Mary Baldwin Alumni Invited to Join Smithsonian Journeys Highlights of Italy Tour

November 1, 2016

In celebration of Mary Baldwin University’s 175th anniversary, the Office of Alumni Engagement is pleased to share an opportunity to join a Smithsonian Journeys travel adventure to Italy. Professor Emerita of Art History and Mary Baldwin alumna Sara Nair James ’69 will serve as the expert lecturer on the trip.

The 17-day experience, scheduled for April 1, is designed for a group of 16 to 24 people.  In addition to Smithsonian members, MBU alumni and friends are encouraged to join the trip.

During the tour, travelers will visit Rome, Florence, and Venice. Another highlight includes an excursion to Southern Italy, where visitors will view the stunning Amalfi Coast from the sea.

While in Southern Italy, visitors will explore the city of Pompeii and witness the remains of everyday life in A.D. 79, when volcanic ash from Mt. Vesuvius covered the city. On the way to Rome, the tour will stop at the Benedictine abbey Montecassino, rebuilt following its destruction in World War II.

While in Rome alumni will the capture the essence of ancient life with a tour of Forum and the Colosseum, currently being restored to its glory. They will also have the opportunity to step inside the Borghese Gallery to view works by Italian masters including Bernini, Titian, and Caravaggio. A day in Vatican City will showcase St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums, featuring works by Michelangelo and Raphael.

The group will also tour Umbria and Tuscany where travelers will discover the arts, churches, and unique ambiance and history of those regions. There will be a stop in Perugia and San Gimignano, famous for its medieval watchtowers, many of which still pierce the sky.  Alumni will walk along the medieval streets of ochre-colored Siena to explore the fan-shaped Campo and visit the Duomo with art by Michelangelo and Donatello.

James served as director of the Renaissance Studies in Italy Program for 25 years. Her specialty is in Italian Renaissance art with a particular emphasis in fresco programs. She is now a Smithsonian Journeys Expert.

James said she feels honored to have the opportunity to be a Smithsonian Journeys Expert and to extend this opportunity to MBU alumni, who may not have had the opportunity to travel abroad in college. She plans to deliver five formal lectures, designed to reexamine and further explore the sights and history of the tour.