and coffee lunch, 1 afternoon coffee and cakes

All entrance fees / local guides

Morning lectures

Engagement of private violinist

4 private violin and organ recitals

3 private organ recitals

All transfers by coach

Morning lectures by Peter Medhurst

Guiding services and tour management by Thomas Abbott


Local tour manager

Gratuities for all restaurants where meals are included

Not included

Holiday insurance £36 per person

Single room supplement (£279.00 per person)

Optional opera / concert tickets

City tax of 6 Euros per person per night, payable on check out from the hotel

Personal items such as meals (other than those mentioned) drinks, laundry, telephone calls etc

Gratuities for the tour manager

Deluxe upgrade for the week for two people sharing a twin room £160 (£80 pounds per person)


£2,599 per person, based on two people sharing a twin room

Single supplement £279

How to book

Peter Medhurst’s Musical Odyssey to Rome is organised by Tailored Travel

(ATOL 5605)

12 Jamaica Road, London, SE1 2RN

Telephone or fax enquiries for booking :

Tel: +44 (0)20 7064 4970

 Fax: +44 (0)20 7064 8378 info@

The size of the group

There are places for 22 people only on this tour.

Hotel dei Mellini, Rome ****

The Hotel Mellini is located on the right bank of the Tiber between Piazza di Spagna and the Vatican City and is therefore magnificently placed at the heart of the historic and cultural areas of Rome.

The hotel is luxurious in the extreme, where every detail has been carefully put in place and where guests are surrounded by works of modern art created by artists from the Italian and Roman schools.  All the rooms are furbished to the highest quality, but you may be tempted to upgrade to a deluxe room for the week, which for two people sharing a twin room would only come to £160 (£80 pounds per person).

Our own violinist

An especial feature of the tour is the bringing to Italy of our own violinist, who – along with Peter – will give a series of private concerts at choice locations in the city.  Part of the repertoire will be Corelli’s Violin Sonatas Op 5, which are arguably some of the greatest works of their kind, and certainly the first.

Rome and its culture

Rome and the Baroque

From an aesthetic point of view, the period 1600 to 1750 was one of the finest moments ever in the cultural history of Rome.  It was through the embracing of the Baroque style that Rome made one of the boldest statements of Catholic power and glory ever expressed in the arts.

The Architecture and Art of Rome

Architecturally, Rome is famous for its Papal buildings and its huge and majestic squares, many of which were built in the 17th century. Great architects including Salvi, Maderno, Michelangelo and Bernini defined and shaped the interior and exterior spaces of Rome (right), giving it its familiar and much loved appearance.  Saint Peter’s Square particularly, has been praised as a masterstroke of Baroque theatre.

At the same time, artists such as Manfredi, Gentileschi and Caravaggio, imbued their paintings with a hitherto unimagined depth of expression. Caravaggio, particularly, combined a realistic observation of the human condition – both physical and emotional – with a dramatic use of lighting (left) that had a profound influence on painting techniques for many generations to come.  It is arguable, for example, that the art of Delacroix, Courbet and Manet, would have been quite different without the influence of Caravaggio.

Music in Rome

From a musical perspective, Rome became one of the most important hubs of composition in the Western world; first, through the masses and motets of Palestrina and his contemporaries, and later – during the 17th century – through the oratorios of Carissimi and the operas of Alessandro Scarlatti.

However, it was the work of Arcangelo Corelli who brought the musical language of the Baroque in Rome to a new understanding.  He is regarded as the perfector of the Trio Sonata and, to all intents and purposes, the inventor of the Concerto Grosso.  His Twelve Concertos Op 6, published in 1714, were revolutionary and no Baroque composer during or after Corelli’s time was unaffected by their force and orginality.  The English, especially, were taken by his music, causing Charles Avison to remark in 1752 The immortal works of Corelli are in the hands of everyone; and accordingly we find that from him many of our best modern composers have generally deduced their elements of harmony.

The music and art specialists

VeniceTom Abbott (left) and Peter Medhurst (right) in the Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza

Peter Medhurst is well-known in the world of the arts as a singer, pianist, scholar and lecturer, who in addition to his appearances on the concert platform and in the lecture hall, sets aside time to devise and lead tours abroad for small groups of art and music connoisseurs.  His particular interests are centred on the music, art and history of Vienna, Salzburg (with its strong Mozart link), Berlin, Halle (Handel’s birthplace), Dresden, Venice (Vivaldi’s birthplace), Rome, and Delft (with its Vermeer and 17th century Dutch School connections) and over the years Peter has been associated with a number of companies including Travel Editions, Cox and Kings, Success Tours, Heritage Travel, Tailored Travel, and Voyages to Antiquity.

Thomas Abbott graduated in Psychology and Art History at Carleton College, Minnesota, and studied at the Louvre School of Art History in Paris. 1987 he moved to Berlin leading tours in Germany, specialising, of course, in the German capital. While in Berlin, Tom commenced and completed his graduate studies in the history of art and architecture, focusing particularly on the art of the Italian and German Baroque. He has recently led seminar tours to the United States exploring the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, and the School of Nancy, France, as well as tours focusing on the art of the Netherlands from the golden age to the contemporary. Tom is associated with the Foundation of Prussian Palaces and Gardens.